Via magazine
Via magazine - Your AAA Magazine

Salem, Oregon: Capital Fun

No sleepy government center, the Beaver State's capital pops with pioneer history, craft beer on tap, tasty snacks, and strollable streets.

of
  • Wild Pear restaurant's pumpkin soup and blue cheese–chicken pizza, Salem, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Andrew Geiger
    Photo caption
    Wild Pear’s pumpkin soup and blue cheese–chicken pizza.
  • Governors Cup Coffee Roasters, Salem, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Andrew Geiger
    Photo caption
    Governor’s Cup uses a stylish German coffee roaster for prepping beans.
  • Riverfront Carousel, Salem, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Andrew Geiger
    Photo caption
    A pioneer-style wagon on the Riverfront Carousel.
  • Capitol building steps, Salem, Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Andrew Geiger
    Photo caption
    History in relief on the capitol building facade.
  • Book Habit bookstore,  Salem Oregon, picture
    Photo credit
    Photo: Andrew Geiger
    Photo caption
    At Book Habit, used tomes sprawled across two floors invite browsing.

Area code is 503 unless otherwise noted.

TO DO AND SEE
Capitol building Weekday tours recount the story of Oregon's founding and government with visits to historical murals and Depression-era architecture. Old-time fiddlers will accompany living history and pioneer displays on Feb. 14 during Oregon's 156th birthday festivities. 900 Court St. NE, 986-1388, www.oregonlegislature.gov. First Taste Oregon Festival Jan. 23-24. Sip an Oregon ale or chat with local winemakers at this annual celebration of eats and drinks. State Fair & Expo Center, (866) 904-6165, firsttasteoregon.com. Oregon State Hospital Museum of Mental Health Tue., Fri., and Sat., noon-4 p.m. Antique hospital furniture, Rorschach inkblots, and audio recordings of patients' stories at the filming site of the 1975 classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. 2600 Center St. NE, (971) 599-1674, oshmuseum.org. Salem's Riverfront Carousel This merry-go-round boasts hand-carved figures including an Oregon Trail wagon and a salmon named Serendipity. 101 Front St. NE, 540-0374, salemcarousel.org. Willamette Heritage Center Watch a wool-scouring machine or unlock the door to a pioneer home at this former mill with several buildings to explore. An invitational expo called Made in the Valley (Jan. 16-Mar. 14) showcases locally made items ranging from artisanal breads to high-tech equipment. $2 AAA discount. 1313 Mill St. SE, 585-7012, willametteheritage.org.

SHOPPING
Book Habit A beloved spot selling used books for 30 years, with a cozy upstairs reading nook reached by a spiral staircase. 390 Liberty St. SE, 581-3637. Engelberg Antiks II Voodoo dolls and raccoon-fur coats await your discovery at the largest antique mall in Salem. 148 Liberty St. NE, 363-8155. Reed Opera House The state's oldest surviving theater has been repurposed as a maze of locally owned shops selling Highland kilts, pine-scented soap, and Italian-style pastries. 189 Liberty St. NE, 391-4481, reedoperahouse.com. Willamette Valley Cheese Company Taste dill Havarti or chipotle cheddar at this family-run artisanal dairy. 8105 Wallace Rd. NW, 399-9806, wvcheeseco.com.

EATS
Alsham Mediterranean Restaurant Nibble Lebanese kebabs or baklava just upstairs from a tidy, well-stocked Middle Eastern market. 145 Liberty St. NE, 561-0334. Gerry Frank's Konditorei Locals love the cakes and the famed ribbon loaf sandwich: layers of turkey salad, egg salad, and ham salad "frosted" with cream cheese spread. 310 Kearney St. SE, 585-7070, gerryfrankskonditorei.com. Table Five 08 This new, upscale bistro serves Northwest comfort food. Sample the crab toasties or sip cocktails garnished with conifer tips and other wintry accents. 508 State St., 581-5508, tablefive08.com. Wild Pear Restaurant & Catering Charming eatery with an 1880s tin ceiling and exposed brick. Popular menu items include overstuffed kalua pork sandwiches with marionberry barbecue sauce, mixed russet and sweet potato fries, and an assortment of decadent cakes. 372 State St., 378-7515, wildpearcatering.com.

SIPS
Governor's Cup Coffee Roasters Savor your cup of joe next to the vintage roaster at this popular cafe. 471 Court St. NE, 581-9675, facebook.com/thegovcup. Night Deposit Whiskey Library Live music and more than 60 whiskeys enliven this handsome bar inside a redbrick building. 195 Commercial St. NE, 375-2333. Venti's Cafe + Basement Bar A cozy downstairs den bathed in colored lights offering a rotating selection of 10 craft beers on tap to go along with your spicy Tillamook macaroni and cheese. 325 Court St. NE, 399-8733, ventiscafe.com. Willamette Valley Vineyards Perched on a hill right outside Salem, one of the area's leading wineries boasts sweeping views, a renovated estate tasting room, and complimentary daily tours. Stop in for Mo's Crab and Chowder Festival (Jan. 23-25), or the Pinot & Chocolate gathering (Feb. 14-15). 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, 588-9463, wvv.com.

 

This article was first published in January 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.