Three Days of Health and Wellness in the Willamette Valley

Congratulations on your incredible accomplishment. Taking part in the first-ever IRONMAN race in Salem is an incredible feat, and we applaud your efforts.

And as you ride, run, and swim around the mid-Willamette Valley, you’ll notice much of what makes the region such a special place: family-run farms that have grown some of the area’s most coveted crops for generations, peaceful wooded areas away from the hustle and bustle, and restaurants specializing in fresh fare—usually using ingredients from those very same farms you pass on your race.

So if you’re at all curious about extending your stay in the Willamette Valley and celebrating with farm-to-table fare, a glass of Pinot noir, and an outing that gets deeper into the region’s delights, we’ve put together a three-day itinerary that breaks down the best of the Willamette Valley—from the heart of Salem to the quirky charms of Eugene to Oregon Wine Country and the scenic Molalla River corridor.

Here’s how to have fun, unwind, and enjoy the Willamette Valley after your IRONMAN accomplishment.

Day One: Rest and Relax in the Mid-Willamette Valley

You’ve done enough moving for the weekend, so start your trip close to the finish line in the Salem area.

First and foremost: Treat yourself to a spa experience at the Oregon Garden Resort, where you can enjoy facials, massages, body treatments, and other soothing services next to an 80-acre botanical garden. The resort’s on-site restaurant serves meals packed with fresh, locally sourced ingredients and offers overnight stays if you’d rather stick around a little while longer.

Oregon Garden Resort

Looking to keep the limbs loose and stay centered after your big day? See if any Yoga + Beer events are on tap; the ongoing series offers guided classes (suited to yogis of all skill levels) at breweries, wineries, and cideries throughout the mid-Willamette Valley—with post-yoga refreshments following each session.

If you’re looking for a good meal, you have plenty of options: Epilogue Kitchen and Cocktails puts an upscale spin on pub favorites—like smash burgers made with grass-fed beef patties and a chicken-and-waffle dish crafted with gluten-free breading. (Pro trip: Epilogue’s creative cocktails are a hit with locals.) Meanwhile, everyone in your group will find plenty to love about Masonry Grill, which dishes a hearty mix of salads, burgers, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas, and decadent desserts.

And if you’re not staying at the Oregon Garden Resort, consider a relaxing stay at The Grand Hotel in Salem, an elegant lodging with well-appointed rooms that include leather loveseats, high-definition televisions, and—of course—cozy, comfortable beds for enjoying a well-deserved night of rest.

Day Two: Explore the Wider Willamette Valley

Start your day with a big breakfast to fuel your upcoming adventures. We’re particularly fond of The Kitchen on Court Street, which serves massive skillets, scrambles (with locally sourced eggs), house-made breads and pastries, benedicts, and other house specialties (including the pancake taco—a pancake filled with bacon or sausage, scrambled eggs, onions, roasted poblano peppers, cheddar cheese, pico de gallo, and more).

Today we’re heading south to Albany, Corvallis, and Eugene for a taste of the mid- and southern Willamette Valley.

For lunch, stop into The Barn at Hickory Station—a massive outdoor food cart pod with 13 eateries dishing all manner of cuisine (including Memphis barbecue, Japanese fare, pretzels, seafood rolls, and more); wash your lunch down with beer, wine, cider, or non-alcoholic beverages from The Barn’s selection of 42 taps.

Stretch your legs afterward on the two miles of trails at Talking Water Gardens, a series of wastewater treatment ponds and waterfalls that mimic the cleansing and cooling processes that occur in nature; keep an eye out for waterfowl and other wildlife along the peaceful trail network. For something closer to town, take a walking tour of Albany’s four national historic districts—home to more than 700 buildings, some dating back to the 1840s.

Two girls enjoy the view at Talking Water Gardens
Talking Water Gardens
Photo Credit: Joey Hamilton

Want to grab a snack for the road? Pluck juicy blueberries straight from the bush at Bryant Family Farm, which grows 19 varieties of the sweet fruit near Albany. In Corvallis, you’ll also find high-quality and organic foods at First Alternative Natural Foods Co-op as well.

The Willamette Valley is home to no shortage of scenic walks, hikes, and runs—and you’ll find plenty around Corvallis and Eugene. The 126-acre Chip Ross Park and Natural Area hosts a 1.5-mile hiking trail that passes through oak woodlands and upland prairie—and boasts views of Marys Peak (the tallest point in the Oregon Coast Range), Cascade peaks, and Corvallis. And in Eugene, Pre’s Trail in Alton Baker Park honors the life of legendary Oregon runner Steve Prefontaine with a path of dirt and wood chips through scenic parkland.

End your day by checking into the wellness-oriented EVEN Hotel in Eugene, which offers in-room workout equipment (such as a foam roller and yoga mat), natural items (such as soaps and linens), and a pool and fully stocked on-site gym. 

For a fun night out, make your way to the 5th Street Public Market—home to a variety of home-grown breweries, wineries, restaurants, markets, bars, and more. Marché, in particular, celebrates the growers of the Pacific Northwest with farm-to-table menus that change seasonally.

Day Three: Choose Your Own Adventure

So far on our outing, we’ve stayed pretty close to the Interstate 5 corridor. Today, on the final day of your trip, we’re giving you the choice for how you’d like to get deeper into the Willamette Valley.

Before we hit the road, though, start your day with a quick breakfast at EVEN Hotel’s on-site Cork & Kale™ Market and Bar, which prides itself on preparing fresh, healthy foods tailored to diners with a variety of dietary preferences and needs. For something a bit heartier, snag a table at Morning Glory Café; the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Eugene prepares all of its dishes from scratch, uses only pure ingredients and (whenever possible) organic products, and works with local growers to spotlight the flavors of the region.

Option One: Head into Willamette Valley Wine Country

The Willamette Valley is home to more than 500 wineries and tasting rooms, so you’ll enjoy plenty of opportunities to kick back, enjoy the scenery, and sample award-winning wines in the Newberg area—the heart of the north Willamette Valley’s wine scene.

Hungry? Ruddick/Wood is a popular eatery in downtown Newberg—and takes pride in developing relationships with local farmers and offers an upscale, Pacific Northwest-inspired menu that changes with the season. For something lighter, consider a quick stop at The Coffee Cottage; Newberg’s first coffeehouse (open since 1990) serves sandwiches, salads, house-made pastries, and—naturally—a well-made cup of joe.

Ruddick/Wood Photo Credit: Todd Klingler Photography (Courtesy of Taste Newberg)
Ruddick/Wood
Photo Credit: Todd Klingler Photography (Courtesy of Taste Newberg)

Need to walk off lunch? Enjoy a leisurely, 1.6-mile stroll along the Gettman Loop at the southern edge of the Chehalem Glenn Golf Course; the path passes through a forest covered in ferns and fir trees for a relaxing jaunt. Elsewhere, the walkable downtown Newberg core is home to a variety of mom-and-pop shops and boutiques—like the creative Pollinate Flowers and the charming Pulp & Circumstance, which offers candles, self-care items, games, puzzles, art, jewelry, and other gifts in a converted Victorian home.

Cap your day with a night at The Allison Inn & Spa—truly an oasis in the midst of wine country. The Allison offers outdoor massage and treatments at its on-site spa, spacious suites (some with panoramic views of surrounding hillsides), plush down bedding, a swimming pool, and walking trails through the resort’s impressive gardens and art collections. The resort’s on-site restaurant—JORY—boasts fine-dining menus that showcase the flavors of the Willamette Valley, with a focus on seasonal, farm-to-table fare and thoughtful wine pairings.

Option Two: Head Toward Molalla and the Foothills of Mount Hood

As you head north and approach the city of Wilsonville, hang a right to turn east toward the Molalla River corridor. Our first stop is Molalla River State Park, which sits at the confluence of the Willamette, Pudding, and Molalla rivers—and offers a wide range of outdoor fun, from wildlife-watching to easy hiking in the midst of a lush wetland forest. 

Planning a picnic? Keep an eye out for nearby farm stands on your way to the park; the freshest produce is available seasonally from family-run farm around the area. We’d also recommend a stop at Sourdough Bakery in Wilsonville, which has been crafting all-natural sourdough breads—including spinach-asiago, jalapeño-cheddar, and other fun flavors—since 2005.

If you time your trip right and are up for a little more yoga in a fun environment, consider a yoga class with Alpacas at Marquam Hill Ranch; the two-hour session includes one hour of yoga with the ranch’s furry residents and one hour of education on (and feeding of!) alpacas. Visitors 21 and older can enjoy a glass of wine afterward.
Staying another night? Cap your tour through the Willamette Valley with a farm stay at Drizzlewood Farm. You’ll enjoy your own private home on a 100-acre working farm that’s dedicated to producing food through sustainable, Earth-friendly practices.