What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Drum Roll for Cornhole

Posted on: April 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
cornhole shot 500

If you can throw a bean bag, then you could be the first Oregon Cornhole Champ!

Cue drum roll please…Who’s ready for some bean bag tossin’? Get ready for the inaugural Oregon Cornhole State Championships!

Yes—cornhole! Or maybe you know it as “corn toss,” “bean bag toss” or more generally that tailgating game.  Like a game of horseshoes—but with corn bags and wooden boxes instead of horseshoes and steel stakes—this party game has evolved into a sport of its own with practiced artforms, friendly competition, and a fan community to boot. Whether you’re a cornhole ace or total newbie, the Oregon Cornhole State Championship is a strong contender for a fun and totally unique weekend getaway.

Get your toes beanbag wet: Pre-tournament festivities
Join the
Kick Off Party at the McMenamins Grand Lodge (Friday, June 6, 4-9 p.m.). Before all the hubbub of the championships, come play in a low-stakes cornhole match. There will be free games, as well as “Pay-as-You-Play” options (that can lead to some awesome prizes). Loosen your arm—and your courage—with a pint or two of McMenamins’ Rubinator brew before tucking yourself in for the night in the historic hotel. Reserve your room now!

Serious Bean Bag Tossing: Tournament Day
Even cornhole players with a laissez-faire approach can vet for top spot in the Oregon Cornhole Championships at Pacific University (Saturday, June 7, 8:30 am. to 11:00 p.m.). And hey—why not put yourself out there and give it a shot? Especially since the tournament is only $20 per person, which includes a one-season membership to the American Cornhole Organization (ACO). Play solo or as part of a doubles team.

Who knows? Maybe you’ll have the day’s lucky arm, winning yourself a “golden ticket” entry into the ACO World Championships of Cornhole. And even if you only throw duds, you’ll surely leave with a great story of a totally unique weekend. Register now!  (Must be an Oregon resident with valid Oregon ID to participate as a competitor in Saturday’s tournament.) 

And don’t forget to find places to stay while on your cornhole competition adventure!

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Eco Earth Day

Posted on: April 21st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

Reap the rewards of Cooper Mountain Vineyards biodynamic practices: great Oregon wine!

With Earth Day on April 22, we hope you’ve been brainstorming how to give your home planet some extra love. Your environmental efforts don’t have to be put on pause when you’re traveling. In fact, Oregon’s Washington County may inspire new ways to bring green into your everyday. See below for a checklist of eco-activities to complete during your upcoming visit.

Earth inspires art and art inspires us to be better to our earth. Example, Art on Broadway’s series “Floating Worlds” by Thomas Eldridge (exhibit runs through May 3). A born-and-bred Oregonian, Eldridge’s paintings are abstract realism that feels simultaneously ethereal and earthy. With works like “Jousting Peacocks” and “Spawning Salmon” it’s easy to see how Eldridge’s dreamlike paintings resonate a deep connection to our terrestrial world.

The Tualatin Valley is home to a magnificent ecological history of volcanic proportions! To see what we mean, visit the Washington County Museum’s exhibit, Rocks and Minerals of the Pacific NW (April 21-April 26). Prepare for a sustainable future by learning about the amazingness of the Earth’s past via thunder eggs, petrified wood, quartz, agate, jasper, metallic ores, and gems.

Updating your spring wardrobe doesn’t have to bring a pang of guilt, especially when the clothes are second-hand ones. The semi-annual event for women Size 14-32, Curvy Chic Closet, is a hotspot for re-purposed and gently used plus size clothing and accessories (April 24-April 27, free to public).

Drinking red can be oh-so green with a jaunt along the Sustainable Wine Trail. Going beyond mere organic practices, Cooper Mountain Vineyards employs biodynamic farming. This approach means that high-quality wine is produced through the utmost respects of the vineyard’s unique ecosystem, from the lunar cycle to the chickens that peck bugs off the vine.

You’ll be wiped after checking all these eco-activities off of your to-do list. Get a good night’s sleep at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. The campground includes charming cabins that allow you to wake up next to some of the area’s best hiking trails—can’t get much closer to nature than that!

P.S. For even for eco-friendly goodness, check out Earth Mama Musings.

Poetry on Wheels

Posted on: April 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Happy National Poetry Month! To celebrate, we have a poem about something that moves us, both metaphorically and physically. Since its opening in August, the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway has become a standout star for Portland area outdoorsy types. It’s easy to see why with the bikeway’s sweeping views that allow cyclists to become engulfed in the air, water, roads, and spirit of the Tualatin Valley. Our very own Allison George captured the heart of the Tualatin Valley in the poem below, which is accompanied by a slideshow (each slide corresponds with a line in the poem!).


Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway
By Allison George

Allison George from the Washington County Visitors Association is a cyclists...and poet!

Allison George from the Washington County Visitors Association is a cyclists…and poet!

Tualatin Valley, Twality Plains, hunting-gathering grounds of the Atfalati
Rusted gates and barbed wire, century farms with crumbling barns
Peachy pigs and clucking hens
A triceratops, her name is Breezy
Crimson clover
Honey, apples, blackberries, corn
Railroad trestles, lonesome train cars
Tractors, horses, wheat and hay
Cow poop
Grinding coffee beans
Whispering Pioneer bones
Deep wing beats of the Great Blue Heron
Golden yellow double lines
Meandering Tualatin River
Ancient, roaring Ice Age floods
Cool Coast Range air
Wheels set us free

We’re not the only ones utterly enchanted by the lyrical rhythm of the Tualatin Scenic Bikeway. 1859 Oregon Magazine touted the bikeway and the Northwest Bicycle Safety Council has chosen stretches of it for the Beaverton Banks & Beyond Bicycle Tour.

Find even more R&R, pedal by pedal.
Join the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway Facebook Page

Nature Passport: Banks-Vernonia State Trail

Posted on: April 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
After spotting the Pileated Woodpecker on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, get a matching stamp of the bird in your Nature Passport.

After spotting the Pileated Woodpecker on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, get a matching stamp of the bird in your Nature Passport. Photo by B. Fredrickson

As we enter the height of Oregon birding season, there’s never been a better time to get your hands on a Nature Passport. No visa need!—the passport simply presents a friendly quest for wildlife watchers to experience the beauty of our prime parks, wetlands, refuges and forests. Each month, we’ll showcase one page of the Nature Passport and the stamp you’ll receive when you visit that specific locale. First up, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail!

Once a bustling train route between urban areas and the last virgin Douglas-fir forest in Northwest Oregon, the Banks-Vernonia State Trail has undergone a massive transformation since its 1920s locomotive days. For over the past two decades, the only steam blowing along the 16 trestle bridges has been from the breath of the hikers, cyclists, and horseback riders who recreationally use it. Only 26 miles from Portland—and a full 21 miles of trails to enjoy—the Banks Vernonia State Trail is a gorgeous stop in your Nature Passport journey. How could it not be with the flora that has reclaimed the forest since its train days? While on the trail, keep an eye out for western red cedar, lupine and red huckleberry.

And of course, your experience here wouldn’t be complete without a Pileated Woodpecker sighting, as well as a stamp of one in the Banks-Vernonia State Trail page of your Nature Passport. The Pileated Woodpecker’s striking appearance is made from its bold white stripes and flaming red crest. In addition to sighting the bird, look for the unique, rectangular holes that the Pileated Woodpecker makes when searching for ants.

Below, learn even more about the trail from Oregon’s resident travel expert, Grant McOmbie:

Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Location: 30380 NW Highway 47, Buxton, OR 97109
Phone: (503) 324-0606
Hours: Day use areas open dawn to dusk, year-round

Order you Nature Passport and share your pictures with us on Twitter and Instagram. Tag your photos with #WaCoNature.

Easter Bunny Escapades

Posted on: April 14th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Harvey the Bunny is a cousin of the Easter Bunny, living right here in Oregon's Washington County.

Harvey the Bunny is a cousin of the Easter Bunny, living right here in Oregon’s Washington County.

From sugary Peeps to fluffy bunny tails, Easter creates one of spring’s sweetest weekends. For many, Easter is a time for families to bask in the sun, appreciate the vernal season, and simply spend quality time together. Why not accomplish all of that—to an even higher degree—while on an Easter retreat to Oregon’s Washington County? Below, pick your favorite kind of Easter Bunny and see the activity that matches with it.

Photogenic Bunny
A picture with the Easter Bunny is a #throwbackthursday in-the-making. Take little ones to Bridgeport Village for picture ops with the bunny, as well as egg decorating, dances with Radio Disney, and a tax-free Sunday dress (April 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.). Additionally, the Easter Bunny will be making an appearance at Washington Square through April 19th.

Bunny Hop
Discover local shops via a family-friendly
Orenco Station Easter Hop (April 19 from noon to 2 p.m.; free). Bounce from a specialty kitchenware store to a pro cycle shop (and another dozen stops in-between) for Easter goodies that are Oregon-inspired.

Farm Bunny
We all know that real bunnies love their veggies, which is why the last
Beaverton Winter Market is a fun Easter stop (April 19 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). In addition to the season’s last root vegetables, there will indeed be sweets from local bakeries. Decadent Creation’s macarons are freckled with vanilla beans, making the treats look like speckled robin’s eggs.

Boozy Bunny
For a grown-up Easter treat, head to the Bubbles & Bunnies event at Kramer Vineyards (April 19 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; $10 tasting fee). Guests receive an Easter egg upon arrival with a special treat inside—from discounts on wine purchases to complimentary tastings. Pair the vineyard’s 2011 Brut with local Quail Run Creamery goat cheese.

Don’t forget—We’ve got ways to celebrate and observe Passover, too!

P.S. He’s not the Easter Bunny, but Harvey is the favorite bunny of Oregon’s Washington County.

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The Four Questions

Posted on: April 11th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Celebrate Hillsboro's tall trees, as well as Jewish roots, during a spring vacation.

Celebrate Hillsboro’s tall trees, as well as Jewish roots, during a spring vacation.

Chag Sameach! In Hebrew, this means happy holidays or joyous festival, which is appropriate with Passover just around the corner. For many, travel plans and Passover celebrations end up overlapping each other in the busy springtime. Whether you’re planning how to observe Passover while vacationing or just wanting to learn more about a new culture, Oregon’s Washington County has fun and unexpected ways to pay tribute to the holiday.

A traditional Passover Seder includes the asking of the four questions; however, we’ve taken some liberties and are asking—and answering!—four Passover-related questions of our own.

1. Where can I observe Shabbat Chol HaMoed?
The community-oriented Hillsboro Chabad welcomes visitors to its Shabbat services every Saturday at 9:30 a.m., followed by a traditional Shabbat Kiddush. April 19 is Shabbat Chol HaMoed, a special Shabbat during Passover, with Kosher for Passover noshing included.

2. Where can I find matzo ball soup that is almost as good as my mother’s recipe?
Being away from home during a holiday can be hard, but you shouldn’t have to miss out on its defining food. Enter the matzo ball soup at Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery. Some say this Jewish-style deli restaurant has the best matzo ball soup in Oregon.

3. What do people do with all that left over Matzah?
After Passover’s four cups of wine, you may be ready for some post-holiday hops. Though it’s not kosher for Passover, Matzah-flavored beer? You bet! While it’s not kosher for Pesach, Ambacht Brewing celebrates the end of Passover each year by brewing a batch of its famous Matzobraü. The tasty beer is made with over 50 pounds of leftover Matzah!

4. How else can I celebrate Jewish Culture during Passover?
Dance! People from all backgrounds come together Israeli Folk Dancing at Café Shalom (April 15 from 7-10 p.m. at 7045 SW Taylors Ferry Road, Portland). Learn traditional choreography to the tunes of classic Israeli music.

Happy Passover and happy spring!

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Earth Mama Musings

Posted on: April 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Environmentally-conscious mothers love exploring the eco-chic findings of Oregon's Washington County, including a locavore Mother's Day brunch at Garden Vineyards.

Environmentally-conscious mothers love exploring the eco-chic findings of Oregon’s Washington County, including a locavore Mother’s Day brunch at Garden Vineyards.

Do you consider yourself an earthy mama or a flower child at heart? With Earth Day around the corner, and Mother’s Day just a few weeks after that, we’ve created a go-to list for eco-minded, travel-loving mamas.

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing is on our wavelength, welcoming Alicia Silverstone to talk about her new book “The Kind Mama” (April 23 at 7 p.m. with free admission). After ogling at the impressive selection of eco-living and parenting books, get cozy for a not-so-clueless talk. Alicia will discuss how to pave a confident and empowered journey into motherhood, from fertility planning to the first few months with baby.

Whether you’re exploring after the reading or visiting during another time, Bridgeport Village has a surprising number of Kind Mama approved destinations. First, start at one of Alicia Silverstone’s favorite vegan restaurants, Native Foods Café. The entire menu is 100% plant-based, though meat-eaters may be fooled by the Italian meatball sub with house made tempeh and seitan.

With a belly fueled with nutritional foods, head to the locally-made Ellington Handbags store. Here, bags are environmentally-friendly, cute, and can fit all the supplies that a busy mom needs at her disposal. Vegans love the fashionable durability of the Washed Nylon Twill bags. Those that buy leather with a conscious will be thrilled to find ECO Leather handbags made from an award-winning and environmentally responsible tannery.

The last stop at Bridgeport Village is a relaxing one, indulging in a treatment at the Coldwater Creek Spa. Treat yourself to a massage or body treatment that uses all organic products.

For a full-out Kind Mama getaway, hit up the Sustainable Wine Trail because being green doesn’t mean you have to give up your favorite reds. The trail includes wineries that use biodynamic farming, like Montinore Estate and Cooper Mountain Vineyard.

P.S. Whether your mama is eco-chic or urban-fab, treat her to a great Mother’s Day. Why wait until the last minute to make plans? We have a round-up of delicious Mother’s Day brunches—make a reservation for right now!

R&R, Pedal by Pedal

Posted on: April 7th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

After discussing hot-to-trot running events, we’re taking on bike events next. The ultimate trick to besting your personal record? New scenery. Pedaling through the Tualatin Valley makes the ride quite literally breeze by. All the love and sweat that go into training deserves an accompanying getaway to go with it! Take your pick of bike events below with our suggestions of activities to go with it.

Pedal by agricultural splendor, like this charming farm and barn on the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

Pedal by agricultural splendor, like this charming farm and barn on the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.


Race Across America Challenge Series
May 10 | 7:30 a.m. start | $55-$825 | Register Now!
The bike-friendly vibe of Portland extends into the city’s neighbors, with the first major cycling event of the season happening in Hillsboro. Compete in a 200 mile or 40 mile race, cycling in the thick of some of Oregon’s best bikeways.

Stay here: The Orenco
Do this: It’s more than just veggies at the Hillsboro Sunday Farmers Market!
Facebook: RAAM Challenge Series

Bald Peak Half Marathon
June 21 | 7:30 a.m. start | $65 | Register Now!
Cycle your way into a pastoral dream of the Chehalem Mountain. You won’t just cycle through the Willamette Valley, but open down it—pedaling up challenging hills that reward you with sweeping views of the area.

Stay here: Four local hotels are offering stellar rates for the event.
Do this: Massage calves during a movie at the plush style Cinetopia and fill a growler at The Growlerie.
Facebook: The Bald Peak Half

Wine, Women & Wheels
August 3 | 9 a.m. start | Registration info forthcoming
This stress-free ride unites women for a day of pedaling by—and enjoying the products of—vineyards, lavender fields and herb farms. End the day with a vineyard lunch at Hawks View Cellars because you deserve it!

Stay here: Century Hotel
Do this: Live music and a steak dinner at Hayden’s Lakefront Grill.
Facebook: Wine, Women & Wheels

Beaverton Banks & Beyond Bicycle Tour
August 23 | 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. | $25-$40 | Register Now!
NW Bicycle Safety Council welcomes novice to advanced riders along a scenic 100-mile, 86-mile, 64-mile or 32-mile bike tour. The ride includes some of the best of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, including beautiful farmlands and the shady-green Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Stay here: McMenamins Grand Lodge
Do this: Get a soothing concoction at Hippocra Teas and a craft boozy one at SakéOne.
Facebook: NW Bicycle Safety & Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

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April’s Winning Wine Trail

Posted on: April 4th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 9 Comments

After Wednesday’s blog post about the craft beer revolution being alive and well in Oregon’s Washington County, we felt it was only right to also stress that this revolution translates across to our winemakers, as well. The ultimate proof: the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend (April 11-12, 2014).


During the North Willamette Wine Trail, Apolloni Vineyards' winemaker, Alfredo Apolloni, will host a Soleggio blending trial.

During the North Willamette Wine Trail, Apolloni Vineyards’ winemaker, Alfredo Apolloni, will host a Soleggio blending trial.


In two magical days, enthusiastic wine lovers can check 22 Willamette Valley wineries off of their bucket lists—paying for one entry fee rather than multiple tasting fees. What’s more, the Wine Trail is not just about wine tasting. It’s about wine as culture. Wine as love. Wine as community. And—ultimately—wine as part of Oregon’s life blood. At each winery, a distinctly Oregonian feature is paired with the wine tasting experience. From a sustainability-themed scavenger hunt at Patton Valley Vineyards to live music at Cooper Mountain Vineyards to learning about flavoring organic sea salts at Kramer Vineyards, your day of vineyard-hopping proves that wine pairs well with joyous activities of any nature.

Each Wine Trail ticket includes a commemorative wine glass, and includes all tastings, food and activities. Tickets are $45 per person, which covers all tastings, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. A Sunday-only ticket is $30, and a designated driver ticket is $10. Use promo code NWVPartner and receive $5-off the full-weekend ticket price.

Turn the Wine Trail into a full-blown weekend getaway by booking a room at one of the awesome hotels partnering with the North Willamette Vintners. Be sure to ask about special Wine Trail rates and packages:

P.S. Get two free tickets to the Wine Trail Weekend. After checking out the wine trail’s offerings, post a comment below stating which wineries you want to visit and you’ll be entered for a chance to win. A winner will be randomly drawn 8 a.m. April 6.  [Congratulations to Winslow Jenkins!]

Revolutionary Craft Beer

Posted on: April 2nd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Ambacht Brewing is one example of a passion for home brewing evolving into a much-loved Oregon craft beer producer.

Ambacht Brewing is one example of a passion for home brewing evolving into a much-loved Oregon craft beer producer.

Oregon craft beer is more than just good lager. Craft beer honors tradition, creativity, and community. These values—and the beers they create—have sparked a new generation of beer lovers who think beyond national brands.

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing will host Steve Hindy, whose book  The Craft Beer Revolution  discusses the craft beer movement (April 9 at 7 p.m.; free admission). Learn how home brewers and microbrewers are changing the beer game before embarking on a brewery crawl.

Art Larrance’s Raccoon Lodge & Brew Pub (7424 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy.; open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.) is owned by a pioneer in the Oregon craft beer movement. Art Larrance founded the ever-popular Oregon Brewers Festival, now in its 27th year. At the lodge, get a flight of Cascade Brewing’s quintessential sour beers.

Vertigo Brewing is a charming “nano-brewery,” operating with just a seven-barrel system (21420 NW Nicholas Ct., Hillsboro; open Wednesday-Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.). The small operation allows for imaginative “one-off” specialty brews. Favorites, like the Arctic Blast Vanilla Porter, tend to stick around.

Brother-in-laws Brandy Grobart and Tom Kramer bonded over home brewing experiments, which organically grew into Ambacht Brewery’s unique, Belgian-inspired ales (1060 NE 25th Ave., Ste. B, Hillsboro, open Tuesday to Friday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.). Using local ingredients, Brandy and Tom create surprising—and tasty!—ales.

Feeling inspired? Get your own home brew kit at Brew Brothers, whose adjacent Three Mugs Brewing Co. reiterates the impressive array of beer offerings in Oregon’s Washington County (2020 NW Alocleck Drive, Hillsboro; open Tuesday-Friday 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.)

More hoppy goodness is on the way with Forest Grove’s first-ever brewery, Waltz Brewing (1900 A Street, Forest Grove). As Waltz Brewing’s is located in the same area as Oregon’s rich pioneer history, its beers will surely embody the pioneer spirit with a cabin-styled tasting room and retro record store.

Even our hotels love our beer community. Take advantage of a beer and wine package with the McMenamins Grand Lodge!