There are many reasons to visit Salem, Oregon. The Oregon Pioneer statue sits atop the state capitol building, but there is much more to see and do. You can stroll through beautiful manicured gardens in the spring and enjoy the vibrant dining scene. Nearby is a gorgeous wine region. The area also has many beautiful waterfalls and mountain views. Here are some of the best things to do in Salem, Oregon. Let’s start with some of the most popular activities in Salem, Oregon.
The Minto-Brown Island Park is one of the largest parks in Salem, Oregon. It covers more than 1,200 acres and has several trails. There is a 30-acre off-leash dog area. The park also has individual picnic sites and a 30-acre equestrian area. There is also a horse-riding arena nearby. This park offers many outdoor activities, so it’s a great place to bring your family.
Another great activity in Salem is hiking. You can head to one of the parks located in Lebanon. They are both located off Highway 20 and Highway 34. However, many of the trails are closed due to damage caused by the Eagle Creek Fire. But if you’re looking for a great place to take your kids to hike, check out Cascadia State Park. There are two waterfalls and a 2.3-mile loop to enjoy.
The Willamette Heritage Center, a historical center in Salem, explains that the provincial government of Oregon was first established in Oregon City, which had the advantage of being centrally located. But the city of Salem was a growing and economically vibrant town. The Oregon Trail passed through Salem and it became the official capital of the state. After a couple of years, the Salem legislative body was chosen as the capital. In 1852, Salem was named the formal capital of the territory, while Portland became the location of the territorial jail and the University of Maryville.
The city’s long history of history goes back much further than just its current governmental role. Salem was originally settled by Native Americans, including the Kalapuya. Their name, Chim-i-ki-ti, meant meeting and resting place. The first settlers came to Salem in 1840, and Methodist Jason Lee led the second attempt to establish a mission in Oregon Country. The area was also known as Chemeketa, and Mill Creek because it was near the river.
While visiting Salem, don’t forget to stop at the town’s iconic Reed Opera House. This antique building houses many quirky boutiques and restaurants. Side streets of the city are lined with coffee shops, galleries, and boutiques. And if you’re hungry, grab some tasty desserts from Gerry Frank’s Konditorei. A deluxe dessert palace awaits at this delicious restaurant. The two locations serve lunch and dinner.
The Champoeg State Heritage Area offers several miles of hiking trails, historic buildings, and a shelter where the first vote for the creation of the state government was held. You’ll also find the ambling Willamette River and seasonal wildflowers. The Champoeg Store, which is believed to be Oregon’s oldest continuously operating store, is another highlight. Hiking in the spring is best to see the wildflowers in full bloom, but the campground can get crowded during the summer.