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Day Trips Around the Willamette Valley

By Matt Wastradowski

Seven day trips around the world-class wine and food region of Oregon

The Willamette Valley may span more than 100 miles from north to south, but that distance belies the backroads and byways that make possible countless day trips around the world-class wine and food region of Oregon. Sip our world-famous pinot noir, tour the family-farms that dot our region, and connect with the cultures that make the Willamette Valley such a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

Here are ideas for seven day trips throughout the Willamette Valley-with a wide range of options for travelers of all interests.

a group gathers around in a living area space with a fireplace
Sipping the afternoon away at local tasting rooms throughout Yamhill County

Sip Oregon-Grown Wine in Yamhill County

Best for: Wine enthusiasts, fans of small-town charm

The Willamette Valley is known the world over for its exquisite wines-Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the area its Wine Region of the Year in 2016, after all-and the heart of the valley's wine scene resides in Yamhill County. 

Several communities throughout the area host chic tasting rooms, elegant eateries, and charming downtowns-and sit surrounded by thousands of acres of scenic grapevines. Add it all up, and you have one of the most celebrated wine scenes in all of Oregon.

McMinnville hosts numerous tasting rooms along its inviting Third Street corridor-all surrounded by mom-and-pop boutiques, artisan shops, farm-to-table restaurants, cozy café s, and bustling breweries. Tasting rooms outside of town are just a short drive away. Learn more about the community at Visit McMinnville.

Nearby, Newberg sits surrounded by more than 100 wineries growing a wide variety of grapes-and showcases a vibrant agricultural community through its breweries, restaurants, distilleries, and more. Learn more about the area's many offerings at Taste Newberg.

Need help planning your visit to Oregon Wine Country-whether in Yamhill County or elsewhere around the Willamette Valley? The Willamette Valley Wineries Association hosts a helpful trip-planning page, complete with links, resources, tips, and more.

Image of tulip field
Tulips in bloom at Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

Exploring the Farms and Home-Grown Charms of the Mt. Hood Territory

Best for: Families, hungry travelers, visitors who prefer a slower pace

The Willamette Valley is world famous for its agricultural output; our rich volcanic soils, mild climate, and close proximity to water sources offer ideal growing conditions for flowers, wine grapes, produce, and more. So if you'd like to taste fresh fare, pick up a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers, or spend a day getting to know the farmers of the Willamette Valley, head to farms at the base of Mt. Hood for a closer look at the region's agricultural roots.

Spend a day exploring the South Clackamas Farm Loop, a self-guided tour that comprises 20 stops around Canby, Molalla, Woodburn, and other communities near the northern edge of the Willamette Valley. Visitors can pick and choose the stops that sound most interesting to them, creating an itinerary unique to their whims, interests, and free time.

Want to mingle with a herd of more than 70 alpacas? Stop by Marquam Hill Ranch for an organized tour or to visit the ranch store (which carries yarns, rugs, clothing, and other items crafted from alpaca fiber). And if you're enjoying an off-day from WCH Oregon22, you just might get to mingle with newborn alpacas, which are born between July and September.

Elsewhere, the family-owned Fir Point Farms & Country Grains offers a quintessential farm experience-with offerings that include a country store and gift shop (stocked with local produce, jams and jellies, local honey, fresh-baked goods, and more), farm animals, a scenic nature trail, and U-pick opportunities for cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, and other vegetables.

Just outside Canby, visitors can enjoy fresh cheeses and other delights from TMK Creamery; experiences include free tours of the TMK dairy (advance appointments are required), cheese samples, food for sale, and more. Those of age can also purchase TMK's "Cowcohol '', which uses whey byproducts (created during the cheesemaking process) to create a smooth sipping vodka.

Of course, it wouldn't be a stop in the Willamette Valley without wine. A handful of wineries dot the South Clackamas Farm Loop, and you can't go wrong with any of them. But we'd suggest starting with Christopher Bridge Wines. The LIVE-certified winery (noted for its environmentally and socially responsible growing practices) has been producing wine since 2001 and has earned acclaim for its pinot noir, pinot gris, muscat, and more-all crafted with estate-grown fruit.

Finally, a friendly reminder: Farms are open throughout the year but may alter the hours they welcome the public; check in with your desired destinations via Facebook, their official website, or even a phone call before setting out-just to be safe.

A family of four sit in a booth sharing a plate of nachos.
Don Froylon Creamery, known for it's award-winning Mexican cheeses

Savor the Latino Culture of Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley

Best for: Hungry travelers, beer and cider fans

Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley are home to a thriving Latino culture, with several businesses honoring that history and heritage through dishes, desserts, drinks, and more. So if you're looking to dig into that heritage, we have a few suggestions for where to go. Just be sure to show up hungry.

Portland Road Northeast, for instance, runs through northern Salem and is home to several businesses showcasing inventive twists on traditional offerings. Don Froylan Creamery produces a variety of award-winning Mexican cheeses-and serves a savory menu of nachos, quesadillas, taquitos, and more; on weekdays, visitors can watch the cheese-making operation from the Don Froylan restaurant area. Just next door, Don Bigote Churreria gets plenty of mileage out of the humble churro; the food truck dishes ice cream sandwiches (where the wafer or cookie "breading" is swapped out for churros), ice cream sundaes (topped with churros), and more. (In all, Don Bigote serves churros 11 different ways-but also serves crepes, milkshakes, and other sweet treats.)

Meanwhile, downtown Salem is home to La Familia Cider Company, founded in 2017 by a family of first-generation Mexican immigrants and specializing in ciders inspired by aguas frescas (fresh fruit drinks that are popular in Mexico and around Central America). The popular cidermaker shares its tasting room space with Azuls Taco House, a local chain specializing in creative tacos (with Thai- and Korean-inspired selections on the menu) and creative, non-alcoholic aguas frescas.

Just across the bridge, in West Salem, sits Xicha Brewing-the only Latino-owned-and-operated brewery in the Pacific Northwest. Xicha's pub fare draws inspiration from throughout Central America (with dishes ranging from tacos and tortas to cubano sandwiches), and its beers routinely showcase Latin American influences (including a golden ale brewed with guava for a sweeter-than-usual kick).

North of Salem, the community of Woodburn is home to several Latino-owned-and-operated eateries dishing everything from traditional street fare to filling taqueria eats. In the heart of downtown, El Mercadito specializes in a wide range of on-the-go bites, including elote (grilled corn-and a popular dish in Mexico), mangonadas (frozen mango drinks imbued with various spices), pupusas, and more. And nearby Luis's Taqueria has been a community staple since its founding in 1989; popular dishes include tacos (crafted with homemade tortillas), tostadas, quesadillas, pozole, and more.

Street view of downtown Albany
Downtown Albany Oregon features historical buildings, museums, and a one-of-a-kind carousel

Take a Trip Through Regional History in the Albany Area

Best for: Families, history buffs

The community of Albany was founded in 1847 and-some 175 years later-showcases an abundance of Willamette Valley history on the south shore of the Willamette River. Around town, history buffs will find plenty to dig into-with covered bridges, museums, historical homes, and more telling the story of Albany's earliest days and subsequent growth.

Up for a day at the museum? Albany is home to several. The Monteith House Museum, housed in a building that dates back to 1849, shows what life was like for the community's early inhabitants. Nearby, the Albany Regional Museum collects photos, artifacts, memorabilia, and more to show off Albany's storied history. And Albany's Historic Carousel and Museum takes a different approach to history, housing a 1909 carousel outfitted with 52 hand-carved animals (including dogs, cats, zebras, lions, and even dragons). Want to dive deeper into the region's history? Check out this list of local museums from the Albany Visitors Association.

Outside of town, catch an up-close glimpse of Albany's history by touring a handful of scenic covered bridges. Some of the most notable historic structures include the Shimanek Bridge (painted red, rather than the traditional white) and Larwood Bridge (which spans Crabtree Creek and sits next to a water wheel that once provided electricity to local residents).

Albany's greatest claim to historic fame, meanwhile, just might be its renowned architecture. The city hosts four national historic districts (which are home to a combined 800 historic buildings, some dating back to the 1840s). Learn more about taking a self-guided tour of Albany's historic districts-ranging from Oregon Trail-era homes to the second-oldest airport in the world.

Enjoy spectacular views from Marys Peak near Corvallis, Oregon

Enjoy the Impressive Outdoors Around Corvallis

Best for: Families, outdoor enthusiasts, photographers

No trip to the Willamette Valley is truly complete without some time outdoors-and Corvallis delivers plenty of opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill and experience levels.

There is perhaps no finer introduction to the outdoors around Corvallis than by enjoying a hike or drive up Marys Peak, just west of town. At nearly 4,100 feet, Marys Peak is the tallest point in the Coast Range-boasting views that range from the Pacific Ocean in the west to Cascade peaks at the eastern edge of the Willamette Valley. Wildflower displays remain vibrant well into summer, covering exposed meadows in dazzling displays of color. Several hiking trails lead to the summit, but visitors can also drive to a parking area just below the summit (with a short hiking trail ascending to the peak).

The Corvallis area also makes a great place to start exploring the 187-mile-long Willamette River. Paddlers can get onto the water via canoe, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard all around Corvallis-and watch for wildlife (such as osprey and great blue herons), marvel at forests and farmland, and enjoy an all-around relaxing day on the historic waterway. (Paddlers with more than a day can also spend the night at one of roughly 50 campsites along the Willamette River.) Learn more about exploring the Willamette River (also known as the Willamette Water Trail) around Corvallis.

Veteran mountain bikers, meanwhile, have plenty to love about the Alsea Falls Recreation Site, which hosts nearly 10 miles of technical terrain snaking through towering second-growth forest; challenges include rollers, berms, rock gardens, hips, rock chutes, banked turns, and exposed root features. Learn more about mountain biking at Alsea Falls-and other destinations throughout the Willamette Valley.

While you're in the area, get inspired for other outdoor adventures around Corvallis with the free Heart of the Valley Outdoor Recreation Map.

Alesong Brewery and tasting room
Alesong Brewery, courtesy of Joni Kabana

Sipping Your Way Through the Vineyards and Breweries of the South Willamette Valley

Best for: Wine enthusiasts, beer geeks

The Willamette Valley is rightfully known for its beer and wine scenes-and some of the most inventive vintners and brewers are plying their trade around Eugene and throughout the southern Willamette Valley.

Beer geeks, for instance, flock to Alesong Brewing & Blending, which boasts a tasting room at the 5th Street Public Market in downtown Eugene. Each of Alesong's complex beers are aged in barrels and imbued with ingredients that showcase a variety of exciting flavors; one barleywine was crafted with whole-roasted cocoa beans, while the brewery's kriek was matured with Oregon-grown cherries for a smooth, yet subtly tart experience.

A short walk away, ColdFire Brewing has earned acclaim for its small-batch beers and wide range of offerings. Draft and packaged offerings include a citrus-tinged hazy IPA; a West Coast IPA bearing notes of pine, lime, and white tea; and a heavy-hitting stout crafted with cold-brewed coffee.

Oenophiles, meanwhile, enjoy King Estate Winery-the largest biodynamic-certified vineyard in North America (meaning King Estate's wines are only minimally processed-letting nature determine how vines grow and mature). The winery's many blends and varietals-ranging from pinot noir and syrah to pinot gris and rosé -can be enjoyed from an outdoor patio, perched atop a Willamette Valley hillside, that overlooks sweeping vineyards. Learn more about biodynamic wineries throughout the Willamette Valley.

For a different tasting experience, consider a stop by the Oregon Wine L.A.B. The urban winery and tasting room pours a mix of local, artisan brands (the "L.A.B." in the Oregon Wine L.A.B.'s name) as well as selections from its in-house label, William Rose Wines-which sources its grapes from growers throughout Oregon.

World-class mountain biking in and around Oakridge and McKenzie Bridge
Get off-roading with world-class mountain biking in and around Oakridge and McKenzie Bridge

Getting Outdoors Around Oakridge and McKenzie Bridge

Best for: Outdoor enthusiasts-especially mountain bikers

Time and again, visitors cite outdoor recreation as one of the top reasons they visit Oregon and the Willamette Valley. So if you're looking to get outside while in town for WCH Oregon22, make a beeline for the West Cascades-where world-class mountain biking and epic whitewater paddling await.

Mountain bikers in the know flock to Oakridge, which the International Mountain Bicycling Association designated as a gold-level Ride Center-one of only four areas in the United States to receive such an honor. It's easy to see why the community has been dubbed the "Mountain Biking Capital of the Pacific Northwest."

Nearly 400 miles of trail crisscross the hillsides and forests around Oakridge, offering a mix of long, flowing rides and technical challenges geared toward riders of all abilities and skill levels. In town, Oakridge Bike Shop & Willamette Mountain Mercantile offers a variety of demo bikes to try, as well as services and rentals. And in nearby Westfir, Cascades Outdoor Center offers regular shuttles to some of the most popular trails in the region (as well as guided hikes and paddling excursions on the Middle Fork Willamette River).

Of course, the West Cascades aren't just known for mountain biking; whitewater rafting on the scenic McKenzie River is among the region's most popular activities. Horse Creek Lodge & Outfitters offers beginner-friendly floats lasting 3-6 hours, with views of ancient lava flows and verdant foliage along the shore. You can also sign up for a guided trip with Helfrich Outfitter, which offers half-day and full-day outings that cover various swaths of the McKenzie River-with trips geared toward beginners and veteran rafters alike.

Disc golf fans, meanwhile, can try their hand at one of Oregon's newest courses: the Old Mill Disc Golf Course in Oakridge. The championship-level course stretches more than a mile in length and offers interpretive panels and historical markers that discuss the area's fascinating history as a former lumber mill. Learn more about disc golf around the Willamette Valley.

Before heading out, it can't hurt to see what conditions look like on the ground in Oakridge and along the McKenzie River; the region's forests burned in the Middle Fork Complex Fires in 2021, creating some closure areas and rendering some trails inaccessible. Check with the Willamette National Forest's Middle Fork Ranger District for information on Westfir and Oakridge, and the McKenzie River Ranger District for information on the McKenzie River Corridor before heading out.

Your adventure begins with the official Willamette Valley Travel Guide. Request your complimentary printed guide or download a digital guide today.

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