An idyllic town with history, trails and wineries
Set among vineyards and rolling hills, Dallas is located about 25 minutes outside of Salem, Oregon. Its owner-operated businesses, small-town charm and walkable downtown square will have you feeling like you’re in Mayberry – for all the right reasons.
1. Walk the historic downtown
Although only one building in the core of downtown Dallas is on the National Register of Historic Places, almost every building was built between 1880 and 1910. The town itself is centered around the Polk County Courthouse, which was completed in 1900 and is one of the oldest courthouses still in use in the state. With a 95-foot clock tower, the building is hard to miss.
Surrounding the courthouse, rows of historically-significant buildings house restaurants, antique shops and murals depicting the town’s history.
2. Peruse antique stores and more
In downtown Dallas, you won’t find big-name stores. Instead, you’ll find locally-owned shops selling one-of-a-kind items. For antique and vintage treasures, visit Some Things and the Dallas Antique Mall. Right down the street, Main Street Emporium of Dallas has a variety of new and upcycled home goods, children’s toys and clothing.
Quilters come from all over the country to visit Grandma’s Attic Quilt Shop. From fabrics and patterns to quilting lessons and advice, the store offers a little bit of everything and has been a staple in the community for more than 20 years.
3. Coffee bars, restaurants and taphouses
For a small town, Dallas boasts a handful of appetizing restaurants, including Pressed Coffee & Wine Bar. Often referred to as the hub of the community, Pressed is a great place to grab a coffee in the morning, order a light lunch in the afternoon and enjoy live music and trivia in the evenings.
If you’re looking for fine dining with farm-to-table food, look no further than Latitude One. Owned by a longtime Dallas resident, the seasonal menu features locally-harvested ingredients in dishes such as steamed clams, mushroom fettuccine and prime rib sliders.
With 65 different taps, West Valley Taphouse is sure to have something to quench your thirst. Most of the taps are dedicated to beers, ciders and Kombucha from the Pacific Northwest, but there are also brews available from around the world.
READ MORE | 12 foodie destinations near Salem, Oregon
4. Plan a day in the parks
Dallas has an extensive system of parks. At 35 acres, Dallas City Park is the largest park in town. Among its amenities are an 18-hole disc golf course, a suspension bridge, Japanese garden and swimming hole.
On the other side of town, you’ll find Central Bark, an off-leash dog park, and Roger Jordan Community Park, which has a skate park and the only pickleball courts in the area.
Several of the town’s 11 parks are connected through the Rickreall Creek Trail, a multi-use trail for pedestrians, bicyclists and bird-watchers that runs along the creek it’s named after. Once completed, the 4.2-mile trail will connect the west end of Dallas to the east end.
5. Explore the Delbert Hunter Arboretum
The Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanic Garden is one of Dallas’ hidden gems. Nestled against Rickreall Creek, the arboretum serves as a living museum of native plants. It showcases many species of plants and trees, including high-desert plants, rare shrubs and flowers. With several walking paths and benches throughout, the arboretum is a perfect place to connect with nature.
READ MORE | 15 gardens to explore near Salem, Oregon
6. Visit Oregon Wine Country
Polk County is known for expansive vineyards and delicious wines, and Dallas is no exception. There are a handful of wineries located just minutes outside of the downtown area. Take in sweeping valley views at Van Duzer Vineyards, visit one of Namaste Vineyards’ two tasting rooms or taste wine (and grapeseed oil) at Chateau Bianca Winery.
For a truly unique wine experience, schedule a visit at Illahe Vineyards. The winery strives to make wine as naturally as possible and uses many historical winemaking techniques. Some of the wines are made entirely by hand, without electricity or modern machines!
7. Bring the kids
If you’re traveling with children, you’ll want to see what is playing at the Dallas Cinema. Although its undergone a series of name changes, the theater first opened in 1949. It only has one screen, but it shows affordable movies throughout the week.
The entire family can also enjoy the Dallas Aquatic Center. Open for lap and recreational swimming, it features five pools, a waterslide and a spray fountain. The center also offers dedicated times for individuals with special needs, toddlers and adults-only swims.
8. Learn about nature at the wildlife refuge
Just shy of 2,500 acres, Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge is home to a wide variety of wildlife and plants. The refuge features extensive croplands, wetlands and woodlands, making it an ideal habitat for wintering Canada geese, black-tailed deer and the rare, endangered butterfly known as Fender’s blue.
There are also miles of dirt trails for visitors to hike, viewing platforms and information kiosks.
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