Willamette Valley Guide: Tips for a Wine Lover’s Retreat

Located in Oregon, Willamette Valley is a 150-mile valley near Portland. The area operates as one of the top wine destinations in the U.S., with over 3.4 million acres, 750-plus vineyards and over 560 wineries. And the only way to sample the best is taking a trip and exploring the sites. To get started, read this quick Willamette Valley guide for inspiration.

Willamette Valley Guide: Travel Tips for Wine Lovers

willamette valley guide vacation tips

Getting to Willamette Valley

Scenic Willamette Valley is located an hour south of Portland, Oregon. Visitors can fly into Portland via Portland International Airport, rent a vehicle and drive to Willamette Valley. In addition to flying, Willamette Valley is located less an eight-hour drive from Boise, Idaho, and Vancouver, B.C., and four hours from Tacoma, Washington.

Once in the valley, guests can drive the 150-mile area, stopping at multiple spots or pick a few destinations to enjoy. Many area wineries offer transportation, and Amtrack offers a trip from Seattle to the valley.

willamette valley wine tours

Tour Willamette Valley Wineries

Wine-making is a lifestyle in Willamette Valley. In fact, it’s woven into everyday activities such as outdoor recreation, dining, farming, arts and crafts, and family-friendly activities. One of the best ways to see the area is by scheduling a wine tour. Over a dozen companies offer tours, catering to couples as well as singles and groups.

For example, A Great Oregon Wine Tour departs from Portland and visits four or five wineries. Oregon Select is locally owned and customizes each tour based on visitor interests and needs. Or try Backcounry Wine Tours, which tours three or four spots, and no two are alike. View full list of wine tours in Willamette Valley.

Willamette Valley Guide to Top Restaurants

Willamette Valley also houses some of the best restaurants in Oregon. Why are they so good? Many use locally sourced ingredients from Oregon farmers and producers. In addition, award-winning chefs have flocked to the region to share their most creative fare. To help narrow the search, here are some top-rated restaurants not in Portland. These foodie favorites are closer to the valley, making dining an easy option.

Agrivino in Carlton serves Italian in the countryside. Vegans and vegetarians should stop at Word of Mouth in Salem. For upscale fine-dining, King Estate Restaurant and Tasting Room in Eugene delivers delicious flavors paired with stunning vineyard views. Other local favorites include: Tina’s in Dundee, Jory Restaurant in Newberg and Crescent Cafe in McMinnville.

willamette valley guide things to do

Other Things to Do

While wine is the star in Willamette Valley, there are several other fun activities. From indoor attractions to shopping and hiking, it’s easy to stay active and entertained. In Albany, ride the historic carousel made and decorated by local artists. Car lovers should head to World of Speed Museum in Wilsonville. This attraction showcases motor sports, including racing legends, cars and NASCAR memorabilia.

Groups and families also enjoy outdoor adventures in Salem, Eugene and Mt. Hood. For example, Enchanted Forest in Salem offers magical entertainment for all ages and fun rides. Or explore Eugene Science Center, an interactive attraction that encourages education and playtime. Mt. Hood provides an ideal place for bicycling, hiking and skiing.

Shopping Willamette Valley

Each winery offers the chance to buy local products. However, shoppers also have access to independent retailers, farmers markets scattered throughout the area, art galleries and big-box retailers.

Portland has antique stores, large shopping malls and locally owned boutiques. For products made and grown by local suppliers, visit farmers markets in Beaverton, Corvallis, Eugene, Portland and Salem. Many cities also host weekly Saturday markets, which feature artisans, crafters and entertainers.

Additionally, visitors can’t resist Willamette Town Center in Salem. This retail haven houses name-brand favorites such as Burlington, Hobby Lobby, Game Stop, GNC and Ulta Beauty. When not store-hopping, check out the restaurants. Favorites include Baja Fresh, McGrath’s and Red Robin. Willamette Town Center also has an on-site movie theater that plays new releases.

For more big-box shopping, visit Washington Square and Pioneer Place in Portland. If boutiques appeal more to the senses, downtown Beaverton, Eugene, Portland and Salem have hundreds of options.

willamette valley vacation rentals oregon

Willamette Valley Vacation Rentals

Guests will find hundreds of hotels located in and around Willamette Valley and its wineries. For a more spacious and private option, consider a vacation rental. Many privately owned vacation homes in Willamette Valley feature picturesque views and quick proximity to different cities and attractions.

From trendy accommodations in Portland to secluded cottages near vineyards and Oregon’s coast, guests will find their home away from home – even at an affordable price. In addition, the area offers variety so visitors have plenty of selection. Some welcome pets, so families can bring their dogs, too. Top options include one-bedroom retreats perfect for couple’s trips to seven-bedroom houses that cater to large groups.

After reading this Willamette Valley guide, browse Portland area vacation rentals.

Interested in other natural attractions? Check out these scenic Portland gardens.