The holidays are fast approaching, and these fall weekends are too precious to be spent inside prepping for houseguests. Luckily in Oregon, the state is your oyster. Whether your party loves wine, food, hiking, the arts or the outdoors, there’s plenty of fun in the Willamette Valley to go around for your quirky and adventurous family. Here are three no-fuss trips to consider.
Lights and bites in Silverton
You’ll fall in love with the small-town charm of downtown Silverton, where time slows when you have time to linger at the friendly eateries, cafes and shops. The city is often a pass-through for visitors to the Oregon Garden Resort & Spa, Silver Falls State Park or other nearby waterfalls, but here’s a hint: Don’t just pass through; indulge a night at the Oregon Garden cozy resort and explore the 80 acres of botanical gardens, then bundle up for an exhilarating jaunt through the twinkly lights at the annual Christmas in the Garden event (Nov. 23-Dec. 31, 2018). Take photos with Santa, browse through European-style markets featuring artisan vendors, go ice skating, tubing and have a jolly time at the Biergarten before tucking into your room at the resort.
In town, enjoy a farm-to-table brunch at Gather Cafe on Silverton’s Main Street; a traditional German supper at The Glockenspiel Restaurant in nearby Mt. Angel; and happy hour and dinner at The Creekside Grill, which overlooks the water. Don’t forget to check out the new family-friendly Silver Falls Brewery Ale House, with inspired craft ales like their Winter Falls Stout.
Then, head to Salem, where you can keep the magic going at Salem On Ice — a tented 8,400-square-foot outdoor skating rink that opens for the season mid-November at Salem’s Riverfront Park. Bring the kids and grandparents for skating lessons or drop-in sessions. Rentals are available, and concessions on site will keep everyone happy. Find more ideas here for your sweet and simple road trip to Salem this winter.
Farms and trails in Alsea
Who can resist baby goats and donkeys? If you’re yearning for something wild, book a night in the guest cottage or farm house at Leaping Lamb Farm Stay, in Alsea — 35 minutes from Corvallis and an hour from Eugene. Kids and grownups alike will get hands-on experience with life on a farm, where the hosts raise sheep, goats, horses, donkey, turkeys, chickens and ducks. They sell lamb and produce from their garden to visitors and lead public tours for groups.
Off the farm, Alsea is a wonderland for outdoor delights worth exploring in the wintertime. Salmon and steelhead fishermen flock to Alsea Falls Recreation Site in the winter, as do hikers and mountain bikers who find cool relief in the 12 miles of trails. Follow the 2.8-mile out-and-back hike through old-growth forest to both Alsea Falls (20 feet) and Green Peak Falls (60 feet), and you keep your eyes peeled for beaver, elk and deer.
Head back through Corvallis and explore the city’s vibrant art scene and food and drink options; find more road trip ideas here. In Albany, 11 miles away, make sure to stop at the Albany’s Historic Carousel & Museum, which opened in 2017 after years of planning. Take a trip down memory lane and hop on one of the handcrafted carousel animals. Lollipops not included.
Wine country fun and luxury
Have you stayed in a vintage trailer? Not like this one, we’re betting. Book a few trailers for the whole gang and make your basecamp at The Vintages Trailer Resort, between Dundee and McMinnville, where you can curl up in an adorably stylish space away from the distractions of the day. Each fully outfitted trailer sleeps two or three, with a fun vibe of rustic glamping in the heart of wine country. Wake up and hit Red Hills Market, just 5 miles away, for coffee and a hearty breakfast.
Then take the kids to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, home of the Spruce Goose — the world’s largest plane — and adjacent to a delightful water park with slides and features for all ages. In downtown McMinnville, pick up a map of the city’s self-guided wine walk to 22 tasting rooms and five local breweries and redeem your stamped passport for prizes.
Tasty lunch and dinner options abound. For something simple, Storrs Smokehouse in downtown Newberg is a must-visit for barbecue lovers. Pick up a brisket plate to go and enjoy the vibe and beers at Wolves & People Farmhouse Brewery, nearby. Newberg is also a hot spot for upscale, wine-focused dining, with spots like The Painted Lady Restaurant and JORY, at The Allison Inn.
Looking for more indulgence? Try any of these vineyard stays in wine country — your out-of-town guests will thank you and most likely come back soon for more.