Sweet treats to eat in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley | Travel Salem | The Most Oregon Part of Oregon
Napoleon's in Salem, Oregon

Ice cream, bakeries and dessert bars near Salem, Oregon

Traveling the back roads and highways near Salem, Oregon, is bound to spark an appetite. Pastries and coffee ensure a sweet start to your adventures, or grab a pick-me-up for your hike or picnic at one of the many purveyors of treats dotting the towns and cities of Polk, Yamhill and Marion counties.
Whether your tastes run to the traditional or the luxurious, the fruity or the chocolaty, the flakey or the frozen, or even the vegan or the gluten-free, you’ll find goodies galore throughout this fertile valley. Here are eight great places to indulge.
Newberg Bakery
621 East First Street, Newberg, Oregon 97132
This inviting community hub has a homey, handmade aesthetic and delectable baked goods to match. The marionberry cinnamon roll gets star billing, but owner Brenda Burg spins these pinwheels to please all comers: Soft sided or round, glazed or un-glazed, fruity or saturated in sticky hazelnut goodness. Savory appetites find satisfaction with quiche, sunny baked egg cups, bread pudding, pizza and house-made soup. Take home a loaf of English muffin bread or a sourdough batard. Gluten-free eaters can choose from brownies, blondies, cookies and the toothsome morning glory muffin, which is also dairy-free. Self-serve a cup of locally-roasted joe from Caravan Coffee in a handmade ceramic mug.

Serendipity Ice Cream
502 NE Third Street, McMinnville, Oregon 97128
This old-fashioned parlor pairs scooping ice cream with a social mission. Established in 2000, the shop provides workplace experience and job training for adults with developmental disabilities. They dish Oregon-made ice cream into house-made waffle cones, build it into sundaes and banana splits or sandwich it between freshly-baked cookies. Kids delight in the free sprinkle station, where chocolate and multicolored jimmies flow like Oregon rain. Grab a cone or a shake and savor the sweetness of Serendipity’s mission and menu while window shopping McMinnville’s main drag.

Jubilee Champagne and Dessert Bar
296 S Main Street, Independence, Oregon 97351
Jubilee Champagne and Dessert Bar inhabits the space of a former corner drugstore and soda fountain whose neon sign still graces the painted brick exterior. Clean white lines, raw brick and pastel hues conspire to make the interior as sweet and charming as the confections. Owner Dana Heuberger says the sugar cookie dippers—a cellophane bag of sugar cookie bars and a tub of buttercream frosting in pink, blue or yellow—are popular with all ages. French macarons are a rainbow of flavors: pale orange-pink mimosa, bright yellow lemon, cool blue birthday cake and Jubilee’s own signature crème brûlée macaron, ivory-white and caramelized by torch. Choose from cupcakes, tarts and bars for the kids and beer, wine and bubbly for mom and dad.

Ovenbird Bakery
215 S Main Street, Independence, Oregon 97351
Classic pinwheel Danish pastries attract fans to this cozy storefront. Local fruits like raspberry, cherry, marionberry, blueberry and peach are tucked into dreamy cream cheese filling embraced by twists of flakey golden pastry. Chocolate, almond and classic croissants vie with savory iterations like prosciutto cheddar. Take home a crusty baguette, focaccia or a loaf of sourdough. Make a picnic with a hearty slice of quiche or snag a sandwich built on their fresh-baked bread, with classic deli fillings like turkey, meat loaf and chicken salad. The glazed lemon cookie is a masterpiece of old-school simplicity, perfect for pulling out mid-hike.

Melting Pot Candy
206 S Main Street, Independence, Oregon 97351
This family-run chocolate shop crafts elegant, big-city, handmade candy in a small-town 1895 storefront with soaring ceilings and a brick interior. Truffles shine like jewels. The domed crown of the marionberry truffle is a gleaming metallic purple which would look at home on a ’67 Chevy lowrider; the Irish cream truffle sports a pastel splatter like a confectionary quail’s egg; the beer-infused Rogue hazelnut nectar seems brushed with spun gold. Crunchy toffee is a specialty of the house, with combinations including cinnamon pecan milk chocolate, jalapeno dark chocolate almond and white chocolate cashew.

170 Liberty Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301
The superb gelato at Napoleon’s is estremamente autentico, crafted by the child of a Sicilian father and a northern Italian mother. Decision-making capabilities are overwhelmed in the face of about two dozen flavors, each more tempting than the last: pistachio made from pure paste imported from Sicily, wild Italian amarena cherry, Oregon hazelnut, tiramisu, local berry sorbetto, crème brûlée, chocolate with candied orange zest and shaved chocolate, chocolate and peanut butter. Sit at tables on the sidewalk or inside the French Unicorn, the antique shop housing Napoleon’s, which overflows with lavish décor like the gelato counter overflows with yum.

135 Liberty Street, Salem, Oregon 97301
This spinoff from Salem culinary favorite Amadeus specializes in exquisitely-crafted cakes. The 24 Karrot cake is a masterpiece of gluten-free goodness: three thick layers of zucchini and carrot cake decadently dressed with cream cheese frosting, English toffee and chunks of penuche fudge. The chocolate flourless cake, also gluten-free, offers a dense mousse-like texture, accented with freshly-whipped cream and pureed berries. Pirate’s booty is Sweetsmith’s Oregon-centric interpretation of German chocolate cake, made with Santiam Pirate Stout. Plenty of savory items round out the menu—try the North-African-inspired shakshuka, topped with a duck egg.

Paleteria y Neveria El Paisanito
429 N Front Street, Woodburn, Oregon 97071
Paleteria y Neveria El Paisanito is an authentic Michoacán-style stop with popsicles and ice cream in all the classic flavors you’d find in the heart of Mexico. Oregon strawberries are deliciously incarnated in several traditional paletas: pure strawberry, chunks of fruit suspended in cream and a peony-pink, dairy-laced, blended strawberry confection. Other items represent a far more exotic fruit basket: paletas and ice creams made of tamarind, soursop, mamey, guava, nance and more tempt curious visitors. Other unexpected flavors include walnut, chongos (cheese curds), cajeta (caramelized goat milk), pine nut and rose petals. Visiting this thriving main-street business in the heart of Woodburn’s Mexican-American community is like a sweet, whirlwind journey south of the border.

About the Author

Constantly alert to the delicious, the unusual, the quirky and the culturally significant, Annelise Kelly finds camel trekking in Rajasthan and exploring Oregon back roads equally compelling and exotic. Farmers' markets, outsider art and old growth feed her soul.