Discover the holidays in Salem, Oregon
Stunning lights displays, one-of-a-kind gift ideas and festive happenings are just a few of the joys that await you in Salem, Oregon, this month. Whether you’re looking to shop for last-minute gifts, enjoy a day with the family or find the perfect treats for your holiday party, Salem has something for everyone. Here are five reasons to visit Salem this holiday season:
1. Indulge in Winter Delights
You don’t have to go to grandma’s house to get fresh-baked bread this holiday season. Great Harvest Bread Co. will serve up seasonal breads, scones and cookies all month long. Flavors include a cranberry orange cake bread, a traditional German Christmas bread and eggnog snickerdoodles. And if you’re looking for tasteful gifts, the eatery also sells gift baskets, cookie mixes and gift cards.
Warm up with a cup of hot chocolate at Word of Mouth Bistro. The house-made drink overflows with whipped cream, truffles, sprinkles and marshmallows. Once you see it, you’ll understand why people wait in line for it. The bistro serves breakfast and lunch.
Pizzelles, cannolis and éclairs, oh my! Find your favorite old-fashioned holiday treats at The Little Cannoli Bakery. Pastries, cookies, cakes and pies are baked fresh daily. And as a special treat this month, the bakery will be making rum balls! If you can’t just have one, the bakery also sells platters and gift baskets.
2. Shop for Holiday Must-Haves
With literature for people of all ages, the Book Bin is a bookworm’s paradise. It’s easy to lose track of time as you explore the store’s collection of books, magazines and journals. It’s also a great place to stock up on 2017 calendars!
For the outdoor enthusiast in your life, head to Salem Summit Company. Shop big-ticket items like paddleboards and tents or browse through the Hydro Flasks and apparel to find the perfect stocking stuffer. The store carries Patagonia, Marmot, Wigwam and other popular brands.
Located 10 minutes from the heart of downtown, Popcorn Fetti offers mouth-watering gifts. From classic buttery popcorn to loaded baked potato, the family-owned popcorn shop has more than 50 flavors to choose from. Add the popcorn to one of the store’s seasonal gift boxes or tins.
If you’re searching for one-of-a-kind gifts or unique home décor, look no further than Olivia’s. The boutique carries handbags, baby gifts and jewelry from designers such as Brighton, Trollbeads and Vera Bradley.
If you haven’t already exceeded your holiday budget, visit Salem Center. The mall boasts more than 50 stores, including Nordstrom, Macy’s and JCPenney. Santa Claus will also be on hand to take photos and visit with customers.
3. Combine Christmas and Culture
The Willamette Heritage Center is home to the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and the oldest timber-frame structures in the state. Each December, the 19th century campus comes alive with thousands of holiday lights. Enjoy blacksmith and weaving demonstrations, tour historical buildings and take part in children’s activities Dec. 19-23 at “Magic at the Mill.”
The sounds of the season will fill the historic Elsinore Theatre this December. The theatre, built in 1926, will host the Salem Symphony, performances of “The Nutcracker” and other holiday acts this month. The theatre will also show two Christmas classics, “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and “White Christmas.” Complete your movie night with popcorn, wine or beer and other light snacks.
Experience a Victorian Christmas at Deepwood Museum & Gardens. The 1894 historic home will offer family-friendly holiday tours on select dates in December. On Dec. 4 and Dec. 11, the museum will team up with the nearby Bush House Museum to offer two afternoons of free admission. Enjoy visits with Santa, Victorian-inspired decorations, children’s activities and live music at the museums.
4. Partake in Festive Recreation
The entire family will have fun at Salem’s Riverfront Park this December. Take the kids to ride Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, where each character is hand carved and painted by local volunteers. Afterwards, visit with Santa, mail your letter to the North Pole or find the perfect holiday gift at the carousel’s gift shop. Outside, families can enjoy the community playground and a 25-foot lighted Douglas fir.
Decorate your kayaks, canoes and dragon boats for the 12th annual Winter Solstice Illuminata Regatta on the Willamette River! Mariners and spectators are invited to participate or watch as light-adorned boats parade around the Salem Riverfront Park boat dock on Dec. 17. A life preserver and whistle are required.
Walk, run or bike your way through Salem’s historic downtown as you enjoy the holiday displays. Storefronts are decorated with bright lights, towering trees and other seasonal decorations. Along the way, make stops at local stores and eateries to snag holiday deals and warm up with festive foods and drinks.
5. Create Holiday Memories at Local Events
Looking for handmade, handcrafted or homegrown gifts? Visit the Salem Holiday Market Dec. 10-11 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. More than 250 vendors will sell home décor, baked goods, clothing and more! While shopping, you can enjoy live entertainment, partake in tree or gingerbread house decorating contests, enter raffles and take the kids to participate in children’s activities.
The Oregon State Capitol will fill with holiday cheer this month as it hosts free musical performances in the Rotunda. Local musicians will perform six days a week leading up to Christmas. The music will complement the Capitol’s exquisite holiday decorations. All performances are open to the public.
Take a self-guided art tour through downtown Salem Dec. 7-31. The “Something Red” art walk takes visitors through festive areas as they view original pieces of art. The art will be on display at 14 businesses along the tour.