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Archive for the ‘Nature’ Category

Activities That Take Advantage of Daylight Savings

Posted on: March 4th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
    Warm spring light trickles through the leaves of the Tree-2-Tree Adventure Park after daylight saving time.

Warm spring light trickles through the leaves of the Tree-2-Tree Adventure Park after daylight saving time.

Are you ready to spring forward? Daylight saving time is—especially at first—a double edge sword. Waking up in the dark hours is a bit rough at first, but the payoff comes in late pink sunsets that inspire evening walks, firing up the grill, or kick-starting a weekend getaway. All this talk of daylight saving time has got us thinking about the power of light in general, as well as all of the ways to (unconventionally) enjoy it.

Tree-to-Tree Adventure Park
2975 SW Nelson Road, Gaston | March 15 to November | Pricing varies
Romantic daredevils can sign up for the swoon-worthy  Zip, Sip and Savor Tours. The evening includes a zip adventure, wine tasting, hors d’oeuvres, and a surprise gift. The real prize is feeling the warm, fading light on your skin as it trickles through the high-in-the-sky leaves. Get dates and reserve your spot today by calling 503-357-0109.

For even more zippity fun, take a look at Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour.

Glowing Greens Mini-Golf
3855 SW Murray Boulevard, Beaverton | $10 for 18 holes
Even though daylight saving is in full effect, we still have many a rainy day ahead. Luckily we can still revel in the phosphorescent with the brand new Glowing Greens black light indoor miniature golf course. The alien invasion themed course includes the likes of Larry the alien. Strike the ball through his neon pink manicure!

Pendulum Aerial Arts Presents Reinvention
French American International School | April 24-25 | $15-$20
The dancers of Pendulum Aerial Arts play with the balance between darkness and light in this captivating performance. The narrative showcases the power of “entering into the light” and embracing the many colors of the human spirit.

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

Nature Passport: Tualatin River

Posted on: February 25th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

tualatin river

Splish-splash, I was takin’ a…paddle! The Tualatin Valley’s landscape wouldn’t be complete without the water habitats of wetlands and rivers. Order a free copy of our Nature Passport—a complete guide of wildlife and outdoor attractions in the area—for information on the best river access points and the creatures you’ll encounter there.

The Tualatin River is a calming, yet driving force running throughout the length of the Tualatin Valley. The water trail is home to all sorts of local animals, including Great Blue Heron and Green Heron and Ospreys. It’s no wonder that these fish-eating birds hangout by the riverbed as so many cutthroat trout and steelhead swim under the river’s soft current.

Before modern roads were paved throughout the region, the Tualatin River use to carry steamboats full of local crops. While you won’t find a steamboat chugging along the river today, kayaks and canoes are a welcomed sight. In the summer months, the Tualatin Riverkeepers provide boat rentals out of Cook Park.  Through winter and spring, you can stop along the river’s picnic points for a peaceful lunch date. Share your picnic outing via the Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest!

For those planning ahead, pencil in these fantastic annual Tualatin River Events:

Tualatin River Bird Fest Paddle
May 16 | Bridge Boat Launch | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | free to $50

Tualatin River Discovery Day Paddle
June 27 | Tualatin Community Park | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | free to $30

A MidSummer Night Paddle
July 18 | Tualatin Community Park | 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. | $10 to $50

Fall Colors Paddle
October 3 | Browns Ferry Park | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | $10 to $50

Tualatin River’s Cook Park Entry Point
Location: 17005 SW 92nd Ave, Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: (503) 218-2580
Trail Hours: open year-round
Riverkeeper hours: July-September, Friday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 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

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

Dog-Friendly Places in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: February 20th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
ghost and wine glass

Ghost, Plum Hill Winery & Vineyard’s dog, takes a sniff of wine!

What do you love most about your pet? It’s Love Your Pet Day—and one of the best ways to make your pet tail-wagging happy is by taking him or her on vacation to the Tualatin Valley. Oh yes, your dog will relish all the new smells and spots that are perfect for a mid-day frolic!

Dog-Friendly Hotels
Think beyond camping when it comes to taking your pet on vacation. Why not?—there are affordable and plush hotel options waiting for you here. Book a room at one of our pet friendly hotels.

Dog-Friendly Nature Spots
Get ready for an epic game of fetch at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park. Open year-round from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, an off-leash dog park provides the perfect romping grounds for pooches of all sizes and breeds. Set atop a steep-sloped hill, your dog can run up-and-down-up-and-down to his or her heart’s delight.

If an on-leash nature walk is more your style, take your four-legged friend on a stroll through the Fanno Creek Trail. Afterward, the nearby Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub has a dog-friendly patio where your pooch can relax and you can unwind with a brew or two.

Dog-Friendly Vineyards
While there won’t be any Pinot in the doggy bowl, many of the tasting rooms in the northern Willamette Valley are either pet friendly or have dogs of their own. If you’re planning to bring your dog wine tasting, then please call ahead to check each winery’s pet policy. If you’re traveling sans pup, but need your dog fix while visiting, then come give some pats to Ghost at Plum Hill Winery and Vineyard.

Looking ahead into the summer, look out for the dog-friendly, bi-weekly concerts at Oak Knoll Winery, as well as August’s Canines Uncorked event with thirteen wineries waiting with wine for you and treats for the furry companions.

We know that, truly, every day is Love Your Pet Day and the dog-lovers of the Tualatin Valley are ready to help you celebrate.

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

Plan Your Wedding in Oregon’s Wine Country

Posted on: February 13th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Valentine’s Day is a big deal, beyond just the roses and chocolate. Nearly a quarter of a million couples get engaged on Valentine’s Day. Couples from near and far choose Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley as their place to say “I do.” And for good reason with gorgeous views, special venues, and all the accoutrement for the best day of your life.

Kick-off wedding planning with the Grand Lodge Wedding Open House (March 7, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free). Here, couples can envision their upcoming nuptials, from primping at the Ruby Spa, toasting at the Doctor’s Office Bar, and concocting signature cocktails options. For a glimpse into the magic: watch the video below:

McMenamins Grand Lodge Weddings from Candy Glass Productions on Vimeo.

Rustic Charm
We love the creative spirit of our brides, which shines through in their choice of venues: rustic beauty whimsically intertwines with modern style. Such is the case with historic downtown Sherwood’s Bella Via, as well as Hillsboro’s McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse & Imbrie Hall. The 1850s roadhouse includes an octagonal barn that is darn right magical when laced with twinkle lights.

Au Natural
For a joyous, boho wedding day, look no further than Horning’s Hideout. Exchange vows by the lake, along a tree-lined creek, or on a large outdoor stage with room for 700 of your closest friends. With 24 hour rentals, guests can celebrate into the night and to camp under the stars.

Vineyard Views
With great Pinot, Oregon’s Washington County ensures some of the best wedding bars. Wineries like A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery host intimate wedding parties and rehearsal dinners.

Hole-In-One
The Reserve Vineyards & Golf Club promises a picturesque black-tie affair. Lovebirds tie-the-knot on the wildflower-bordered patio. For the party, the clubhouse is like celebrating in an Oregon-style castle.

All in the Details
Nowadays, it seems like no wedding is complete without a photobooth, such as local vendor Cheesy Mugs, or an after-party food truck. Guests can chow down on the ever-popular bulgogi tacos of Koi Fusion PDX food truck. For a fun twist on Oregon wine, rent the Union Wine Company’s wine truck!

It was rustic all around at this celebration

A romantic, whimsical and outdoorsy wedding awaits, just minutes from Portland

Start planning your wedding! Get more resources on our Wedding Wonderland page–and figuring out room blocks for your guests with one of our stunning hotels!

And find more venues for your wedding, no matter your style: rustic charm, nature settings, golf courses, and vineyards and wineries.

Instagram Contest Ideas

Posted on: February 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments

What’s your favorite Instagram filter? The Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest is well underway and we want to see the Tualatin Valley through the lens of your—well—camera phone! When uploading photos from Oregon’s Washington County to your Instagram feed through March 20, be sure to include the following in order to have that picture entered into the contest:

  1. #mytualatinvalley
  2. @oregonswashingtoncounty
  3. Photo location (must be a hotel, nature spot, vineyard or brewery)

Read the complete rules, as well as the terms and conditions.

Now, it’s inspiration time! To get a feel for past photos that Instagrammers have taken in the Tualatin Valley, see the stunning shots below.

Hotels
Valerie Huffman (Instagram account@maizey2) shows us her morning yoga routine at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

Maizey2McMenamins
Nature & Outdoors
Gunnar Simonsen (Instagram account @gunnarsimonsen) shows the fairy light at Cooper Mountain Nature Park.

gunnarsimonsen_coopermtnparkVineyards, Wineries and Breweries
Emma Rise Hanley (Instagram account @emmarosehanley) gives some ’70s vibes with the Vinyl at Waltz Brewing.

emmarosehanley_waltz
Savor the last weeks of winter with an end-of-season getaway to the Tualatin Valley—instagramming with #mytualatinvalley during your stay!

Read the full Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest Terms and Conditions here.

World Wetlands Day

Posted on: February 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Happy World Wetlands Day! That’s right, the wetlands of the earth deserve a day dedicated to their greatness—and all the good they do for our environment. These nature preserves provide vast and meaningful benefits for not only the environment, but many cultures’ societal and economic concerns, as well. If managed sustainably, our wetlands will provide a bevy of betterment to future generations, including the following:

  • Purified water
  • Replenished water supplies
  • Fish (and rice in other parts of the world) that feed billions of animals and humans alike
  • Protection from both flooding and drought by coastlines

One of the best ways to support wetlands is simply to make a point of visiting them! Lucky for us, the Tualatin Valley is rich in beautiful wetlands. Fernhill Wetlands in Forest Grove, the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve in Hillsboro and the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge in Sherwood all offer up the chance to get up-close-and-personal with year-round wildlife of waterfowl and migratory birds.

In tune with World Wetlands Day, Fernhill Wetlands re-opens its full breadth of trails, including 90 new acres of natural treatment wetlands. The new acreage includes 180 snags and root wads creating habitat for the hundreds of species of birds that flock to the area. The new berms and flow control structures soon will be overgrown by 750,000 native plants and 3.5 billion seeds that will grow into more diverse habitat for birds and wildlife. Visitors will be able to watch these wetlands grow and flourish year after year as these new additions enrich the habitat.

Photo of Fernhill Wetlands by Mary Lane Anderson

Photo of Fernhill Wetlands by Mary Lane Anderson


You’ll be delighted by the picturesque view of the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve from its Wetlands Education Center, which includes a perfect viewing deck. Catch a glimpse of the bald eagle nest, which weighs in at a whopping 1,500 pounds!

 

Spot an Egret taking a morning dip!

At Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve, spot an Egret taking a morning dip!

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge—just 10 miles from Portland—welcomes over 200 species of birds and 50 species of mammals into its habitat, creating a symphony of nature sounds!

 

Keep Oregon green: Volunteer efforts help keep parks, nature and open spaces green and clean.

A stunning sunset at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.


Read more:

Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve
Winter Bird Watching in Oregon

Instagram for the Wetlands
If you visit Fernhill Wetlands or Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve before March 20, then be sure to take some pictures and enter them into our Winter Wonder Instagram Contest. When posting your Instagram, tag @oregonswashingtoncounty, along with the location and the #mytualatinvalley hashtag. You could win some serious local swag!

Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest

Posted on: January 28th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Let’s make the most out of the last weeks of winter, shall we? We want you to show us the beauty that you find in the Tualatin Valley via our Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest. The contest is really quite simple. Here’s the deal with it in a nutshell: When you visit a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County from February 2 to March 20, tag your Instagram photos with the location, @oregonswashingtoncounty and the #mytualatinvalley hashtag to enter for a chance to win major swag from the Tualatin Valley (think wine, hazelnuts and other tasty treats galore!).

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @oregonswashingtoncounty on Instagram
  • Upload an Instagram  picture of a hotel, outdoor attraction, vineyard or brewery in Oregon’s Washington County (location must be searchable on the www.tualatinvalley.org website)
  • Please note: if your Instagram profile is set to private, you can either
    • send your image to @oregonswashingtoncounty via Instagram Direct or
    • share the link to your Instagram image with Visit Oregon’s Washington County on Twitter (@WCVA) which will allow our organization to have access to only that image on your profile
    • if you do not do either of these, your photo will not be visible to the Washington County Visitors Association and you will not be officially entered in the contest
  • Tag @oregonswashingtoncounty in your photo on Instagram
  • Use the hashtag #mytualatinvalley in your photo on Instagram
  • Name the location in your photo on Instagram in the location field, additional hashtag or Instagram caption
  • You must be 21 or older to enter
  • Abide by the full Terms & Conditions

Alright—now it’s time to begin planning your next Instagram snaps. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Hotels
Show us how you make a hotel your home away from home. Give us a peek at your delicious room service, a cozy rest by the fire or a morning yoga session in your hotel room. To start, book your room now!

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

Put your feet to the fire for a cozy snapshot of your time at The Grand Hotel.

 

Outdoor Attraction
Use the Nature Passport to uncover the best winter wildlife watching throughout the 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges and forests in Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley. 

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

An early wake-up call proves worth it for a sunrise picture at one of our wetlands.

 

Vineyard
The wineries of the northern Willamette Valley have a special wintertime charm. Make a romantic (and photo-worthy) sweep of them during the Valentine’s Wine Loop.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

Capture the winter beauty of Willamette Valley vineyards in the winter.

 

Brewery
Beervana awaits in the Tualatin Valley. With a growing list of stellar breweries, create sudsy Instagram shots. The Zwickelmania Oregon Brewery Tour is the perfect way to get behind-the-scene brewing pictures. 

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

Make happy hour your Instagram hour, too.

At its heart, the Winter Wonder Instagram Contest is about having fun. So get out there, have a great time and share what conveys #mytualatinvalley, whatever that means for you.

Read the full Terms and Conditions here.

Nature Passport: Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive center

Posted on: January 21st, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The Tualatin Hills Nature Park is an nature oasis in the heart of Beaverton.

The casual outdoorsman may revel in the now growing number of hours of daylight as we turn the corner in the winter months. The Tualatin Valley finds plenty of ways to mix the wintertime blues with deep forest greens. Simply order a free copy of the nature passport. Tuck this nifty guide into your backpack for on-the-go exploration, including park information and wildlife watching tips for the 727 square miles of blissful wetlands, refuges, forests, rivers and parks in Oregon’s Washington County.

Among the sixteen featured nature areas in the passport is the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Center. No matter the month, listen to the soft splashes of beavers and river otters along the Cedar Mill and Beaverton Creeks. While these creatures travel the waters, you traverse the 5 miles of paved and soft surface trails. Can you spot a black-tailed deer or ponderosa pine? If yes, then snap a picture of it and share it with us (using the #tualatinvalley hashtag!).

In addition to the 222 acres of wildlife—in the heart of Beaverton no less—be sure to stop by the Tualatin Hills Nature Center (formerly the Tualatin Hills Interpretive Center) for year-round resources. Field guides and educational displays add even more meaning to your outdoor adventure, while stuffed animals and children’s books add more fun.

Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center
Location: 15655 SW Millikan Way, Beaverton, OR 97006
Phone: (503) 629-6350)
Trail Hours:  Dawn to dusk, daily
Interpretive Center Hours: February-November, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; December-January, 9 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

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

The Life Cycle of an Oregon Hazelnut

Posted on: January 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 4 Comments

We have just reached the end of Oregon’s hazelnut season, which also means that the life cycle of a hazelnut tree has begun again at the hazelnut tree farms of the Tualatin Valley. The Willamette Valley (of which the Tualatin Valley is proudly a part) grows 99% of all of the hazelnuts in not just Oregon, but the United States; so the start of the New Year and the hazelnut life cycle is pretty darn exciting for us. Yup, our beloved perennial shrub has dropped the last of its delicious filberts and it already using Oregon’s temperate and cool weather to prepare for next season.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The four seasons of a hazelnut tree in the Tualatin Valley.

The Hazelnut Growers of Oregon has created a mecca for true hazelnut aficionados at Oregon Orchard Hazelnuts. Here, get your hands on a wide variety of hazelnuts with a roast worth a boast, including salty and sweet varieties. Even out of the prime hazelnut season, you can still connect with farmers of your favorite filbert at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which returns with its winter series in February (complete with white chocolate covered hazelnuts at the Ken & June vendor)

Hazelnuts are not only delicious, but healthy, too. While the roasted nut is often used in confectionery delights, it also provides healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, dietary fiber and antioxidants. Has all this nutty talk gotten you “hangry” for some hazelnuts? Never fear! While waiting for the next crop of filberts to bloom in the spring and summer, you can try one of our hazelnut recipes to hold you over:

Hostess with the Mostess Granola
Nutty Berry Torte
Berry Baked Oatmeal
Chocolate, Cherry & Hazelnut Cookies

P.S. Learn even more about Oregon hazelnuts here.

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

Winter Bird Watching in Oregon

Posted on: January 5th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

Fernhill_Wetlands_Solitary_Egret_in_Fog_CREDIT_Alec_Frank

“Solitary Egret in Fog” by Alec Frank, taken at Fernhill Wetlands

Happy National Bird Day! Turn a shivering Brrr! into an exclamation, Birds! The cold may be coming in, but there’s no reason to hibernate as we stay true to the greater Portland region’s temperate weather. While the area experiences winter via rainy days, foggy mornings, nighttime chills, and occasional flurries, the geography generally offers a balmy and pleasant wintertime for visitors of both the human and fowl variety. Winter is indeed a spectacular time to go birding in Oregon’s Washington County.

Reasons to Winter Bird Watch Here:

  1. With less foliage, it is easier not only to spot birds, but also tracks leading to foraging spots.
  2. As resources are less plentiful, it’s more common for several species of birds to congregate in a mixed flock during the colder months. Seeing many species together is a special experience, as well as a chance to check multiple birds off of your “must-see” list at once.
  3. At the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge alone, an average of 20,000 waterfowl—including Canada Geese, northern pintails, and mallards—can be observed in one day. And Bald Eagles are counted as a commonly seen species. At the Jackson Bottom Wetlands and Fernhill Wetlands, catch a glimpse of the round-headed American Wigeon bobbing in the water. It truly is magic to see the Great Blue Heron nesting amidst the winter marshes, as well.

Winter Birding Tips:

  1. Check the weather report before you go! Dress right for the adventure and you’ll be happy and cozy whether it’s rainy, snowy, or foggy.
  2. Just because it’s not the dead heat of summer, doesn’t mean you can’t get dehydrated! Bring water, snacks, and sunscreen for your day in the refuges.
  3. Keep any valuable gear in check against unexpected winter elements. We suggest a harness or neck strap attached to a pair of water-resistant binoculars.

Resources:

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