Visitors to Monmouth and Independence, where Cycle Oregon has taken riders for the past decade or so, sits in the heart of the Willamette Valley, in what’s called the “historic hop capital of the world.” The two towns are conveniently located less than 30 minutes by car from both Salem and Corvallis, and an hour from Eugene, Portland and the Oregon Coast.
They’re larger than many towns in which Cycle Oregon sets up camp, but residents there have retained the small-town, friendly vibe that visitors of all ages find so welcoming. Western Oregon University is located in downtown Monmouth. In 2010, it was named one of the top 20 small public colleges in the United States. The Independence Heritage Museum takes visitors from 1840 to the present with its exhibits, programs and tours. This includes the area’s rich hop history that in addition to the area’s nickname, has led to the annual end of harvest Hop and Heritage Festival, which has been ongoing since the 1930s.
Eating and drinking is easy in Monmouth/Independence. Hungry travelers might stop in for a beer at Yeasty Beasty, a brew pub in Monmouth, which used to be a dry town, or possibly go for a burrito at Koyote Tacos. Independence boasts the Ovenbird Bakery and the Three-Legged Dog Public House and more. While hops gets a lot of attention here, wineries and vineyards are plentiful too and showcase the power of our Willamette Valley grapes.
For those who seek some natural splendor, the area has plenty of that too. There’s Riverview Park in downtown Independence, or visitors can go a little further afield and check out the 30-acre Sarah Helmick State Park on the Luckiamute River. It’s a birder’s paradise.
Or, we encourage tourists to try our preferred touring method and hop on their road bikes and get out of town. We’re partial to the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, but there are a number of routes to explore, and plenty of places to spend some time in Oregon’s sister cities of Monmouth and Independence.