Ask Oregon Questions & Answers
We want to go wine tasting in the North Willamette Valley. Where should we stay and where should we eat?
The towns I love for wine tasting are Newberg, McMinnville and Dundee. All three are driving distance of each other in Yamhill County.
For dinner, The Painted Lady is seriously top notch. Recipe- A Neighborhood Kitchen is also very nice. Downtown Newberg has many tasting rooms all located within walking distance of each other. You can see a map here: newbergdowntown.org/wine-tasting/
In McMinnville, walk the downtown area where you can shop, taste wine and eat at wonderful restaurants. Here you can stay at the Mattey House which is a B&B located in a beautiful 1892 Queen Anne Victorian Home on 10 acres. Or perhaps you would prefer Youngberg Hill Vineyards and Inn, a 22 year old organic vineyard and tasting room with deluxe accommodations. There is also a classic European style B & B called The Steiger Haus that is located in downtown McMinnville. There are many options for meals in this town but a few of my favorites are: Community Plate (lunch only), Nick’s Italian Café and Bistro Maison. Here is a guide to downtown McMinville: downtownmcminnville.com/explore
If you make a stop in Dundee, The Dundee Manor is a nice place to stay, as is the Black Walnut Inn. While in town, you can even visit Herbert Hoover’s (America’s 31st president) boyhood home. There is no shortage of good restaurants in the area. Thistle, Tina’s and the Dundee Bistro are all great choices. Red Hills Market is good for casual dining.
We are traveling from Astoria to Florence on the Oregon Coast. What are some natural wonders we should stop and see along the way?
For natural wonders between Astoria and Florence, I would suggest starting at Ecola State Park near Cannon Beach. There are wonderful views of the coastline including Oregon’s iconic Haystack Rock and the offshore Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. You can visit Haystack Rock by parking in Cannon Beach and if you visit at low tide you can explore its tidepools. Between April and July, you can observe Tufted Puffins nesting on Haystack Rock. About 15 minutes south, the highway climbs Neahkahnie Mountain and there are dramatic roadside viewpoints. I would then suggest following the Three Capes Scenic Route southwest of Tillamook. Cape Meares offers great views and a short walk to a lighthouse. The next stop is Cape Lookout which offers beach access and hiking. It requires more time to explore, but could be a nice stop for a picnic. Cape Kiwanda is the last stop and it offers great views if you climb to the top of the giant sand dune on its flank.
Other great stops as you continue south include Devils Punchbowl at Otter Rock, a great viewpoint and interesting geological formation. Yaquina Head Oustanding Natural Area is another must see, with a beautiful lighthouse, views and a great intertidal area if you visit at low tide. I would save plenty of time for the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area just south of Yachats. There are roadside viewpoints of interesting rock formations including Spouting Horn, Thor’s Well, Devils Churn and Cooks Chasm. The visitors center offers views and access to easy rainforest hiking trails. Heceta Head Lighthouse also makes a good stop with a short walk the the lighthouse in a spectacular setter. Highway viewpoints just to the south offer good views looking back at the lighthouse. Sea Lion Caves is just around the corner from there and offers more great views and access to America’s largest sea cave that is shelter for wild sea lions.
Just south of Florence, you will find companies that offer dune buggy rentals and tours. Honeyman State Park is a great stop for getting out to climb the dunes and the Oregon Dunes Overlook, a little further south, offers views and dune access too.
My favorite and most scenic hikes in Portland:
There are tons more but this is a good list to begin with. Just outside of the Portland area near Multnomah Falls is whole other list so let me know if you’d like to know which hikes I’ve done there and in the Mt. Hood area as well.
One of my most interesting hikes or what I call city treks to date is leaving from the Pearl District on foot and trekking up to the Portland Rose Garden area and then over to the Pittock Mansion. Awesome views all around.
Hope this info helps and please let me know if I can help further. I always remind folks to wear really comfy shoes/hiking boots, take jackets etc. and lots of water to drink and some snacks. Happy hiking!
Salem is a good city to stay in because it is a central location to all sorts of places to visit in Oregon. It is also the capital so if you want, you can visit our state’s capital building located in downtown Salem. Inside the building are murals painted depicting our state history. Outside are sculptures on the grounds and one on top of the building that is covered in gold leaf and represents Oregon’s first settlers. In 1984, school children raised the $38,000 to cover the statue in the gold leaf holding a penny drive!
If area history interests you, the Willamette Heritage Center at the Mill might be another good stop for you. The site houses the 1889 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, the best preserved Victorian-era factory in the American West, with exhibits that change throughout the year. The current show is “Threads to New Worlds: A Collection of Fiber Arts”. There are also four buildings dating from the 1840s and 1850s that are restored and furnished in period that you can tour.
The Bush House Museum is another nice spot to visit. This Italianate mansion was built in 1878 by pioneer businessman Asahel Bush II and is set in a 100-acre park. You can take a guided tour of the home Wednesday-Sunday at 1, 2, 3 & 4 pm. I suggest walking around the park for a bit after you tour the house. The Bush Barn Art Center is located nearby. It features three galleries and a gift gallery exhibiting the works of artists from the Pacific Northwest. Also nearby is the Historic Deepwood Estate. It is a 1894 Queen Anne Victorian Home situated on approximately 4 acres of manicured gardens and nature trails. If you plan on touring all of these locations, you can buy a pass here- https://www.boxofficetickets.com/bot/wa/event?id=188645 that will get you into these places and also the Hallie Ford Museum of Art for $20.
There are also lots of great places to visit just outside of Salem. I don’t know if you plan on driving around a bit but you are 25 miles from Silver Falls State Park, the largest state park in Oregon. More about the park here- http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=151
Willamette Valley Vineyards is also located just outside of Salem and is an award winning winery and tourist destination. The tasting room is open to the public from 11 am until 6 pm daily. They also provide complimentary winery tours and tastings every day promptly at 2 pm. They ask that you call ahead to confirm availability.
Check out Travel Oregon’s suggestions on planning a getaway to Salem.
February and early March on the Oregon Coast are part of the quiet seasons, though Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day weekend do see an increase in visitors. This can be a great time for general sightseeing since attractions, State Parks and natural areas are less crowded. You do have to be prepared for a variety of weather conditions. Low temperatures average in the high 30s and highs average in the mid-50s. You should also be prepared for rain as February is still part of the wet season and can still see 8-10 inches of rain for the month. While the typical forecast may be overcast and showery, we often experience beautiful clear days that are sometimes unseasonable warm. I always recommend being prepared for whatever Mother Nature delivers and you can enjoy the coast during a very special season unlike what many warm weather visitors see. It’s a great season for birdwatching and wildlife. Bald eagles patrol the beaches and herds of Roosevelt Elk or commonly seen grazing in meadows. Wave action can often be dramatic unlike the summer when typically small waves roll to the shore.
There are also some major events during this time. Lincoln City celebrates Antique Week Feb 7-16, Feb 20-23 Newport hosts its annual Seafood and Wine Festival and Astoria presents the Fisher Poets Gathering. Cannon Beach hosts a Yoga Festival Feb 28-March 2 and then the Savor Cannon Beach Wine & Culinary Festival March 6-9.
There are some really cool places to visit where you can enjoy a vacation rental with access to kayaking.
Twin Lakes Resort is a paddler’s dream as no motorized boats are allowed. It is in a rather remote area between the Willamette Valley and Bend. The drive is beautiful along the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway. Not really known for wine and more renowned for its craft beer, Bend is relatively close and a fun town for all ages. If you are more adventurous you can explore the Deschutes Paddle Trail.
Crescent Lake Resort is a beautiful lake near many other lakes that can be explored by kayak. Cabins line the lake. Explore nearby Waldo Lake- one of Oregon’s purest lakes where motorized boats are banned.
Cove Palisades State Park has some really cool cabins along the water. Like Twin Lakes Resort it is in a rather remote area.
Loon Lake Lodge is located along the beautiful Oregon Coast near Reedsport on Loon Lake where you can enjoy kayaking. You can pass through two different wine regions to get here- Southern Oregon (known for Cabernet and Syrah) and the South Willamette Valley (known for its Pinot varieties).
There are more, but these seem to me to be the most family friendly, with great kayaking opportunities. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Thanks for the question. I suggest a trip east on Highway 126 from Eugene. You can raft on the McKenzie River. There are numerous guided trips. I highly recommend Helfrich Outfitters and if you want to begin and end at Belknap Hot Springs Resort check out High Country Expeditions. To get a great view of the Cascades take the scenic drive up Highway 242 a few miles from Belknap Hot Springs to the Dee Wright Observatory at the highest point of the road. You can climb to the top of the observatory and view 360 degrees of the Cascades with a cool compass of sorts, that helps you figure out which peak is what.
You can fish in numerous spots along the McKenzie. Some popular places are at Leaburg Dam and along the shore. One of my favorite places to fish is at Clear Lake at the headwaters to the McKenzie River. You can rent a row boat and drop a line in and troll while you take in beautiful scenery atop strikingly clear water. (Here’s a tip if you do- use corn as your bait, with a very light weight sinker). In Eugene, you can also find some decent fishing near Autzen Stadium in the Alton Baker Canal and in Junction City at the Junction City Pond.
I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
You can absolutely visit both the waterfalls and then make the “loop” around the mountain to visit Mt. Hood thanks to extended summer daylight hours, or if you plan on getting an early start.
I would suggest taking I-84 east, then taking the Corbett exit to join the historic highway. While most people start in Troutdale, you really won’t be missing any of the major sights, and this will save you some time if you plan on making the loop around the mountain.
After you reach Corbett, make sure to stop at both Women’s Forum and Vista House/Crown Point. Both spots have incredible panoramic views of the Gorge. Vista House is a beautiful historic building, originally built as a “rest area”, but you will have a hard time believing that after you see it.
From there, you will enter the “waterfall area”. Besides Oneonta Gorge and Multnomah Falls, you will definitely want to stop at Latourell Falls, Wahkeena Falls, and Horsetail Falls. Let me know if you would like me to suggest any hikes in this area. There are some nice, short ones in this area well worth your time.
Shortly after Horsetail Falls, you will rejoin I-84. Continue on to Bonneville Dam. The Fish Hatchery here is well worth a stop to see the HUGE sturgeon, and if you have some extra quarters feed the trout.
From there, return on the freeway east and you can stop either in Cascade Locks for lunch, or continue on to Hood River to eat. It all depends on how hungry you are. There are some great brewpubs in Hood River.
From Hood River, you will travel on Highway 35 around Mt. Hood. This will take you through the heart of the “fruit loop“, filled with orchards, wineries, and other attractions.
You will see some beautiful scenery as you travel around the mountain and then join Highway 26. There are some great places to stop for views of the mountain. Let me know if you would like some specific suggestions on scenic spots.
One definite MUST STOP is Timberline Lodge. The craftsmanship of the place is incredible. It was all hand built during the depression. From there you will travel highway 26 and head back towards Portland.
Let me know if you want any dining suggestions, or have any more questions. I realize this is probably a little information overload, but wanted to make sure I got everything covered for you.
Have fun planning your adventure!
|Mt Hood & Columbia Gorge|
Greetings from Southern Oregon! Our region is one of the state’s most prevalent for gold mining. Two of the four areas set aside on the state’s federal lands for recreational gold panning are located here:
Butte Falls Recreational Area:
Applegate Ranger District:
Additionally, in Oregon, areas below the vegetation line on navigable rivers and streams and ocean beaches belong to the state and are therefore open for recreational gold panning.
If you want more guidance, there is an outfitter in Southern Oregon that specializes in gold mining:
Because Crater Lake is in a very remote part of the state, there are few accommodations nearby. The closest actual town to Crater Lake is Prospect, which has a historical hotel (here’s a story about it from the Mail Tribune newspaper: http://www.mailtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050817/BIZ/308179989&cid=sitesearch).
Another 20 miles south on Highway 62 is the town of Shady Cove, which has an Edgewater Inn. Medford, which has numerous accommodations is still another 20 miles down the road. All of those towns are on “Crater Lake Highway,” making them the most convenient.
Staying in Ashland would require you to drive on Interstate 5 about 15 miles from Medford. The drive between Ashland and the national park takes about two hours.