A Roadtrip to Albany, Oregon
If you haven’t been to Albany lately, its time to experience the town again. Being fairly new to Oregon, I was a bit unsure about what to expect from Albany, a charming small town about 30 minutes south of Salem. However, my curiosity got the better of me and I found myself tagging along with some of our staff on a guided tour of the city by the Albany Visitors and Convention Bureau.
I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised! Albany has lots wonderful reasons to make the trip, from historic homes to gourmet cuisine and a thriving downtown. Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley about 70 miles from Portland, there is something for everyone.
When first arriving in Albany stop by the Visitors Association to get information from the people who know Albany best. Also, pick up a copy of “Seems Like Old Times” which offers lots of historical information and a self guided tour of the historic homes throughout the town. If you didn’t know already, Albany has an incredible collection of historic buildings; in fact, this collection (which includes syles from the 1840s through the late 1920s) is concentrated within an area of approximately one hundred square blocks and four of these districts are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Our first stop was the Monteith House Museum. The Montieth House is a really cool old house that was the first frame structure built in Oregon. Here you can learn about an Oregon family’s life in the late 1800′s and maybe even have some homemade cornbread baked in a Dutch oven right out of the fireplace.
One of the best surprises about Albany is the downtown area; this is a thriving community with upscale restaurants like Sybaris offering a menu to please even the most critical palate. I personally enjoyed the smoked pheasant and butternut squash soup, it’s highly recommended. Downtown is also a great place for browsing locally owned shops. While shopping and sightseeing, grab a cup of coffee from Boccherini’s or stop in at Novaks for a tasty treat.
My absolute favorite part about my visit to Albany is the soon to be completed Brass Ring Carousel Project that, once finished, will be centrally located near Monteith Riverpark. This hand-crafted carousel is currently in the making. What’s so remarkable about this effort is that each animal on the carousel is intricately hand carved and designed by local volunteers…and volunteer alone! Visitors are welcome to stop by the carving studio and witness this piece of history in the making. The carving studio is open Mon.-Sat. 10am-4pm and if you’re lucky (like yours truly) they might even have you test the saddle of one of the animals!
After an exciting day touring Albany, relax by catching a movie at the Pix Theater, this unique theater offers and inexpensive way to have an authentic movie experience. They have showings of the latest releases and every 2nd & 4th Tuesday of each month they have screenings of classics like “Somewhere In Time” and “The Wizard of OZ.”
As you can tell Albany is not just a random town to fly by on your way to somewhere else, it’s an historical thriving community that is not to be missed.
Editor’s Note: For things to do and see in Albany and and the region, check out our Willamette Valley section.
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