Destination Expert: Oregon
This week's destination expert, Kelsey is from Oregon, and has a passion for the Northwestern State. From old growth forests, beautiful hiking, farm to table eats to local brews and wines, Oregon is an off the beaten trail treasure. Adventure and nature enthusiasts will love Oregon's beautiful outdoors, so read on to hear about the very best of the state!
What makes you an expert on Oregon?
As a young kid, I grew up vacationing in Oregon with my family. Originally from Olympia, Washington, we would pop down for weekend excursions several times a year. I remember running through the dark abandoned bunkers at Fort Stevens and getting the worst sunburn of my life while boogie boarding next to Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach on one of my favorite trips.
But really my love of Oregon grew when I attended the University of Oregon in Eugene for college. Over the course of four years, I explored, hiked and roamed around the state as much as possible and eventually discovered that I didn’t want to leave. After college I got a job working at the local visitor and convention bureau in Eugene as an Adventure Specialist to inspire others to also visit this spectacular state. I now work part-time as the PR & Tourism Coordinator for Travel Lane County and freelance write about Pacific Northwest travel and wine.
What makes Oregon unique?
Oregon is a unique and beautiful state because of its wide range of landscapes, it diversity of attractions and amazingly friendly residents. From Oregon’s 363 miles of public coast line with its rugged sea cliffs and long stretches of sandy beaches to the Willamette Valley’s rolling farmland and award-winning wines, then climbing upward to the evergreen Cascade Mountains and to the high desert valleys full of colorful plains, the recreation possibilities in Oregon are endless. And it doesn’t actually rain every day here… I promise!
Where are the best places to eat? What should visitors order?
Known for its wine, beer and farm-to-table options, Oregon serves up fresh and delicious cuisine that is healthy for both you and the environment - plus a little bit of loveable, whimsy charm at the local joints.
In Eugene, you can’t visit without stopping for a bite at Izakaya Meiji Company in the Whiteaker Neighborhood. The Japanese-American fusion restaurant dishes out wonderful small-plate entrees plus has a very impressive list of whiskey. If you’re still thirsty after dinner walk across the street to Ninkasi Brewing Company for a pint of Eugene’s craft brews or just down around the corner to Territorial Wine Company.
Vineyards in Oregon
In Portland it’s all about the Food Carts these days. Take a stroll through downtown to Alder & 9th Street for a full city block of the best single-ditty stops.
For authentic northwest seasonal cuisine surrounded by the beauty that created its down-home style, dine at Timberline Lodge’s Cascade Dining Room. This restaurant has some of the best views around plus a stellar Oregon wine list!
If its seafood that you are looking for, head to Newport, Lincoln City, Cannon Beach or Florence for some of the best west-coast-style clam chowder at Mo’s. Want even more clam chowder? Visit Florence in September during the Chowder, Blues & Brews Festival – your stomach won’t be disappointed.
What are some must see/do activities in Oregon?
You could easily spent weeks in Oregon without visiting all the must-see and do locations around the state. I live here and there are still items on my bucket list that I haven’t made it to yet. A few of the top destinations include:
· Hike to Waterfalls - Silver Falls State Park, Multnomah Falls, Brice Creek and Trestle Creek Falls and just a few of my favorites.
Trestle Creek Falls
· Hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski around the rim at Crater Lake or just take pictures from the visitor center!
· Sip your way through the Willamette Valley on a wine tour. Sarver Winery, West Coast Cellars and Lemelson Vineyards a just a few of my favorites.
· Drink your way along the Bend Ale Trail
· Raft or kayak down thrilling white water on the Snake, Deschutes, McKenzie or Rogue Rivers
Where are the best places for nightlife in Oregon?
Portland - Oregon’s largest city and metropolis - is definitely the place to visit for a thriving night life. Wander its streets filled with lively pubs, bars and dance clubs or take in its unique art scene on one of the monthly evening art walks. If you get hungry in the wee-hours of the morning, swing by Voodoo Donut for a creative sweet treat (like my favorite, the Old Dirty Bastard; a donut topped with peanut butter & Oreos) – they are open 24 hours.
For a smaller scene, the towns of Eugene and Ashland also both have main downtown area’s that come to life after the sun goes down.
Name three/five of your favorite places to stay: High end Hotels? Budget friendly places?
A few of my favorite places to stay around Oregon are:
· Tipi Village Retreat – Sleep in tipis in the forest along a small creek near Marcola, Oregon.
· Hotel Lucia – Trendy downtown hotel in Portland
· Sunriver Resort – rent a condo or vacation home near bend to take it slow and enjoy the outdoors in Central Oregon.
· McMenamin’s Oregon Hotel – A charming hotel in downtown McMinnville, right in the heart of wine country. (Sweet roof-top bar here!)
· Camp overnight in a cabin or yurt at one of Oregon’s State Parks (reserve early!)
Delta Old Growth Forest Trail
What is Oregon’s best kept secret?
Oregon’s best kept secret is the McKenzie River Valley in the central Oregon Cascades. This unique location in the heart of the state puts the outdoors at your fingertips for all types of adventures. Enjoy white water rafting or fly fishing on the river’s banks or take a stroll along the Delta Old Growth Forest Trail for towering trees – even spend the night in one with Pacific Tree Climbing Institute. If relaxing is more your style, take a dip in the natural clothing-optional Cougar Hot Springs (aka Terwillinger) or stay the night at Belknap Hot Springs for a soak in their developed pools. Further east along this scenic route also enjoy high-mountain waterfalls like Proxy and Sahalie and in the summer travel to the peak of the McKenizie Pass to see 360 degree views of the white-peaked mountains at the Dee Wright Observatory.
What souvenir should everyone leave with after visiting Oregon?
Mud on their hiking shoes and sand in their hair – plus a bottle of Oregon Pinot Noir!
Sipping her way around the world, Kelsey is a self proclaimed travel wine junkie. A buzz for the bountiful Pacific Northwest, where she happily calls home, Kelsey loves to explore the region grape by grape and trail by trail. Follow her adventures on The Joyful Shoehorn and discover sips on Oregon Winette. Find her on twitter: @KelseyIvey, or read more at www.kelseyivey.com.