Oregon’s Mt. Hood Territory is just southeast of Portland and my new favorite long weekend getaway. The region is filled with possibilities to fit all styles of travelers, whether this is a family vacation or a romantic mini-break. This is an area that is loaded with history, great farm-to-table fare and scenic wineries as well as endless opportunities for outdoor adventures from urban kayaking to trail hikes through the mountains.
In my case, I took my husband TJ and our 1-year-old son Everett and met up with my sister and brother-in-law and their two kids. We choose to base ourselves in Oregon City, which is a great spot to set up and get your bearings and located at the very end of the famed Oregon Trail about a 30-minute drive from Portland. It’s near some great spots like viewing Willamette Falls, which is the second largest waterfall by volume after Niagara Falls in the U.S. And also offers a taste of authentic Americana in its pastoral countryside where the descendants of the pioneers that blazed the Oregon Trail still farm the land and turn grapes into wine.
Here are 7 favorite ways to explore The Territory within an hour’s drive of Oregon City.
1. Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm, Woodburn
With more than 120 different types of tulips and daffodils spread across a field on 40 stunning acres with Mt. Hood in the background as well as vineyard views, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn is the perfect place to wander in the Pacific Northwest spring — it hosts an annual Tulip Festival from March to early May when the flowers are blooming. The farm, which is about an hour’s drive from Portland, features fresh flowers, food and family fun activities like hay wagon rides and kiddie play areas as well as opportunities to taste wines from the onsite vineyard. Wines to try to include a Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Marechal Foch, Sparkling Blush Moscato, Pinot Gris, and Sparkling Albarino. There are also demonstrations in wooden shoe making and for children interested in transportation opportunities to see steam tractors working the fields.
2. Fir Point Farms, Aurora
Sitting on 35-acres Fir Point Farms in Aurora is open all year and we had a great time here playing tetherball together on the lawn before walking around the grounds to see the goats and chickens and the kids loved feeding carrots to the resident pony. This is a very child friendly venue and they have a great ship playground with slides that Everett and his cousins had a blast going down. When you’ve finished wandering grab breakfast or lunch at the farm restaurant and bakery where the sandwiches are served on homemade bread and there are also delicious sweet treats from pies to scones to cinnamon rolls. Also onsite is a country store and gift shop selling fresh local produce and raw honey, jams and more baked goods. And come fall, the pumpkin patch is the place to be.
3. Our Table Cooperative, Sherwood
If you are in the area on a Friday night then you’ll want to check out Farm Friday at Our Table Cooperative in Sherwood. Running from 4pm to 8pm every Friday it created my favorite meal of the entire trip along with an absolutely gorgeous sunset from our table on the patio. All the food served is grown on-site at the regional co-op that is on a mission to create “a resilient and interdependent local food culture.” And it is a family-friendly spot with a giant field for the kids to run around and play while the adults sampled deviled eggs with dill and pickled mustard seeds, heirloom tomato soup and grilled cheese and spaghetti squash with braised beef, heirloom tomato, homemade ricotta and polenta breadcrumbs. There is also wine available and even Kombucha on tap. If you aren’t in town on a Friday night, however, you can still visit the co-op’s onsite farm grocery store that features a variety of dairy, meat and produce selections as well as dry goods, prepared meals and health and wellness selections. Best of all, the store is 80 percent Oregon-sourced and 90 percent organic.
4. Tumwater Vineyard, West Linn
Mt. Hood Territory is home to a number of different wineries including Tumwater Vineyard in West Linn where we did a flight of wine tastings for $15 and that included a glass of your favorite selection. This vineyard is great for families with young kids as it has a sprawling lawn where adults can sit in the sun and sip wine in peace as the kids have plenty of play space. The vineyard is only open on Sundays, however, between noon and 5.30pm as well as the occasional holiday weekend — check the website for hours. We tasted a number of excellent wines but my favorites were a 2016 Barrel Select Chardonnay (retails $40), a 2017 WV Rose ($22), 2015 Yamhill-Carlton Pinot Noir ($28) and a 2015 Prince Hill Vineyard Pinot Noir ($55).
5. TMK Creamery, Canby
Another farmland favorite of mine is a visit to TMK Creamery. They make cheese from milk collected in the same place where the cheese is made. The creamery also grows their own grass, corn and alfalfa to feed the cows that produce the milk. The 20 cows, who all have names and are considered as part of the family by owners Todd and Tessa Koch, are milked twice daily in a building known as the milking parlor and then kept cold in a 100 gallon holding tank before being pumped fresh to the creamery to make the cheese for which it is the main ingredient. They even make a single-cow cheese, which means that the cheese is produced using the milk of only one cow, which makes every cheese taste slightly different. I also like how after the cows do a service by providing milk, they are kept on the property for retirement and given lots of love by both the owners and visitors. The dairy is located just about 35 minutes outside of Portland in Canby and is owned by Todd and Tessa Koch. Tours are offered of the facility.
6. Downtown Oregon City
We made Oregon City our base for exploring The Territory and I am so happy we did so. The downtown was recently named one of America’s top three Main Streets and it is home to a famous lift, the Oregon City Municipal Elevator, which is one of only four of its kind in the world and considered the only “vertical street” in North America. Oregon City is also choke-full of Wild West heritage, a quaint main street with boutiques, restaurants and a sprinkling of craft beer and wine tasting choices. It also boasts a very scenic location fronting the thunderous Willamette Falls, which is the country’s second largest volume waterfall after Niagara. If you are interested in shopping a few favorites to check out include indie retailer Tara Vincente’s shops including Denim Salvage , which has a measure-to-fit concept, LiveEdge Salon, which focuses on local art, a live edge wood shop and a salon and The Refinery a trendy second hand boutique with chic labels. Also check out The House of Rose with a selection of handmade leather bags and bespoke suits.
7. The Resort at the Mountain, Welches
The Resort at the Mountain sits in Mt. Hood’s western highlands with stupendous views, and is one of those amazing places where you can just get back to nature and straight up relax. It is peaceful and rustic and known for inducing a deep night’s sleep. It’s also great for the kids with lots of space to explore including a playground and pool. In summer it is famous for is golf with a 27-hole course onsite, while in winter there is nearby skiing. Year-round, however, you can treat yourself at the luxury spa or one of the restaurants. This resort is another great choice for where to stay in the area — it is located about an hour from Oregon City — and works well when combined with a few nights in Oregon City. Also in this area is some great hiking like the Old Salmon River Trail that is less than a 10-minute drive from the resort. We loved this trail. It was so green and lush and great to follow along the river and just get lost in all the beauty.