Family Fun in the North Willamette Valley
Day 1 (Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory and McMinnville)
Start your day in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory with a stop at The Perfect Pizza Company, which lives up to the billing through a selection of fresh pies made from fresh ingredients. (The pizzeria even offers non-dairy, vegan-friendly cheese from Follow Your Heart on request.)
Bullwinkle’s Entertainment & Portland Family Fun Center boasts enough fun for multiple afternoons: Attractions include an 18-hole mini golf course, go-karts, bumper boats, a climbing wall, an 800-foot-long zipline, an arcade with more than 100 games, and the four-story Kidopolis playland. Or craft your own souvenir at Golden Girls Pottery in downtown McMinnville. The friendly staff is happy to help you choose the perfect cup, bowl, plate, or teapot—and can assist with various painting techniques, including marbling and bubble painting.
Get a feel for the region’s famous farmland from the rooftop dining area at 1882 Grille in downtown. Inside and out, the restaurant serves an elegant blend of popular American fare, including burgers and sandwiches, pizza, steak, fish, and more. (Be sure to save room for dessert—the seasonal shortcake changes regularly to reflect whatever’s fresh and in-season.)
Lodging – You’ve had a long day—relax and recharge at the comfortable Red Lion Inn & Suites McMinnville. The 67-room hotel offers a suite of perks geared toward families, including an indoor swimming pool and relaxing whirlpool, free Wi-Fi, and several pet-friendly rooms.
Day 2 (McMinnville, Monmouth, and Salem)
The menu is only the start of the fun at WildWood Café in downtown McMinnville. Seemingly every square inch of the cozy café’s walls are adorned with kitschy, vintage advertisements—and its ceiling is covered in cookware and kitchen utensils. That said, the café dishes up a filling blend of comfort food for breakfast and lunch. WildWood’s French toast is a local’s favorite—it’s made with homemade bread and rolled in granola for a fresh flavor—and the rest of the menu includes omelets, pancakes, sandwiches, burgers, soup, salad, and more.
Grab something light for lunch—like a sandwich, made from fresh-made, home-baked bread—at Great Harvest Bread Co. The bakery mills its whole-grain flour every day and bakes all of its breads from scratch; you’ll taste the freshness in Great Harvest’s many breakfast and lunch sandwiches (served hot or cold). Young’uns (and those young at heart) can even order a classic PB&J with chunky or creamy peanut butter.
See the world’s largest plane, the Spruce Goose, at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum.<
If you’re up for a splash head over to the Wings & Waves Waterpark. The indoor, all-season water park offers 10 waterslides and a fun wave pool—and kids can slide out of a real Boeing 747 plane sitting on the roof.
Grain Station Brew Works pays tribute to the Willamette Valley’s history as a center of agriculture with house-brewed beers, a tap list featuring local wines, and a food menu full of family-friendly American fare—including sandwiches, burgers, steak dinners, salads, and more.
Catch a game with the family and cheer on the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes baseball team, a Class A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Volcanoes launched (or is that erupted?) in 1997—and play between June and September each season. The team’s ballpark, Volcanoes Stadium, seats more than 4,200 fans and hosts a kids playground
Lodging – Take a load off at Best Western Plus Mill Creek Inn, just south of downtown Salem. The spacious hotel includes free breakfast at the nearby Denny’s, high-speed internet access, a heated indoor pool, and a special family suite (which is twice the size of the hotel’s standard rooms and has separate living, dining, and kitchen areas).
Day 3 (Salem area)
The kid-friendly ACME Cafe offers filling portions of breakfast classics—many made with local and regional ingredients whenever possible. The cafe’s menu includes housemade sweet rolls, sourdough pancakes (made from the family sourdough starter), scrambles, and benedicts.
Take in a hike at Silver Falls. Famous for the Trail of Ten Falls—a hiking path that passes by (and behind) 10 waterfalls—the park also lays claim to dazzling leafy displays every autumn. Maple and alder line the trail, especially near the south day-use area, in mid- to late October. The secret’s out on the park’s foliage displays, so arrive early to beat the biggest crowds.
Or visit the one-of-a-kind Enchanted Forest amusement park has thrilled and delighted families in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
The family-run amusement park offers a variety of rides—the Big Timber Log Ride ends with a 40-foot drop to a thrilling splashdown—as well as attractions like Storybook Lane, where little ones can crawl through Alice in Wonderland’s rabbit hole and come face-to-face with Humpty Dumpty himself (before he had his great fall, of course).