Your Spring Bucket List
Must Do Outings Around Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley
Spring has sprung! Time to enjoy some of the region's most beloved seasonal activities.
Signs of spring abound all around us: The season’s first flowers are beginning to bloom, the days are getting longer, and temperatures are inching higher all the time.
Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley have plenty to make the area a home base for your spring destination. Where else, after all, will you find the region’s most vibrant cherry blossoms, dazzling tulip fields, yoga classes alongside Nigerian dwarf goats, and a brand-new professional basketball team?
So as you make your spring travel plans, here’s a rundown of six seasonal bucket-list activities around Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley.
Take a Selfie Around Salem’s Cherry Blossoms
For a brief period in late March or early April—it all comes down to the whims of Mother Nature—Salem positively glows with cherry blossoms.
Around town, there’s no better place to see the pink blossoms than at the Oregon State Capitol Mall, where 151 Akebono cherry trees add vibrant pops of color every spring—signifying the close connection between Salem and Kawagoe City, Japan, which has been Salem’s sister city since 1986. Keep an eye out for a possible in-person cherry blossom celebration on March 22, 2022. You can also learn more about the close connection between Salem and its sister city through videos on the Japanese Koto, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and other reflections on the cultural exchanges between the communities.
And if you're heading to nearby Cristom Vineyards this spring, you just might see the estate's heirloom cherry trees in bloom; the entry road to the winery's tasting room is lined with cherry trees and turns into a colorful hallway of fluttering blooms for a few magical days each spring.
Just south of downtown Salem, cherry blossoms welcome spring in the peaceful Bush’s Pasture Park, which also hosts walking paths, picnic areas, horseshoe pits, and other fun activities. If you time your visit right, you just might see the blossoms alongside tulip blooms in the park’s gardens—all of which creates a dazzling display.
You’ll also find a few cherry trees at Minto-Brown Island Park—all planted by Salem settler John Minto.
Catch a Live Performance
Salem and the Mid-Willamette Valley boast a thriving arts scene—with student performers at nearby colleges, regal venues, and celebrated series that showcase dance, theater, live music, and more. So this spring, we’ve put together a few ideas for enjoying the area’s rich creative culture.
Willamette University Theatre, for starters, is always producing something new and interesting—with a season that includes three or four main-stage plays, one dance production, and occasional student projects. This spring, the university's students are offering a production of William Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night", a choral and orchestral performance highlighting sounds from around the world, and more. And while it doesn’t spotlight student works, the Smith Fine Arts Series at Western Oregon University is celebrating its 44th season with a variety of shows from touring musicians representing a wide range of genres—from Irish folk to blues and soul.
If you're looking for live theater in Salem, it's always worth seeing what's new with Enlightened Theatrics, a local nonprofit group that spotlights performers from a variety of backgrounds. The group's springtime performance, for instance, is "Rainbow Fish"—and features a cast made up of local elementary and middle school students; later this summer, area high school students will put on a production of "All Shook Up" (loosely based on Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night").
Pentacle Theatre, meanwhile, is a local community theater group that stages its shows in a cozy playhouse surrounded by Oregon oak and Douglas fir trees; the rest of its 2022 season ranges from Shakespeare to more modern fare.
And the 1,300-seat Elsinore Theatre in downtown Salem is known for variety—including films (some in Spanish), live concerts, orchestral performances, and comedy shows.
Tiptoe Through Colorful Tulip Fields
For nearly 40 years, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival has been an iconic celebration—and the surest sign that spring has finally arrived.
The heart of the festival (taking place daily March 18-May 1, 2022) is 40 acres of colorful, Instagram-worthy tulip fields in dazzling shades of red, yellow, pink, purple—and the list goes on. (In all, the farm grows more than 100 varieties of tulip.)
But even beyond the tulip fields, you'll find plenty of family fun—including a children's play area, photo cut-out boards, small "cow" wagons for young children, train tours (for an added fee), on-site food vendors, a garden market, a tasting room with estate-grown wines, craft vendors, and more.
Friendly reminder: Tickets must be purchased online and in advance. Tickets are not available at the gate and may sell out—especially on sunny weekends toward the end of the festival (when tulips are in full bloom).
Find Balance Through Yoga—With a Twist
You’ll find plenty of yoga studios around Salem and the mid-Willamette Valley—but we know how to pair the downward dog pose with memorable experiences that help you connect with what makes the region so special.
We’re an agricultural community, for instance, so it only makes sense that you can stretch it out while Nigerian dwarf goats mingle at your feet. Salem Goat Yoga hosts its 45-minute classes on a small family farm just outside Salem—and encourages participants to hang out for another 45 minutes while taking photos with the goats and cuddling with the cute critters.
Here in the Willamette Valley, we’re also known for our love of good craft beer—so stick around for a post-class pint with Yoga + Beer. Mikki Trowbridge, E-RYT, MBA, launched her first Yoga + Beer class in 2013 and, in the years since, her company has held more than 1,000 classes at breweries, vineyards, distilleries, and tap houses around Salem and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Trowbridge’s first class took place just outside Salem, and she still routinely holds classes in the area—such as at Gilgamesh Brewing and Eola Hills Wine Cellars. Following the class, students can enjoy a handcrafted beverage and some friendly conversation with fellow Yogis.
Watch Professional Hoops in the Heart of Salem
Professional basketball comes to Salem! This season, the Salem Capitals are debuting The Basketball League—a minor-league organization with 44 teams throughout the United States.
The Capitals tipped off at the 3,000-seat Salem Armory in early March—and its 24-game regular season will continue until Memorial Day weekend. Games will be played against other teams from throughout the West Coast, all featuring high-level players with college experience.
This is an enjoyable and affordable outing for the entire family with kids’ activities, halftime entertainment and more. Tickets are only $5 for children and seniors and $10 for adults.
Hike Through Wildflower Meadows at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Just west of Salem, the scenic Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge sits at the eastern edge of the Coast Range foothills—creating the ideal climate for wildflowers to bloom in abundance.
You’ll find plenty of observation decks throughout the refuge, some of which showcase pops of springtime color, but those in the know make a beeline for the two-mile Rich Guadagno Memorial Loop Trail.
The footpath gains about 150 feet while ascending Basket Butte; along the way, it passes meadows and hillsides covered in the purple-ish Tolmie's star-tulip, bright yellow western buttercup, stalks of golden paintbrush, and other lively blooms. While you’re there, keep an eye out for migrating birds—more than 230 species of bird have been recorded on the refuge—as well as the Fender’s blue butterfly, which was thought to be extinct as recently as the 1980s; today, the butterfly can be seen in fight between mid-May and early June.