Nearest big city: Portland
Hillsboro rocks. It also has some pretty important rocks, like the world’s largest opal-filled thunderegg — a stone with a rough outside but striking patterns and colors inside — thanks to the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals. But if rocks aren’t your thing, this Oregon town with a population of nearly 108,000 is still… a gem.
Just about 20 miles west of Portland, residents of Hillsboro can easily pop over to the city’s center via the light rail. Not that there isn’t plenty to do at home: The 635-acre Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, for one, is a go-to spot for hikers, bird watchers and nature lovers. If you'd rather hop on a bike, good news: Oregon was the first state to develop a statewide Scenic Bikeway Program, according to its parks and recreation department. Hillsboro is home to the start of the 50-mile Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, which runs through forests, farms, wetlands and more.
Hillsboro also boasts ample economic opportunities. The budding presence of technology companies like Intel has helped the area snag the moniker “Silicon Forest.” Between 2010 and 2021, Hillsboro experienced an 18% rise in job growth. That’s not slowing down: Moody’s Analytics projects nearly 12% job growth in Hillsboro by 2026. The recently completed Wingspan Event and Conference Center is Tualatin Valley’s first conference center — so expect more professional out-of-towners to visit.
The family-friendly and community-oriented town also has beautiful venues for unwinding after a long workday with a drink in hand. Its proximity to rural wine country means you can grab a glass at Oak Knoll Winery or Ruby Vineyard & Winery, among others. Hillsboro itself is gaining notoriety in Oregon’s craft beer industry with popular spots like Three Mugs Brewing and Vertigo Brewing, just to name a few. — Mallika Mitra
[money-bpl-stats population="107,593" income="$87,180" home-price="$521,151" unemployment="3.2%" location="Hillsboro, Oregon"]