The Willamette Valley is the heart
of Oregon wine country, the state’s
most well-known wine region
stretching 150 miles from Portland
in the north to Eugene in the south.
It’s home to nearly
producing not only pinot noir but
many other cool-climate varietals.
One might enjoy the ultimate wine retreat,
touring and tasting, picking up a bottle to
enjoy with dinner or a picnic. There are bed
and breakfasts, inns, and vacation rentals
tucked among the vineyards for those who
want to immerse themselves in at all, perhaps
while sitting on a porch swing taking in
the view while sipping.
But there’s more to do here than wine tasting,
from exploring charming small towns to
hiking and waterfall hopping. Silver Falls State
Park is just 60 miles south of Portland and by
hiking the Trail of Ten Trails you’ll encounter
10 different waterfalls, half of which are at
least 100 feet tall.
In between, take
in the views of the
forest, streams, and
and camping can be
enjoyed here too.
After exploring the park,
if you’re more into beer
than wine, you can enjoy
a cold one at BenedictineBrewery in Mt. Angel, about
a 25-minute drive northwest.
The Benedictine monks of
Mount Angel Abbey have
been growing hops in the
area since the 1880s and the
tradition continues with the
Benedictine Brewery, owned
by modern Oregonian monks
Less than five miles from Mt. Angel is the small town of
Silverton, Oregon’s “Garden City.” It’s home to Oregon Garden,
an 80-acre botanical garden that includes 20 different gardens
with a diverse collection of plant species. It hosts the Rose
Garden, Children’s Garden, the Rediscovery Forest, and the
Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Gordon House. With the colorful
flowers, rare flora, and conifers, there are many fabulous photoops here along with a café, gift shop, and retail nursery.
The historic town of McMinnville has a tree-lined main street
that’s been named among the very best in the U.S., with unique
boutiques, cafes, farm-to-table restaurants, and wine tasting
rooms. Just minutes from the downtown core is the EvergreenAviation & Space Museum with a wide range of exhibits, a 3D
movie theater, and even a flight simulator where you can jump
int the pilot’s seat and experience the thrill without leaving the
The Willamette Valley has several cities worth
exploring, including the state capital of Salem.
It’s home to multiple museums, including the Bush House Museum which provides a glimpse into the life of a local family in the 19th-century complete with artifacts and antique furnishings
Located at Willamette University, the Hallie Ford Museum of
Art is Oregon’s third-largest art museum, with a permanent
collection that includes more than 9,000 historically and
culturally diverse works, with a focus on contemporary and
historic regional pieces from the Northwest and traditional
Native American baskets.
Families with children might head to the EnchantedForest Theme Park just south of Salem, which includes a
western-themed town, haunted house, bobsled coaster,
and a log ride. It was hand-built over a period of seven
years and opened to the public in 1971.
Eugene offers numerous attractions as the state’s
second-largest city. Its Museum of Natural and CulturalHistory on the University of Oregon campus is the
largest of its kind between Seattle and San Francisco and
features 100,000 fossils, nearly a million archaeological
artifacts, and temporary exhibits focused on a variety of
Pacific Northwest themes.
If you’re here on a Saturday from
April to November, visit the oldest
weekly outdoor arts and crafts
market in the country. The EugeneSaturday Market hosts more than
200 food vendors, local artisans, and
Those who like to hike or bike can
hit the McKenzie River NationalRecreation Trail, a 26-mile route
just east of Eugene.
Starting from the Upper McKenzie
River Trailhead, you’ll pass through
an old lava flow from Mount
Washington and meander alongside
the McKenzie River through oldgrowth Douglas fir. It continues
to Clear Lake, the Great Spring,
and multiple waterfalls, including
Sahalie, Koosah, and Tamolich falls.
At the viewpoint of Tamolitch Blue Pool, you’ll see the river bubbling up from the ground in a
crystal-clear, aquamarine-hued pool.