Willamette Valley Winter Adventures

November 27, 2013 (Updated December 10, 2015)

Famous for its pinot noir, the Willamette Valley is also home to snowy mountain peaks, fine art, rich heritage and a delicious culinary scene. Here are some ideas to help you plan a wintercation in Oregon’s wine country.

Wine, wildlife and waterfalls
The Willamette Valley’s moderate climate makes it a winter haven for nature lovers. At Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge west of Salem, it’s the ideal season for viewing dusky Canada geese or beautiful Bald Eagles. South of Salem, the 2,796-acre Ankeny Wildlife Refuge offers excellent observation areas and interpretive exhibits. Neighboring Ankeny Vineyards beckons with great wine and wood-fired oven pizza.


Visitors to McDowell Creek Park in Linn County’s Cascade foothills can hike through a rainforest and see spectacular waterfalls, then sip wine in front of the fireplace at nearby Marks Ridge Winery.

Feast on the valley
Taste your way through winter at innovative restaurants in wine country. Sit by a roaring fire at Sybaris Bistro, featuring great Northwest wines paired with a menu that emphasizes seasonal ingredients. Sample a bit of everything at Corvallis Culinary Week, with eight top-notch restaurants offering specialty plates. Truffle- and mushroom-lovers should plan a visit to the Oregon Truffle Festival, then sample the Joel Palmer House‘s wild mushroom-centered menu.

A season of art
The Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene presents ballet, opera and live music all winter long. At the Albany Carousel Project, watch wood-carvers create carousel animals before your eyes, then enjoy a glass of pinot noir across the street at Sweet Red Wine Bistro. At Grand Vines wine bar and bistro in Salem, enjoy a wide array of local wines by the taste, glass or bottle, plus listen to live jazz every Friday evening.

Uncover Oregon heritage
Reconnect with the past this winter as explore Oregon’s historic covered bridges on a 47-mile cycling or driving loop through Linn County, or on the 30-mile, seven-bridge Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour. At the Polk County Historical Society and Museum, you’ll stay dry with 14,000 square feet of space to explore, including exhibits showcasing the Kalapuya Indian tribe. Try Eola Hills holiday wine at the tasting room nearby. Discover Oregon’s first National Historic District in Aurora, then use it as your base to tour the East of Eden wine trail.

Forest and mountain adventures
Travel the Molalla River Recreation Corridor‘s shared-use trail system by horse or bike. For snowshoers, the Detroit Lake Recreation Area offers miles of trails through misty old growth forests. Adrenalin junkies of any age can shoot down a thrilling mountainside at Hoodoo Mountain Resort‘s Autobahn snowtubing park. Afterward, soak your muscles at The Lodge at Detroit Lake with a hot bath in a jetted tub.

About The

Emily Forsha
Emily Forsha is Travel Oregon’s Content & Community Manager. When she’s not road tripping around the state with her husband and two young boys, this proud native Oregonian is cooking up new recipes in her kitchen, sampling the latest craft brews and cheering on her beloved Oregon Ducks.

Featured in this story

Ankeny Vineyard
McDowell Creek County Park
Marks Ridge Winery
Sybaris Bistro
Joel Palmer House
Hult Center for the Performing Arts
Albany Historic Carousel and Museum
Polk County Historical Society Museum
Eola Hills Wine Cellars
Molalla River Corridor – Molalla
Detroit Lake
Hoodoo Ski Area