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Willamette Valley: Forest Grove, Ore.

Take a sake tour or visit a wetland teeming with wildlife in this Portland suburb.

An egret in the Fernhill Wetlands of Forest Grove, Oregon, image
Photo caption
An egret perches magestically in the Fernhill Wetlands of Forest Grove, Ore.

Forest Grove may be a suburb of Portland, 25 miles away, but its center retains an old-time charm, with a host of locally owned shops and a century-old theater, still in operation, sporting a marquee that reads THE GROVE. The vast, tree-lined lawns of Pacific University enhance the tranquillity, and the outer reaches of town offer outdoor recreation such as bird and wildlife viewing. The off-road trails that surround the city are great for mountain biking. Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce: (503) 357-3006.

Area code is 503.

to do
Just a quarter-mile south of town, Fernhill Wetlands is a quiet 600-acre expanse of marshes and gentle paths that each winter hosts thousands of waterfowl, among them tundra swans, great blue herons, and cackling geese. Summer visitors can see great blue herons and juvenile eagles, plus osprey diving for carp. 1399 SW Fern Hill Rd., In 1998 the owners of Sake One searched the Pacific Northwest for a home and then built this kura, or brewery, in Forest Grove, chosen for the soft, mineral-sparse (and thus sake-perfect) waters that flow in the nearby Coast Range. Today, visitors can tour the dazzlingly clean plant and then repair to the spare and stylish tasting room to sip 15 in-house brews, including crisp, undiluted Genshu and raspberry-infused Moonstone. 820 Elm St., 357-7056, Theatre in the Grove has been staging wholesome, family-friendly plays at the Grove since 1969. Recent shows include Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Dracula, and Cheaper by the Dozen. Expect a mix of polished professionalism and loose-limbed costume-box fun in the newly refurbished 228-seat venue appointed with vintage movie posters exhumed from the attic. 2028 Pacific Ave., 359-5349.

At Grendel’s you’ll feel as if you’ve been transported to the British Isles. Play darts, quaff a few imperial pints, and then pick from a menu that includes bangers and mash (that is, sausage and mashed potatoes) and about a dozen types of pasties. 2004 Main St., 357-7095. Maggie’s Buns offers killer pastries and a healthy breakfast and lunch (think wild rice and quinoa salads) in an über-funky room with brightly painted walls chockablock with random decor—for instance, a taxidermic deer wearing sunglasses and a Panama hat. 2007 21st Ave., 992-2231, At Izgara Bar and Grill, owner Ofer Yoav, an Israeli émigré, serves up ample portions of delectable Middle Eastern fare—shishlick (skewered and broiled dark chicken), lamb kebab, and baklava layered with honey and nuts. Belly dancing every Friday night. 2036B Main St., 352-9306.

Built in 1922, the white-columned brick Grand Lodge is now a newly revamped funhouse fashioned by Portland’s McMenamin brothers. Along with 77 simple and stylish European-style guest rooms, the place has a pub, a movie theater, an outdoor soaking pool, a bar called the Doctor’s Office, and a 10-hole disc golf course. 3505 Pacific Ave., 992-9533, To find a place to stay, visit

Photography courtesy Lyn Topinka/Columbia River Images


Check out the rest of our Willamette Valley, Oregon package:
Carlton: Tiny, but packed with wine country delights
Dayton: Historic buildings and acclaimed restaurants
Dundee: Knockout eateries and pioneering wineries
McMinnville: Airplanes, UFOs, and a charming downtown
Newberg: Convenient tasting rooms and nearby vineyards

This article was first published in August 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.