Just a 20-minute drive southwest of Portland, Tualatin Valley’s bucolic patchwork of farms, ranches, fields and orchards feels a world away from the city. It’s also a great place to get a front-row seat to see where your food comes from. Immersive farm experiences throughout the region let you learn how animals are cared for. You can also meet the makers behind your favorite products and taste the delectable fruits of their labor. Here’s how to plan an epic agritourism adventure in Oregon’s stunning Tualatin Valley.
What to Do: Bountiful Markets, Fuzzy Friends and U-Pick Berries
Want to feel more connected to your local food system? Just take a few steps into one of Tualatin Valley’s farmers markets to enjoy treats like tantalizing gooseberry-elderflower preserve from Muaka Girl Creations and freshly made cinnamon rolls from Sinful Confections. Choose from farmers markets in Forest Grove, downtown Hillsboro, Orenco Station and Beaverton — which is one of the largest in the state. You can sample new foods, get tips from the experts and often enjoy live music from local artists.
Animal lovers can get up close and personal with fuzzy-bodied, funny-faced animals that you can’t find just anywhere: alpacas. Sherwood’s Alpacas of Oregon offers the chance for a hands-on moment, letting you go behind the fence to feed, pet and mingle with the friendly creatures. In the spring and summer, you might even see baby alpacas. Stop into the barn store to peruse pillow-soft, hand-knit treasures made from alpaca fleece, including scarves, sweaters and socks.
To some Oregonians, summer bounty means one thing: freshly picked berries. Spend a day among the fruit-dotted bushes picking your haul at Tualatin Valley’s many U-pick berry farms. Unger Farms, known for its Hood and Albion strawberries, has been growing berries for more than 100 years. Smith Berry Barn grows several varieties of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries, as well as fall berries. It also hosts workshops. Don’t leave without trying its berry milkshakes. Hoffman Farms Store is known for its blueberries but also grows marionberries and tayberries. For family fun, the farm also offers scenic rides around its property on its ⅓-size train.
Where to Eat: Farm-to-Table Global Dining, Local Favorites and Comfort Staples
While hands-on experiences can help you gain appreciation for the local agriculture scene, something magical happens when you put those quality ingredients in the hands of a skilled chef. Leave the cooking to the professionals and treat yourself to a memorable meal at Beaverton’s Restaurant Row, in the downtown area. Restaurants like Afuri Izakaya, which specializes in authentic Japanese ramen, and Decarli’s fine Italian dining offer a global dining experience — while also proudly touting their use of regional bounty.
Eat like a local at one of Hillsboro’s sweetest local gathering places, the South Store Café. Serving breakfast and lunch daily, its menu features pastries with locally grown fruit, sandwiches with housemade chutneys, and soups and salads with seasonal vegetables. You can enjoy your meal on its lush patio or inside the building, an early-1900s former general store that has what the owners lovingly call a “rakish tilt.”
All-natural, high-quality and locally sourced ingredients are also on the menu at Fat Milo’s Family Kitchen, a Sherwood breakfast-and-lunch mainstay since 2010. The restaurant serves hearty meals in a comfortable atmosphere and proudly works with food purveyors that demonstrate commitment to community support and quality products. Try its Gaucho steak and eggs or bourbon French toast.
Where to Stay: Unwind With a Relaxing Stay at Comfortable Hotels
After a long, fulfilling day experiencing Tualatin Valley’s charming agricultural scene, end your day at The Orenco, a boutique hotel steps away from the Orenco Farmers Market in Hillsboro. The elevated accommodation offers a comfortable place to unwind, with amenities such as in-room fireplaces, pet-friendly rooms and studios with private patios.
Just around the corner from Alpacas of Oregon, the Hampton Inn Sherwood is another great spot to unwind from a day filled with new sights and sounds. Dip into the hotel’s heated pool, work out in the on-site fitness center or dial into work in one of the comfortable meeting rooms. It’s close to many wineries and, if you didn’t get your fill of animal sightings, a mere 2 miles from the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. Home to more than 200 species of birds throughout the year, the refuge attracts wood ducks and hooded mergansers in the summer.