Restaurants, wineries and breweries
Living in the middle of one of the country's most productive farmlands has its benefits. In Oregon's Mid-Willamette Valley, you'll find the food-and-drink scene brims with artisan producers, innovative farm-to-table restaurants, crafty brewers and globally-prominent wine producers, all sourcing from the rich soil of the Willamette Valley.
Oregon's strong temperature swings in the summer make it paradise for fruit lovers. Take a tour of Willamette Valley Pie Co., located just east of Salem, Oregon, to taste Oregon-grown marionberries, strawberries and blueberries. Top off your visit with freshly-baked pastries or ice cream. Blue Raeven Farmstand, in Amity, Oregon, grows more than 130 acres of berries, apples and peaches that are featured in the Farmstand's locally-famous pies.
In the tiny town of Mt. Angel, Oregon, you'll find Benedictine Brewery and Taproom, where monks brew classic German-style beers in a beautiful hilltop abbey setting with an Alvar Aalto-designed library building, natural history museum and walking tour.
On the grounds of a 147-acre working farm, Ewing Young Distillery crafts spirits perfect for sipping. A tour of the farm includes meeting a Kentucky-Derby winning stallion and visiting the grave of the distillery's pioneer namesake.
The next wave of food culture in Salem is well afoot among the city's young entrepreneurs. Rafns', a downtown bistro hot spot for farm-to-table fare, is led by husband and wife duo Nate and Rochelle Rafn. Nate spent his 20s hosting pop-up dinners that connected diners to area farm producers. Expanding that philosophy to the restaurant, the dishes make ample use of the area's bounty.
After dinner, head to Archive Coffee & Bar, a swanky industrial library joint that sheds its cool coffee-bar status in the evening to pour craft cocktails. If you need a sweet treat, follow the smell of caramelized sugar to Little Cannoli Bakery, where baker Tim Goods churns out Italian and French pastries, cookies and sweets.
One approach to life Oregon does best is sophisticated casual, and you can get that in spades with a relaxed evening at the hot spots of Polk County. For an early evening slice, drop in at The Bread Board Artisan Bakery, in Falls City, Oregon, where bakers serve wood-fired pizza after 4 p.m.
New on the scene, Valkyrie Wine Tavern, in Independence, Oregon, provides a relaxed and airy setting for sipping wine from local and international vineyards and feasting on Southern-inspired bistro fare. Down the street, Jubilee Champagne and Dessert Bar is popular with all ages. Choose from cupcakes, tarts and bars for the kids and beer, wine and bubbly for mom and dad.
McMinnville, Oregon, is known for its wide-variety of exceptional eateries. House favorites at Pura Vida Cocina & Arte include barbacoa, a tender stew of beef slowly braised in fragrant spices, and crispy pork belly. Vegetarians can delight in the restaurant's meatless tacos.
While in McMinnville, a visit to Red Hills Kitchen is a must for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Don't have time for a meal? Stop by Red Hills Market, in Dundee, Oregon, to pick up picnic supplies or road trip snacks at this gourmet market.
Named after the town it is located in, Newberg Bakery has a homey, handmade aesthetic and delectable baked goods to match. You'll want to try the bakery's marionberry cinnamon rolls.
No trip to the Mid-Willamette Valley is complete without visiting Oregon Wine Country. The area's serious, but laid-back, scene was named Wine Enthusiast's "Wine Region of the Year" in 2016.
On a clear day, you can spot five mountains from the sprawling tasting room at Brooks Winery in Amity. In warmer months, the estate gardens overflow with fresh produce.
Willamette Valley Vineyards, in Turner, Oregon, is home to one of the most recognized winemaking operations in the state. Take in expansive valley views while sipping on award-winning red, white, sparkling and Rosé wines. Plan a stay at the winery suites, which includes a private tour of the winery.
Left Coast Estate, in Rickreall, Oregon, embodies the best of both worlds. They make solid wine, like amazingly-balanced Chardonnay and refreshing Rosé, but also offer a family-friendly atmosphere with wood-fired pizzas and outdoor space.