For a lofty vantage point, head to Bethel Heights Vineyard in the Eola-Amity Hills. The vibe is low-key with pristine views across the valley, the perfect spot to sit and sip Oregon’s highly acclaimed Pinot noirs. Stretch your legs at Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge, a 2,521-acre sanctuary that includes forests, grasslands and wetlands, and is home to herons, hawks and eagles. The observation platforms and the walking trails that zigzag the refuge are great for bird watching.
The Great Oaks Food Trail invites visitors and locals alike to explore the scenic beauty and unique products of the Polk County area west of Salem. With experiences ranging from craft beer tasting to filling a bucket full of blueberries, the Great Oaks Food Trail will guide guests on a journey filled with culinary treasures and unique agritourism experiences. Explorers can choose their own adventure by visiting any of the 40-plus stops on the Trail.
What better way to remember your visit to the valley than with a piece of local artwork? Pick up something unique at the River Gallery in Independence. This small co-op features local artists working in a variety of media. Stop in at Ovenbird Bakery for artisanal baked goods. Lunch fare and coffee. Everything is made from scratch on-site. A photo in front of the Historic Polk County Courthouse in Dallas will remind you of the film “Back to the Future” with the clock tower and quaint town square. In Dallas, the Delbert Hunter Arboretum and Botanic Gardens wind along the peaceful Rickreall Creek and a living museum of native plants. North of Dallas is 2,492-acre Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge which is a magnet for migrating waterfowl. West of Dallas, Black Rock Mountain Bike Area has free-ride trails for mountain bike enthusiasts with berms and jumps and other adrenaline rushing features.
The charming community of Monmouth is the home of Western Oregon University (WOU). WOU is a public university established in 1856 and presents the Smith Fine Arts Series each year featuring world-class performances across a variety of musical genres, as well as dance. Visiting artists often share their talents, skills and knowledge with students and the wider community.
In 1995 the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde opened Spirit Mountain Casino. As the largest employer in Polk County the Casino is the place to go for year-round entertainment, including big-name headliners, you can’t miss Spirit Mountain Casino, Oregon’s premier gaming center with 45 gaming tables and 2,000 slot machines.