: Sionnie Lafollette

Treat Yourself to the Willamette Valley

May 24, 2019

With more than 500 wineries in 150 miles, the Willamette Valley is a great destination for wine lovers — but there’s a lot more than what’s in the glass. From historic towns to quirky cities, craft breweries to farm stands, waterfalls to waterparks, the Willamette Valley offers delightful escapes around every corner. Hike, paddle or cycle from vineyard to hopyard. You’ll love this one-of-a-kind tour.

A waterfall hike at Silver Falls State Park is a must-do in Silverton.

Day 1: Wilsonville to Silverton

Start the day at World of Speed Motorsports Museum in Wilsonville, where the love of race cars, boats and motorcycles is contagious. Famed vehicles fill the space, many on loan from private collections, and driving simulators let you maneuver legendary race cars.

Fuel up with a bacon-cheddar-apple melt served on homemade bread at Country Grains in Aurora. Wine tasting beckons nearby at St. Josef’s Winery, a sustainable vineyard home to one of Oregon’s earliest winemakers, open on weekends.

Next stop by TMK Creamery in Canby to meet the “cowlebrities.” The family-owned dairy farm specializes in artisanal cheese and hosts tours on Saturdays, with seasonal activities and cheese-making on site. Get an alpaca experience at Marquam Hill Ranch in Molalla, where you can pet and feed the soft creatures. Bring the texture home too, with alpaca fiber items available at the gift shop.

Get an alpaca experience at Marquam Hill Ranch in Molalla. (Photo credit: Vicki and Vanessa Ng)

A waterfall hike at Silver Falls State Park is a must-do in Silverton. Take the entire Trail of Ten Falls, or just walk behind the cascade of South Falls.

Because it’s Oregon, dinner at a brewery is always appropriate. Seven Brides Brewing is no exception, offering hearty steaks and locally sourced salads, alongside a large selection of beers brewed onsite. If you can’t choose between barrel-aged sours and IPAs, there’s always the 12-beer tasting tray.

Rest easy at Oregon Garden Resort, located on 80 acres of gardens, an outdoor pool and a full-service spa.

Tour the very yards that grew ingredients for your favorite craft beers.

Day 2: Silverton to Albany

Morning is a delight at Oregon Garden with complimentary breakfast, followed by a stroll along vibrant flowers, wetlands and water gardens. Leave the botanical oasis for Archive Coffee & Bar in Salem, where the daytime specialty is a deconstructed cappuccino and scones.

Located in an old church, the Heritage Museum of Independence provides free walking maps of the city’s historic sites. Explore the friendly downtown or opt for the Willamette River Trail, a soft-surface loop ideal for nature viewing.

Independence was once deemed the “hop capital of the world,” and Rogue Ales keeps that spirit alive at its Chatoe Tasting Room and hop farm. Tour the very yards that grew ingredients for your favorite craft beers.

Take an insider's tour of the Albany Historic Carousel & Museum. (Photo credit: Vicki and Vanessa Ng)

Go south to the newly opened Albany Historic Carousel & Museum, a century-old carousel lovingly restored by the community. Pick a seat on a whimsical unicorn, frog or orca; then watch woodcarvers at work during an insider’s tour.

Dinner is a treat at Sybaris Bistro, considered one of the Willamette Valley’s finest restaurants. Inspired by indigenous foods, the menu relies on local farms and ranches, changing with the season, which means you might not have the same meal twice.

With tastebuds satisfied and more than a day’s worth of memories banked, spend the night at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Albany. Tomorrow holds even more adventures.

Visit Detering Orchards in Harrisburg, part of the South Willamette Valley Food Trail.

Day 3: Albany to Eugene

Breakfast tastes like a trip across the world at Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant. Try the homemade kolbasz or a platter of spicy apricot brie and cured meats. Just don’t be surprised if you crave it again later.

Next discover the splendor of the valley with a peaceful paddle on the nationally recognized Willamette River Water Trail. Rent a kayak or stand-up paddleboard at Peak Sports in Corvallis, where you can also get tips for the best river access points.

It’s not just locals who claim the tastiest pizza comes from American Dream Pizza. Grab a made-to-order slice at this Corvallis mainstay, which also serves salads and microbrews.

Visit Detering Orchards in Harrisburg, part of the South Willamette Valley Food Trail. Depending on the season, you can pick pumpkins, pet farm animals or participate in an activity.

Bookworms enjoy the Ken Kesey art outside Plank Town Brewing.

To the south, Springfield showcases famous locals on its walls. Fans of “The Simpsons” will love the larger-than-life mural downtown, while bookworms enjoy the Ken Kesey art outside Plank Town Brewing.

Just steps away is PublicHouse, a former church turned beer hall, whiskey bar and food market. Much of the original architecture was preserved, like the dramatic stained glass windows, but inside is a variety of innovative eats and drinks.

A historic boutique hotel, The Campbell House Inn in Eugene, is your home for the night. Admire the beautifully restored Victorian rooms filled with plush modern-day comforts.

Lane County is home to the largest collection of covered bridges in the West.

Day 4:  Eugene to Cottage Grove to McMinnville

If champagne brunch in a vintage Airstream trailer piques your curiosity, head to the one and only Lion & Owl. The chefs use local ingredients to reinvent global cuisine, like rainbow chard hand pies and savory cheese macarons.

Before leaving town, Eugene’s famed Whiteaker Neighborhood deserves your attention, especially during its wild block party in August. For now pick up pastries, pies and coffee at Sweet Life Patisserie — you’ll want more than one.

Venture south to Cottage Grove, the film site of American classics like “Animal House” and Buster Keaton’s “The General.” See the iconic red bridge from “Stand by Me” on the Row River Trail, part of the Covered Bridges Scenic Bikeway. Rent a bike at Rainy Peak Bicycles and ride the largely car-free bikeway through six historic covered bridges. It just might feel cinematic.

Cheers the day with a wine pairing on Historic 3rd Street in McMinnville.

Switch gears for lunch at Jack Sprats Restaurant, where the mouthwatering menu of comfort foods can be adapted to most dietary needs, like gluten-free chicken or tempeh strips.

Nearby Trestle Creek Falls is a shining example of Oregon’s magnificent waterfalls. Take the gentle lower trail for a first glimpse, then hike to the upper falls for a special moment behind the cascade.

Choose the scenic route back to Portland, OR-99W, with a pit stop at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, one of the valley’s best bird-watching spots, near Dallas.

For a slice of history, visit the Evergreen Aviation Museum to see Howard Hughes’ famous Spruce Goose, then play next door at the Wings & Waves Waterpark. Cheers the day with a wine pairing on Historic 3rd Street in McMinnville, which just might be the perfect way to cap your Willamette Valley journey.

About The
Author

Sachie Yorck
Sachie Yorck is Content Editor at Travel Oregon. Depending on the day, she could be record-hunting in downtown Portland, hiking on a muddy forest path or soaking in one of Oregon's many natural hot springs.