A bike/pedestrian bridge at Orenco Woods Nature Park in Hillsboro

This western suburb of about 100,000 is home to tech giant Intel as well as countless berry patches and Christmas tree farms. The MAX Blue Line has its terminus in the heart of downtown, where visitors can walk off the train and stroll to grab a cup at local chain Insomnia Coffee, try on clogs at 129-year-old Gimre’s Shoes, fill up on house-made tortillas at Amelia’s, or a pick up a print at Perks of Art, a local-maker showcase that also offers craft classes. A few miles away, the Hillsboro Airport is home to the Oregon International Air Show and, year round, tomorrow’s pilots in training at the Hillsboro Aero Academy. Interested in a different kind of flight? Hit a few balls at Oregon’s only Topgolf location, just off of US 26. 

Oregon International Air Show

The city may have no greater booster than its mayor, Steve Callaway, a former teacher and principal elected in 2016. “Most people don’t realize that there’s a Smithsonian affiliate here in Hillsboro,” Callaway says of the Rice Museum of Rocks and Minerals. “It’s not the world’s largest ball of string, it’s not Wall Drug, or whatever. This is something that has specimens so special that the Smithsonian said, ‘Yeah, you’re good enough to be part of us.’”  

The mayor’s also a fan of Bag & Baggage Productions, a professional theater whose founder, Hillsboro High graduate Scott Palmer, “came home to bring his vision and dream to life.” For outdoors attractions, Callaway is ready to boast about Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve—“any time of the year is a great time to go see it!”—and food carts like Boro Burger, even though as a vegan he finds his options a bit limited. There also isn’t much he can eat at butter-loving Decadent Creations, housed in a 1920s-era former mortuary, but “everybody loves to have a bakery downtown.” At least you know he won’t claim the last serving of the spot’s craggy-topped biscuits and sausage gravy, or killer caramel-and-coconut-loaded layer bars.  

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