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Getaway to the Tualatin Valley Before School Starts

Posted on: August 26th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Kids learn about farming and animals at one of the Tualatin Valley's idyllic farms.

Kids learn about farming and animals at one of the Tualatin Valley’s idyllic farms.

It’s never too late to make a quick weekend (or mid-week) getaway to the Tualatin Valley before the school year begins. With plenty of things to do for all ages, here’s your guide to a last-minute trip.

Zip-Line Adventures
The Tualatin Valley’s newest zip-line park, Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour features eight zip lines that will take adventurers through a beautiful forest, across majestic suspension bridges and near breathtaking Brunswick Canyon. Tree to Tree Adventure Park—an aerial ropes course and guided zip-line park— features an aerial adventure ropes, zip line tours, dueling zip line racing, tree-top plunge and more.
Scenic Adventures
The Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is a 50-mile excursion along rural roads and incorporates the 21-mile the Banks-Vernonia trail. Pedal along the countryside, stopping at farm stands, restaurants and quaint shops along the way. (This route is best explored by intermediate and advanced riders.)

If a driving tour is more your speed, take a late-summer journey along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route, a 60-mile driving tour through the Tualatin Valley’s agricultural areas. Stop at a u-pick farm or farm stand to taste the fruits of the valley, dine in a quaint country diner, stop to see the livestock farms and learn a little pioneer history.

Family Fun
Traveling with little ones? The Tualatin Valley offers a wide assortment of indoor play spots that are sure to thrill all of the members of the family, from entertainment centers that feature rides and arcades to outdoor nature centers and museums. See some ideas here.
Fun on the River
Finally, take advantage of the warm weather with a relaxing paddle along the Tualatin River. No advance planning is necessary for a boat trip, as rentals are available on a drop-in, first-come, first-serve basis. The Tualatin Riverkeepers rents canoes and kayaks at Tigard’s Cook Park on weekends, and Alder Creek offers rentals at Brown’s Ferry Park, which rents canoes and single and tandem recreational kayaks.
For more inspiration, visit our website, tualatinvalley.org.
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Tualatin Valley All-Outdoor Trip Idea

Posted on: July 29th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Forest Grove Uncorked

Forest Grove Uncorked presents dozens of local foods, wines and brews.

Sometimes, we’ll be looking ahead into our events calendar and see a grouping of events that would make for one perfect, unforgettable weekend. Then, of course, we just have to share the itinerary we concoct with you. As you may have guessed by now, such an occurrence has entered our radar for the weekend of August 14-16. Tack on a few days to your Portland trip and explore the Tualatin Valley. Itinerary below:

Friday, August 14
“Sit by my side, and let the world slip: we shall ne’er be younger.” Live by these words from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew while watching the play at Ponzi Vineyards with the Willamette Shakespeare production company. As the show is free of charge, you can unwind with an extra glass of wine during the outdoor performance. Show begins at 7 p.m.

After the show, catch some zzz’s at a cush nearby hotel.

Saturday, August 15
We’re rolling into prime cycling weather in the Tualatin Valley via the Beaverton Banks & Beyond Bicycle Tour. Novice to advanced cyclists can sojourn the farmlands and trails in a 32, 64, 85 or 100 mile ride. Register now!

Unwind in a casual atmosphere with Forest Grove Uncorked, which features dozens of local wineries, craft breweries and restaurants on the Main Street drag. Admission is $10 and nominal tasting fees may apply.

Sunday, August 16
Choose between two great outdoor events. On the mellow side, there is the Tualatin River Family Paddle Day where one enjoys the gentle lapping sounds against a canoe or kayak on a peaceful stretch of the Tualatin River.

For a more rev-your-engines kind of day, there is the Banks Bar-B-Que and Truck & Tractor Pull that includes the happy hum of big vehicles and a jubilant parade.

What an accomplished weekend! Theater? Check! Fitness? Check? Amazing Oregon wine? Double check! Bonus points for every activity being outside, soaking up the Tualatin Valley’s rays of sunshine.

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Oregon Lavender Festival Near Portland

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

Lavender is magical, isn’t it? The oils in it hold powerful properties that serve as a sort of cure-all for many of life’s ailments: headaches, anxiety, rashes, bloating and even dandruff. Plus, it smells amazing! The Oregon Lavender Festival, July 10 through July 12, celebrates lavender’s beauty, fragrance, and versatility. The festival takes place across Oregon with the Tualatin Valley boasting three beautiful lavender farms for the florally inclined. With each of the farms hosting special features, it’s worth visiting them all in one lavender-themed weekend.



Mountainside Lavender Farm

Mountainside Lavender Farm is one of the Tualatin Valley farms taking part in the Oregon Lavender Festival.


Oregon Lavender Festival Farms Near Portland

Helvetia Lavender Farm in Hillsboro (Helvetia)

Helvetia Lavender Farm parades 60 lovely lavender varieties. Try your hand at making a wreath or wand with help from the Helvetia Lavender Farm family. Ever wonder how lavender essential oil is made? Here’s your chance to watch it being distilled onsite.

Helvetia Lavender Farm festival hours are Friday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Jackson School Lavender in North Plains

Jackson School Lavender Farm celebrates 12 years of growing lavender—young compared to the Jackson School House that has stood on the same property since 1865! Pick from the field of Grosso lavender and nibble on lavender cookies with lavender infused jams and honey.

Jackson School Lavender festival hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Mountainside Lavender Farm in Hillsboro (Scholls)

Mountainside Lavender Farm holds to a steadfast organic farming practice with a closed loop system that produces ten times faster than farms using conventional farming techniques. Adding to the earth-friendly vibe, enjoy fresh vegetables, alpacas and goats living in symbiosis on the farm.

Mountainside Lavender Farm festival hours are Saturday and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Satisfy your lavender fix after the festival at one of the Tualatin Valley’s many farmers markets where you’ll find local pre-cut lavender and lavender products. With so much lavender loot, you’ll need many lavender recipes to help you use up the delicious herb. Here are a few of our favorite flavor medleys to cook up:
Pecan Crusted Salmon with Lavender
Lavender Simple Syrup
Blueberry Lavender Milkshake

Here’s to seeing the world through lavender-tinted glasses!

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10 Can’t-Miss July Events in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: July 6th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 1 Comment

10 Can’t-Miss July Events in the Tualatin Valley

Ten Can’t-Miss July Events in the Tualatin Valley


With Independence Day in summer’s rearview mirror, continue celebrating your freedom to travel and experience new things. Whether you’re extending a business trip, tacking a few days onto a pre-existing trip to Portland or just want to plan getaway with friends, find Tualatin Valley festivals and events to make July the best. See our top 10 suggestions below.

1. Bluegrass Music

The Annual Northwest String Summit at Horning’s Hideout in North Plains is four days of soul-satisfying bluegrass and Americana music (July 16-19).

2. International Air Show

The Intel Oregon International Air Show welcomes the Blue Angels with its first woman pilot, Navy Capt. Kitty Higgins, on a C-130 Hercules aircraft.

3. Oregon Craft Beer Month

Celebrate Oregon Craft Beer Month with the 14th Annual Roadhouse Brewfest (July 18). Tour the McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse brewery and chat with brewers.

4. Lavender Farms

Smell that? The Oregon Lavender Festival comes to four Tualatin Valley lavender farms (July 10-12). Frolic in the purple fields!

5. International Dancing and Fairs

Ten Tiny Dances (July 11, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and the Beaverton International Celebration (July 25) highlights a mix of traditions from Beaverton’s diverse population.

6. Watch Dressage

Dressage of DevonWood in Sherwood boasts one of the largest dressage events in the Pacific Northwest (July 17-19).

7. Act Like Robin Hood

The Sherwood Robin Hood Festival (July 17-8) transforms Old Town Sherwood into an even older stomping ground of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. The Tualatin River’s MidSummer Night Paddle is best for those who fancy themselves mermaids over maidens (July 18). 

8. Drink Rosé

Yes way, rosé! The Drink Pink! rosé wine festival is a chance to visit 25 different Willamette Valley wineries, each offering rosy options (July 18).

9. Old Car Shows

The Tualatin Valley is a hot bed for hot rods with the Concours d’Elegance in Forest Grove (July 18-19) and The Classic at T-Hills in Beaverton (July 25).

10. Eat Crawfish

The 65th Tualatin Crawfish Festival is a quintessential Tualatin Valley summer tradition, complete with eating contests, local brews and live music (July 31-Aug 2).

Bonus: Sports fanatics can watch baseball at a Hillsboro Hops game (various dates), as well as the ASA 18 Gold Softball Championships (July 19-25). Prefer the view more than the game? Trade clubs for pianos at the Ten Grands on the Green (July 25).

How will you make the most of July? Your first step is booking a room in the Tualatin Valley!

Best Camping in the Tualatin Valley

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

A vacation doesn’t have to be expensive, elusive or exhaustive in planning (that doesn’t sound like a vacation at all!). Sometimes that respite you crave can be satisfied by throwing your tent in the back of the car, driving a few miles down the road to an area that looks a world away and camping yourself into a restful restoration. Enter, camping in the Tualatin Valley. In addition to your tent, what other toys will you bring on our camping getaway? We’ve picked out some of our favorite camping spots below, all designated by an awesome activity you will find at each one.


Gales Creek

Camp creekside at Gales Creek in the Tualatin Valley.



Camping in Tillamook is easy with Browns Camp along the Wilson River Highway. Adrenaline junkies map out this spot for dirt bike adventures—expect a messy, good time!
    Other area features: ATVs and 4x4s

Mountain Biking

Camping in the Forest Grove area means the gurgling of flowing water at Gales Creek Campground. If your two wheels doesn’t have a motor, then the trails here are perfect for a lush, green ride.
    Other area features: fishing, hiking, wildlife watching


Camping near the Banks-Vernonia State Trail, just west of the Tillamook State Forest, is clutch at L.L. Stub Stewart State Park, which offers a disc-golf course close to the site’s charming cabins, RV Park and campgrounds.
    Other area features: horseback riding, mountain biking, nature trails, geocache sites, dog
    -friendly  areas.

Horseback Riding

Camping in the small community of Timber, Oregon is a quaint experience at Reehers Camp. The area includes a day use trailhead accessible to horseback riders (along with horse camp sites to match).
Other area features: hiking, historical background

What are your camping tips? Happy trails!

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Ask a Local: Nature Photography Tips

Posted on: June 22nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments

Connecting with nature and connecting with your family is a simultaneous experience here in the Tualatin Valley. In the end, one of life’s greatest gifts is sharing what you love with who you love. Beaverton locals, the father-daughter pair of Gunnar Simonsen and Kira Simonsen, have a special tradition of exploring and photographing the Tualatin Valley via their stellar Instagram accounts, @GunnarSimonsen and @Hoopla68. We caught up with the two for their insider tips!

Gunnar Simonsen's drive by beauty capture of the Tualatin Valley.

Gunnar Simonsen’s drive by beauty capture of the Tualatin Valley.

What are your favorite places to photograph in the Tualatin Valley?
Gunnar: I absolutely love Cooper Mountain Nature Park. At sunrise, you can catch an amazing glow on the trails. Or an hour before sunset, the shadows that poke through the trees make for some incredibly emotive photography.

Kira: I have fallen in love with Dawson Creek. The reflection off the water is unreal. The chalkboard tunnel is so unique and brings a creative aspect to the park. It was very cool to be able to see the baby geese and ducks there this spring.

How did you begin photographing together?

Kira: In 2013, we both got iPhones and just started taking pictures. Once, we went to Rood Bridge Park and uploaded at least 15 pictures each onto Instagram. Photography has brought us closer together over the years. It’s good to get away from an internet and just experience what’s around you.

What tips do you have for novice photographers?
Gunnar: Seek to find the story in everything and tell it with photography. In this, think less and explore more. I love Cooper Mountain Nature Park. I walked those trails hundreds of times and I have taken hundreds of pictures and yet every time, there’s always a new story waiting to be told. So… tell it.

What are some non-nature favorites in the area?
Gunnar: Clark’s Bistro and Pub in Downtown Hillsboro is a new spot that we really like. Of course, Helvetia Tavern for the big burger is a must visit. I also love going to the Hillsboro Farmer’s Market. Then there’s the Intel Oregon International Air Show. I also have a lot of memories with my own father, who passed away in 2003, playing golf at Meriwether National Golf Club and Sunset Grove Golf Course.

We hope you’re inspired to take a photography getaway in the Tualatin Valley! Be sure to share your Instagram pics with the #tualatinvalley hashtag!

nature photography on instagram

Gunnar and Kira Simonsen choose photographing the Tualatin Valley as their father-daughter bonding activity of choice!


Tualatin River Bird Festival Itinerary

Posted on: May 6th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Ca-caw! Hoot hoot! Tweet tweet! No matter how we say it, the May 16 Tualatin River Bird Festival at Sherwood’s Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge is coming to. Novice and veteran wildlife watchers love event, which is heightened by our itinerary for it!

Friday May 15
The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport is excited to host attendees of the Tualatin River Bird Festival—read their tips!

Near the hotel is Cabela’s World’s Forestry Outfitter for last minute, tax-free outdoor gear. Then, head to Hayden’s Lake Front Grill for upscale classics and a sunset view of the Tualatin Commons and its shimmering lake.

Rise with the sun for phenomenal wildlife watching at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

Rise with the sun for phenomenal wildlife watching at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

Saturday, May 16
5:30 a.m. Guided Birding Trail
Meet the early birds with a guided walk-and-talk with expert Ted Buerger, FWS. Watch the world and all of its wonderful creatures wake-up and begin the day.

7:30 a.m. A Buzz of Your Own
That’s not a buzzing bee, it’s you getting your coffee fix at Sherwood’s Symposium Coffee and its baristas that have that magic latte touch.

8:30 a.m. Bird Fest Paddle
Go from dirt trails to waterways with the Tualatin River Bird Fest Paddle in Tualatin. Have a kayak or canoe view of neotropical migrant birds, including black-headed grosbeaks and lazuli buntings. Register for this event!

Noon: Feed Time
No worms for you! Head to Fat Milo’s Family Kitchen for biscuits and gravy because—after that paddle—you deserve it!


Catch a glimpse of heron and neotropical migrant birds.

Catch a glimpse of heron and neotropical migrant birds.

Rest of the Day: Festival Time!
Take full advantage of the Tualatin River Bird Festival and its decoy painting, archery, guided nature walks and more. What will you do first?

7 p.m. Dinner
Rally for dinner at Tree’s Restaurant. The treehouse-like setting fits into your day exploring the lush Tualatin Valley. Plus, this Creole cuisine is awesome.

Sunday, May 17
Ready for more nature goodness? A hike at Cooper Mountain Nature Walk is just the place. Cyclists can hop on a bike and traverse the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway, starting at Rood Bridge Park in Hillsboro.

Explore nature in an agricultural sense with Buds to Bottles at Gaston’s Plum Hill Vineyards. Plant your own Pinot Noir! For $25 year, the vineyard will tend to your vines and when the vines mature, you will receive a case of your own unique wine! Sip it while dreaming of your next visit to the Tualatin Valley.

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10 Can’t-Miss May Events in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: April 29th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

May Events in the Tualatin Valley
May is the sparkplug of summer fun in Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley. Whether you’re extending a business trip, tacking a few days onto a pre-existing trip to Portland or just want to plan getaway with friends, find art, festivals and sports to make May matter. See our top 10 suggestions below.

1. Art Walks

The Downtown Tigard Art Walk (May 1-15 on Main Street; free) includes an artsy re-vamp of the downtown area with new public art and bike racks made possible by a grant from the Washington County Visitors Association. Check out the pop-up gallery and a graffiti art demonstration the first weekend of the Art Walk.

2. Renaissance Faire

Forest Grove’s re-created medieval village, Faire in the Grove (May 2-3 at the McMenamins Grand Lodge; free), is a good excuse for history buffs and Game of Throne buffs to unite.

3. Cycling through Oregon Wine Country

The Montinore Bicycle Road Race (May 2 at Montinore Estate; $15-$30 registration) makes easy loops through lush countryside, while Reach the Beach Ride (May 16 at Southridge High School; $40 registration) offers a more challenging ride along farmlands.

4. Saké with a Twist

Oyster shooters just got more fun with the SakéOne’s Annual Oyster & Saké Event (May 2 at SakéOne; $15 per person). Pair fresh Pacific Northwest Oysters with different saké pairings.

5. Northwest Trail Run…with Peacocks!

Jog next to peacocks at Havoc at the Hideout (May 3, at Horning’s Hideout; $30 per person). Here, you’ll find some of the best forest trails in the Northwest.

6. Plant a Mini-Vineyard

Lay claim to four Pinot Noir plants at Buds to Bottles (May 16-17 at Plum Hill Vineyards), which will go on to become your own handcrafted Pinot Noir wine one day.

7. Spectacular Bird and Wildlife watching

The Tualatin River Bird Festival (May 16 at the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge; free) is a fabulous way to see and celebrate wildlife. Go from land to water with the Tualatin River Bird Fest Paddle, too!

8. Visit a Brand New Tasting Room

The Dion Vineyards Tasting Room Grand Opening (May 16-17 at Dion Vineyards; $15 per person) celebrates its new digs tastings of its small-production wines.

9. Play Cornhole for Cash!

Oregon State Championships of Cornhole (May 30 at Pacific University; $30 registration) is perfect for casual and competitive cornhole players. Warm up your arm at the Oregon Cornhole Championships Kick-Off Festival the day before at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. Online registration is now closed, but there will be onsite registration at both the Friday and Saturday events.

10. Mother’s Day & Memorial Day

Of course, that’s just a sampling of May merriment. If you’re in town with your mom, then take advantage of these Mother’s Day Events. Plus, take a getaway for Memorial Day in the North Willamette Wine Country!

Have a happy May in the Tualatin Valley!

May Events in the Tualatin Valley, near Portland!

The Best Mother’s Day Events in the Greater Portland Region

Posted on: April 24th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Mom. Mother. Mama. Mommy.

No matter what you call the woman who helped raise you, it’s time to show her some special love this Mother’s Day. Luckily, there is no shortage of Mother’s Day events in the Tualatin Valley. Choose from brunch, wine, high tea and active Mother’s Day celebrations.


Celebrate Mother's Day with brunch and fabulous wine at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Celebrate Mother’s Day with brunch and fabulous wine at Plum Hill Vineyards.


Hillsboro Mother’s Day Events

Garden Vineyards Mother’s Day Brunch
12960 NW Dick Road | May 10, varying times | $20-$35
This stunning estate opens its grounds for a leisurely brunch based on century-old farm recipes. Eat a sustainable, hearty lunch of eggs, slow cooked pork and Bing cherry sauce

Hippie Chick Quarter and Half Marathon
Hillsboro Hops Stadium | May 9, 8 a.m. to noon | $79 registration
The only thing better than crossing the finish line alongside your mother is having a mimosa placed in your hands right after.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Cornelius Pass Roadhouse
McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse | May 10, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | $16-$27
The cozy McMenamins’ spot has the famous octagonal barn—a perfect rustic-chic backdrop for your Mother’s Day pictures.

Tea’s Me Mother’s Day Tea
1601 B. SE Road | May 9-10, varying times | $25 per person plus $5 gratuity
Choose from the High Tea or a Crab Louie option—both are super fancy and will have your mother feeling like an absolute queen.

Portland Mother’s Day Events

Run Like a Mother 5k
Cook Park | May 10, 8 a.m. start | $40-$45 registration
For super active moms, start Mother’s Day with a heart-thumping 5k, followed by live entertainment in the park.

Nature Days: Roger Tilbury Park
965 NW 93rd Avenue | May 10, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. | Free
Little ones will love exploring local habitats, viewing how mother-child relationships play out in the wild.

Gaston Mother’s Day Events

Mother’s Day Brunch at Plum Hill Vineyards
6505 SW Old Highway 47 | May 10, noon to 2 p.m. | $35 per person
This friendly winery offers a five-course brunch paired with delicious wines from the vineyard.

What brunch, booze or beautiful view will you share with your mother this Mother’s Day? Any celebration in the Tualatin Valley will be sure to be a memorable one.

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Best Earth-Friendly Shopping and Souvenirs in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Happy Earth Day! When it comes to treating our planet nicely, small changes can make big differences—even when traveling. In addition to our eco-chic itinerary, we wanted to share a few sustainably-minded souvenirs from Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley.

Used Books

Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing is the home hundreds of thousands of used—and often rare!—books. If you’re looking for a special, early-edition print of your favorite novel, then these are the shelves to scour. What’s more, this Powell’s Books location boasts an impressive collection of gardening and homesteading books so that you can work on your green thumb. For extra sustainability points, take the nearby MAX station at Beaverton Central instead of a car.


Literary greats often walk through the doors of the iconic Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing.

Find rare and special used books at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing.


Biodynamic Wines

Alaska Airlines has extended its Oregon Wines Fly Free promotion, meaning Mileage Plan members may check one case of wine (6 or 12 bottles) for free on their Alaska Airlines flights out of Oregon airports. You might as well make that case of wine full or biodynamic ones that you picked up while wine tasting along our Sustainable Wine Trail. Both Cooper Mountain Vineyards and Montinore Estate produce their wines with farming practices that respect and uphold the beautiful balance of vineyard soils and environments.


Rudy Marchese of Montinore Estate is passionate about sharing the beauty, wine, and food along the Sip 47 Route.

Rudy Marchese of Montinore Estate is passionate about sharing his biodynamic wine-making process.



Shopping antique is a win-win as you score a one-of-a-kind piece without adding the same carbon footprint as buying new goods. What’s your favorite decade? Whether it’s Victorian or totally ’80s, you can shop by the decade at one of our many antique, vintage and carefully-curated second-hand shops. Downtown Hillsboro is freckled with sweet antique shops ready for the most die-hard and leisurely of shoppers.


Can you spot any Depression Glass from the Railroad Street Antique Mall's window?

Can you spot any Depression Glass from the Railroad Street Antique Mall’s window?

Want even more ways to travel with Mother Earth in mind? Find more eco-travel tips—you’ll find ways to support and enjoy nature just minutes away from downtown Portland!

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