Oregon is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It has a temperate climate and is generally mild. Overall, winters in Oregon are typically cool and wet, with summers being mostly dry and warm. Favored places include the Columbia River Gorge (a protected canyon), Mount Hood (a conical volcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc of northern Oregon), the historical Hells Canyon, and the communities and lighthouses along the Pacific Ocean coastline. Unlike most U.S. states, Oregon has no sales tax. Portland (the City of Roses) is the state's largest city and cultural capital. To travel around the state, book a bus or train ticket. You will definitely need to rent a car to get around and explore most of it. For more information visit traveloregon.com.
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High Desert Museum. Photo by Another Believer.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
High Desert Museum is a cultural attraction featuring Oregon wildlife, Native American and Western art, historic artifacts, interactive exhibits and nature walks.
The Kam Wah Chung Museum in John Day provides visitors with a glimpse into the struggles and everyday lives of Chinese workers in Oregon during the 19th century through artifacts, original buildings and exhibits.
The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in Baker City tells the story of 19th century pioneers that moved west along the 2,000-mile Oregon Trail. Live history demonstrations, exhibits, special events and four miles of interpretive hiking trails are some of the attractions at the Center.
Tamástslikt Cultural Institute near Pendleton tells the story of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes with interactive exhibits, a Living Culture Village and special events like art shows and educational programs.
Old Town Chinatown was once the center of Portland and is now the site of the Skidmore Fountain and many historical buildings from the mid-19th century. The area is also home to many shops, restaurants, galleries, bars and music venues.
The Oregon History Museum presents exhibits, artifacts, films and photographs about Oregon’s history, including westward expansion, Native American culture and Oregon in the 20th century.
- Eco Tours of Oregon
- Martin’s Gorge Tours
- Pendleton Underground Tours
- Portland Walking Tours
- Roads2 Pendleton Tours
- Sea to Summit
- Wavecrest Discoveries
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Photo by Cacophony.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to experience the U.S. and its culture.
Oregon has many arts and cultural centers and venues, including the following:
- Actor’s Cabaret of Eugene, Eugene
- Central Oregon Symphony, Bend
- Coaster Theater Playhouse, Cannon Beach
- Corvallis-OSU Symphony Orchestra, Corvallis
- Dance Theater of Oregon, Eugene
- Eugene Ballet Company, Eugene
- Eugene Symphony, Eugene
- Grants Pass Museum of Art, Grants Pass
- Liberty Theater, Astoria
- Little Theatre on the Bay, North Bend
- Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Ashland
- Phenomenon Hip Hop Company, Eugene
- Salem Repertory Theater, Salem
- Tower Theatre, Bend
- Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland
- Artists Repertory Theater
- CoHo Productions
- Oregon Ballet Theater
- Oregon Symphony
- Portland Art Museum
- Portland Opera
- White Bird
See more theater listings in Oregon.
Browse a full list of performing arts venues in Oregon.
See a list of art galleries and studios in Oregon.
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
Professional Sports Teams
The only two professional sports teams in Oregon are located in Portland:
For tickets to professional sports games in Oregon check the team websites below. Tickets may also be available on the following websites:
- Ticketexchangebyticketmaster.com to buy or sell tickets from season ticket holders and fans
- StubHub.com for tickets and last-minute deals
College Sports Teams
International participants can also see favorite American sports at a nearby college or university. Many colleges have multiple athletic teams, including the following:
- Oregon Ducks, University of Oregon
- Oregon State Beavers, Oregon State University
- Pacific Boxers, Pacific University
- Portland Pilots, University of Portland
- Portland State Vikings, Portland State University
- Willamette Bearcats, Willamette University
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Camp Lookout State Park is located near Tillamook on the Oregon coast. Visitors can enjoy hikes and walks, forest nature trails, waterfalls, beach activities and camping.
Crater Lake National Park is home to the deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake, which is known for its dark blue color. The park has many outdoor activities including ranger tours, hiking, boat tours, trolley tours, swimming and fishing. In winter, visitors can enjoy snowshoe hikes and cross-country skiing.
Mount Hood is an active volcano (the last eruption took place over 170 years ago) and the highest point in Oregon. Outdoor activities include hiking, camping, skiing, snowboarding, fishing, hunting, horseback riding, climbing, swimming, kayaking and canoeing. Mount Hood is located about 20 miles (32 kilometers) east of Portland.
Skiing and snowboarding is available at Oregon’s 13 ski areas that feature both beginner and advanced trails; often, ski areas also offer other winter activities like tubing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Lan Su Chinese Garden is a peaceful garden in the Old Town Chinatown area of Portland. There are over 400 species of plants in the garden, including many that originated in China. Public tours, special exhibits and events are also available to the public, such as live music and Tai Chi.
Get outside and see Portland from another point of view with a Portland walking tour or biking tour! International participants can also browse our list of Oregon tour companies in the Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions section of the cultural guide.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Oregon cuisine takes advantage of the many fresh and seasonal ingredients available in the Pacific Northwest, like fish, shellfish, truffles, berries, dairy products and more. And in Portland, creative food carts are popular dining options.
Oregon appreciates fresh and local foods, so international visitors should have no trouble finding a local farmers’ market with fresh fruit, vegetables and goods in their community.
- First Taste Oregon, Salem, January
- Oregon Seafood and Wine Festival, Portland, February
- Oregon Chocolate Festival, Ashland, March
- Silverton Hills Strawberry Festival, Silverton, June
- The Bite of Oregon, Portland, August
Pendleton Round-Up Grand Entry. Photo by Phluphphee.
For a unique and local perspective on American culture, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
In February, OnPoint Bend Winter Festival in Bend, Oregon offers many fun activities and events like ice carving, snow sculpting, races, live music, entertainment, art and food vendors, and much more.
The Pendleton Roundup is one of the largest rodeos in the world. The four-day event in the second week of September features a carnival, pageant and many rodeo events like calf roping, bareback riding and steer roping.
Portland Jazz Fest is a series of concerts from local, national and international jazz artists over ten days in February.
Portland International Film Festival presents over 100 feature length, documentary and short films to Portland audiences each February.
Musicfest NW is the largest music festival in Portland. The February event attracts over 170 bands and artists for four nights of live music and entertainment.
Wordstock is an October literary festival in Portland featuring discussions, lectures and panels with authors, storytelling sessions, vendors and book readings.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Oregon Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Oregon participants include:
- Craigslist - Oregon
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Greater Portland Transit District operates the Metro Bus system in Portland and nearby areas.
TriMet provides bus service, MAX Light Rail, WES Commuter Rail and Portland streetcars in the Portland metropolitan region.
Information about biking and walking in Portland is available to international visitors, including interactive maps with details on the safest routes and areas for bikers and pedestrians. Portland is known for its many bikeways and bike-friendly buses and trains. It also has one of the highest numbers of bike commuters in the United States.
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in local Oregon communities.
Bolt Bus is a low-cost bus service traveling from Portland to Bellingham and Seattle in Washington and to Vancouver in Canada.
Greyhound buses travel to many locations in Oregon and in the Pacific Northwest region. Greyhound service also connects to a larger network of buses that travel to many destinations in the United States.
Three Northwest Amtrak train routes pass through Portland and other stops in Oregon, including Albany, Salem and Eugene. The train routes travel to destinations like Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Vancouver in Canada.
Participants in Oregon can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Oregon FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion10
- National Weather Service
- Weather – Eastern Oregon
- Weather – Northeast Oregon
- Weather - Portland
- Weather – Southwest Oregon
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Friends of Trees in Portland needs volunteers to help plant new trees in the Portland area and with other tasks in the organization.
Hands On Greater Portland connects volunteers with organizations in Portland and surrounding regions. Volunteers can sign up for a few hours or more long-term opportunities.
Volunteer with the Portland Opera to help out in almost any area of the opera, including the stage productions!
Habitat for Humanity Oregon builds low-cost housing for families in need. Visit the “local affiliate” page on the Oregon website to contact a local organization and to support Habitat for Humanity – no experience necessary.
The Oregon Volunteers website lists multiple resources and volunteer centers in Oregon to help connect volunteers with non-profit organizations. Opportunities are often available for both individuals and groups.
Volunteer with the Oregon Food Bank and help fight hunger while making new friends and learning about your community.