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Hunt for hidden treasure in the birthplace of Geocaching

June 14, 2015 | Jennifer Rouse
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SONY DSCIn the spring of the year 2000, the U.S. government for the first time made GPS satellite data publicly available. A few days later, one man hid a single container in the woods south of Portland, and posted its GPS coordinates in an online forum. A few days later, someone else went out and found it.

With that, the sport/hobby/obsession known as geocaching was born.

Fifteen years later, there are 2,648, 922 geocaches in the world. If you’re one of the thousands of folks who like combining travel with treasure-hunting, then finding the Original Stash–that very first cache–is probably on your  caching bucket list. Luckily for you, Oregon is not only home to the Original Stash, but to lots of additional caching events, clever puzzles, and even official Geotours. Here are a few of our top Oregon Wine Country geocaching picks to help you celebrate the 15th anniversary of geocaching in the birthplace of the sport:

Join Oregon’s first mega-event: Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory is hosting the Cache the Stash event to mark the 15th anniversary of the placement of the first stash outside the community of Estacada. The local geocaching community has come together to create what organizers hope will be Oregon’s first “mega-event,” with more than 500 cachers on hand for a single event. The Cache the Stash Challenge is scheduled for Saturday, August 8 at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center in historic Oregon City.

Participants will have the chance to earn coins that will piece together to form Oregon’s first-ever three-dimensional puzzle cube. Cachers will have to complete challenges in six communities to finish the puzzle cube. Each coin is designed to highlight unique elements of the participating communities.

Earn a limited-edition coin: For enthusiasts who are unable to make the mega-event, The Territory has additional challenges you can take part in. While coins last, several Mt. Hood Territory communities have commemorative coins that can be earned by finding caches throughout the city. For other geocaching adventures in Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory, check out their geocaching page.

Hunt in a garden and win a free resort stay: The Oregon Garden in Silverton offers 10 caching sites scattered throughout its 80-acre botanical garden. Special overnight geocaching packages are available at the Oregon Garden Resort, and treasure hunters who identify all 10 sites receive a commemorative pin and a chance to win a an overnight stay at the Garden or its sister property, the Village Green Resort in Cottage Grove.

Go on the world’s first (and 11th) Geo-Tour: The Eugene, Cascades & Coast GeoTour is Oregon’s 1st, and also the 11th GeoTour in the world. Comprised of four editions to showcase the best of the Eugene, Cascades & Coast, each leg takes Geocachers through a variety of natural wonders between caches and in the surrounding environments. From the coastal areas in Florence to the crest of the Cascades, a series of geocaches are focused on small communities and rural locations. The routes highlight iconic attractions like the Sea Lion Caves and covered bridges; stunning natural beauty with locations including Proxy Falls and the Oregon Dunes; and hidden gems like the Old McKenzie Fish Hatchery and Horse Creek Trail. Come see more than 200 scenic miles with 143 caches just waiting to be found. There’s even an Anniversary Geocaching Challenge (a new Geocaching program in all four edition sites) beginning in August.

Solve a puzzle and learn about Corvallis: Corvallis is known for being super-saturated with caches. Almost every park or greenway contains one or more caches, and for travelers who prefer puzzle caches, Corvallis has a wealth of puzzles varying from the very simple, all the way to insanely difficult. Here’s one of our top picks–a fascinating two-part interactive puzzle cache that is guaranteed to teach you more about the city (but we won’t tell you how!):  Trying to Catch Some Zs, Steve

Come for the hot air balloons, stay for the picnic: Every year during the Northwest Art & Air Festival, the skies above Albany are filled with gorgeous hot air balloons…and the streets are filled with geocachers. Join dozens of families who come to town for the NW Art & Air Festival GeoChallenge–if you find every location on the list you’ll be rewarded with a commemorative coin. Then visit with other geocachers when you stay for the annual GeoPicnic–an event whose location is advertised using only GPS coordinates.

New to geocaching? Learn how to play at the official Geocaching site. Want more Willamette Valley ideas? Explore maps, trip ideas and sample itineraries at OregonWineCountry.org. 

Photo credit: Oliver J. Anderson

 

7 ways to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend in Oregon Wine Country

 

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Memorial Day weekend is one of the biggest wine-tasting weekends of the year in the Willamette Valley–every winery in the valley throws open its doors to celebrate the summer season ahead. Here are a few trip ideas to guide you on your tasting journey this Memorial Day:

1. Go somewhere new. Twenty-five years from now, do you want to be able to sip a glass of amazing Oregon Pinot noir, and say, “Did you know I was there at this winery’s first Memorial Day weekend celebration?” Sure you do! Make your future friends jealous and visit a brand-new winery:

2. See art in action. Get inspired this weekend when you visit a winery where the creative spirit of art intersects with the creative power of winemaking.

  • Chapter 24 Vineyards, Dundee. Watch live art unfold before your eyes as renowned street artist Ashley Montague paints a mural over the course of the weekend.
  • Beckham Estate Vineyard, Sherwood. Winemaker Andrew Beckham is also a potter; visit his ceramic studio onsite and taste wine stored in his old-world clay wine amphorae.
  • Saffron Fields Vineyard, Yamhill. This winery is known for its collection of contemporary art and its gardens designed by noted Japanese garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu.

3. Celebrate old-world style. Visit a family-owned winery where the winemakers’ heritage flavors the culture and traditions.

  • Cubanismo Vineyards, Salem. Owner Mauricio Collada is from Havana, Cuba;  enjoy wine tasting, salsa dancing, live music, and Cuban food in honor of that heritage on Memorial Day weekend.
  • Coelho Winery, Amity. The Coelho family honors its Portuguese heritage with Portuguese varietals and blends, alongside its Portugeuse-named Paciencia and Atracao Pinot noirs.

4. Enjoy a moveable tasting trip. Rent a bike, pack a picnic, and take a cycle trip in the Willamette Valley

5. Visit a pioneer. Did you know 2015 marks the 50th year since the first Pinot noir vines were planted in the Willamette Valley? Raise a glass to the early dreamers and pay a visit to early Oregon Pinot noir producers, still making great wine today.

6. Take an urban wine trail. Have a city-based wine experience when you tour the urban wine circuits of Eugene or McMinnville.

7. Go to the place no one’s heard of. Be that in-the-know friend who can recommend a fabulous bottle from a boutique winery. Some of Oregon’s smallest wineries are open only by appointment, or on special occasions, so Memorial Day Weekend is a great chance to have a personal tasting experience at a small-production winery.

  • Lumos Tasting Room in Wren. Lumos Wines original tasting room in a barn on the family farm is only open to the public Memorial Day weekend or by appointment.
  • Marks Ridge Winery. Marks Ridge is nestled in the Cascade foothills, with amazing views from their high-elevation site.
  • Pfeiffer Vineyards. The exquisite small-lot wines made at Pfeiffer are available only through their wine club and tasting room and are not distributed to stores or restaurants. Visit their beautiful winery and gardens to taste them for yourself.

Need to know more about wine tasting in the Willamette Valley? Plan a trip with our interactive map explorer, or sign up for our quarterly e-newsletter for wine country travel inspiration all year long.

Oregon Wine Month

May 1, 2015 | Jennifer Rouse
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OWM Logo - HorizontalCelebrate Oregon Wine Month this May–it’s our yearly month-long celebration of all things wine. Enjoy barrel tastings, tours and winery dinners along with special deals and discounts on Oregon wine. With more than 350 wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, you probably can’t visit them all…but you can have a good time trying.

Trip ideas for Oregon Wine Month:

Celebrate 50 years of Pinot: This year marks 50 years since the first Pinot noir vines were planted in the Willamette Valley. Make a pilgramage to the birthplace of the Willamette Valley’s Pinot tradition when you visit The Eyrie Vineyards tasting room in McMinnville.

A Perfect Pairing: The same soil that produces world-class wine grapes is also perfect for mouthwatering berries, fruits, vegetables and locally-raised meat and cheese. Pair Oregon wine with meals from one of these don’t-miss restaurants.

Stay and Sip: Spend the entire weekend exploring our vineyards and tasting rooms.

Cycle Oregon Wine Country: Explore country roads that wind past vineyards, hop farms, and historic towns on our wine country cycling trip.

Oregon Wines Fly Free:
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If you travel on Alaska Airlines, you can take a case of Oregon wine home with you at no cost! Learn more here.

Giveaways:

You can win one of three dream weekends in Oregon Wine Country during Oregon Wine Month. Details here.

Event Listings:

Find an Oregon Wine Country event near you. Event listings here.

For great trip ideas and vacation planning all year long, go to OregonWineCountry.org.

Golf adventures in the Willamette Valley

April 8, 2015 | Jennifer Rouse
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If your idea of the perfect vacation involves hitting the links in the middle of Oregon’s stunning wine country–and topping off a day on the course with some excellent Pinot noir–then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together our top picks for golf adventures in the Willamette Valley that will knock your argyle socks off.

small-TokateeGolfClub1Tokatee Golf Club, Blue River. Tokatee offers a unique golfing experience by maintaining a low-key, rustic operation without sacrificing quality. It’s a picturesque course that’s right at the base of the Three Sisters, nestled right off the McKenzie River. The course has consistently been ranked in “Best Courses in Oregon” by Golf Digest.

 

Langdon Farms, Aurora. This beautiful course is just a few minutes outside of Portland and has been recognized as one of the best courses in the state by Golfweek magazine and Golf Digest. Enjoy a day on the course with views of  Mt. Hood in the distance.

ElkhornGolfClub_SalemAreaElkhorn Golf Course, Lyons. Nestled in a valley near the towering forests of the Opal Creek wilderness, Elkhorn is golf at its most challenging and inspirational. National recognition in numerous golf magazines has made this 18-hole course a must-stop for players exploring Oregon courses.

 

Trysting Tree, Corvallis. At Trysting Tree, you can golf beneath a piece of Oregon history–the club gets its name from a historic poplar that once stood on the Oregon State University campus and was named a state heritage tree. A cutting from the original tree grows tall at Trysting Tree today. The collegiate golf team at Oregon State University makes its home at the course.

small-Mallard Creek GolfMallard Creek Golf, Lebanon. Bring your family and make a visit to Mallard Creek into a mini-vacation. The course is set amid beautiful rural Oregon scenery and boasts an RV resort that’s ranked in the top 50 in the nation. Introduce your kids to a new twist on the traditional game–Mallard Creek now offers tee times on select days for “foot golf,” a game that combines elements of soccer and golf.

 

Chehalem Glenn, Newberg. Golf your way to a glass of fine wine at Chehalem Glenn, which is located near some of Oregon’s most famous wineries. Chehalem Glenn is known for having the best practice facilities of any public course in the state.

Seven Spring Break adventures in Oregon Wine Country

September 5, 2014 | admin
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Plan now for family memories that will last a lifetime. This spring break, get out of the house and have an adventure together. Here are seven of our top picks for family trips all around the Willamette Valley this spring:

Salem

Salem Carousel by Ron CooperFor family-friendly fun without a lot of fuss, bring the kids to Salem, where they can meet Pancho the Elephant – the newest animal to join the herd at Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, one of the state’s only authentic Old World-style carousels. While you’re there, be sure to visit The Enchanted Forest. This quirky theme park features an eclectic mix of rides and activities – everything from wizards to a Western Town – and opens specifically for one week during spring break, before closing back down until the beginning of summer. Kids will also enjoy a trip through The Gilbert House Museum – a hands-on children’s museum named after the famous toy inventor, A.C. Gilbert.

Eugene, Cascades & Coast

Combine old-fashioned hiking with high-tech treasure hunting when you explore the Eugene, Cascades & Coast region’s GeoTour. Use a cell phone or a hand-held GPS device to download the coordinates for some of the more than 140 geocaches on the route, then follow the clues to find these hidden caches. The full tour stretches from the Oregon Coast to the crest of the Cascades, but it’s broken up into four editions. You can do each separately or spend a week on the entire tour. You’re guaranteed to discover something new on this interactive trip.

Mt. Hood Territory

Rosse Posse Elk RanchLearn about life on real, working farms along Mt. Hood Territory’s Oregon Farm Loops (Farmlandia, Molalla & Canby Farm Loops). Meet rare, heritage ducks, pigs and cows at Boondockers, learn about elk from the experts at Rosse Posse Elk Ranch, visit sheep and baby lambs at SuDan Farms, Grab a bite to eat at Fir Point Farms and pick up some local keepsakes at Our Table’s on-farm grocery store. Please note that not all farms are open in the spring. I tried to call out ones that visitors can visit around that time. And please note that all members are working farms, so please call ahead to confirm hours/make an appointment. While you’re exploring the Canby Farm Loop, stop at Bricks and Minifigs in Canby. It’s the largest toy store of its kind, specializing in only new and used LEGO® items.

Albany

Feel like an archaeologist when you dig for petrified wood at Holleywood Ranch east of Albany. This little farm sits on a unique geological site, where more than 65 varieties of petrified wood have been identified. Bring your own shovel or rent tools from the ranch, then head out into the field to uncover your own specimens and keep what you find ($1.50 per pound of rocks). Nature lovers will get a kick out of this chance to play scientist for the day.

Corvallis

Willamette Kayaking by Lainey DyerRediscover your sense of wonder when you take the family on a guided kayaking tour down the Willamette River with Cascadia Expeditions. You can start in Corvallis’ vibrant downtown district, full of restaurants, pubs, and quirky shops, then head out onto the river and find yourself a world away. The plants and wildlife of the Willamette, a nationally-recognized Water Trail, will come to life as you paddle downstream.

 

Yamhill Valley

The waterslides at Wings & Waves Waterpark in McMinnville are pretty spectacular, no matter how old you are. The three-story waterslide starts in a real Boeing 747 mounted on the roof of the building and then spirals three stories before splashing into the heated indoor pool below. The waterpark also features a wave pool and nine other waterslides, designed for kids from infant to teenager. Next door, you can explore all kinds of airplanes and spacecraft at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, including Howard Hughes’ legendary Spruce Goose, with its massive 320-foot wing-span; a Mercury Space capsule; and a WWII-era B-17 bomber. Kids will also enjoy the 3D theater and a space-themed playground.

Bonus trip: Wooden Shoe Farms Tulip Festival

Wooden Shoe Tulip FarmWhen you plan your Willamette Valley trip, be sure to check the website for Wooden Shoe Tulip Farms. Stunning fields of tulips with Mt. Hood in the background make for amazing family photos, and kids will love taking a hay ride out to the field and playing in the farm-themed play area. Mother Nature dictates opening day for this annual festival, but March, April and May are usually good months for a visit. UPDATE: Due to great weather in Oregon this spring, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm is opening March, 20, 2015, just in time for spring break! 

 

For more trip ideas in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, check out our interactive trip planner and sample itineraries.