Venture off I-5 at Woodburn for a day of diverse activities. Woodburn Company Stores, one of Oregon’s top tourist attractions, offers great retailers, a visitor information center, kids’ play area with tree house and assorted eateries. Brilliant floral displays change seasonally; hanging baskets, planters and gazebos are spectacular in the spring, and a gigantic Christmas tree is prominent during the busy holiday season. Shoppers flock to the mall for year-round, tax-free shopping at 112 brand name and specialty stores. You can’t miss this highly visible retail mecca along the freeway.
About five minutes west of the mall, the Pohlschneider family operates French Prairie Gardens, open March to mid-December. This working farm market sells seasonal fresh produce, homemade fruit pies, muffins, cookies, scones, coffee cakes and nursery products in the spring and summer. Garden dinners (local meats, produce, brews and wines) are a big hit May through September. Fun festivals herald the first crop of strawberries, the fall harvest and other family-oriented gatherings.
Family-owned Al’s Garden Center has been a mainstay on Highway 99E since 1948. In addition to quality nursery stock, merchandise such as planters, patio accessories, household décor and women’s apparel are attractively displayed. Al’s friendly helpers are easily spotted by their signature purple shirts, ready to dispense advice to turn a brown thumb into a green one!
The nearby community of Gervais is home to Bauman’s Farm & Garden, a delightful stop anytime of the year. The original buildings are chock-full of mouthwatering displays of fresh fruits and vegetables; shelves of freshly baked pies, breads, muffins and cookies; flavorful concoctions of fudge and tempting doughnuts (apple cider, strawberry, pumpkin, etc. depending on the season). Packaged gourmet products and a vast array of gifts and housewares are strategically integrated. Step into the greenhouse for an overwhelming profusion of colorful seasonal plants. You won’t want to miss the annual fall harvest events and pumpkin patch — a hit with the entire family.
Forego the fast-food restaurants that line Mt. Hood Avenue, the main thoroughfare from the freeway into Woodburn’s core. Instead, catch the local environment at the MarKum Inn in Marquam. It’s a tiny spot on Highway 213 with an enticing comfort food menu and juicy, flavorful steaks. Burgers and fries will fill the hungriest stomachs along with hot roast beef or turkey sandwiches. The Challenge Burger weighs in at 6.5 pounds, costs about $30, and is free if finished by one person within a set timeframe.
The Bavarian-themed village of Mt. Angel has two establishments which serve German fare throughout the year. The Glockenspiel Restaurant & Pub features fondue, platters of schnitzels, späetzle, wursts, potato pancakes and other specialties prepared with local farm fresh ingredients. Select German and Northwest brews and wines to accompany your meals. Fish lovers show up on Friday evenings for their popular weekly Fish Fry, featuring beer-battered fish and German slaw. It goes without saying that any time is the right time for delicious apple strudel. Before leaving, be sure to notice the unique clock tower; bells chime hourly as figures dance about the entrance.
Casual German fare is down the street at Mt. Angel Sausage Co. Robust Old World-style artisan sausages are expertly handmade by the Hoke family. Chicken, beef, pork and assorted spices, cheese and loads of garlic are added to create distinctly flavored sausages. The eatery offers over a dozen varieties of wursts in sandwiches or on a stick, schnitzel entrees, fondue and hearty dinners. Owner Jim Hoke is hard at work with plans for an on-site microbrewery. Prost!
Take a Sunday drive to enjoy these spots and more or you may want to plan your visit to coincide with the annual tulip festival at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (April), Mt. Angel Abbey’s Abbey Festival of Arts & Wine (June), the St. Paul Rodeo (July), Mt. Angel Oktoberfest (September) and other special events in the northern Willamette Valley. In Silverton, The Oregon Garden presents stunning vistas of acres of blooming annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs; The Gordon House, Oregon’s only Frank Lloyd Wright designed home; and the full-service Oregon Garden Resort.