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Ask a Local: Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross

Posted on: July 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment
Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards gives visitors her inside scoop on the Tualatin Valley.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Barbara Gross of Cooper Mountain Vineyards. As a born-and-raised local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Cooper Mountain Vineyards so special?
The soils. The place. We own and manage four vineyards throughout Oregon’s Washington County. And our philosophy is simple: craft authentic wines while respecting the soils and the land they originate from.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
The most satisfying interaction I have with visitors is being able to point to the specific acre of Pinot Noir, tell them the story of how Mother Nature provided us with that vintage and have them taste the Tualatin Valley.
 
What will visitors find happening in the vineyards now?
The North Willamette Valley is buzzing during the summer. She wears her colors well. Full canopy on the vines. Toward the end of the summer, the grapes begin to change color. Clear blue skies provide visuals of the mountains, reminding us of the volcanic nature of the soils where the vines reside.
 
Other than a visit to Cooper Mountain Vineyards, what’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
All the other wineries!
 
Describe a perfect day in Washington County.
Picnicking on one of our vineyards, with local Pinot Noir in your glass after you’ve spent the morning at a local berry u-pick farm.
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
NAK WON! The Tualatin Valley boasts some of the best Korean and Vietnamese restaurants in the country. And Syun Izakaya has been a longtime and outstanding gem.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
See above! In addition, decarli restaurant and The South Store Café.
 
What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
I would hope they would take away the impactful memory of the beauty of the place. And come back and visit.
 
Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Where the city meets the country.

Other tips from locals:
Curiosities Vintage Mall’s Travis Diskin
Maggie Buns’ Maggie Pike
Clean Water Service’s Sheri Wantland
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan

Five Ideas for Dog-Friendly Fun

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

Just minutes from Portland is a dog (and dog-lover!) paradise full of hound-happy activities.

The Tualatin Valley is a pooch’s paradise. Unpretentious wineries, unhurried restaurants, and laid-back summer festivals make for a plethora of dog-friendly frolics. We’re ready for a howlin’ good time. Check out five favorite activities for humans and canines alike.

1. Tualatin Crawfish Festival’s “Atsa My Dawg”
August 2 | 1:30 pm. To 3:30 p.m. |Tualatin Commons | $4
What makes your dog special? While crawfish are the center of this three-day festival, dogs will steal the show at Saturday’s “Atsa My Dawg Show” costume and talent competition.

2. Canines Uncorked
August 9 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. |various wineries | $40
If you’re over-the-moon about dogs and wine, then you’ll love this dog-friendly wine event with 100% of the proceeds going to the Oregon Humane Society. Each of the 13 locations includes dog-themed activities. Pooch portraits, anyone?

3. Toast to the Tunes
August 7 & August 21 | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m.
Oak Knoll Winery | $5

Oak Knoll Winery spices up summer with its bi-weekly concert series. Bring a picnic, blanket and dog! This kid and dog-friendly event is the perfect way to jump start the weekend.

4. Advanced Fetch at L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Year-round | 6 p.m. To 9 p.m. | L.L. “Stub” Stewart Park | free
The off-leash dog park at L.L. Stub Stewart State is set atop a steep-sloped hill. One round of fetch will tucker out any dog. See the dog park in action with this Grant’s Getaway segment.

5. Hike to Happy Hour
Year-round | dawn to dusk | Fanno Creek Trail | free
With dog-friendly patios near lovely hiking trails, turn the wagging-tail hour into happy hour. After a jaunt through the Fanno Creek Trail, walk to the nearby Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub or Fireside Grill for some tasty nibbles and drinks.

With all of these dog-friendly activities, you’re going to need a few nights stay. Book the Bow Wow Package or a room at one of our other pet friendly hotels.

Past dog-happy blog posts:
Wine Dog “Ghost”
Wedding Crashing Wine Dogs

Bird Watching at Fernhill Wetlands

Posted on: July 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Families love exploring the Fernhill Wetlands with help from our Nature Passport.

Families love exploring the Fernhill Wetlands with help from our Nature Passport.

Just like humans, bird travel patterns are dictated by temperate weather and good food. For fowl and folks alike, the Tualatin Valley provides both. Minutes from quaint downtown Forest Grove—where visitors delight in the weather and wine at Urban Decanter—is the popular watering hole for migratory birds at Fernhill Wetlands.

Fernhill Wetlands is a cornerstone location along the Pacific Flyway, which is the flight path extending from Alaska to Patagonia. Every year, more than 200 species of migratory birds make Fernhill Wetlands part of their journey. The wetlands are even home to a bald eagle who has crafted its nest in a cottonwood tree. Besides the national bird, bird watchers also excitedly spot greater yellowlegs, American white pelicans, northern shovelers, long-billed dowitchers and belted kingfischers.

While the height of bird watching at Fernhill Wetlands spans from November to March, the nature reserve still truly is a year-round treat. The moist soil habitats entice birds to the area, but recent improvements to the wetlands also attract visitors, as well, with new trails, a water garden and a snazzy solar-powered camera station.

To heighten your experience even further while visiting Fernhill Wetlands, take along a free copy of the Nature Passport, which gorgeously organizes our 727 square miles of wetlands, parks, refuges, forests, and waters into a user-friendly and page-by-page guidebook. Here, wildlife and botanical aficionados are invited to check-off species from their “life-list,” as well as to create leaf rubbings.

For more information (and a peek at Fernhill Wetlands’ gorgeous scenery), check out this video form Grant’s Getaways:

Fernhill Wetlands
Location: 1399 SW Fernhill Road, Forest Grove, 97116
Phone: 503.681.3600
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park

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

Oregon Lavender Festival Art & Recipes

Posted on: July 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

 

JoAnn Boatwright's lavender and Tualatin Valley photography will be on show at Helvetia Lavender Farm during the Oregon Lavender Festival. Photo Credit: JoAnn Boatwright

JoAnn Boatwright’s lavender and Tualatin Valley photography will be on show at Helvetia Lavender Farm during the Oregon Lavender Festival. Photo Credit: JoAnn Boatwright

Did you know lavender was used as a holy herb in ancient temples? Religion aside, many agree that lavender smells heavenly. And it looks lovely, tastes good, and its essential oils feel! Oregonians like lavender so much that we created a festival dedicated to it!

This weekend’s Oregon Lavender Festival  lets lavender lovers explore the Tualatin Valley’s most fragrant farms:

Barb’s Dutchmill Herbfarm
Helvetia Lavender Farm
Jackson School Lavender
Mountainside Lavender Farm
 
Each farm will have u-pick and ready-picked lavender, along with lavender-themed art, food and crafts. Local photographer and blogger, JoAnn Boatwright, will showcase her artwork at Helvetia Lavender Farm. Describing her inspiration, JoAnn said, “You can be in any city in the county and in just a few miles be in some of the most lovely and bucolic settings you could ever wish to see—if you really look. I like to photograph the area just to remind myself how lucky I am to live here. I share my photos in hopes of reminding others.”

So what will you do with the lavender bounty you bring home? We suggest taking a cue from lavender expert, Nancy Miller of Helvetia Lavender Farm. Her pecan crusted salmon with lavender is the perfect summer evening, al fresco dish.

Nancy Miller's Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender.

Nancy Miller’s Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender.

 

Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender
Recipe by Nancy Miller, Helvetia Lavender Farm

Ingredients:
2 ½ lb. filet of salmon
1 lemon
1 tsp Herbes de Provence with an additional 1/2 tsp of lavender bud
½ cup of ground pecans
Dash of salt and pepper

Use olive oil to spray a sheet of foil twice the size of the salmon. Place salmon in center of foil. Squeeze 1/2 of lemon over salmon, sprinkle the spices on filet, and spread the ground pecans evenly over the top.  Place on grill, put cover down, turn flame to medium and grill for about 7 minutes.  Then turn to low and cover lightly with foil so that top cooks evenly.  Test for desired consistency after 5 minutes.

If you really want to bliss out on Oregon, pair the meal with our lavender infused cocktail recipe.

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

Five Great Playgrounds in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: June 30th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
From left to right: Bethany Meadows Park, Raleigh Park, Commonwealth Lake Park, Tree to Tree Adventure Park

From left to right: Bethany Meadows Park, Raleigh Park, Commonwealth Lake Park, Tree to Tree Adventure Park

 

School’s out for summer!…and you’ve got a lot of time to spend on summer adventures with the kids. Book a kid-friendly hotel package with us for an easy, no-hassle getaway. No need to jam-pack your schedule here. Make time to stop at a few of our playgrounds to relax and enjoy the sunshine days with us. See below for the perks of some of our favorite Tualatin Valley playgrounds.

1. A Pirate P-arr!-k for Ye, Matey
Bethany Meadows Park, which has been affectionately dubbed “Pirate Park,” is a playground flanked by two pirate-ship-shaped play structures. Little ones can take the helm and navigate the imaginary seas. The playground can be found along the Rock Creek Trail, which is a bike trail that is perfect for those still on training wheels.

2. Playground-‘n’-Picnic
Raleigh Park has a spacious playground in the middle of its 16.26-acre grounds. Plenty of swings to go around! Sporty families love taking advantage of the adjacent soccer field and tennis courts. What’s more, the ample picnic seating is the perfect place to chow down on some local farmers market finds.

3. Go Fish
Commonwealth Lake Park has a cute playground whose colors match the emerald-headed geese that tromp-and-paddle around the lake. After a play session on the spiral slide, find a spot on the lake for kid-friendly fishing. Daily catches include trout, bass, bluegill and crappie (maybe the only time you’ll let your kid say that last word!).

4. What Rain?
Outdoors In Park at the Plaza is a great alternative for those few drizzly summer days. A full-size indoor playground—along with a bouldering wall—encourages kids to be active no matter the weather forecast.

5. Playground in the Trees
Tree to Tree Adventure Park affectionately dubs itself as a “playground in the trees.” This zip line park has a specially designed kids course, as well as “tween course,” where trained guides lead little daredevils through obstacles, zip lines and bridges that are closer to the ground than the adult courses.

Come play your way—at one of our playgrounds—this summer!

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

Best Flora and Fauna at Cooper Mountain

Posted on: June 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Gear up for a day (or night!) of bat, coyote and pale larkspur sightings.

Gear up for a day (or night!) of bat, coyote and pale larkspur sightings.

The Nature Passport holds sixteen stand-out places to explore the outdoors in one tiny handheld guide. Of course, Cooper Mountain Nature Park is in the mix.

With sweeping views of the Chehalem Mountains, naturalists flock to the park for its top-notch Nature House, natural demonstration garden and play area for children. Apart from the useful structures built here, most come for what lives in the park.  

Go Bats!
Do your kids fight bedtime? If yes, give them a vacation treat of a Family Bat Outing (July 19; 7:30-9:30 p.m.; $10). Learn about the nocturnal residents of the Tualatin Valley before heading out for a guided night hike. Your guide will use bat-attracting techniques to bring the flying bug-eaters into view. Take full advantage of your newfound knowledge of echolocation by using the bat-detector for an eye-opening experience.

Find Your Own Wile E. Coyote
Cooper Mountain’s nocturnal kingdom is not limited to bats. Enter, Park After Dark: Coyotes (August 22; 7:30-9:30 p.m.; $10). This guided night hike will teach nature-lovers how to identify coyote calls, tracks and even pelts. Follow the clues for some sightings of these beautiful and reclusive creatures.  

Get a Tan while Looking for Pale Larkspur
If you’re more into what grows than what prowls in the park, then explore the world’s largest population of the endangered Pale Larkspur in the world. The plant, also known as Anderson’s Larkspur, is in the buttercup family and its genus name, “Delphinium” means “like a dolphin” because of the shape of its blue-purple flower buds.

Downward Dog
Dogs are prohibited at the park; however, you can at least stretch like one. Bring your yoga mat so that you can stretch deeply, breathe with intention and reach a heightened sense of awareness with a yoga session overlooking the amazing views.

Cooper Mountain Park
Location: 18892 SW Kemmer Road, Beaverton, OR 97007
Phone: (503) 629-6350
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park

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

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

The Best Summer Events

Posted on: June 16th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

summer events collage

What does summer mean to you? With this week’s summer solstice, we’re dreaming of the long summer days ahead. From beer gardens to outdoor concerts to cruising our scenic highways on the hunt for your favorite foodie finds, summer in Oregon’s Washington County is looking mighty fine. See below for a round-up of some of our favorite summer weekend events.

Festival of Balloons in Tigard
June 20-22 | 5:45 a.m. – 11 p.m. |Cook Park |$5 parking | admission: $5; carnival ride passes available online
It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s a hot air balloon! This annual event celebrates summer from sunrise to sunset with spectacular hot air balloon shows, a carnival, sports and (of course!) a beer garden.

Oregon Lavender Festival
July 12-13 | varying hours |various locations |free
Take a whiff of summer! Travel between our favorite lavender farms, enjoying all that the versatile herb can create: yummy treats, luxurious bath goods and folksy home decor. Participating locations in Oregon’s Washington County include:

Barb’s Dutchmill Herbfarm  
Helvetia Lavender Farm
Jackson School Lavender
Mountainside Lavender

13th Annual Northwest String Summit
July 17-20 | noon– 6 p.m. |Horning’s Hideout |$195
Get the summer blues so long as it’s from bluegrass. With 35 bluegrass acts gracing one outdoorsy-fun venue, there’s a reason this four-day concert sells out year after year.

Dressage at DevonWood
July 18-20 | 9 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. |DevonWood Equestrian Centre |$10 parking
Say “neigh” instead of “nay” to the equestrian event of the season. Over 225 riders from Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho and Canada with a combined schedule of more than 750 rides across three days. Riders from every riding class compete for seat medals, as well as in the graceful musical freestyle competition.

Canines Uncorked Wine Tour
August 9 | 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. |various locations |$40
For some, a summer adventure isn’t complete without a dog riding shotgun. If that’s you, bring your furry best friends on this dog-friendly wine trail. Dogs love wagging their tails along the edge of the vineyards while their owners drink the best of Oregon wine. Bonus: 100% of the proceeds benefit the animals at the Oregon Humane Society.  

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

Father’s Day Itinerary

Posted on: June 9th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A classic car show and a joy-ride make for a great Father's Day Weekend.

A classic car show and a joy-ride make for a great Father’s Day Weekend.

What do you love most about spending time with your dad? We have an endless combination of ways to celebrate the special fathers in your life. Below, you’ll find just one fun and father-focused weekend itinerary:

Friday, June 13
Start the weekend by helping dad unwind and “let it go” with an outdoor viewing of the instant Disney classic, “Frozen” with Pix on the Plaza (Hillsboro Civic Center Plaza, 7-10 p.m.). Bring cozy blankets, a picnic with dad’s favorite snacks and let the kids sing their hearts out—it’ll melt Dad’s heart.

Afterward, settle in at one of our great hotels. If a family trip wouldn’t be complete without the dog, then take advantage of our Bow Wow Hotel Package.

Saturday, June 14
Get all the benefits of an epic road trip in one getaway weekend. Start with the Cruisin’ Sherwood car show (Old Town Sherwood, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.). Americana meets innovation as classic cars are kept in pristine condition through customized preservation.

Though it may not be a retro ride, hop into your own car next for a drive down the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route. Spend quality family time on this 60 mile stretch of the lush Tualatin Valley. There’s an activity to match Dad’s interests: explore nature at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge, pick berries at Rowell Brothers Berry Farm or go wine tasting at Shafer Vineyard Cellars.

End the tour with dinner at the Helvetia Tavern, “home of the jumbo burger.” Its juicy, perfectly grilled goodness is dad-approved. Plus, find dad’s favorite team from the vast collection of baseball hats lining the tavern’s ceiling.

Sunday, June 15
Happy Father’s Day! For a truly elevated brunch experience, make a reservation for Pig & Pinot at Plum Hill Vineyards. A patio-vineyard provides the perfect backdrop for not only wine, but also a delicious pig roast.

Whether you’re enjoying this special day with your grandfather or as a new dad yourself, be sure to make some memories that help you cherish all the reasons you love spending time with your pops.

P.S. There’s even more happening! Check out our full listing of Father’s Day Weekend events.

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn #4

Posted on: May 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Pruitt's Farm Store is a charming stop along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

The Pruitt’s Farm Store is a charming stop along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway.

We’re back with our fourth installment in the “Wheel Turn Series” of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. As a review, you can cycle backwards and read the previous Wheel Turn blog posts:

Turning onto SW Lafollett Road may have you feeling a little blue, but in the best way possible. Valley Blue Farms have been cultivating some of the Northwest’s best blueberries for nearly four decades.

Family-owned by the Duyck family, Valley Blue farms takes pride in specializing in one of the few fruits that are native to North America. Open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the farm’s blue-dotted fields are ready for a drive-by view or rest stop visit.

Continuing on, SW Lafollett Road curves before offering a right-hand turn onto SW Geiger Road. Here, even more Oregon agricultural splendor awaits you with Pruitt’s Farm. Pedaling by this fourth-generation farm, we hope you take great wonder in the fact that all of their seeds are sown and harvested by hand. The produce variety is wide and eclectic, from apples to peppers to apricots to eggplants. The Pruitt family invites cyclists to stop by for a mid-ride treat June to mid-December, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

After picking the freshest produce you can find, watch the local wildlife do the same at Fernhill Wetlands, which include bike and pedestrian trails for exploring. Shared bike and pedestrian lanes make for easy bird watching adjacent to the Willamette Valley’s Tualatin River. Just the other day, we heard of a group of bikers experiencing a Fernhill Wetlands’ resident bald eagle swoop over their heads!

Conveniently, Fernhill Wetlands also provides restrooms, water, and a picnic shelter for cyclists. Exiting the wetlands along SW Fern Hill Road, another restroom is available at the turn onto 17th Avenue, which is where Wheel Turn #5 of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway begins.

For the full effect of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, check out this stunning video from the Path Less Pedaled:

Ask a Local: Maggie Pike

Posted on: May 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Maggie Pike of Maggie's Buns shares her local favorites for visiting friends.

Maggie Pike of Maggie’s Buns shares her local favorites for visiting friends.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Maggie Pike, owner of Forest Grove favorite Maggie’s Buns. As a 20-year local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.

What makes Maggie’s Buns so special?
It is cozy, the food is great and we love our customers.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
I love to share all of the amazing treasures that Oregon’s Washington County has to offer. It’s not hard showing off our gorgeous county to visitors.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
Don’t miss Fernhill Wetlands or pedaling the scenic bike paths.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County with them.
Start with breakfast at Maggie’s Buns before taking a stroll through wetlands. Then, I’d meander the downtown streets of Forest Grove and Hillsboro. For lunch, I’d get a pupusa from the Pupuseria La Guanaquito (113 N 11th Avenue, Cornelius). After lunch would be the perfect time to hop on bikes and hit the road through the diverse patches of agriculture we are so famous for. When my cheeks are sore, I’d take a break at Unger’s Farm Store for strawberry shortcake  before pedaling back to Forest Grove to take a nice walk around the old town. In the evening, I’d head to the McMenamins Grand Lodge for a dip in the soaking pool, followed by drinks and live music.

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?  
A true “hidden gem” of the area is the beautiful Lee Falls.

In addition to Maggie’s Buns, where do you go when you want some seriously good grub? What’s the standout dish?  
The Ace Tavern for a patty melt—it is amazing.

What should visitors take home as a souvenir?
A bottle wine from one of our local wineries.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Diverse agriculture, recreation, community and beauty…Sorry, I hope “and” doesn’t count as one of the words.

Previous Ask a Local Posts:
Clean Water Service’s Sheri Wantland

SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan