What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

An Eco-Chic Itinerary

Posted on: April 20th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

environmentally friendly itinerary near Portland, Oregon

Happy Earth Week! How do you keep your travel sustainably-poised? In Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley, you can travel one environmentally-minded spot to the next, ranging from wineries to museums to restaurants. Extend your trip or plan a few extra days after visiting Portland to partake in our eco-chic itinerary,which can be completed year-round. Bonus points to those who complete it using an electric vehicle, which is easy when using our list of EV charging stations!

Environmentally Friendly Science Museum

The Tualatin Valley is home to a magnificent ecological history of volcanic proportions! To see what we mean, visit the Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals, which has recently been named as an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. 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.

Environmentally Friendly Restaurants

A healthy, earth-friendly cheeseburger?—yes please! A quick drive from the museum, the Cruise In Country Diner feels like a blast from the past with ethics focused on the future. Indulge your nostalgia for old-timey diners with classic milkshakes and juicy burgers. Every ingredient that goes into the food here is sustainable and often locally grown or raised.

Environmentally Friendly Wine Tasting

Drinking red can be oh-so green with a jaunt along the Sustainable Wine Trail. Going beyond mere organic practices, Cooper Mountain Vineyards and Montinore Estate employ biodynamic farming practices. This approach means that high-quality wine is produced through the utmost respects of the vineyard’s unique ecosystem.

Environmentally Friendly Lodging

If stargazing is on your end-of-day agenda, then book a cabin at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. In the morning, you’ll wake up to sweeping views of the valley and easy hikes that start, essentially, out your cabin’s front door.

We hope to see you at one of our environmentally-friendly attractions soon! Share your tips for traveling sustainably in the comments below.

Nature Passport: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Posted on: April 15th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge's Wildlife Center includes lookouts, exhibits and a nature store.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge’s Wildlife Center includes lookouts, exhibits and a nature store.

Sometimes, we must go beyond the boundaries of our homes to find refuge. We mean refuge here in the metaphorical sense, feeling comfort, safety and a much-needed respite from a loud world. For your next refuge, make like the birds and head to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. A quick drive from downtown Portland, the buzz of the urban world is replaced by gentle pitter-patters of a natural one.

Those pitter-patters come from the nearly 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals and 25 species of amphibians and reptiles that take their own refuges here throughout the year. Keep a look out for ducks (and their spring ducklings), songbirds, coyotes, hawks and even an eagle rearing its young in a magnificent eagles. Bring your binoculars, your camera (so you can take pictures like the winner of our Instagram contest) and your Nature Passport. Don’t have a Nature Passport yet?—order a complimentary copy now! This handy guide to the Tualatin Valley’s 727 square miles of nature spots encourages outdoor lovers to seek out the best wildlife watching with stamps to be collected at 10 different locations. A rubber stamp print of a cooper’s hawk will be waiting for you at the wildlife center of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

For a full weekend of wildlife wonder, plan your stay–or extend your visit–in the Tualatin Valley during the May 16 Tualatin River Bird Festival, which celebrates all things bird with guided tours, decoy paintings, casting clinics and more. Year-round, there’s the wildlife watching itinerary. The first stop is the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge—which we’ve hopefully sold you on—followed by more wetlands, sweeping views and beautiful birds at Cook Park, Jackson Bottom Wetlands and Cooper Mountain Nature Park.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge at sunset

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge at sunset.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Location: 19255 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood, OR 97140
Phone: (503) 625-5944
Refuge Hours: Dawn to dusk daily
Wildlife Center Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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
Rood Bridge Park
Tillamook State Forest
Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center
Tualatin River

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

Celebrating the #mytualatinvalley Instagram Community

Posted on: April 10th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

When we rolled out the #mytualatinvalley Instagram Contest, which ran from February through March, we had no idea what to expect. Week after week, we were floored by the beauty, diversity and sense of story that came rolling into our Instagram feed. Instagram gurus—local and visiting alike!—shared special Tualatin Valley moments with us that spanned from a behind-the-scenes beer tour at Uptown Market to marathon training along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail to frolicking kids that remind us that nature is the perfect playground.

The winner of the #mytualatinvalley Instagram contest is Jerry Johnson, a Gresham native who took his magic shot of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge during his first visit to the park. Here are his tips for taking a stellar Instagram photo:

It is important to know what type of pictures you like to take. Then follow other good photographers on Instagram that take those pictures to see what they do.  So, when you go for hikes you will have an idea of what works. Be sure to take time to frame the photo and ensure you leave enough space (don’t get to close) around your subject to edit the photo to get the best out of it. And understand it takes time to be good. Trial and error is the best way to learn.  Most of all—just have fun!

It’s clear that Jerry took his own advice when looking at his stunning photo:


Instagram picture of Sherwood's Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

Jerry Johnson’s winning pictures of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood.

To celebrate the immense talent of those who participated in the contest, be sure to check out the #mytualatinvalley feed here. Below, find just a glimpse of the #mytualatinvalley beauties:

my tualatin valley instagram contest
But wait!—the fun doesn’t have to stop here. Keep using the #mytualatinvalley and #tualatinvalley hashtags year-round.  Show us what the beauty of this land means to you, whether it’s your home or weekend getaway.

And be sure to follow us on Instagram for your daily dose of birding, nature, wine and general Tualatin Valley goodness!

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway as Inspiration for National Poetry Month

Posted on: April 8th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

There’s poetry in motion and then there’s poetry about motion. National Poetry Month has us inspired to write about one of the activities we love most in the Tualatin Valley: the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. The bikeway has become a standout star for cyclists looking for a idyllic ride that’s close to Portland. Running through the towns and cities of Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove and Banks, the bikeway provides long sweeping views that allow cyclists to become engulfed in the air, water, roads, and spirit of the Tualatin Valley. All in all, it’s quite poetic!


Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

By Allison George

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 Path Less Pedaled had a great tour, as well. the Northwest Bicycle Safety Council has chosen stretches of it for the Beaverton Banks & Beyond Bicycle Tour. How’s the bikeway looking right now? Take a peek at this recent Instagram photo from Ryan P. Garcia (handle @rypgarcia):

Ryan P. Garcia took this photo along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, near Fernhill Wetlands.

Ryan P. Garcia took this photo along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, near Fernhill Wetlands.


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

Wine Talk with Blizzard Wines’ Dana Blizzard – Part II

Posted on: April 6th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find new favorite Oregon wines with the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker of Blizzard Wines, welcomes wine lovers to the North Willamette Wine Trail weekend.

Are you a seasonal wine drinker, gravitating toward different varietals based on the weather? In the spring, many Oregon wineries debut new releases, making it a prime time to take a wine getaway. With the North Willamette Vintners’ annual North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend, happening this weekend (April 11-12), you can go on an Oregon wine adventure with more than a dozen wineries for a just a cool $45 (or $40, using the “WineTrail15” promo code).

We caught up with Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker at one of the North Willamette Valley’s newest wineries, Blizzard Wines. First, read Part I of our chat with Dana. Then, find out her tips for the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend below.

What makes the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend so special?  
It’s special to see what makes each winery unique by visiting them in succession. They are all so different and have such great strengths: sweeping views, specialized wines and scrumptious food pairings.  

Any tips or suggestions for first time attendees to April’s wine trail?
Buy the 2-day weekend passes, get a designated driver and make an annual event of it. Remember—this is just the tip of the iceberg!  All seasons are great for wine tasting, especially in the North Valley since it’s such a short trip from Portland. Clear room in your cellar as you’re sure to find some new wines to love.

Dana has certainly convinced us to traverse the North Willamette Wine Trail! Here’s the skinny on tickets:

  • $45 per person includes the two-day Wine Trail weekend with activities, wine tastings, food pairings, and wine glass.
  • $30 per person for Sunday-only ticket from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; ticket includes glass, activities, wine tastings, and light food pairings.
  • $10 for a designated driver ticket



A short drive from Portland, enter the gateway to Oregon's Wine Country with the North Willamette Wine Trail.

Blizzard Wines offers a family-friendly environment for the North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend.

Remember!—Use the code WineTrail15 (case sensitive) for a $5 discount on each ticket that you buy. Be sure to show us your time on the wine trail with the hashtag #nwwinetrail.

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

Wine Talk with Blizzard Wines’ Dana Blizzard – Part I

Posted on: April 3rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments

Are you a true wine lover, always on the hunt for exciting new blends to try? With the North Willamette Vintners’ annual North Willamette Wine Trail Weekend, happening April 11-12, you can sip, swirl and savor wines from over a dozen wineries for a cool $45 (or $40, using the “WineTrail15” promo code).

We caught up with Dana Blizzard, owner and winemaker at one of the North Willamette Valley’s newest wineries, Blizzard Wines. She gave us the scoop on her family’s deep vineyard roots in the area.



Blizzard Wines of the Willamette Valley

Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines grew up around the vineyards of the North Willamette Valley.


Blizzard Wines is a relatively new wine label, but you and your family have deep roots in the wine country of the North Willamette Valley. How have you seen the wine industry here change over the years and what are you most excited about for the future?
My parents, Dave and Carol VanSchepen, purchased our family’s vineyard in Hillsboro in 1981 when I was 3 years old. Thirty years later, as a parent of my own toddlers, I came back home and started Blizzard Wines using that same vineyard and their 400 square foot garage. Now, my husband and I produce Pinot and Chardonnay from VanSchepen Vineyard and we are expanding, building a “proper” winery and tasting room scheduled to open next spring. Some things change and somethings stay the same—that’s what I love about North Willamette Valley wineries. It’s the same vineyards with new winemakers, new generations, new techniques.  



Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines tending to her vineyard.

Dana Blizzard of Blizzard Wines tending to her vineyard.


Blizzard Wines’ Wedding Blend keeps gaining accolades with wine lovers. Can you tell us a little more about it?
The Wedding Blend is a special wine for our whole family as it was made to serve at my brother’s wedding in 2013. It’s a traditional Bordeaux-style blend that’s been aged in select French oak—the joke was he was engaged for so long that we had time to let it age to perfection! Unexpectedly this spring, my brother is recovering from brain surgery and relearning to walk, use his left side and get back to daily life. He’s such a hard worker with an amazing attitude and his new wife is so dedicated to him. I’m proud my best wine honors such a loving relationship.

Check back on Monday for more from Dana as we discuss what makes the upcoming wine trail weekend so special.

p.s. Grab an overnight deal for the North Willamette Wine Trail from one of the participating hotels.

Five Reasons to Play in the Oregon State Championships of Cornhole

Posted on: April 1st, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Playing cornhole is one of the early joys of warm evenings in the Tualatin Valley. We’re ready to take our love of the popular tailgating game to the next level with the Oregon State Championships of Cornhole, coming to Forest Grove May 29-30. Need a reason to join us? We’ll give you five.

We'll give you five reasons to register for the Oregon State Championships of Cornhole, coming this May to the Greater Portland Region!

We’ll give you five reasons to register for the Oregon State Championships of Cornhole, coming this May!


1. Be as serious or silly as you want to be
The Oregon State Championships of Cornhole is a rather official sounding title—and rightly so! That said, the tournament is equally invested in participants having a great time. If you love to play cornhole in your backyard, at your favorite bar or when tailgating, then you’ll love playing in the Championships, too.

2. Cash prizes!
Being good at cornhole can really pay off—literally! There will be cash prizes for each division: singles, doubles, juniors and women-only. You’ll take home more than just pride.

3. Stay the night and win
Even if you don’t win money, you can at least still save money. Book a room at a participating hotel and receive a $20 Visa gift card. Saving money and a great weekend getaway? It’s a win-win for everyone!

4. Cornhole and craft beer are a great pair
The first 50 players to register by April 30, 2015 will get a FREE 32oz growler and a coupon for a FREE growler fill during the tournament weekend. Learn about the Tualatin Valley’s booming craft beer scene before you come.

5. It’s the perfect excuse to take a weekend getaway
There will surely be time for exploring during your stay. Take a joyride on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route or a joy-zip at one of our forest zip lines: Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour and Tree to Tree Adventure Park.

P.S. Use the #ORcornhole hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to show us pictures of you practicing for the Championships. We’ll be sending fun prizes to our favorite hashtag users!

Five Family-Friendly Easter Weekend Activities in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: March 30th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Easter Events near Portland

Kids can fill their Easter baskets with healthy (and not-so-healthy) treats in the Tualatin Valley.

Sweets and treats, chicks and a pastel mix—signs of the upcoming Easter weekend are all around in the Tualatin Valley. Just a short drive from downtown Portland, you and your family can engage in picturesque egg hunts along with great food, natural beauty and art. Catch our top five family-friendly picks for your Easter weekend.

1. Annual Great Westside Easter Egg Hunt
Washington County Fair Complex | April 4, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. | $5 per family
Held in an expansive county fair complex, this is a super-sized Easter egg hunt. Moms won’t want to miss the special egg hunt designated just for them, which includes jewelry and gift certificates hidden throughout the maze of the complex.

2. Spring Artisan Bazaar
Cedar Hills Recreation Center | April 4, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. | $3-$7
Create an Easter basket on-the-fly with goodies from amazing vendors. Find sweet hand-sewn stuffed animals, baked Easter goods and much more.

3. Thunder-Egg-Stravaganza
Rice NW Museum of Rocks & Minerals | April 4, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. | $5
For a more geologically-minded interpretation of the Easter egg, this esteemed museum will offer thunder-eggs, as well as thunder-egg cutting, all day. Science lovers can learn about these marvels of nature with the 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. curator talk

4. Our Table Farm Easter Egg Hunt
Our Table Farm | April 4, 11 a.m. start | free
Kids can get in touch with nature as they search this organic farm for eggs hidden among blueberry. Be sure to thank the pasture-raised chickens for the eggs!

5. Orenco Station Easter Hop
Orenco Station | April 4, noon to 2 p.m. | free
The Easter Bunny is making a special appearance at this annual family scavenger hunt. Take pictures, collect treats and explore this cute pocket of Hillsboro.

If you’re looking to trade in Easter pastels for wine Pinot, then escape to Oregon’s Wine Country for a Tour and Taste Daytrip.

Celebrating Passover in the Tualatin Valley? Find the best matzo ball soup with help from our “Four Questions” Passover guide.

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

Frozen Food Month

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Frozen Food Month, Chamoyada from Beaverton's Ome Calle

For Frozen Food Month, try a spicy-sweet Chamoyada from Beaverton’s Ome Calle.

Get ready for a brain freeze because it’s National Frozen Food Month! Whether it’s ice cold or perfectly slushy, the Tualatin Valley’s frozen food game is on point. The Greater Portland region ranks as the 10th top-consumers of ice cream (businessinsider.com). That stat alludes to even more frosty treats that Oregonians—and visitors!—eat here year-round. Start licking your lips for these cold confections:

Snowy Shaved Ice: Momo’s Hawaiian Shave Ice (2020 NW Alocleck Drive, Hillsboro)
Move over snow cone! The real deal shave ice is in town and you cannot compete. The superiority of shaved ice comes from the special equipment that finely shaves a solid block of ice into a snow-like fluffy dream. Because of its consistency, the “snow” absorbs flavored syrup fully and perfectly. At Momo’s, we go for the Tigers blood variety (don’t worry, it’s just strawberry coconut!) with a “snow cap” of sweetened condensed milk drizzled on top

Pretty Popsicles: Ome Calle (12795 SW Canyon Road, Beaverton and 19503 SW Boones Ferry Road, Tualatin)
Ome Calli is the purveyor of all things Mexican frozen treats. From ice cream to popsicles to the famous Chamoyadas, which is a spicy-sweet frozen fruit slush (think plum and apricot chamoy flavor with mango). The refreshing drink is topped with pickled fruit, Mexican gummy candies, and chili powder. As if that’s not a powerhouse dessert all on its own, the mega-drink is finished with a popsicle of your choosing dunked into the center of your cup. Voila!—frozen upon frozen goodness! For a more refreshing—and less sinful—dessert, get a popsicle on its own in a surprising flavor like hemp or cucumber.

Grand Gelato: Strada (10124 SW Washington Square Road, Tigard)
Of course when it comes to frozen treats, we cannot forget about gelato. Enter, the restaurant Strada. The concept? Street food of Italy. A no brainer? The salted caramel gelato. Afterward, hunt for Italian-inspired fashion at the nearby Washington Square.

Moo-rific Milkshakes: Smith Berry Barn (24500 SW Scholls Ferry Rd, Hillsboro)
Since this frozen treat comes out of a straw, beware of the brain freeze! Still, the milkshakes at Smith Berry Barn cannot be beat. Try a caffe umbria espresso milkshakes for a milky buzz. Come berry season, lookout for more fruit-packed options made from farm-fresh berries.

International Day of Happiness

Posted on: March 20th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Celebrate the International Day of Happiness on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route.

Celebrate the International Day of Happiness on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route.

What makes you happy? For the International Day of Happiness, now is as good a time as ever to ponder that question and make plans to do more of what makes you happy. Of course, we wish you many endorphin-producing days while visiting the Tualatin Valley. Whatever makes you happy, find it with us.

Meaningful Experiences with People You Love
Add to your memory bank with loved ones via new thrills in the Tualatin Valley. Hold hands—giving each other courage—to zip across the treetops at Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour or Tree to Tree Adventure Park. For an all-eyes-on-you endeavor, check out the Venomous Reptile Museum. You and your favorite traveling companion will feel more on display than the actual reptiles—an exhilarating experience you surely won’t forget!

Excite the Senses
What’s that amazing smell? This tastes delicious! The air feels so good. Oh yes—the Tualatin Valley is a delight for all five senses. Take a drive on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route for tastes, smells, sights and sounds from our vineyards, farms and restaurants.

The Mind-Body Connection
A happy body leads the way for a happy mind. Take care of yourself inside and out, even when on a trip! Exercise is never a chore on the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. Cyclists pedal thru lush farmland, quaint downtowns and intriguing nature areas. Beginner cyclists (and walkers) may prefer the more mellow section of the bikeway, found on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

A Good Night’s Sleep
Get rest and get happy—it’s that simple sometimes. A good dose of the dream state can help individuals find happiness in waking life. For downright delectable sleep, book a room at one of the Tualatin Valley’s premier accommodations.  

Wishing you lots of happy!

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