Oregon or Washington: Which US State to Visit in 2024?

Oregon or Washington

Planning your vacation in the US and choosing which state/city to visit can be a difficult task. Therefore we have decided to put together a compilation of articles in which we compare different US states/cities in terms of pretty much everything.

Known for its lakes, mountain trails, and wild shores, the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to visit in the US. It is also home to the states of Oregon and Washington. Located right next door to one another, these two states are similar in many ways. Both Oregon and Washington are home to stunning coastlines, have a generally outdoorsy culture, and offer a wide range of tourist attractions and fun things to do.

So, should you visit Oregon or Washington? We hope that this travel blog post will help you make the right decision!

Oregon or Washington: General Vibe

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Both states are very much alike, with great weather year-round, breathtaking scenery, and reliable transportation. Oregon and Washington are also pretty much the same in terms of nature and are known for activities like kayaking, fishing, biking, and hiking. If you are planning to visit Oregon and Washington in winter, you’ll be pleased to hear that these states have wonderful areas such as the Okanogan region (WA) and Mts. Hood (OR).

Oregon and Washington have some of the coolest cities in the US (Portland and Seattle) and politics tend to be dominated by left-leaning politicians. It is worth mentioning that Washington has no state income taxes, which makes it more affordable to live in. On the other hand, Washington has a sales tax. Most of the cities in these states are way cheaper than Los Angeles.

People in Portland are very enthusiastic about social activism, while Seattle is a great place to visit for sports fans and music lovers. We should also point out that the Pacific Ocean is more accessible from Oregon than Washington.

Oregon or Washington: Cities and Towns

Infinite Thought via pixabay

There is no shortage of fabulous cities in Oregon and Washington. Whether you wish to enjoy the great outdoors and reconnect with nature or explore big cities, both of these states offer something for every traveler.

Nature lovers staying in Oregon will definitely want to include a visit to Bend in their travel itinerary. The Cascade Mountains will be right at your doorstep and you can enjoy everything from fly-fishing and kayaking on lakes to rock climbing, skiing, and mountain biking. The largest city in Oregon, Portland is also known as the City of Roses and the cultural capital of the Pacific Northwest. Brimming with art and culture, Portland oozes charm on every turn.

The academic city of Eugene is also one of the must-visit destinations when vacationing in Oregon. The city has an outdoor appeal with plenty of hiking and biking trails. It is also home to popular attractions such as the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, Mount Pisgah Arboretum, and the Eugene Science Center.

Washington State’s largest city, Seattle is a multicultural destination where you can enjoy everything from quirky coffee shops and microbreweries to tourist attractions like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market. The city is well-known for its delightful architecture, green and leafy places, and world-class museums.

Travelers visiting Washington can spend a few days in the vibrant town of Ellensburg and explore the historic downtown area which is dotted with boutiques, galleries, museums, and historical buildings. There is also Walla Walla in Washington, a town where you will find some of the best wineries in the state.

Oregon or Washington: Things to do

fishing Portland
Diego torres via pixabay

When it comes to things to do in Oregon and Washington, travelers are really spoiled for choice. Honestly, it’s really hard to pick a winner in this category, which means that we have a tie here.

Oregon is a beautiful state blessed with picturesque beaches and lakes. If you are visiting Oregon with kids, stop by attractions like the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Hartfield Marine Science Center, and the High Desert Museum.

Flower lovers can spend a few hours at the Portland Japanese Garden, while science freaks should check out the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry where they will find 5 galleries packed with more than 200 exhibits dedicated to robotics, space, and the ocean. If you are visiting Oregon in winter, we recommend spending a few days at Anthony Lakes which is a ski area and a mountain resort with several cross-country ski trails.

With parks, forests, lakes, islands, and even volcanoes, the state of Washington is a nature lover’s dream. Pay a visit to the Olympic National Park in Port Angeles and enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors. Expect to find mineral springs and cool clear water that is ideal for swimming. If you wish to enjoy magnificent views, make your way to the Sky View Observatory in Seattle. It is the tallest observation deck in the Northwest United States. Visiting Washington with the little ones? Check out the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle where you will find around 1,100 animals.

Oregon or Washington: Prices

US dollars
Geralt via pixabay

Let’s just say it! Oregon is definitely cheaper than Washington. Although Oregon has an income tax, it doesn’t have a sales tax as Washington does. Aside from the Portland area, Oregon offers a lot of cheap housing.

Commodities and food are also less expensive in Oregon. If you wish to go camping in these states, it is much cheaper to do this in Oregon than in Washington. Oregon has also more campsites to choose from.

The average price of a restaurant meal for two in Portland is $50. In Seattle, expect to pay around $70 for a meal for two people. The average beer will cost you $5 in Portland vs. $7 in Seattle.

Oregon or Washington: Nature

Sahalie Oregon
15079075 via pixabay

Nature lovers who wish to enjoy outdoor activities will be delighted to hear that both Oregon and Washington are ideal places to enjoy the great outdoors. In Washington, you will instantly fall in love with scenic coastal and mountain views. The state has many amazing bike and hiking trails and offers activities like fishing and kayaking on lakes. Admire the beauty of Palouse Falls in Eastern Washington, see the iconic Ape Caves, and go for a walk through the beautiful Hoh Rainforest.

Then, there is Oregon. The state is blessed with vast deserts, hidden beaches, magnificent forests, picturesque lakes, and much more. In Oregon, you can enjoy a wide range of activities such as fishing, biking, golfing, and skiing. Multnomah Falls in Oregon is a spectacular natural wonder and Silver Falls State Park is well-known for its scenic hiking trails.

You can also spend a day at the Lost Lake, see the world-famous Cannon Beach which was used as a filming location for the popular Goonies movie, and snap a few photos for your Instagram account in front of the magical Elowah Falls.

Oregon or Washington: Nightlife

Public market center seattle
12019 via pixabay

When it comes to nightlife in Oregon and Washington, the first thing that comes to mind are the cities of Seattle and Portland. Both cities are great places to go out in the evening. The truth is that Seattle has more concentrated bar districts than Portland.

Also, in terms of the types of bars, Seattle offers more variety and travelers can find everything from dive bars, and upscale lounges, to clubs and dozens of themed places.

On the other hand, Portland has many amazing craft cocktail joints and wine bars. Mississippi Ave in Portland is a hot spot of trendy shops and restaurants. If you are looking for a hippie vibe in the evening, pay a visit to SE Hawthorne Blvd where you will find tons of coffee shops, gift shops, and bookstores. In Seattle, we recommend checking out Ballard and its enclave of pubs, bars, and breweries. The only downside of drinking in Seattle is that the bars in this city for some reason close notoriously early.

Oregon or Washington: Final Verdict

If you are choosing between Oregon and Washington, you are going to have a hard time, as each destination has so much to offer. So the safest bet is to plan your Oregon adventure now and have Washington in stock for the next trip. Or the other way around – the choice is yours!


For more than 11 years, Joe has worked as a freelance travel writer. His writing and explorations have brought him to various locations, including the colonial towns of Mexico, the bustling chowks of Mumbai, and the majestic Southern Alps of New Zealand. When he's not crafting his next epic blog post on the top Greek islands or French ski resorts, he can often be found engaging in his top two hobbies of surfing and hiking.

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