Salem, Oregon and it’s surrounding areas has more to do than you would think at first glance. Chances are you in Salem for some sort of sporting event, I assume this since that’s why we were always there. After spending several weekends in Salem I finally pieced together this 4 day Salem, Oregon itinerary.
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4 Day Salem, Oregon Itinerary
You will notice that some of this is not specifically in Salmen but areas nearby like McMinnville and Silverton. You can take this Salem itinerary and adjust it to suit your own needs accordingly. If you are only there for a weekend you may want to cut out the things that are outside of Salem and just focus on Day 2 & 3. If you’ve got an extra day or you are driving in from a certain area you can try some of these suggestions that are in Day 1 & 4.
Day 1: Arrive in Oregon
Today you have arrived in Oregon or driven in from another part of Oregon to kick off this trip. The itinerary begins in Silverton, Oregon where you will be staying one night at the Oregon Garden Resort
The Oregon Garden Resort is located at 895 West Main Street, Silverton, Oregon 97381. This resort overlooks an 80-acre botanical garden and features a restaurant, lounge, day spa, and 103 guest rooms.
Take a tram tour or a self-guided tour through more than 20 specialty gardens, including a pet-friendly garden, children’s garden, sensory garden, and water garden. The gardens showcase the diverse botanical beauty that can be found in the Willamette Valley and throughout the Pacific Northwest. Admission to the garden is included with your reservation.
Christmas at Oregon Garden
If you have to be visiting sometime in November, December, or January you might get to enjoy the Christmas time event they have that takes place in the Rediscovery Forest, which is illuminated by 400,000-holiday lights. Here’s a look at what you can experience if you go to the event.
Ice Skating: The 3,500 sq. ft. outdoor ice skating rink is housed inside a massive tent protecting you and the little ones from the cold.
Light Trail: As you stroll through the grounds under the lights, you’ll find 18 artisan vendors participating in a traditional German Christmas market. An assortment of items are for sale like cheese knives, ornaments, bracelets, candles, pottery, chocolates, wine, cards, soaps and more.
- Fondue with apples, bread, and sausage
- Soft pretzels with fondue
- Sausage with sauerkraut
- Hot dogs
- German potato salad
- Drinks: hot cocoa, coffee, hot spiced cider, gluhwein (a traditional hot spiced wine), Gilgamesh Brewing Beer, spirits from Hood River Distillers, soda, and water.
Santa: Santa will even join the party when he can make time in his busy holiday schedule. He’s scheduled to appear in December only.
Reindeer: There are live reindeer onsite throughout the event. Your admission includes a family photo with the reindeer.
Morning: Have breakfast at the resort and then explore the gardens. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Guests are welcome to explore the garden any time during daylight hours.
When you are done at the garden head out to visit Mt. Angel Abbey Museum of Natural History. The Museum of Natural History is located at 1 Abbey Drive, Saint Benedict, Oregon 97373
Mt. Angel Abbey, founded in 1882, is a Benedictine monastic community and it is super random. Benedictine monks dedicate themselves to praising God, but they are also known for their love of libraries and education. The campus includes a church, library, museum, and a bookstore. The museum features artifacts and curiosities from the Pacific Northwest and beyond, including a North American mammal collection and Holy Land artifacts.
Lunch: Have lunch at the Mt. Angel Sausage Co. located at 105 S Garfield Street, Mt. Angel, Oregon 97362. Mt. Angel Sausage Co. is Mount Angel’s oldest Bavarian restaurant. They serve handmade European-style sausages. The restaurant was featured on the Food Network.
Tour at the Willamette Heritage Center located at 1313 Mill Street SE, Suite 200, Salem, Oregon 97301
The Willamette Heritage Center preserves the history of the Mid-Willamette Valley. The five-acre campus is home to 14 historic structures, including the 1896 Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and the oldest standing wooden frame houses in the Pacific Northwest. We found this to be an excellent thing to do and learned a lot.
Dinner: Best Little Roadhouse located at 1145 Commercial Street SE, Salem, Oregon 97302. The Best Little Roadhouse is a family-friendly steakhouse and burger spot with an 18-hole miniature golf course.
Tonight stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton-Salem located at1590 Weston Court, Salem, Oregon 97301. The DoubleTree has a pool, spa, and fitness center. Plus, breakfast is included with your stay and they have two-room suites for families.
Day 3: Fun Activities and Wine Time
Morning: Breakfast at hotel, check out of the hotel. Breakfast is served from 6:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Create A Memory is located at 270 Commercial Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301. At Create a Memory you and your family can create a fused glass project. You will want to do this as soon as possible during your trip so that you can come back the next day and pick up your work of art. So you may want to move this activity to a different day depending on how much time you have like the evening of day 2.
Visit Riverfront Park and Gilbert House Children’s Museum
Riverfront Park is located at 200 Water Street NE, Salem, Oregon 97301. Riverfront Park is a 23-acre park located along the Willamette River. The park has large grassy areas, an amphitheater, boat dock, playground equipment, and bike paths. It is also home to the EcoEarth Globe and Salem’s Riverfront Carousel. The EcoEarth Globe is located at the southern end of the park. It used to be a large pressurized tank used by Boise Cascade to hold acids that cooked wood chips into pulp. The “acid ball” has since been transformed into a beautiful piece of art that includes 86,000 tiles depicting the entire globe. Salem’s Riverfront Carousel features characters that are hand-painted and carved by local volunteers. The carousel opens at 11 a.m., in case your kids want to ride.
Gilbert House Children’s Museum located at116 Marion Street NE, Salem, Oregon 07301. The Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a private nonprofit museum connected to Riverfront Park. The exhibits, designed for children ages 2-10, are designed to provide innovative and stimulating educational experiences to spark children’s natural curiosity. The museum is comprised of three historic houses and a 20,000-square-foot outdoor discovery center. The outdoor section was our favorite part.
Lunch: Have Korean food for lunch at the Happy Bibimbap House. In addition to your main dish, you will get to enjoy the Banchan aka lots of side dishes which are included with everything. Start your meal with a Korean Pancake appetizer.
After lunch head to the Willamette Vally wine country. You can stop by one of two wineries to do tastings, play cornhole, and stroll around the grounds. Here are 9 Kid-Friendly Wineries in the Willamette Valley.
Dinner: Tonight I am going to recommend two wineries depending on what day you are there. You are in wine country so you should take advantage of it.
- Stroller Family Estate where you can grab sandwiches or enjoy a board with your wine.
- Brooks Wine has pizza nights when they fire up their pizza oven and you can dine outside with your family. They have other food as well like boards and small bites.
Stay the night at Vintage Trailer Resort in Oregon’s Wine Country. This will be a one-of-a-kind experience. However, depending on the size of your family this may not be a good option.
Day 4: Airplanes and Waterpark
Breakfast: Community Plate located at 315 NE 3rd Street, McMinnville, Oregon 97128. From communal tables to sourcing fresh local ingredients, the restaurant makes “community” the focus of everything they do. Here you can enjoy locally made jams, buttermilk pancakes, omelets, breakfast bowls, huevos rancheros, and more.
Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is located at 500 Northeast Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville, Oregon 97128. The aviation museum is home to more than 200 historic aircraft, spacecraft, and exhibits. The Spruce Goose, a massive wooden World War II plane, sits in the center of the museum. Our favorite thing here was the brain teasers. The museum also has a theater and café.
Lunch: Plan to have lunch at either the waterpark or the museum.
Visit Wings & Waves Waterpark
Wings & Waves Waterpark is located on the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum property, the indoor, all-season waterpark includes ten waterslides and a wave pool. The waterpark closes at 6 p.m. and does not provide towels.
Wings and Waves is located next door to the aviation museum. Wings and Waves Water Park Coupon.
17 Fun Things to do in Salem, Oregon with Kids
Top 13 Family-Friendly Things to do in Eugene Oregon
23 Reasons Families Love Salishan Resort
Get Travel Insurance
Unfortunately, there are a lot of things that can go wrong on any trip. Be prepared for the worst with travel insurance. We use Travelex.
I use Skyscanner to find flights. I use it so much, I wrote an entire guide to finding cheap flights with Skyscanner! Momondo is also a great site for finding cheap flights.
Book a Place to Stay
I recommend using Expedia.com or Hotels.com for most hotel bookings. I prefer to book directly with Marriott when I stay there because of their excellent military discount.
If you prefer staying in a vacation rental instead, I recommend VRBO.
Choose Activities and Tours
To find great activities in any area I use Get Your Guide and Viator. If we are visiting a city with lots of popular attractions I always check CityPass and GoCard to see if they have discount cards available.
When I want to book a full-on multi-day tour I use TourRadar. They’ve got fantastic weekly deals.
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