Start your day by grabbing a cup of locally-roasted coffee from The Governor’s Cup, Archive Coffee & Bar or Isaac’s. If you’re craving a freshly made, sweet treat to go with that cup o’ joe, pop in to Bearscat Bakehouse or Big Wig Donuts.
Next, explore Willamette Heritage Center, with fourteen historic structures on a 5-acre campus, including the 1841 Jason Lee House and Methodist Parsonage - the oldest standing wooden frame houses in the Pacific Northwest. The 1896 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill, a National Park Service-designated American Treasure, vividly tells the story of industrialization in the Mid-Willamette Valley.
While the Oregon State Capitol Building isn’t currently open to the public, The Capitol’s Willson Park offers a lovely walk of discovery, with its many statues and the World War II Memorial, a 33 ft tall pillar which lists the names of nearly 3,800 Oregonians who died in the war.
Grab lunch at one of dozens of locally-owned restaurants in downtown Salem including Taproot Café & Lounge for one of their famous bowls, Bo & Vine for outstanding salads and hearty burgers, or Venti’s Café & Taphouse, which features a robust menu of vegan and vegetarian options. As you’re exploring downtown, be sure to look up on alley walls and all around as Salem boasts a fascinating, eclectic collection of public art.
After lunch, head to the Hallie Ford Museum of Art on the Willamette University campus. This is Oregon’s third largest art museum with diverse collections of Ancient, European, Native American and Asian art as well as outstanding rotating exhibitions that are said to be on par with ones featured in some of the most renowned museums in the world.
Finish your day of historic and cultural exploration in Salem by visiting historic Deepwood Gardens, designed by Elizabeth Lord and Edith Schryver, the first female-owned landscape architecture firm in the Pacific Northwest.