Delicious Summer Staycation Ideas!

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Summer has arrived! The season of fun! It’s a great time to plan “staycations” close to home with family and friends: barefoot backyard BBQ’s, trolling on Detroit lake, live music at Salem’s Riverfront Park or days spent wine tasting through our region’s vineyards. I’d love to suggest a wonderful itinerary for those seeking adventure close to home. Don’t underestimate how relaxing a night away from home can be; book a room at the Grand Hotel in Salem where you can crawl into a perfect bed and not worry about making the bed when you wake. When the sun comes up, take a Salem Bicycle Taxi ride through Salem’s Riverfront Park and over the Union Street Railroad Pedestrian & Bicycle Bridge. Ride it to Historic Deepwood Estate or the Bush House Museum to wander their gardens. For lunch, plan a picnic with supplies from a farm stand like E.Z. Orchards Farm Market: pints of blueberries, Italian olive oils, fine chocolates and a bottle of their champagne-like “Hard Cidre” made from French apple varieties you might find in Northern France. Or order a dish of berry or peach shortcake with loads of whipped cream!

Pick up a pre-made picnic lunch created by Chef Karo Thom of Alcyone Café & Catering, who makes to-die-for curried chicken and golden raisin salad or a wrap with prosciutto and mint, order some smoked salmon from Smokin’ Mike’s Seafood Delights and mini pies from Willamette Valley Fruit Company and drive to Van Duzer Vineyards where you can spread out a colorful tablecloth, buy a bottle of Winemaker Jerry Murray’s famous Pinot Gris and eat up! Bring along a kite, the Vineyard is situated in a special wind corridor, and when the breeze picks up, unfurl your kite into the sky to enjoy the same wind the raptors like to ride in the late afternoon. If you’re in the mood to pair nature with wine, make a bee-line to Left Coast Cellars, to see beehives dotting the vineyard (wild bees they’ve collected from their native oak trees) and walk their newly-developed 9-mile trail system while you enjoy Winemaker Luke McCollom’s own Pinot Noir and eat carrot cake with buttery frosting from their onsite cafe. Want to learn about the intricacies of pairing wine and food?  Invite a guest to your picnic: Byron Williams, owner of Grand Cru Wine Tours, is an expert on what wines to pair with local cheeses and dishes. He’ll bring the food and the wine along— you just pick the location!

Or head over to Willamette Valley Vineyards (WVV), order a dessert from their onsite restaurant and a bottle of delicious semi-sparkling Muscat-Frizzanté (of the same requested for a special dinner hosted by former President Clinton) and sit on their veranda overlooking a Burgundy-esque valley of vineyards and farms below. If Gilgamesh Brewing Company is hosting one of their down-home brewing parties, leave WVV and follow the smell of sweet, yeasty hops to Gilgamesh’s wooded brewery in Turner where they make experimental brews like their springy, mint kolsch. If you want the best of what’s seasonal but don’t want to do the foraging and cooking yourself, reserve a table at the Silver Grille in Silverton this month. Jeff Nizlek painstakingly prepares unforgettable dinners from scratch (he even makes his own salumi). Try his perfect summer salad of strawberries and candied hazelnuts or a chilled tomato soup that’s as sweet as candy. If you’re not ready to go home yet, drive into the wilderness and stay at the secluded Elkhorn Valley Inn Bed and Breakfast where you’ll feel like you’ve left the world behind.

There is so much adventure right in our neck of the woods, it would be a shame if you drove right past! Plan your next adventure right in our greater Salem area! For ideas to create other  Staycation itineraries, visit Travel Salem’s newly-refreshed website: www.TravelSalem.com.

~ Angie Morris, president and CEO of Travel Salem
*Originally printed in Statesman Journal, 7/31/11