Pioneers made the rough trip cross-country more than a century ago to put hand to plow in the fertile farmlands of Oregon’s Willamette Valley. It’s significantly easier these days to enjoy a share of Oregon’s bounty without spending so much as a day in the fields, though in season, there are plenty of you-pick options worth considering. What the hungry traveler can count on, autumn or spring, is a colorful selection of locally cultivated eats, from appetizer to dessert, with a microbrew or pinot noir to sweeten the deal.
In urban contrast to much of the state, Portland, the state’s largest city, boasts a brag-worthy list of breweries earning it the nickname, “Beervana”. Additionally, it merits attention for its aromatic coffee scene and selection of truly good vegetarian restaurants.
Venture east to the coast and travelers will find, not surprisingly, that seafood tops many a menu. Seek out a restaurant with an ocean view for a taste of clam chowder, pink shrimp, succulent salmon and fresh-caught crabs, or sample hand-picked blueberries in season. Tillamook, east of Portland, is known internationally for its cheeses and ice cream - but don’t take our word for it, stop in yourself for a cone topped with delectable Brown Cow. Brew pubs dot the coast, the perfect retreat on a blustery day. Try Dead Guy Ale at the Rogue Ales Brewery in Newport, suck down a Vortex IPA at the Fort George Brewery in Astoria and watch seagulls wheel circles over surfers at Pelican Pub and Brewery in Pacific City as part of your beer testing tour.
Eugene and Springfield, situated at the south end of the Willamette Valley, have acquired a well-deserved reputation for organic food production. Farmer’s markets flourish in throughout the valley, well-stocked roughly May to October with hazelnuts, blackberries (which grow wild in many parts of the state), blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, wild mushrooms and sweet Hermiston watermelons. Though locally grown hops drives a thriving list of microbreweries in this Northwestern state, the central valley is also well-known for its wines, celebrated internationally for pinot noir and pinot gris varietals.