Look beyond the high-tech campuses for a small town with classic movies, nesting bald eagles, and pinot noir tastings—all only a half hour from Portland.
Area code is 503.
TO DO AND SEE
Glenn & Viola Walters Cultural Arts Center Take a watercolor class, watch a modern dance performance, or step up to the mic for open poetry nights at the city-owned arts center. 527 E. Main St., 615-3485, ci.hillsboro.or.us/wcac. Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve Catch glimpses of bald eagles, muskrats, and winter-blooming osoberries on the four miles of easy trails at the 635-acre park along the Tualatin River. Too wet to walk? Listen to frog sounds and weigh hummingbird nests at the visitor center. 2600 SW Hillsboro Hwy., 681-6206, jacksonbottom.org. Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals A 20,000-specimen collection that gives the Smithsonian a run for its money. Highlights include one of the world’s largest opal-filled thunder eggs and a room full of glow-in-the-dark rocks. 26385 NW Groveland Dr., 647-2418, ricenorthwestmuseum.org. Venetian Theatre & Bistro Order a pizza or a thick slab of triple chocolate cake to munch on while watching classic movies and locally produced plays under a crystal chandelier. 253 E. Main St., 693-3953, venetiantheatre.com.
Hillsboro Hobby Shop Get free expert advice from owner Greg Carlson, a retired mechanical engineer, plus the kits, tools, and materials to build a stagecoach, a balsa wood bridge, or a rocket ship. 345 E. Main St., 648-3788, hillsborohobbyshop.com. Let’s Play Pirate magic sets, toddler-friendly xylophones, and locally made wooden swords jam-pack this specialty toy store. Best are the sweet doll quilts made by the owner’s mother. 263 E. Main St., 640-8301, letsplaytoys.com.
Amelia’s Restaurant Rub shoulders with locals at this cozy neighborhood Mexican restaurant where Amelia Ramirez makes everything from scratch, including five kinds of spicy mole. 105 NE Fourth Ave., 615-0191, ameliasmexicanrestaurant.com. Chennai Masala Hidden inside a nondescript strip mall, you’ll find some of the best Indian food in the Portland area. The dosas with fillings such as spinach, potatoes, and tandoori chicken pack a punch, but the mango lassi drink tames the heat. 2088 NW Stucki Ave., 531-9500, chennaimasala.net. Cruise In Country Diner A throwback roadside restaurant amid farmland serves burgers named after vintage cars, such as the ’57 Chevy burger, topped with bacon and Tillamook cheddar. Don’t miss the thick blackberry shakes. 9785 SW River Rd., 628-0500, cruiseincountry.com. Earth Oven Pizza Crisp wood-fire-oven pizzas with toppings like rib-eye steak, roasted garlic, and caramelized onions pair well with the bluegrass and jazz bands that play nightly. 337 E. Main St., 747-7743, earthovenpizza.com. Syun Izakaya An intimate spot serving sushi and Japanese pub food such as steamed clams in sake and braised pork belly, plus more than 50 kinds of sake. 209 NE Lincoln St., 640-3131, syun-izakaya.com.
Ambacht Brewing Open Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Matzobrau, Pie Cherry, and Golden Rose, flavored with rose hips, are some of the surprising brews among the dozen Belgian-inspired ales handcrafted in this one-room facility. Stop in for a tour, or take some bottles to go. 1055 NE 25th Ave. Suite N, 828-1400, ambacht.us. Árdíri Winery & Vineyards Open Friday through Sunday, and by appointment Wednesday and Thursday. Cozy up to indoor fire pits with a glass of pinot and enjoy the view of Mount Hood at this hilltop vineyard. Check out the dinner-and-film nights every second Saturday of the month. 35040 SW Unger Rd., Cornelius, 628-6060, ardiriwine.com. Big Bottom Whiskey Open Saturday noon to 4 p.m. or by appointment. Try up to seven kinds of bourbon, including a very smooth tawny port cask finish, at this independent whiskey producer. 21420 NW Nicholas Ct., Ste. D9, 608-7816, bigbottomwhiskey.com. Helvetia Vineyards and Winery Open weekends. Look for eagles and elks outside the windows of this 1905 farmhouse as you taste chardonnay, pinot, and rosé next to a wood-fired stove. 23269 NW Yungen Rd., 647-7596, helvetiawinery.com. Vertigo Brewing and Taproom Hours vary. Stop in for a tour from the brewmaster or a flight of beer at this industrial-looking space. 21420 NW Nicholas Ct., Ste. D6, 645-6644, vertigobrew.com.
Photography by Joni Kabana; by John Wise/courtesy of Jackson Bottom Wetlands (tundra swans)
This article was first published in January 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.