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Tualatin Valley People’s Choice Award Winners

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

Do you use Yelp, Trip Advisor and the like? We’ve got one more authority to add to your go-to review resources. Enter, the results of the Tualatin Valley People’s Choice Awards. We put the power to the people with our open poll and received a whopping 858 votes. Check out our People’s Choice Weekend Getaway Itinerary, as well as get some extra tips on each winner below.

ABV Public House
Favorite Restaurant: ABV Public House
Why it’s so great: Housed in an unassuming Hillsboro business park, this spot is like a modern-day speakeasy. Instead of whiskey in bathtubs, find hundreds of bottles of beers and ciders lining the perimeter of the restaurant.
What to try: Cheese curds and green chili poutine—‘nough said.
When to go: Happy hour falls 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day.
Who to go with: Take your in-laws as the brews and kitschy décor give lots of conversation fodder.

Vertigo Brewing in Hillsboro
Favorite Brewery: Vertigo Brewing
Why it’s so great: With just a seven-barrel system, this Hillsboro brewery crafts an impressive array of standout beer.
What to try: Friar Mike’s IPA is a quintessential Oregonian beer with lots of Northwest hops.
When to go: A few hours before the Hillsboro Hops game for a happy-go-lucky crowd of sports fans.
Who to go with: Your sports buddies!

Ardiri Vineyards in Cornelius, Oregon
Favorite Winery Experience: Árdíri Vineyards
Why it’s so great: This Cornelius vineyard is the perfect mix of elegance and romance—without the pretentious veneer.
What to try: The 2011 Due Stati is in its peak drinking years right now. Salud!
When to go: A clear day, mid-afternoon will bring you amazing views of Mt. Hood.
Who to go with: Cuddle up with your honey around one of the vineyard’s cozy fire pits.

wine tasting in the northern willamette valley
Favorite Attraction/Activity: Wine Tasting in the Tualatin Valley
Why it’s so great: Just minutes from Portland, immerse yourself in Oregon wine!
What to try: Everything. Just try everything.
When to go: The North Willamette Vintners Association provides fantastic wine events in the region.
Who to go with: Rent a car and driver with a group of friends for an unforgettable wine weekend.

Remember, our People’s Choice Weekend Getaway Itinerary shows you how to happily go from one standout attraction to the next in one awesome weekend. We dare you to try it!

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!

 

Festival of Balloons Trip Idea

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

While you don’t have to travel by balloon, you can travel to balloons with the annual Festival of Balloons coming June 26-28. Just like the giant balloons in the sky, the festival allows visitors to blow off steam. Our itinerary outlines a great weekend in the Tualatin Valley, split between two charming cities that are just minutes from Portland: Beaverton and Tigard.

Tigard Festival of Balloons
Friday
Check into a Beaverton hotel, with the Courtyard by Marriott being one of many great options.  

Now that your home base is all set for the night, journey to Neighbors Night at Cooper Mountain Vineyards (5-8 p.m.; $8). Take a taste of fantastic biodynamic wine while listening to the Americana tunes of Chris Margolin.

As the sky begins to transition from blue to the pre-sunset pink, head to the Fireside Grill for a great patio and outdoor fireplace, along with inventive cocktails and scrumptious bites.

Saturday
Take advantage of one of Beaverton’s most beloved summer Saturday traditions, as well as one of its newest. First, create a breakfast spread at the Beaverton Farmers Market, which is the largest all-agricultural market in the state! With a full belly, walk to the Beaverton Flea to find treasures like refurbished furniture and sought-after collectibles.

Now that you’ve had your Beaverton fun, hop in the car and head to nearby Tigard—the Festival of Balloons is ready for you! In addition to multiple hot air balloon spectacles, you’ll be dazzled by the wide breadth of activities: craft fair, carnival games, beer garden and live music.

To prepare for a good night’s sleep, burn off extra energy at the festival’s Twilight Run 5k Run/Walk. Afterward, you’ll have earned your shower at one of the great Tigard hotels, such as The Grand Hotel at Bridgeport.

Sunday
Before you cruise out of town, see some old school cruisers. There is the Festival of Balloons’ car festival—complete with a competition in 30 different classes—as well as the Classic Car Show at Bridgeport Village (where you c an take care of any tax-free shopping needs, too!).

Clearly, the Festival of Balloons is about oh so much more than balloons!

Five Donuts You Have to Try in the Greater Portland Region

Posted on: June 5th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Treat yourself to Sesame Donuts, including their namesake doughnut with toasted sesame seeds.

Treat yourself to Sesame Donuts, including their namesake doughnut with toasted sesame seeds.

Happy National Donut Day! Portland is lauded for its epic donut game, ranging from the ever-popular Voodoo Donuts to the maverick Blue Star Donuts. If you’re ready to take your love of donuts even further, take a donut-themed weekend trip to Beaverton. Just a few minutes drive from Portland, the Beaverton area offers a taste of even more fried dough that, simply put, cannot to be missed.

1. Beaverton Bakery (12375 SW Broadway St, Beaverton)
This historic bakery, charmingly situated in Old Town Beaverton, is popular spot for decadent wedding cakes; however, Beaverton Bakery isn’t afraid to go into the realm of everyday sweet treats. Stop in for a full assortment of doughnut options. We suggest the maple bars that have a perfect glazed crunch that melts into a syrupy underbelly.

2. Donut Day (18295 SW Tualatin Valley Hwy, Beaverton)
Here, every day is “donut day” (our favorite). At first glance, the unassuming buttermilk bar may seem rather run-of-the-mill as far as doughnuts go. But doughnut-lovers from all over the Portland-metro area travel for this cakey confenction.

3. Lee Farms (21975 SW 65th Avenue, Tualatin)
A quintessential farm experience isn’t complete without an apple cider donut, which Lee Farm pairs with iced coffee from  its country store. For a twist on this classic donut, try the marionberry variety!

4. Sesame Donuts (various locations; founding location at 6990 SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, Portland)
Get a doughnut whenever you want. This 24/7 doughnut shop is has four locations peppered throughout Oregon’s Washington County (link above to its founding location). If on a birthday trip, then celebrate with an 18-inch diameter doughnut cake. While Sesame Donuts does all the classics incredibly well, its namesake comes from a toasted sesame seed covered doughnut that pays homage to the owner’s Middle Eastern roots.

5. Tigard Donut (12815 SW Pacific Hwy, Portland)
This “Tiger” shows its stripes with doughnuts made from scratch. If you’re a sucker for jelly doughnuts, then you’re in for a treat. Tiger Donuts is so fresh that your fruit or cream filled pastry is actually filled-to-order.

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New Art and Bike Racks in Downtown Tigard

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

How does one take artistic inspiration from a cluster of tomatoes in a netted basket? Funny as it sounds, that was the nebulous image given to the glassblowing artists at Live Laugh Love Glass when first conceptualizing the new public art that graces Tigard’s blossoming Southwest Main Street.

The end result is downright majestic—head to downtown Tigard to see it for yourself! The owners and artists of Live Laugh Love Glass, Brett and Natalie Vinsant, created stunning, light-catching globes that freckle the sidewalks of downtown Tigard. Each art piece is composed of 16 glass spheres contained within a larger metal globe. Marveled by what you see? Walk over to the glassblowing studio for a fun class where you can make your own glass masterpiece!

 

Glass art installations in downtown Tigard.

Just a sampling of the glass art installations in downtown Tigard.

The glass installations are part of an artsy re-vamp of the downtown area made possible by a grant from the Washington County Visitors Association. In addition to the art hanging high, the grant also made way for functional art on the ground level, as well. Enter the funky-fun bike racks and tire pump stations! These colorful new resources are a welcome sight in the cyclist-friendly city.

New bicycle racks and tire pump stations welcome cyclists to downtown Tigard

New bicycle racks and tire pump stations welcome cyclists to downtown Tigard

Lock up your bicycle outside of Symposium Coffee, grab a cup of stellar Stumptown joe and stroll the cute shops (and glass installations!) in front of you. Afterward, pedal or walk the Fanno Creek Trail. There’s a trailhead by Max’s Fanno Creek Brew Pub (perfect for a post trail brew).

The welcomed additions to downtown Tigard make it easy to have an artsy and sporty stay in the Tualatin Valley!

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

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.

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

Five Places to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Posted on: May 4th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
peppers mexican food

Pepper’s Mexican Grill is a Hillsboro favorite, known for its house-made salsas.

With Cinco de Mayo, we are salivating for a fiesta-themed lunch, happy hour or dinner. To be honest, though, the quest for good Mexican food is a signature part of any foodie’s vacation. Oregon’s Washington County has a vibrant Hispanic population that gives way to culinary hotspots. Thus, we present five can’t miss Mexican food spots in Beaverton and Hillsboro where you can enjoy during Cinco de Mayo and beyond:

Uno: Pepper’s Mexican Grill (976 SE Baseline St, Hillsboro)
As a 2015 Tualatin Valley People’s Choice Awards finalist, this authentic Mexican restaurant is as beloved as they come. House-made salsas and a full bar (for the requisite margarita) pair perfectly with the Pepper’s sampler platter, where you get to try a little bit of everything (hello, nachos, quesadillas, flautas, tamales and shrimp!)

Dos: Amelia’s Mexican Restaurant (105 NE 4th Ave, Hillsboro)
Rustic Mexican food in a cozy setting. Yes—that’s Amelia’s. This Hillsboro favorite has well earned its fan following with consistently stellar Mexican fare. Hungry? You won’t be after chowing down on the Burrito Loco, which weighs a whopping 2.5 pounds; though, some of that may be “water weight” from the signature green tomatillo sauce smothered all over it.

Tres: Ochoas Lupitas (9549 SW Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, Beaverton)
Ochoas Lupitas is a stand-out food truck. The small kitchen pumps out a large menu, including the ultimate late night treat: $1 tacos. Get the authentic cabeza, lengua and tripas varieties, too. Top each taco with picks with perfectly pickled jalapenos, onions and carrots.

Cuatro: Pepita’s Mexican Restaurant & Cantina (4190 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton)
Entering the unassuming storefront, patrons are gleefully surprised at Pepita’s ornately decorated interior. From piñatas to streamers and stained glass, every inch of the walls and ceiling is plastered with splashy flare. The standard taco plate is elevated with perfectly marinated meat. Any day can feel like Cinco de Mayo with a margarita or Mexican hot chocolate flavored milkshake.

Cinco: Salsa Market (4265 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton)
Follow your nose. The street outside smells of the cinnamon sugar baked goods lovingly made there. Besides dessert, Salsa Market is serious about marinated meat. Pick from the vast array of marinades, which pair splendidly with a bag of spiced, dried mangoes.

With these five faves, you’re never far from good Mexican food!

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

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.

Camp like a Girl Scout at L.L. "Stub" Stewart Park with many badge worthy activities at your fingertips.

L.L. “Stub” Stewart Park offers eco-friendly lodging with the best views of the Tualatin Valley.

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

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.

Barbershop Ballad Town Itinerary

Posted on: March 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Sound the harmonica—the 69th Annual All Northwest Barbershop Ballad Contest  is coming to Forest Grove March 20-21! Spend a melodic getaway weekend in the Tualatin Valley to find out exactly why Forest Grove is known as Ballad Town USA. With tickets between $20 and $22, you can see two days of top-notch singers for a song. See below for a weekend itinerary for you’re a capella themed weekend.

Friday, March 20 at 5 p.m.
Before jumping into action, check into your room. There are plenty of great lodging options that are close to the singing main event. Perform a quick change into some festive gear while tonight’s vocalists warm up. Here are some especially nearby hotel offerings:

Friday, March 20 at 7 p.m.
In addition to the competitive rounds of singing, the comedic quartet group, Snafu, will also perform giggle-worthy tunes.

Friday, March 20 at 9 p.m.
After tonight’s show, discuss your favorite quartet groups over a pint of beer at the King’s Head Pub. While nibbling on house-made Scotch egg or English pasty, you might be inspired to hum some English pub songs.  

Saturday, March 20 at 10 a.m.
Start your day off in the All-American way. Maggie’s Buns serves up classic breakfast plates, including gigantic cinnamon buns. Bonus: The cozy brunch spot is the perfect starting location for an early afternoon wine tasting session. Head to Apolloni Vineyards and David Hill Vineyard & Winery next.

Saturday, March 20 at 1:00 p.m.
Before heading to the 2 p.m. round of the Barbershop Ballad Contest, pay a visit to the world’s tallest barber pole. In 1973, locals to crafted and installed a 70-foot tall barber pole, which still holds the title as the world’s tallest one today.

Saturday, March 20 at 5:00 p.m.
Fuel up before the intense final round of the contest at 7 p.m. with a soul-satisfying meal at 1910 Main. Using local ingredients, this favorite spot updates American classics with a modern, upscale twist.

Sunday, March 21
Before heading home, play a game of disc-golf at McMenamins Grand Lodge. If you work up enough of a sweat, then you’ll be able to justify a sweet treat from Sugar Mommas’ Bake Shop (pssst…get the red velvet cupcake!).