Editor’s note: Oregon’s COVID-19 restrictions have eased, but businesses may ask you to wear a face cover – bring one along and be patient and kind if asked to wear it. It’s also wildfire season – plan ahead and do your part to prevent wildfires.
There’s nothing quite like springtime in Oregon, when the birds are singing, the cherry blossoms and tulips are blooming, and the nasal spray is handy. Many beloved springtime traditions are open to visitors this year but will look a bit different in light of COVID-19 safety protocols. Here’s where to celebrate the season while keeping everyone’s safety top of mind. Wherever you go, remember to wear your face covering and keep 6 feet of physical distance.
Farmers Markets (various locations): Oregon is home to dozens of farmers markets offering a bounty of local, seasonal produce and other fresh goods. One of the earliest to open is Rogue Valley Growers Market, which launches its Ashland Tuesday Market and Medford Thursday Market in March. Many more open in April or later spring and run through fall. See this handy directory of Oregon Farmers Markets to find the one nearest you, along with details on location, dates and hours, offerings, and COVID-19 protocols.
Spring Blooms (various locations): Springtime is synonymous with colorful blooms, and you can get your fill — along with the perfect photo opp — at any of Oregon’s lushest gardens, including the famous cherry blossoms at Portland Japanese Garden, Lithia Park in Ashland and along Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest, March 19-May 2, 2021 (Woodburn): After being forced to close just days before their opening in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the famed tulip festival returns for 2021. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the colorful acres of tulips with plenty of room to keep with your own pod. The biggest change this year is that visitors are required to purchase tickets online in advance, with timed entry so as to limit capacity and congestion, especially on weekends. You can buy a day pass or season pass, and all passes from 2020 will also be honored.
Hood River Blossom Time, April 1-30, 2021 (Hood River): April is peak season for soaking up the beauty of the pink and white flowers along the Hood River Valley while safely sampling the culinary bounty of the Hood River County Fruit Loop. As long as you travel with your own pod and follow physical-distancing rules at each destination, this self-guided adventure is the ultimate spring getaway. Visit on weekdays and go early in the day for the fewest crowds, and if an area is too busy, visit a backup.
In a Landscape, April-September 2021 (various locations): Tickets go on sale in March for the hotly anticipated series of classical music performances by pianist Hunter Noack, who brings his 9-foot Steinway piano into remote natural areas of the state to perform amidst the natural beauty. Noack’s team has refined their processes and physical-distancing protocols to keep everyone safe. Watch for the lineup to come in late February, with tickets at a sliding scale.
Barnstormer’s Vintage Fair, April 16-17, 2021 (Central Point): This antique and garden show is scheduled to welcome visitors from across the region to the Jackson County Fairgrounds with ample physical-distancing protocols in place. Local vendors will be selling everything from farmhouse-style and vintage home decor to handmade garden goods, plants, local veggies, handcrafted food, music and wine. Purchase tickets online in advance.
Harney County Migratory Bird Festival, April 23-25, 2021 (Burns): Typically attracting hundreds of bird nerds from throughout the region, this year’s festival has gone virtual, with ways to engage online all weekend. Enjoy videos, conversations, photos, oral histories, workshops, a keynote address by nature field guide author Kenn Kaufman and more. Most activities will be free, but some will be fee-based.
Circles in the Sand, April 30-Aug. 25, 2021 (Bandon): Walk the mesmerizing labyrinths in the sand at Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint, a public art project created by local artist Denny Dyke in 2011. The labyrinths are created in accordance with the tide, so check the posted start times and arrive (allowing time for parking) about 20 minutes in advance. The one-way sandy paths allow you to keep 6 feet of physical distance from others — remember to wear your face covering, keep your dog on a leash and be kind to other visitors.
Kite Festival at LongSword Vineyard, May 8-9, 2021 (Jacksonville): On Mother’s Day weekend, treat mom (or any loved one) to some time in the fresh air at this winery’s annual kite festival. Bring a kite to fly at the huge field, or buy one there. Pack chairs and blankets to enjoy lunch with your pod, along with Applegate Valley wines and tasty food-truck fare.
Oregon Wine Month, May 2021 (statewide): During this month celebrating Oregon’s winemakers, stay posted for ideas about unique ways to enjoy Oregon wine at home and safely at tasting rooms across the state. Many tasting rooms will be reopening their outdoor patios for fresh-air seating for the season; make sure to book an appointment in advance for the best experience.
Ashland World Music Festival, May 29-30, 2021 (Ashland): This free family-friendly event will stream on Facebook Live for fans to enjoy from home. Visiting artists and community members will share stories and musical performances from around the world. In-person audiences may be allowed to attend open-air performances if rules allow; stay posted on how the event shapes up.