72 Hours in Willamette Valley
by W. Gordon
Located less than an hour from Portland, Oregon, the Willamette Valley beckons with its lush, pastoral beauty. This 110-mile expanse, stretching south to Eugene, nestles between two mountain ranges: the low, thickly wooded Coast Range that stands to the west and the lofty peaks of the Cascade Range to the east. The protective cradle formed by these mountain ranges provides the distinctive temperate, climate and rich soil that defines the Willamette Valley, where vineyards thrive and hundreds of wineries make a living. From boutique producers to world-renowned Pinot Noir growers, the Willamette Valley is a slice of heaven for anyone with a thirst for the grape.
WILLAMETTE VALLEY DAY
1: McMinnville and Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
For lunch, duck into the Community Plate for homemade sandwiches and Stumptown coffee served in an attractive, wood-filled space, or check out Sage Restaurant for steaming bowls of homemade soup and hearty sandwiches. A visit to Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum will have you gazing in wonder at Howard Hughes' immense Spruce Goose, a "flying boat" with a wingspan wider than a football field. The museum also offers a variety of aviation displays, along with a separate museum devoted to space exploration, plus an IMAX theater and a wine tasting room featuring Evergreen Vineyards' own Spruce Goose Wine.
Since the area is focused on the rural sensibility of "early-to-bed, early-to-rise," nightlife is nearly non-existent in the valley. However, there are a few spots with occasional live music, such as The Rooftop Bar at Hotel Oregon.
* Willamette Valley image courtesy of the Willamette Valley Visitors Association.