Located where the Willamette River meets the Calapooia River, Albany (pop. 51,000) was founded in the mid-19th century. Located just a few miles off of I-5, this farming city has retained a charming, walkable downtown and has more historic homes (350) than any other city in Oregon.
Around Town: The Monteith and Hackleman Historic districts offer a walking tour of lovely old homes — Queen Anne, Craftsman and Italianate. Ride a portion of the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, which rolls right through Albany. (The Albany to Brownsville section is an approachable, 30-mile leg.) For a scenic drive, take the Albany Visitors Association’s tour of eight covered bridges in the outlying area.
Feast for the Foodie: Check out the offerings at Sybaris Bistro from Chef Matt Bennett, who’s made the James Beard Award short list several times. Bennett bills it as “an eclectic northwest bistro.” Down the street is another Bennett brainchild — First Burger — with a classic burger-and-fries menu. Cody Utzman, two-time winner of the Food Network’s “Chopped,” opened Frankie’s Restaurant. Named for Utzman’s late father, Frankie’s focuses on the freshest cuisine sourced from local farmers, foragers and fishermen.
Spirited Sipping: Deluxe Brewing Co. and Sinister Distilling Co. — the area’s first brew-stillery — offers pilsners and lagers on the brew side and whisky, rum and gin from the still. For more spirits, visit the tasting room of nearby 4 Spirits Distillery, which creates fine vodka and whiskey while honoring fallen veterans. Calapooia Brewing brews up everything from porter to pale (and has a great looking burger).
Extend your stay: Spend the night at the Edelweiss Manor Bed and Breakfast, a charming, four square farmhouse built in 1908. Enjoy access to nearby golf courses and an onsite spa.