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The Willamette Valley is 150 miles of rolling hills, historic towns and rich velvety wine! West of Bend, the picturesque stretch is one of the most popular travel destinations in Oregon. Traveling such a short distance altogether makes for a super relaxing road trip with plenty of flexibility. Don’t want to stay in a certain town for the night? No problem, move on to the next one. We’ve put together a list of our favorite places and stops throughout this gorgeous part of the Pacific Northwest.
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Portland, Oregon speaks for itself and is the starting gate for our Willamette Valley adventure. Visit one of the city’s top attractions, then dine at Gumba for homemade, flavorful pasta dishes. Tiny Digs Hotel Portland adapts everything we love about the destination and compacts it into an accumulation of adorably small cabins. And what makes it even better is that restaurants are within walking distance.
Woodburn is 40 minutes from Portland and worth stopping over simply to gaze upon multitudes of blooms at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm. Being a bicultural area, those visiting will be met with Latino influence and the exciting Fiesta Mexicana come August. Tacos, burritos, churros, horchata, mariachi bands and handcrafted items await those who travel through at this time. Before heading out, stop by Luis’s Taqueria for tacos and ceviche tostadas.
Just 45 minutes away, McMinnville is an adorable town full of history, galleries, picture-perfect shops and plenty of places to drink wine. Serendipity Ice Cream captures the quaint ambiance of this little Oregon town. Inside has a traditional parlor feel, and there are a wealth of creamy desserts to choose from. Latin American, classic western and a variety of other cuisine are available in abundance. We recommend staying the night just to eat! Youngberg Hill Inn and Black Walnut Inn are both stunning vineyards at which guests can stay.
Amity, Oregon is around 15 minutes from McMinnville. It’s home to Brooks Wine, where travelers can sip a glass of biodynamic Pinot noir or Reisling. Rated as one of the top 100 wineries in the world, Brooks meets all expectations. Try pairing with some of the locally sourced, seasonal menu items. The Joel Palmer House is about 15 minutes away and is the place to go for an extensive and award-winning wine selection. The owners actually gather mushrooms and truffles from the forest to be used in mind-blowing dishes.
Might as well coast through Salem and hit Cristom Vineyards for an eco-tour of the estate—you’ll get to taste wine and the grapes! Picking summer fruit at the Willamette Valley Fruit Company is a delicious adventure all on its own, providing a non-alcoholic way to experience the crops of the area. Continue the culinary journey at the Willamette Valley Cheese Company, where you can taste what might be the best Gouda in the country. Spend at least one day venturing through Cuban wineries and vineyards that have stood the test of time along the Salem Wine Trail.
Just 30 minutes away, Mount Angel has a fun Bavarian theme going on, which gets particularly festive during the Oktoberfest celebration, as you probably could imagine! Dancing, authentic food and lots of brews flow through the pleasantly crowded streets. Benedictine Brewery will provide refuge for those more fond of beer than wine. But the sheer fact that monks use age-old traditional methods to make the brews, most everyone will likely want to stop. Appropriately follow the visit by stopping at Queen of Angel’s Monastery.
Silverton is a 10-minute drive from Mount Angel, home to the Canterbury Renaissance Fair which takes place in July. Expect to be transported back in time to days of armor-wearing, meat-eating, and candlelight. However, the Oregon Garden is a year-round attraction with varying blooms that encapsulate the acreage. It’s breathtaking. If dealing with a sweet tooth, stop for chocolates at the Chocolate Box, which sources local ingredients and home makes so many decadent treats. The Oregon Garden Resort and the Silverton Inn are the very best places to stay in town.
Stayton is just 30 minutes from Silver Falls State Park, a must-see natural destination with an abundance of waterfalls. There’s also a few small attractions in town to explore after visiting the park. Come and enjoy the scenery and lovely backdrops that serve for the ideal Instagram snap.
Next, drive 20 minutes to Turner, which houses the Willamette Valley Vineyards. Overall this is a gorgeous place with gently rolling hills lined by loads of grapevines. But the main thing to do is to visit the vineyard. Stroll through the historic estate, sit outside overlooking the landscape, and sip on a tasting flight of impeccable cultivated wines. And definitely ask what pairs best from the seasonal, artesian menu.
The last stop is Albany, which is 30 minutes away and is home to numerous historical sites. Ride the age old carousel to bring back some childhood memories, or browse trinkets at the antique mall. Pick a bucket full of raspberries at Childers’ Raspberry Farm, where you might just taste some of the sweetest variations of this fruit ever. Waverly Park features a five acre lake surrounded by a walking loop and plenty of Oregon foliage. Visitors often opt to rent a paddle boat for just five bucks to really get into the lake exploration. So many choices exist as far as food goes. But we think it’s really cool that there is an authentic Hungarian restaurant with fantastic ratings—aka Novak’s. A meal like that is the perfect way to end the road trip.