Corvallis Riverfront

Laurie McKenzie of Gathering Together Farm at the farmers' market in Corvallis, Ore.

Laurie McKenzie shows off fresh carrots at the farmers' market in Corvallis, Ore.

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The Willamette River passes along the edge of Corvallis, the Oregon State University town about 90 miles south of Portland. Several years ago, the city decided to build a park along the riverbanks with a plaza, a fountain, sculptures, grassy stretches, and a biking and walking path. After the Riverfront Commemorative Park opened in 2002, restaurants popped up along the waterfront and boutiques blossomed on nearby First and Second streets. Here are some popular spots. Area code is 541.

  • The Corvallis Farmers' Market takes over two blocks beginning at the corner of First Street and Jackson Avenue on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. through November. In the fall, local farmers deal in ripe pears, apples, pumpkins, and hazelnuts. www.locallygrown.org.
  • Beeswax candles, blown-glass hummingbird feeders, floral tablecloths —InsideOut-Garden Visions stocks a colorful mix of items for gardens, patios, and outdoor rooms. 121 NW Second St., 754-6261.
  • One of the newest riverfront restaurants, Iovinos offers outdoor seating by the grassy bank and innovative Italian preparations, such as sweet Manila clams steamed in parchment. 136 SW Washington St., 738-9015.
  • When Grass Roots Books and Music opened in 1971, its books focused on the back-to-the-land movement. Today the shelves are full of mainstream reads, but it's still the best place in town to pick up a guide to organic gardening. 227 SW Second St., 754-7668.
  • Can't decide among the 24 flavors in Francesco's-Gelato-Café? Luckily for you, the staff are generous with samples. Be sure to try the apricot sorbet. 208 SW Second St., 752-1326.
  • The locals' favorite for an elegant meal is Le Bistro, which serves classic French country cuisine in the warm, cozy dining room of the former Hotel Corvallis. Standouts: champagne poached fish du jour. 150 SW Madison Ave., 754-6680.
  • Settle into a leather lounge chairs at the Bow Truss Bar, housed in a gracefully converted bus depot, and finish off your day with a glass of Belle Vallee Cellars merlot made here in town. 101 NW Jackson St., 757-0694.

Photography by Susan Seubert

This article was first published in January 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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