Summer vacation is finally here
Weather and what to wear: Summer in the Willamette Valley is pleasantly balmy during the day, usually in the 70s and 80s. With plenty of sunshine, you can plan on wearing shorts, tank tops or short-sleeved shirts, hats and sunglasses. Salem is mostly casual, so sandals and tennis shoes are a safe bet in terms of footwear. If you plan on heading into the mountains or towards the coast, it would be wise to pack a light windbreaker or jacket as it may be windy. Because Oregon is a wetter climate, summer evenings can bring mosquitoes. Make sure to pack your bug spray, just in case! The Willamette Valley also cools off as the sun starts to set, so go ahead and throw in that extra flannel. July tends to bring hotter weather, which lasts through September, and is perfect for a day on the water—just make sure to put on sunscreen!
What to do:
Explore a Park
Summer is prime for visiting one of Salem’s 48 parks. On warm summer evenings, enjoy a movie in the park with the whole family at Salem’s Riverfront Park. Cross over the Peter Courtney Minto Island Bridge into Minto-Brown Island Park, where dog-walkers, bikers and runners can enjoy 29 miles of trails amidst a lush wildlife sanctuary.
The beautiful and historic Bush’s Pasture Park is home to rhododendron and rose gardens, playgrounds, tennis courts and paved walking paths. While you’re there, cool off at Salem Art Association’s Bush Barn Art Center and Annex as you browse the unique, multi-purpose art space. Admission to the exhibitions is always free. To find more of Salem’s parks, click here.
Visit a Farm or Market
Anyone that has been to Oregon knows that it offers a cornucopia of locally grown and made delicacies including berries, cheeses, wine, baked goods and more. Satisfy your craving for local goods at a farmers’ market, including the weekly Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday Salem Farmer’s Markets.
Rogue Farms grows hops and other ingredients for its beer at its Independence, Oregon, farm on the banks of the Willamette River. Stop in at the tasting room for a beer (or a root beer for the little ones) and stay for a game of cornhole. Don’t forget your Salem Ale & Cider Trail Passport! For more breweries and cideries near Salem, click here.
Experience the Outdoors
For another view of Oregon’s bounty, head out on the country’s first official scenic bikeway. The Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway is a stunning 134-mile tour along the Willamette River, which winds through some of the area’s most well-known cities, including Salem, Keizer and Independence.
Silver Falls State Park, in Sublimity, Oregon, is home to the Trail of Ten Falls, a 7.2-mile loop that showcases 10 waterfalls. There’s also miles of backcountry trails available for mountain biking and horseback riding.
Hiking and photography opportunities and other environmental education activities abound at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge in Dallas, Oregon, which provides habitat to a variety of endangered plant and animal species.
If you are searching for prime camping spots, head east of Salem to Elkhorn Valley in the Willamette National Forest. Here you can find 23 campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. For other camping locations, click here.
Get Out on the Water
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush, test your whitewater skills down the North Fork of the Santiam River with eNRG Kayaking, which offers both kayaking and rafting. For leisurely days on the water, head to Detroit Lake to find swimming, fishing, boating, tubing and breathtaking mountain views. Keep an eye out for free fishing weekends! Riverview Park, in Independence, is accessible from downtown and is the starting point for the Willamette River Trail, a 5K nature walk along the Willamette River.
Have a Family-Friendly Adventure
Just a short drive from Salem, kids of all ages can find fun at the Enchanted Forest, a family-owned theme park. In Salem, the Observation Deck at the Oregon State Capitol is open for tours at select times during the summer months and offers 360-degree views of the Capitol grounds and beyond. You’ll even get to see Salem’s famous gold man, a 23-foot statue of a pioneer, up close!
Catch a home game of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, the local Minor League Baseball team and affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, at the ball field in Keizer, Oregon. Afterwards, challenge the family to a round of 18-hole disc golf, set in the beautiful greenery of Keizer Rapids Park.
Gilbert House Children’s Museum, which is open year-round, has an outdoor playground perfect for the sunny, summer months. This unique children’s museum provides hands-on learning opportunities and encourages creative play. Looking to beat the heat? Take a dip in one or all of the five pools at the Dallas Aquatic Center in Dallas, Oregon.
Visit a Winery
A summer vacation to the Willamette Valley is not complete without paying a visit to Oregon Wine Country! Enjoy a glass of Pinot Noir and a panoramic view of the valley at Willamette Valley Vineyards. Celebrate community and sustainability at Left Coast Estate, where you can enjoy award-winning wines, beautiful gardens and eight different honey bee hives.
At Arcane Cellars, you can drink wine, play Bocce, picnic and camp, all at a beautiful, private vineyard on the river. Taste a variety of red, white and sparkling wines at Eola Hill’s gorgeous Legacy Estate Vineyard, which also features summer concerts on the lawn. Click here to find more wineries to visit.
10 Can’t Miss Summer Events:
- Great Oregon Steam-Up
- Oregon State Fair
- CherryFest NW
- World Beat Festival
- St. Paul Rodeo
- Salem Art Fair and Festival
- Make Music Day
- Fiesta Mexicana
- Independence Days