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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.

Where to Find the Best Soups in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 16th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Take home a soup-y souvenir with a vintage bowl from Rose City Modern.

Take home a soup-y souvenir with a vintage bowl from Rose City Modern.

On a blustery day, nothing fills the stomach and soul quite like a piping hot bowl of soup. In honor of January’s claim to National Soup Month, we are diving into the greater Portland region’s soup scene. Get a ladle and dip into our soup roundup!

Café Classics & New Creations
When Banks Café says it has fresh soup, it means it. Freshly-cut herbs from the café’s garden prove it. The über crisp ingredients take soup mainstays—like broccoli-cheddar and roasted red pepper—to the next level.

South Store Café is the quintessential lunch spot, offering daily soup specials. One favorite is the chicken and artichoke, which offers familiar flavors in a new and tasty way.

Old Deli Style
East Coasters revel in the Jewish deli standards at Sherwood’s Rose’s Restaurant and Bakery. Of course, no Jewish Deli would be complete without a piping hot bowl of chicken soup with a fluffy matzo ball plopped in it.

Asian Spice
Portlanders are known to break-away from their urban streets for Beaverton’s authentic Korean food. The Oregonian even dubbed Nak Won as the best spot for kalguksu, with knife-cut noodles floating delicately alongside thin ribbons of zucchini and tofu. For a truly special dish, the Duk Man Doo Gook cooks dumplings to perfection in savory broth.

Got a cold? Pho will kick it. Vivi’s Vietnamese Noodle House simmers fresh beef bones, ginger, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon into a replenishing broth. Vegetarians can enjoy the flavorful tamarind soup.

More is More
Can’t decide which soup to have first? Start with a three cup sampler at Fresh Thyme Soup Company. The soup shop has old-time favorite, as well as specialties on rotation: chicken, peaches, and cream; chicken and pear; and mulligatawny topped with raisins and coconut.

Speaking of soul-satisfying food, put gourmand tendencies to a good cause at this weekend’s Meals on Wheels Crab Feed in Beaverton and North Plains. A $35 surf-n-turf meal will go toward millions of nutritious meals in the greater Portland area. Detox from the feast with soup!

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

Taprooms and Growler-Fill Stations in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 14th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
A super sleek set-up of taps at Portland's new Wine & Growl in

A super sleek set-up of taps at Portland’s new Wine & Growl in

Beer connoisseurs are privy to the thought that draft beer is better than bottled beer. While we’re not knocking bottled beer, there is some science to explain the often superiority of beer from the tap versus the bottle:

  • Kegged beer requires less pasteurization because it’s kept cool throughout its storage. With fewer pasteurization ingredients meddling with a beer’s flavor, draft beer is more aromatic than its bottled counterparts. 
  • Much like wine and other spirits, beer is often negatively affected by light and oxidization. A keg keeps beer in a darker environment with less air, resulting in suds that tastes exactly as the brewmaster intended.
  • The spout of a tap or keg has better aerodynamics for pouring that delicious, carefully rationed foam.

Now that we’ve sold you on the merits of beer from the tap, it’s time to plan a beer getaway! Explore the ever-growing list of taprooms and growler-fill stations in the Tualatin Valley. Oregon’s beer crowd is enthusiastically trying locally crafted beers—straight from the tap! Here’s a sampling of some of our favorite places for a pint or growler-fill:

Garden Home Growlers- The beer and cider options rotate on a weekly basis. So, there’s always something new to try.

Growler House- This cozy spot is dedicated to bringing a welcoming watering hole that fits in with the surrounding, adorable small-town vibe.

McNally’s Taproom- It’s Oktoberfest year-round at this German-inspired beer hall, complete with pretzels and frankfurters.

NW Growlers- This taproom stays true to its name with 30 taps of beer from, you guessed it, the great Northwest.

Orenco Taphouse- With easy access via the Orenco MAX station, you can try beer, cider and even wine from one of the 20 rotating taps.

Tapphoria- Experience beer bliss with a tap lineup that will make any beer-lover proud.

The Growlerie- With communal tables and a friendly vibe, grab a tasting flight after a movie at the nearby Cinetopia Theater.

Wine & Growl- A sleek mid-century modern lounge serves up today’s best brews.

Make this bar crawl even better by booking a Brewery Hotel Package!

What Others Are Saying about the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: January 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
See the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

Enjoy the diversity of things to eat, see and do in the Tualatin Valley.

As much as we love sharing our favorite tips and attractions to the Tualatin Valley, we get giddy when we come across others—visitors, travel writers and locals alike—feeling compelled to share their experiences in Oregon’s Washington County. Below, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite links from the past few months. Happy internet surfing!

Food & Booze

Outdoor Adventures

Explore Our Towns & Farms

  • The writers at Willamette Week are urban-dwellers to the core, but even they can’t resist Beaverton’s charm! They detail their favorite spots for Korean food, espresso ribs, and newt-tastic hikes in the “Happy Beaverton Day” article.
  • The blog Urban Fringe Living celebrates the corners of the world—like the Tualatin Valley—that are the crux between urban and country living. We love the photo essay of Smith Berry Barn!

If you come across some great writing about the Tualatin Valley (or if you’ve written your own!), then we want to hear about it! Share a link to the content in the comments section.

Post-Holiday Detox

Posted on: December 31st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

holiday detox collage
Confession: I ate a five day old Christmas cookie for breakfast. Like so many of us, I’m going to keep munching on sweet treats and sipping bubbly until the clock strikes midnight. Even if eating healthy isn’t part of your 2015 agenda, you might at least be ready for a break for all the decadent holiday spreads. See below for tips on a post-holiday detox in the Tualatin Valley; but it’s really more a refuel. You won’t be deprived of anything—simply replacing the junk with the utterly good.

Joyous Juice
La Vida Veggie has got some Life Force, literally, as that’s the name of their favorite made-to-order juice. The blend includes orange, kale, cucumber and celery. This Latin-inspired vegetarian spot also has chewable menu items, as well, like the savory walnut meat tacos or “kale obsession” salad. Hey, the restaurant’s motto isn’t “peace, love and kale” for nothing!

Voracious Vegan
Sweet Lemon Vegan Bistro was founded by lifelong vegans ready to share their love of healthy fusion cuisine at this Bethany area restaurant. Think wholesome soups packed with nutrient-rich vegetables and ultra-satisfying noodle dishes.

Magnificent Massage
If you ask us, a massage is a crucial part of any “detox.” Visit Ruby’s Spa at the McMenamins Grand Lodge for a massage and allow your body to release all the tension from the previous year, followed by a dip in the mineral soaking pool. You’ll feel like a new person for the New Year. Of course, there are a plethora of other spa options in the Tualatin Valley to choose from, as well.

Welcome Well-being
RoseSpring Center for the Healing Arts thinks big picture when it comes to physical and mental health, relaxation and general well-being. The holistic care practitioners can guide you through a rejuvenating day of massages, dance and even energy healing!

P.S. Take a look at our New Year’s resolutions you can keep.

The Naughty or Nice Guide to the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: December 22nd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

naughty nice collage

It’s a little late to change your status on Santa’s “Naughty and Nice List.” As you travel to the Tualatin Valley in the New Year, however, your adventures can fall in either the naughty or nice camp. Truthfully, we don’t care either way because your getaway should be as healthy or gluttonous as you’d like! Below, find our own Naughty and Nice List:

Nice

Naughty

Eat Syun Izakaya offers premier sushi and Japanese fare to those who appreciate creative, clean tastes. Not only is the food outstanding, but the heavy dose of Omega-3 makes it healthy, too. Cruise In Country Diner has all the classics you love in an old school setting: burgers, fries and shakes. Though—gotcha!—this spot isn’t all naughty with its focus on organic ingredients and healthy oils.
Drink  

Stash Tea has a flagship store filled with hundreds of delightful tea options. It’s near impossible to go overboard with tea and its health benefits put it firmly on the “Nice List.”

 

Bootleggers Whiskey Bar will have you feeling like a rule-breaker with its prohibition themed cocktails and décor. Feel like a bad boy as you order moonshine to sip in a dark, romantic corner.

Be Merry ME SPA will melt stress away with its premium spa services. The spa is conveniently located in Bridgeport Village, making time for both pampering and tax-free shopping. Glowing Greens is a 3-D miniature golf course with neon extraterrestrials lurking around every hole. The alien vibe will have you feeling like you’re in a scene of MIB. Don’t worry, we’re pretty sure the aliens don’t bite.
Buy  

Wine, wine and more wine! Why not when you can be nice to your wallet and skip hefty baggage fees with the “Oregon Wines Fly Free” promotion from Alaska Air?

 

Cabela’s has all those outdoor toys that you really want, but also really do not need. Go ahead—be bad—and get that sporty gadget from a leading outdoor retailer (tax-free, too!).

We wanted to include places to sleep in our Naughty and Nice list, but all of our hotels truly make the Nice List. So, book a hot deal for a luxurious getaway.

 

New Year’s Eve Itinerary

Posted on: December 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year's Eve dancing.

The kitschy, yet regal McMenamins Grand Lodge is a perfect mix for New Year’s Eve dancing.

Let the countdown begin—we’re mere days away from saying hello to 2015. With all the holiday hullabaloo going on, it’s easy to let New Year’s Eve plans fall through the cracks. But not this year, friends! We’ve taken the busy work out of the equation—you can simply use our New Year’s itinerary for a sure-fire good time and good New Year.

First, check into a room at the McMenamins Grand Lodge or one of our other standout hotel options. Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time!

Afternoon Bubbly Excursion
Before the sun sets, hop in the car to search for some sparkling wine to pop open come midnight. Though, you won’t have to search very hard—simply head to Shafer Vineyard Cellars for the Shafer Cuveé. Open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., the winery produces its sparkling wine in the traditional French champagne method, Methode Champenoise. Very classy, indeed.

Dinner: Small Plates on a Big Night
We’re looking into your future—near future that is—and we see dancing. Lots and lots of dancing. So make dinner light, yet delicious at small plates at 1910 Main. As the name would suggest, you and your dinner companions can share delicious morsels of creative cuisine. It’s a celebratory meal that doesn’t require a post-feast nap!

Party Time!
Back at the McMenamins Grand Lodge, a night of good music and revelry will kick off at 9 p.m. with  New Year’s Eve at the Grand Lodge. Boogie to live music from three different bands. Choose from Americana, rock or Motown beats.

Welcome to 2015!
Start the year off on the right foot, literally, with the ranger-led America’s State Parks First Day Hike at beautiful Stub Stewart State Park. Here, you’ll find fresh air and a fresh perspective.

Now that you’ve properly worked up an appetite from your hike, chow down at the Ironwork Grill. Using seasonal ingredients from local growers, your meal will fill you with meaningful sustenance for the first day of the New Year.

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

Love Language Gift Guide

Posted on: December 5th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

Find the perfect gift in the Tualatin Valley.

What’s your love language? By love language, we mean the way that you prefer to express and experience love. Do you connect with those you love via heartfelt words, actions, gifts, time spent together and physical touch? No matter how you express how you care this holiday season, you can best celebrate it in the Oregon’s Washington County: the Tualatin Valley.

Words of Affirmation
Words matter. Tell your honey how you feel over a romantic dinner at decarli (just say whatever you have to say before eating the polenta fries with gorgonzola butter). You can also have live theater express feelings of love for you as Bob declares his love for Betty in the production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas.

Acts of Service
For some, actions speak louder than words. Don’t just give a gift—make one! The glass blowers at Live Laugh Love Glass offer classes where you can create one-of-a-kind pieces in their studio. Even if your piece comes out a bit wobbly, the recipient will love it even more for its imperfections.

Receiving Gifts
Big or small, a gift wrapped in a bow is a lovely thing to receive, especially when that present is one-of-a-kind. Support local artisans and boutiques with a shop small mentality while visiting the Tualatin Valley, ranging from sweet little shops to vibrant holiday markets.

Quality Time
In the whirlwind of our busy lives, there is a love language that is spoken through not minutes, but hours and even days. Get in the car for a day of wine tasting on Sip47 Wine Route, complete with 17 purveyors of Oregon wine, saké and cider. Beyond driving the scenic roads, you’ll savor the time spent leisurely sipping locally made libations.

Physical Touch
For many, we have an innate need for touch. With adrenaline pumping after an adventure at Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour, feel your partner’s heartbeat as you hug each other in congratulations. For a more low key endeavor, there’s always a couples massage at the Ruby Spa at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

No matter your love language, we hope you have a joyous season of gift giving and gift receiving!

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

Ask a Local: Lee Farms’ Annie Lee-Bartelamia

Posted on: December 1st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From  left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

The Lee siblings prep for the holiday season. From left to right: Erika, Kara, Annie, Teagan and Tommy.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Anne Lee-Bartelamia, Farm Manager of the charming tree farm Lee Farms. Born and raised in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips!

What makes Lee Farms so special?
We are a family-run business that is a seven-generation farm! Our ancestors planted their roots in Tualatin in 1869 and we have been here since.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
In addition to our farm store and operations we are a kid-friendly attraction. We get to see excited kids come out and enjoy the animals all year! We have an amazing customers that we have grown up with and who are now bringing the next generation to our farm.

What’s your favorite part of the holidays?
During the holidays I feel like I get to connect with our guests on a more personal level. For each person that comes, I feel like I get to be a part of their holiday tradition, which gives me those warm fuzzy feelings that I’m sure a lot of people also get around the holidays.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Well, now we have Cabela’s World Forestry Outfitter; that is a pretty exciting given for a lot of people coming into Tualatin.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County with them.
When we have guests, the first thing we do is tour some of the amazing wineries. We are big fan of Blakeslee Vineyard Estate!

What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
When we are looking for a break from farm, we love to head out to Hagg Lake and go fishing.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Whenever we can’t settle on a restaurant, we head down to Bridgeport Village and see which smell pulls us in. I also vote for Pastini Pastaria so that I can some tortellini gorgonzola.

What should every visitor take home as a souvenir?
Every visitor should go home with an amazing bottle of wine, hazelnuts (covered in chocolate, preferably), Marionberry jam and honey.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
Four seasons of paradise.

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
Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross
Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin
Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Ask a Local: Urban Decanter’s Rebecca Kramer

Posted on: October 10th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove's Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

Rebecca Kramer, owner of Forest Grove’s Urban Decanter, shares her local tips.

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Rebecca Kramer, owner of the Forest Grove wine bar Urban Decanter. Having grown up and then started her own business in Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.
 
What makes Urban Decanter so special?
The cozy wine bar offers guests a comfortable atmosphere with a great selection of northwest wines, craft beer and cocktails. We also have homemade soups, panini and small plates. We have created what our guests refer to as a “Cheers” like place to gather.
 
What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
I love connecting with visitors and finding out their stories. So many of my regular guests are like family that it creates a great community around us.
 
From where do you get your cooking inspiration?
Two places: When I go out to eat and Pinterest. I am on Pinterest A LOT to keep my imagination in the kitchen fresh and creative.
 
What’s one can’t-miss attraction for visitors to the area?
You have to go see Forest Grove’s newest tap room, Waltz Brewing…Tell them I sent you!
 
Describe a perfect day in Oregon’s Washington County.
We are the gateway to wine country, so wine tasting is a MUST! I would also be sure to stop and eat at one of the local restaurants such as 1910 Main before finishing up the evening with a bottle of sparkling wine around a fire pit!
 
What’s a favorite “hidden gem” of the area?
The Wilson River. I love that river. It is so relaxing to just drive into the forest and explore.
 
Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Pac Thai doesn’t have one stand out dish, but five: spicy crispy chicken basil, pad thai, pumpkin curry, crab fried rice and tom yum soup!
 
What should visitors to take home as a souvenir?
This is easy! Wine!

Describe the Tualatin Valley in five words or less.
Outdoors, libations, family, farms and picturesque!

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca's soul-satisfying cuisine.

The welcoming Urban Decanter is filled with top-notch Oregon wines and Rebecca’s soul-satisfying cuisine.

 
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
Cooper Mountain Vineyards’ Barbara Gross
Abbey Creek Vineyard’s Bertony Faustin