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Five Splendid Towns to Visit, Enjoy in Oregon

1. Ashland. Located near the south end of the Rogue Valley in southwestern Oregon, about 16 miles north of the California border, this town of approximately 21,000 people offers visitors a wealth of cultural and recreational activities, as well as opportunities for good music, delicious food, and a growing wind industry. Home to the world-famous Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and ranked in the top 10 of "The Best Small Art Towns in America," it is also home Southern Oregon University. Check out Lithia Park, named after a natural mineral found in the water in the area, a 93-acre park that includes 42 acres on the National Register of Historic Places, two ponds, two public greens, and miles of hiking trails. For bicyclists, the Bear Creek Greenway is a 25-mile trail that follows the creek between Ashland and Central Point, and passing through several other towns. Skiers and winter enthusiasts should consider Mt. Ashland Ski Area.

2. Astoria. Located in northwestern Oregon, a historic port town situated on the Columbia River, surrounded by forests and boasting three rivers and a stone's throw from the Pacific, right across from the border with Washington, it has the distinction of being the first permanent U.S. settlement on the Pacific Coast -- and for having the first post office west of the Rocky Mountains. Named after John Jacob Astor, a New York investor whose American Fur Company founded Fort Astoria in 1811, this town with a population of about 9,500 has seen good times and bad, weathering the collapse of both the Columbia River fishery and Oregon timber industry -- but it has evolved to become a cultural haven, often referred to as "little San Francisco." While visiting, check out the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Fort Stevens State Park, Fort Clatsop National Memorial, and Astoria Oregon Riverwalk Trail.

3. Baker City. Located in northeastern Oregon, on the 45th parallel exactly half way between the North Pole and the Equator, this small town with a population of about 10,000 is the perfect pioneer (mining) town, and a great place to begin an adventure into eastern Oregon, including the Snake River and Hells Canyon. Named after U.S. Senator Edward D. Baker, killed while leading a charge of Union soldiers at Ball's Bluff, Virginia, during the Civil War -- the only sitting senator ever killed in a military battle. Enjoy strolling through downtown through the Baker Historic District, where more than 100 buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places. Check out the Geiser Grand Hotel, built in 1889, and then enjoy a cool refreshment at Barley Brown's Brew Pub, rated one of the best in the state. Visit the Baker Heritage Museum, as well as the Natural Historic Oregon Trail Interpretative Center -- about 5 miles east. Clint Eastwood's Paint Your Wagon (1969) was filmed in the area.

4. Bend. Located in central Oregon, this city of 84,000 residents sits on the eastern edge of the Cascade Mountain range along the Deschutes River, surrounded by the Deschutes National Forest, and is the place to visit for the true Oregon experience -- from outdoor adventures of hiking, biking, fishing, and skiing -- to fine restaurants and more than 30 breweries and pubs. Because of its location in the high desert, the weather is drier and sunnier than the coast, which, along with the amazing natural surroundings, may help make Bend very friendly and welcoming to visitors. Check out the Horse lava Tube System on the eastern edge of the city, the Newberry National Volcanic Monument just south of Bend, Tumalo Falls (a 97-foot waterfall 14 miles) west of Bend, and Mt. Bachelor (ski/mountain biking area 22 miles) southwest. For history buffs, several buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places.

5. Eugene. Located in southwestern Oregon, at the southern end of the Willamette Valley, situated between two small buttes, near the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette Rivers, and about 50 miles from the Pacific coast, this city of 156,000 residents (second largest behind Portland), offers something for all visitors, including arts and culture, fine-dining and excellent craft breweries, sporting events, and tons of recreational opportunities (including bicycling, hiking, running, rafting, and kayaking). Its slogan is "A great city for the arts and outdoors," but it is also known as the "Emerald City" and "Track Town USA," and has a long history of counter-culture activism. The city maintains an urban forest of more than 100,000 trees along its streets, and the University of Oregon (Go Ducks!) maintains its entire campus as a living arboretum with more than 500 types/species of trees. Check out Skinner's Butte, from which the city was born, with both named after founder Eugene Franklin Skinner. Take time to visit the Willamette National Forest, east of the city, and home to trees, waterfalls, and spectacular views. Include a visit to Mount Pisgah Arboretum, a 209-acre living tree museum. Consider a short trip south to the Covered Bridge Scenic Bikeway. Rail-Trail. Finally, use Eugene as a base for exploring the amazing wine country to the north.

EmpoweringSites.com CEO Dr. Randall Hansen Dr. Randall S. Hansen is an educator, author, and blogger, as well as founder and CEO of EmpoweringSites.com, a network of empowering and transformative Websites, including EmpoweringAdvice.com. Dr. Hansen has been helping empower people to achieving success his entire adult life. He is also founder of EnhanceMyVocabulary.com, MyCollegeSuccessStory.com, and EmpoweringRetreat.com. He is a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. Dr. Hansen is also an educator, teaching business and marketing at the college level for more than 25 years. Learn more by visiting his personal Website, RandallSHansen.com. You can also check out Dr. Hansen on Google+, as well as Dr. Randall Hansen on LinkedIn.

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