What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

Holiday Tree Lightings

Posted on: November 21st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Bridgeport Village

Make the upcoming festive bright—literally! In the Tualatin Valley, we like to think of ourselves as twinkle light connoisseurs since we have so many tree lightings throughout November and December. To get your twinkle on, all you need to do is join us.

Illuminate Your Holidays at Bridgeport Village
November 21 | Bridgeport Village | 5:30 p.m. | free
The European-style shopping center has built Santa a new house and he’s having a housewarming of sort, inviting all our favorite Christmas players: The Grinch, Charlie Brown and winter fairies.

Forest Grove Holiday Tree Lighting
November 28 | Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce | 6 p.m. | free
The tree lighting is also the signal for the following festivities of caroling, cookies and a visit from Santa!

Ardiri Holiday Carols, Tree Lighting and Wine
November 29 | Ardiri Winery & Vineyards | 5:30 p.m. | free
If you prefer your tree lightings with a side of Pinot, then head to Ardiri Winery & Vineyards where trees and wines will accompany some very merry carolers from the Oregon Repertory Singers.

North Plains Jingle
December 4 | Jessie Mays Community Park | 6:30 p.m. | free
This event extends twinkle lights to more than just the big Douglas Fir. Come watch holiday lights glitter in a parade of decorated trucks, trailers, golf carts and even bicycles!

Beaverton Tree Lighting & Holiday Open House
December 5 | Beaverton City Library | 5 p.m. | free
Santa and Mrs. Claus host a children’s holiday workshop. In addition to tree lighting, kids can skip a tea party in favor of a hot chocolate party with Disney princesses, Elsa and Anna of “Frozen” fame.

Starry Nights & Holiday Lights
December 5 | Tualatin Commons | 5:30 p.m. | free
The twinkle lights are amplified by their reflection in the Lake at the Tualatin Commons during this magical “starry” night. Enjoy carolers, treats, activities for the kids, holiday cheer and a visit from Santa!

Downtown Tigard Holiday Tree Lighting
December 5 | Liberty Park | 7 p.m. | free
The Sugar Plum Elves are eager to usher you into the holidays, by escorting you to Santa, where you can tell him your holiday wish list.

Sherwood Winter Festival
December 5 | Old Town Sherwood | 4 p.m. | free
Wander Old Town Sherwood, where every turn will bring you to yet another holiday surprise. Look for the live nativity scene, tree lighting and treats from local merchants.

Festival of Lights
December 13 | The Streets of Tanasbourne | 5:30 p.m. | free
Happy Hanukkah! Celebrate the Festival of Lights with a menorah lighting ceremony and Hanukkah-themed music.

If you’re in the market for the best Douglas Fir, then head to one of our dozens of holiday tree farms. Map out your P.O.A. with our Pinterest board (which includes an easy-to-read map!).

Photograph Gratitude in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

What are you thankful for this year? Here in the Tualatin Valley, we’re oozing with gratitude for our rolling mountain ranges, bountiful farms and the way in which this fertile land creates some of the best food and wine in the country. That’s a lot of gratitude right there and we think it’s worth expressing in more than words. In fact, show us why you’re thankful for the Tualatin Valley by entering the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Thanksgiving weekend is also the last weekend to enter the contest (submissions close November 30!). With so much festive hullabaloo happening throughout Oregon’s Washington County, there will be last-minute photo inspiration everywhere you look:

A good turkey gobble is best followed by vineyard views at the Thanksgiving Wine Weekend. Wineries open their doors for wine tastings overlooking post-harvest vineyards. With your camera in tow, try and capture the fog twirling around the vines or dew drops dangling off the fence posts.

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

Fall vineyard views by Joel Zak

For photographers with a sense of humor, head to Alpacas of Oregon for the annual Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale (November 28-29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Here, you’ll find goofy subjects—alpacas!—who are always curious for cameras.  

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

Alpacas are the best photo subjects. Photo by Joel Zak.

The autumn-themed photo contest can still have some wintertime flair with entries from one of our holiday tree farms or at the Helvetia Christmas Festival (November 28-30 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). Noble and Grand firs stand majestic, ready to be photographed in their green glory.  

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

Holiday Tree Farm by John Gaudette.

As if these attractions aren’t reason enough to hit the town with your camera, then maybe the photo contest prizes will nudge you of the door:

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.

Drool-worthy photography gear are the prizes for the photo contest.


1st Place:  Canon EOS 70D DSLR Camera, plus UV filter, camera bag, Canon Pixma Pro-100 printer and more (provided by The Shutterbug), plus onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $2,500)
2nd Place:  Binoculars from Leupold Optics and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $555)
3rd Place:  $100 Visa Gift Card and onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $280)
Honorable Mention:  onOne Perfect Photo Suite 8 Premium Edition software (total value $180)

Enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest now!

Nature Passport: Rood Bridge Park

Posted on: November 17th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Rood Bridge Park is perfect for a tranquil stroll or as the jumping off point for a exhilarating adventure.

Rood Bridge Park is perfect for a tranquil stroll or as the jumping off point for a exhilarating adventure.

Tuck the Nature Passport into your camera bag for an easy guide to all-things wildlife in the Tualatin Valley. Knowing what flora and fauna makes each park and refuge its home will help your camera focus on the right subjects—and aid in capturing beautiful photos for the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest. Who knows? Your picture could win you a prize package of pro-photography loot worth $2,500!

This week, we’re zooming into Rood Bridge Park & Rhododendron Garden. As the largest and most diverse park in Hillsboro, Rood Bridge Park is an oasis for nature lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, gardeners and photographers alike. The 61 acres of walking paths weave through wetlands adjacent to the Tualatin River—home to happy ducks and western pond turtles—and enchanting wooded areas—the perfect resting grounds for pacific dogwood and native wildflowers.

And then, of course, there are the rhododendrons. While we’ll have to wait until spring for the big, bold colors of their bloom, rhododendron leaves are evergreen, creating an ever-lush visitor experience in the garden.

If you’re more of an adventurer than a wanderer, then make Rood Bridge Park the launching pad for your next on-the-go photography mission as there is boat access to the Tualatin River and the entry point to the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway!

Rood Bridge Park
Location: 4000 SE Rood Bridge Road, Hillsboro, OR 97123
Phone: (503) 681-6120
Hours: Dawn to dusk daily

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop
L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Magness Memorial Tree Farm

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

Artisan Holiday Markets

Posted on: November 14th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find a new nutcracker at the German Holiday Market this month.

Find a new nutcracker at the German Holiday Market this month.

When do you start your holiday shopping? If you’re like us, then the answer is now. Cute-and-crafty markets are already shining bright throughout the Tualatin Valley. Whether you’re on the hunt for a kitschy snow globe, artisan soap or truly one-of-a-kind jewelry, the search stops here. Check out our exciting markets!

Every Husband’s Nightmare Bazaar
November 17-November 22 | Washington County Fair Complex | free
Get ready for an explosion of over-the-top feminine crafts, décor, antiques and collectibles from over 100 venders. And yes—the hubs should probably sit this one out.

Village Gallery of Arts Holiday Show & Sale
November 18-November 23 | Village Gallery | free
Has a piece of art ever reminded you a person you love? Give that art to them! Find original oil paintings, watercolors and pottery from Portland area artists.

German Holiday Market
November 22-November 23 | The German American School of Portland | free
Fröhliche Weihnachten! If it’s an integral prop to your Christmas traditions, then this market has it. Add a new nutcracker, ornament, candle or advent calendar to your holiday décor collection.

Student & Alumni Holiday Sale
November 28-November 30 | Oregon College of Art & Craft | $10 suggested donation
This holiday sale is a win-win. You’ll find amazing, meaningful gifts while simultaneously supporting local talent from the amazing community at the Oregon College of Arts & Craft.

Art on Broadway Holiday Boutique
November 28-December 24 | Art on Broadway | free
Think cozy to the nth degree with velvet throws, lux shawls and fragrant soaps all up for grabs. Luckily, this holiday sale extends through the entire season!

Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale
November 28-November 29 | Alpacas of Oregon | free
Turn Black Friday into White-N-Fuzzy Friday with a store brimming with ridiculously soft alpaca products. Buy yarn for a present you can knit yourself or simply buy a premade sweater.

Annual Holiday Market at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse
December 7 | McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse | free
Wander the perimeter of the charming octagonal barn while sipping mulled wine and you’ll feel as festive as all get-out. Then up the ante even with holiday treats, décor and presents.

Holidays on the Hill
December 13-14 | Plum Hill Vineyards | free
The charming winery transforms itself into a quaint holiday shop for the weekend. Beyond wine, sample holiday food to inspire new Christmas morning recipes.

In addition to artisan markets, you can still get those big ticket items—for less and tax-free—during Thanksgiving weekend at our shopping centers.

Five Best Peanut Butter Treats

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments
Find the best peanut butter treats in the greater Portland region.

Find the best peanut butter treats in the greater Portland region.

Important question: crunchy or creamy peanut butter? It’s a polarizing question, we know. Whatever side of the peanut butter debate you fall under, you can satisfy your peanut butter cravings—and celebrate National Peanut Butter Month!—right here in the Tualatin Valley. We’ve rounded up five spots that are just as nutty about peanut butter as we are.

1. Peanut Butter Cream Cone from Moonstruck Chocolate Co.
Portland’s premier chocolatier is not messing around when it comes to its peanut butter cream cone, which weighs in at an impressive 8.64 ounces, filled to the brim with peanut French butter cream.
Moonstruck Chocolate Co.: 11705 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway, Beaverton; Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

2. Peanut Butter Cupcake from Sweet Story Bakery
We’re partial to the peanut butter cupcake in all its decadent glory, but you can’t go wrong with any of the peanut butter desserts at this cute shop. Adorable peanut butter cake pops show great restraint, while the heavy-duty peanut butter bars could almost qualify as a meal.  
Sweet Story Bakery: 16227 SW 1st Street, Sherwood; Tuesday-Friday from 9 am. To 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

3. African Peanut Stew from the Native Foods Café at Bridgeport Village
Peanut butter can be used as a key ingredient of a main course. Enter the healthy, nourishing and oh so savory African peanut stew. Though if you have room for dessert, go ahead and order the peanut butter parfait—its layers of whipped peanut butter and banana bread crumbs are irresistible.
Native Foods: 7237 SW Bridgeport Road, Tigard; Daily 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

4. Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake at the Hillsboro Pharmacy
This old-school soda fountain has been making milkshakes for over a century! So, they really, really know what they’re doing and it shows in the thick and perfectly sweet chocolate peanut butter shakes.
Hillsboro Pharmacy: 243 E. Main Street, Hillsboro; Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

5. Red Wine Truffles from…us!
Instead of a PB&J, we go for a PB&P. That is peanut butter and Pinot, of course! Try our easy recipe for red wine truffles, made with peanut butter chips and David Hill Vineyard’s Pinot.

Now try all five options and report back with your favorite!

Get a Good Night’s Sleep in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: November 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Get your zzz's at The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport, as well as at other Tualatin Valley hotels.

Get your zzz’s at The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport, as well as at other Tualatin Valley hotels.

You don’t need Thanksgiving to be grateful for a good night of sleep. That precious eight hours of snooze time can be hard to come by. November is National Sleep Comfort Month, which seems as good a time as any to reclaim bedtime! Use our five tips to justify a getaway to the Tualatin Valley, where we promise relaxing days that lead into restful nights.

1. Press the re-set button before the snooze button
Jumpstart new bedtime rituals at The Orenco Hotel. The boutique hotel offers 10 homey, yet high-end rooms that are perfect for practicing your new evening routine. Whether it’s a bath in the Jacuzzi tub or a stroll through the courtyard, discover new ways to unwind. And hey—we hope you still hit the snooze button during your stay!

2. Lower the temperature
Our bodies’ heat rises during sleep, which is why sleep experts recommend lower bedroom temperatures. In the crisp days of fall, a cracked window will do; however, some tout the concentrated air conditioning as their favorite part of any hotel stay. Whether it’s a good breeze or simply a good view you’re after, the Century Hotel overlooks the picturesque Lake of the Commons.

3. Make it lux
Anything—including sleep—can be an expression of self. Sleeping in style can aid good sleep overall. Get inspiration for your own Zen space with a stay at Embassy Suites Portland-Washington Square. The hotel itself is plush and its easy access to Washington Square means you can stock-up on luxurious (and tax-free!) sheets and pajamas.  

4. Exercise
Ensure restful slumber by staying active during the day. The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport has truly plum beds, which you will happily dive into after a day of exploring the nearby Tualatin River or bike paths.

5. Relax
A nightcap can be detrimental to sleep, but an afternoon wine tasting won’t interfere with your sleep at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. Of course, you can also relax via a treatment at the Grand Lodge Ruby Spa and a post-massage dip in the saltwater soaking pool.

Find your restful getaway with all of our lodging options!

Honor Oregon’s Veterans!

Posted on: November 7th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
See what it was like in the cockpit for WWII veterans at the Classic Aviation Museum.

See what it was like in the cockpit for WWII veterans at the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum.

As the leaves turn and the farmers’ markets burst with the bounty of fall, it is easy to live and breathe in the now of Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley. That said, our land is drenched in history. That history dates back to pioneer times. The Oregon pioneers who came to settle here not only invested themselves in the land and their new home state, but in their country, as well. In celebration of the upcoming Veterans Day, we’re highlighting places to learn about the veterans and how the Tualatin Valley has journeyed through our nation’s rich past.

Washington County Museum recently unveiled its fall exhibit, Washington County Goes to War, which sheds light on how Oregonians were affected by WWI and WWII. This exhibit features uniforms and memorabilia from the “greatest generation” of veterans of World War II. The exhibit not only explores veterans, but the family and loved ones that they left behind, featuring war’s effect for those on the home front. During the month of November, all veterans will be admitted free to the museum.

Some of our nation’s unsung heroes are the female pilots of WWII. Learn their story at Fly Girls: Women Pilots in World War II (November 18, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Walters Cultural Arts Center).  More than a thousand women private pilots flew integral missions in the 1940s, leading the way for women in aviation for years to come. No matter when you visit, aviation aficionados should check out the Classic Aircraft Aviation Museum for restored aircrafts, engines and artifacts.

A museum with small town charm can be found at Old Train Station Museum. While the museum specializes in pieces of history from the “Red Electric” passenger station of the early 1900s, the space also includes 150 years’ worth of local history. Find suffragette posters, wartime photographs and letters from bygone times.

Enjoy the past, present and future of the Tualatin Valley, all while honoring our veterans, as well!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Last Month of Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest

Posted on: November 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

Fall is fleeting—and so is your chance to enter the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest!

Okay, that was a bit dramatic. You still have a solid few weeks, as submissions are open through November 30. So why not plan a last-minute getaway with some photography buddies? Doing so is easy and affordable with chic hotels a short drive away from some of the best nature spots. The Century Hotel even overlooks the serene Lake of the Commons, and the McMenamins Grand Lodge hosts an impressive, whimsical garden of its own.

When we say “Focus on Autumn,” we really mean that in whatever way is authentic to you and your passions. If you’re wild for wildlife, then wake up early to catch the sunrise at one of the refuges listed in our Nature Passport. Oenophiles can hold a wine glass in one hand and a camera in the other while visiting vineyards throughout the northern Willamette Valley. Oregon’s bounty is full of all its rustic charm along the scenic tour route in the autumn—snap a picture of a friendly alpaca or a filbert farm. And of course, cyclists and hikers agree that some of the prettiest photo-ops come when you least expect it when trekking local trails.

Wondrous Wildlife

photo by Bruce Lee

photo by Bruce Lee


Vineyard Views

photo by Tina Collins

photo by Tina Collins


Fertile Farms

photo by John Gaudette

photo by John Gaudette


Tantalizing Trails 

photo by Larry Andreasen

photo by Larry Andreasen


From the beauty of these photographs, we hope that when we say don’t miss out on the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest, that we also mean that you simply shouldn’t miss out on the wonders of fall in the Tualatin Valley, period. Come experience Oregon’s best spots for fall—and bring your camera with you. Who knows? Your skills could earn the first prize, which includes $2,500 worth of photography gear!

Find more nature photo contest inspiration.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Thanksgiving Weekend Events

Posted on: November 3rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Over Thanksgiving weekend, pick up knitting supplies and meet new friends at the Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale.

Over Thanksgiving weekend, pick up knitting supplies and meet new friends at the Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale.

The Tualatin Valley is happily flooded with new faces, visiting family and friends over the holiday weekend. Every year, we are so grateful to share the start of the holiday season with locals and guests from all over the country. With so much hubbub on actual Thanksgiving, plan ahead for the relaxing days after the big feast. To start, check out our seven things to do in the Tualatin Valley this Thanksgiving. And see below for even more Thanksgiving weekend events:


Give & Gobble Thanksgiving Run/Walk
November 27 | 9 a.m. start | Sherwood High School | $15-$70
After you gobble, it’s time to wobble across the finish line. Choose from run and walk options, completing a 5k or 10k options.

Jump Start Christmas Celebrations

Irving Berlin’s White Christmas
November 28-November 30 | 7:30 p.m. | HART Theatre | $11-$17
This musical is full of Americana charm as a duo of beautiful singing sisters travels to a Vermont lodge—owned by their former army commander—on Christmas.

A Christmas Survival Guide
November 28-November 30 | 7:30 p.m. | Broadway Rose New Stage | $20-$35
Shed the bahumbugs for a few laughs with this light-hearted review of that teases holiday traditions.

Miracle on 43rd Street: a 1940s Holiday Radio Massacre
November 28-November 30 | 7:30 p.m. | Venetian Theatre & Bistro | $22-$32
This classic radio broadcast gets a gritty do-over as a Mafia mobster gets in a tangle with a New York detective.  

Forest Grove Holiday Tree Lighting
November 28 | 6 p.m. | Forest Grove Chamber of Commerce | free
Fa-la-la-la-fall is almost over, but a visit from Santa makes the incoming winter less dreary. Your face will  light up just as the holiday tree does at this annual tradition

Hillsboro Holly Days & Marketplace
November 29 | 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. | Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza | free
Feel holly and jolly with a tree lighting, live music, a visit from Santa and even an indoor playground!

Art and Gift Shows

Student & Alumni Holiday Art Sale
November 28-November 30 | 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | OCAC | $10 suggested donation
The Oregon College of Art and Craft welcomes 70 of its current students and alumni to share and sell work inspired by the Pacific Northwest.

Helvetia Christmas Festival
November 28-November 30 | 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Helvetia Christmas Tree Farm | free
Beyond the delicious smell of holiday trees, the scent of homemade lavender gifts delights the scenses…as does the marshmallow roasting station.

Alpaca Open Barn & Holiday Sale
November 28-November 29 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Alpacas of Oregon | free
Meet some fuzzy friends before heading into the gift shop for all your winter knitting needs.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Candy & Wine Pairings

Posted on: October 31st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Now, be honest—how much Halloween candy do you steal from your kids’ stash? When stocking up for trick-or-treaters, we somewhat shamefully know that the mixed bag of goodies will inevitably turn into a one-for-you-and-one-for-me sort of situation. Making peace with you Halloween candy addiction, you might as well take it up a notch by pairing it with good Oregon wine. See our favorite pairings below!

david hill vineyard Candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
Wine: David Hill Vineyard and Winery’s Farmhouse Red
Reese’s peanut butter cups are a prized trick-or-treater score. But keep a few for yourself to pair with this $12 per bottle stunner. The candy’s sweet peanut butter mixes delightfully with the soft and jammy red blend, making for a grown up PB&J experience.


Abbey Creek VineyardCandy: Snickers
Wine: Abbey Creek Vineyard’s 2012 Baco Noir
A Snickers has a lot going on with it chocolate, nuts and caramel deliciousness. Its decadence needs to be matched by the similar heavy hitter of the Baco Noir. The wine’s earthy medium body and caramel nose complements as many bite-size Snickers as you can get your hands on.   


beckham estate vineyardCandy: Three Musketeers
Wine: Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir 2012
Balance the fluffy nougat filling with something a bit more grounding. Enter, Beckham Estate Vineyard’s Pinot Noir. The straight forward Three Musketeers doesn’t interfere with the nuances of Pinot’s subtly rustic flavors.


blakeslee vineyardCandy: Twix
Wine: Blakeslee Vineyard Estate’s 2012 Chardonnay
From aging in French oak, this wine carries toasty caramel and vanilla bean notes, which creates a harmony with the silky caramel of Twix.  


montinore estateCandy: Starburst
Wine: Montinore Estate’s 2012 Reserve Gewürztraminer
Sometimes, sweets go with more sweets. Such is the case here. The Gewürztraminer delivers bouncy notes of honey, Mandarin orange and rose petal…if only Starburst came in these flavors, too!


sakeCandy: Kit-Kats
Wine: SakéOne’s G Joy Genshu saké
Kit Kat’s are wildly popular in Japan, which inspired us to pair the candy with saké instead of wine. The wafer-like texture of the candy is balanced by the rich punches of this premium saké.


Now, tell us your favorite candy and we’ll find a wine to pair with it!