Located less than 4 miles from Oregon’s capital city, the town of Keizer is often thought of together with Salem. But this independent little community has an identity all its own. Originally named for two immigrant farmer brothers, Keizer has become regionally known for its annual iris festival in May — a flower-focused celebration with a parade, carnival and marketplace. But any time of year, this Willamette Valley community attracts visitors for its cuisine, outdoor access and family fun.
Get Outside: Cycling enthusiasts cruise through town on the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, Oregon’s first official state scenic bikeway. The Keizer-to-Albany section is a popular 25-mile one-way ride. The 120-acre Keizer Rapids Park has some kind of outdoor fun for everyone. Kayakers put in here to paddle sections of the Willamette Water Trail. The park provides easy access to 3- and 7-mile routes and boat-in camping. Frisbee fanatics love the 18-hole disc golf course and hikers stroll the wooded nature trails along the river. Little ones swarm the new “big toy” playground with castles, bridges and a log cabin, while the four-footed family members romp at the dog park.
Brews and Bites: Visitors to Keizer are treated to surprisingly varied cuisine. Gustav’s Bargarten calls itself a “modern Bavarian social house.” Its communal seating models a traditional German beer garden, while the sleek bar and decor offer a more contemporary feel. Weekend brunch features the signature Bargarten Benedict, and the dinner menu has a range of sausage, schnitzel and classic meals. Thai cuisine at Red Ginger Keizer includes traditional Thai dishes like drunken noodles, tom kha gai and massaman beef. Grab a table at Delaney Madison Grill for views of Staats Lake and traditional American grill offerings like steaks and burgers. Hop lovers enjoy Vagabond Brewing, founded by three friends who met in the U.S. Marine Corps. Into the Wild Fresh Hop IPA, Wet Owl IPA and Northwest Passage Stout pay homage to the Oregon locale.
Family Fun: For a good, old-fashioned baseball game, park yourself in the Volcanoes Stadium to watch the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the official minor league team for the San Francisco Giants, based in Keizer. Hosting games from June through September, the stadium also has a kids’ playground and a sports bar. With a junior Olympic-size pool, a waterslide and a splash pad, the Salvation Army Kroc Center has watery fun for all ages. Out of the water, check out the rock wall and the game room. For history buffs, the Keizer Heritage Museum, set in a 19th-century Craftsman schoolhouse, displays a collection of historical artifacts, photos and memorabilia dating back as far as the town’s pioneer days. Keizer’s mechanized past is celebrated at Antique Powerland, a collection of historic farm machines, trains, tractors, trollies and more.