Whether you're looking to get cozy beside a fire or brave the winter weather in search of stunning landscapes, this list of top places to visit has what you are looking for. Or maybe you check all five off of your winter list because you're not trying to hibernate.
This season is a great time to explore — just prepare for winter weather and check road conditions before starting your adventure.
1. Heceta Head Lighthouse
Everyone loves the coast in the summer but true Oregonians know the magic of a wintery Oregon Coast, where winter storms create a spectacle of crashing waves. Fog blanketing the coastline makes everything feel mysterious and romantic and the occasional warm and sunny days make you forget it was definitely winter just the day before. December is also a peak month for whale watching on the Oregon Coast.
Heceta Lighthouse Bed & Breakfast is in the perfect location to enjoy whatever winter looks like on a given day (wet, windy, foggy or — rarely — dusted with snow) with a protected cove beach ideal for tide pooling, a historic lighthouse shining into the fog with waves crashing on the cliffside below and easy access to the Oregon Coast Trail which leads through beautiful evergreen coastal forests.
The bed & breakfast sits in view of the lighthouse and offers stunning rooms, each with its own something special. Guests are welcomed with wine and cheese which is best savored with a view of the sunset over the Pacific. As if that wasn't enough, guests enjoy a seven-course breakfast that is as beautiful as it is delicious.
2. Salt Creek Falls
Winter is a great time to visit the waterfalls in Eugene, Cascades & Coast. Winter is our rainy season, so the falls are usually thundering and you are more likely to have the whole wondrous place to yourself.
Perhaps the most awe-inspiring winter waterfall is Salt Creek Falls. We love it for the snowcapped trees in the deep canyon, the towering falls (second tallest in Oregon), the dramatic icy basalt walls and the easy walk from the parking lot.
Make sure to bring your winter tires or chains, purchase your Sno-Park permit and always check TripCheck before heading out for current road conditions. For even more winter wonderland bliss, rent snowshoes in Oakridge for the hike to Diamond Creek Falls from Salt Creek Falls. The excellent team at the Willamette Mountain Mercantile offers rentals and can also tell you what gear is necessary to make the trek. Sometimes, your trusty pair of sturdy hiking boots will do the job! Also nearby is the Salt Creek Sno-Park where the whole family can enjoy tubing or sledding.
3. Hot Spring Hopping
Choose between rugged, wild hot springs in the forest and floating in a clean pool filled with mineral-rich, hot springs water beside a cozy lodge. The naturally occurring minerals in hot springs are said to be great for the skin, sore muscles and hair - all of which tend to suffer during the winter months and could use the extra love. Some hot springs require fee for entry so bring cash and snacks. Check road conditions before heading out.
4. Eugene's Market District
Enjoy the charming boutique stores and fine restaurants at the 5th Street Public Market and adjacent Market Alley. Friends sip wine or hot cocoa on the veranda and children toss pennies in the fountain.
After you have enjoyed a decadent meal, finished all of your shopping and you're ready to cuddle up and get cozy, the Inn at the 5th or the Gordon Hotel is an ideal winter escape. Enjoy a room with a jacuzzi and a fireplace to warm your bones. If you get hungry again, order room service from Marche and share it with someone special with the twinkling lights of the market outside.
5. Mount Pisgah
A beautiful bronze relief statue on the top of Mount Pisgah has vertical slits the length of it which the summer and winter solstice sun shines perfectly through. Although visiting during the winter solstice is a special treat, this hike is wonderful all winter long.
High above the fog, the summit has stunning nearly 360-degree views of the valley and beyond. The miles and miles of trails mean you can see something new hike after hike. When Eugene gets ice, this hike is extra magical as you gain elevation going through a variety of landscapes from oaky savannahs to fern forests.