The state capital is a peaceful and homely university city that exudes a slightly conservative air and is a popular destination for conferences. Salem makes a good day trip from Portland as it's just an hour's drive south. Highlights include the state capitol itself and a few museums, along with a pleasant riverfront park complete with carousel.
At the heart of the region's wine industry lies busy and modern McMinnville, mostly charmless except for its historic, red-brick downtown district. Here you'll find art galleries, boutiques, wine-tasting rooms and fine restaurants. There are some attractive old buildings; see the tourist office for a pamphlet. The main regional attractions are the area's wineries, of course.
Proud to be the home of Oregon State University (OSU), Corvallis is a bustling, youthful city on the edge of the Willamette River, and is surrounded by miles of farms, orchards and vineyards. Downtown storefronts are filled with bakeries, bookstores and cafes, while the upscale riverfront area offers pleasant walking along with stylish restaurants and pubs.
Newberg & Dundee
The gateways to wine country, these small cities were originally founded as Quaker settlements. These days, car traffic, strip malls and modern services are much of what you'll see. There are excellent restaurants here, however, along with upscale places to sleep. Dundee is 2 miles west of Newberg, on Hwy 99W.
The single name 'McKenzie' identifies a beautiful and mysterious river, a mountain pass, a spectacular historic highway and one of Oregon's most extraordinary and wondrous natural areas. Premiere recreational opportunities abound, from fantastic fishing to exceptional hiking to racy rafting trips.
Champoeg State Heritage Area
One of the very first settlements in Oregon, Champoeg ('shampoo-e') was located on a flood plain along a bend in the Willamette River. A slim-margin vote in 1843 here established Oregon's first independent government, weakening British power in the region. The town continued to grow as the era of riverboat travel brought increasing trade to the Willamette Valley.