There are few places in America more gorgeous in the fall than Western Oregon’s Willamette Valley. And there are few better places to start sampling those stunning glories than Youngberg Hill, just outside of McMinnville in the heart of the Valley. Book your room today to get started.
10 Fun Fall Things to Do in the Willamette Valley
Willamette Valley is many things to many people, but being Oregon’s largest wine-producing region, with nearly 600 wineries and a focus on world-class Pinot varietals, is central to its identity. Special wine events include Sept. 13’s Willamette Valley Wine Festival, and others can be tracked here. But Willamette Valley has much more on offer as well for those in search of anytime activities
- If you’re looking to cleanse your wine palate with something else, consider drinking beer with Benedictine monks. The monks of Mount Angel Abbey use locally sourced hops to produce a variety of well-regarded brews, including the Benedictine Brewery’s signature Black Habit dark ale. Talk about an Instagrammable Willamette Valley experience!
- As long as you’re in the car, take in one of Willamette Valley’s breathtaking scenic drives. There’s the Over the Rivers and Through the Woods Scenic Byway, a 66-mile east-west route that starts in Willamette Valley farmlands and concludes in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, with plenty to stop and see and do and eat and drink along the way. There’s also the Silver Falls Tour Route, a north-south drive of about the same time and distance. And scenic variety.
- The added enticement of the Silver Falls route is the namesake state park, home to many breathtakingly picturesque waterfalls — including several you can walk behind.
- If you prefer to take in your scenery on a bicycle, consider going all-in with a ride on the 134-mile Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway, which follows the course of the namesake river. (Several smaller routes along the Bikeway are suggested as well for single-day excursions.)
- Not to be missed is a visit to the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville. The museum’s centerpiece is the original Spruce Goose — the largest wooden airplane ever built — but there’s much more to gawk at, touch and wander through.
- Given that the Willamette Valley encompasses river valleys, mountain foothills and a number of other terrains, it’s a safe guess that it’s a great spot for birdwatching, and the fact that there’s a Willamette Valley Birding Trail confirms it. For a bird’s-eye view of the winged treats in store for you, watch this video.
- The Willamette Valley is a boater’s paradise, both of the motorized and non-motorized varieties. Check here if you’re interested in a chartered-boat or climb-aboard cruise. Look here if you’re looking to rent a boat. And if you brought your own boat, here’s a list of Willamette River launch sites. Canoeists and kayakers can get the lowdown on top paddle-able river stretches here.
- Traveling with kids, or just a kid at heart? Just south of Salem is the Enchanted Forest. Inspired by classic fairy tales and nursery rhymes, this fun-for-all-ages theme park features rides with names like “Challenge of Mordor” and attractions like an old-timey musical Comedy Theater.
- If your thing is to stay close to home base and do a little shopping in nearby McMinnville, this small but vibrant town has a lot to offer. Of particular interest to those looking for the kind of items they can’t get anywhere else is the McMinnville Antiques Mall, in the heart of downtown, featuring the treasures of more than 50 vendors.
- If, at the end of a day of adventuring, your idea of winding down — without or without a glass of Willamette Valley Pinot — is a quiet nature walk, there’s no shortage of breathtaking parks and scenic nature reserves close by. Especially recommended are the Rotary Nature Preserve at Tice Woods, north of McMinnville. Its miles of soft surface trails and boardwalks skirt ponds, wetlands and an upland forest. Tranquilty reigns supreme at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey, which features acres of hiking trails designed to inspire spiritual contemplation.
Where to Stay on Your Willamette Valley Adventure
Youngberg Hill Inn & Winery, with its well-regarded food and wines, acres of forests and fields, and guest rooms with awe-inspiring views, is a natural choice — and a top-rated vacation destination. Book your room today at our Willamette Valley bed-and-breakfast.