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Watch Basketball and Shop for Tax-Free Deals During March Madness

Posted on: February 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
There are plenty of shopping options in Washington County to ensure you get what you need to send your kids to school in style.

Let your favorite college basketball teams score the best shots, while you score the best deals with tax-free shopping.

Come March, who will you be rooting for in the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament? If you’re lucky enough to be cheering on your team from inside Portland’s Moda Center during the second and third rounds of the championships, then make sure to create some good team juju by having a great time during all of your stay to the greater Portland region. With MVP-worthy lodging options, you can be a short drive from both the basketball events and tax-free shopping.

Book a room at the Embassy Suites Portland-Washington Square. Here, you’ll maximize your game-watching, shopping and leisure time with a shopping-themed hotel package. For getting to the Moda Center, the hotel’s nearby MAX Light Rail station is ready to take you straight to the action. And when you’re not watching slam dunks, this Embassy Suites is located beside the Washington Square shopping center, which is home to Oregon’s largest Nordstrom store. Of course, you can always pick up more game-day gear at the expansive Dick’s Sporting Goods. For those who have enough wearables, think big with a visit to the Washington Square Tesla showroom. Yes—it is as cool as it sounds.

Book a shopping package at the Grand Hotel at Bridgeport, which is one of the Tualatin Valley’s newest luxury hotels with modern room and suite designs. Between games, unwind at Bridgeport Village’s European-style shopping and leisure spot. The huge Anthropologie and Saks Off 5th stores are a shopper’s dream—except we promise that tax-free shopping really is the reality here!

The brand new Embassy Suites Portland-Hillsboro is a true stunner. The sleek, yet welcoming two-room suites are perfect for buddies traveling together for the game, especially with the free Wi-Fi and large flat screens for post-game stats. Nearby, The Streets of Tanasbourne offers stellar deals on top brands, including REI and Banana Republic.

P.S. Get even more ideas of activities to do while visiting Oregon for March Madness games!

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March Madness in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
With the NCAA Basketball Championships coming to Portland, make time for beer, disc golf and other fun in the Tualatin Valley.

With the NCAA Basketball Championships coming to Portland, make time for beer, disc golf and more in the Tualatin Valley.

March Madness is coming to Oregon! It’s free throws, jump shots, and layups galore as the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championships hosts its second and third rounds at Portland’s Moda Center. Because you’ll be saving your pennies for good seats and all the foam fingers you can get your hands on, save money with affordable yet deluxe hotel options in Oregon’s Washington County: The Tualatin Valley. Just 10 minutes from downtown Portland, your basketball weekend just got a whole lot more convenient, relaxed and affordable.

The Moda Center’s games are March 19 and March 21, which means March 20 is sitting pretty for a Tualatin Valley adventure. After waking up at one of our choice lodging options, explore a side of Oregon outside of the sports arena.

Beer Tour
The Brewery Hotel Deal from the Hilton Garden Inn of Portland/Beaverton can aid you in discovering Beervana. Upon check-in, you’ll receive a 22-ounce bottle of local brew and the option to a discounted registration for the Brewcycle’s PDXonFoot: Underbelly to Beerbelly Tour. This walking tour is accompanied by beer tastings, beer history (the best kind of history if you ask us) and a tour of the infamous Shanghai Tunnel!

Disc Golf
As the Basketball Championships have you watching superstar athletes at the top of their game, you may be inspired to work up a sweat yourself. Enter, disc golf at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. While disc golf and basketball differ in necessary agility, both do require hoops! We hear a pint of McMenamins’ Rubinator ale is a perfect pre-game ritual, ensuring a loose arm for all that Frisbee-throwing.

Food Nerd
The Tualatin Valley is the perfect grounds for those who are a triple threat: a sports nut, foodie and culture nerd all in one. Is this you? If yes, make March 20 all about the Geek-Chic Tour. Peruse sports memoirs at Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, have the best Korean dumpling at Du Kuh Bee, and revel in digital-age artifacts at the VintageTek Museum. After a day of exploring your diverse interest, unwind and rest up for the last day of basketball shenanigans—getting a good night’s sleep at the DoubleTree by Hilton Portland-Beaverton.  

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

2015 Oregon State Championships of Cornhole

Posted on: January 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


Mark your calendar, book your hotel room and start warming up that arm. The Oregon State Championships of Cornhole are coming to Forest Grove May 29-30! But wait…what is cornhole?

Cornhole: A lawn game where players alternate taking turns strategically throwing bags of dried corn into a hole in a raised platform. Also known as bean bag toss, corn toss and soft horseshoes.

Sounds easy, but—despite its funny name—there is a definite art to cornhole. It’s about stance, form and a certain finesse. Whether you’ve been playing cornhole at tailgates and bars for decades or you’ve never even laid hands on a corn bag, we want you to participate in this year’s championships. Hey, why not? The championships are open to Oregon residents only, and men and women of all ages and all experience levels (as in, no experience necessary) are invited to register for the championships.  Then, get excited for two days of fun in the Tualatin Valley.

With just a $35 registration ($30, plus $5 processing fee), this might be the most affordable and fun way to play your way to a cash prize.

Friday, May 29: Pre-Tournament Festivities
Join us at the McMenamins Grand Lodge for a kick-off event! There will be free open cornhole games, as well as pay-as-you-play challenges. See which McMenamins beer helps you throw the best. The event is open to the public, and you need not have to participate in the tournament to join in on the festivities.

Saturday: Championships Tournament
This all-day event at Pacific University includes competitions for singles, doubles, women-only, juniors and seniors. All players are guaranteed a minimum of two games.

Because a cornhole champion is nothing without a good night’s sleep, be sure to book a hotel room at one the hotels offering a special rate for the weekend:

America’s Best Value Inn and Suites
Best Western University Inn
McMenamins Grand Lodge

Get more details on local (and pet-friendly!) hotels in the area.

So tell us, do you have what it takes to be the Oregon state champion of cornhole?


Nature Passport: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park

Posted on: September 19th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


Come explore L.L. "Stub" Stewart State Park, using the Nature Passport as your guide to great wildlife watching.

Come explore L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park, using the Nature Passport as your guide to great wildlife watching.

What’s next on your must-see wildlife watching list? Whatever it is, use our Nature Passport to help you find it. The Nature Passport’s pages take you through all of the Tualatin Valley’s nature hot spots—even as the weather starts to cool down! Today we’re looking at a year-round favorite: L.L. Stub Stewart State Park.

L.L. Stub Stewart State Park is one of the most versatile places for outdoorsy play in the greater Portland region. With trails for biking, hiking and even horseback riding, the active-minded have fun exploring its 1,800 acres of green forest and earthy hills. While on the move, get ready to see an environment brimming with flora and fauna.

The forest is alive indeed! Let us know if you sight any of the following in the park’s deep canyons or on its woodland trails: Salmon Berry, Black-Tailed Deer, Roosevelt Elk, American Beaver and Thimble Berry. Add to the excitement in the park’s picnic and camping areas, complete with an 18-hole disc golf course and cozy cabins.

With so much eye candy around you, don’t forget to pack that camera. Whether it’s capturing a deer having breakfast in the morning light, the breathtaking view of the Coast Range or an artful stargazing time-lapse, share the best pictures from your visit with us via the Focus on Autumn Nature Photo Contest. Who knows? Your picture could win you a prize package of pro-photography loot worth $2,500!

L.L. “Stub” Stewart State Park
Location: 30380 NW Highway 47, Buxton, OR 97109
Phone: (800) 452-5687/ (503) 324-0606
Hours: dawn to dusk

Past Nature Passport Blog Posts:
Banks-Vernonia State Trail
Cook Park
Cooper Mountain Nature Park
Fernhill Wetlands
Jackson Bottom Wetlands Loop

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

stub stewart collage

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End of Summer Events

Posted on: August 20th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

We’re in the home stretch of summer, with just over a month until the Autumnal Equinox. We plan to soak up every last drop of summer sunshine and shenanigans. See below for the best of the best of the Tualatin Valley’s end-of-summer events.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Bask in the fading glow of summer, made easy with a Labor Day wine tasting at Plum Hill Vineyards.

Oregon Renaissance Festival
August 23-September 21, weekends | 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. | Washington County Fair Complex | $7.95-$15.95
Encounter a magical 16th century European village of knights, fairies and more. Bonus: learn medieval lingo!

WinCo Foods Portland Open
August 20-24 | varying times | Pumpkin Ridge Golf Course | $15
Don’t miss your chance to see the next Bubba Watson or Keegan Bradley battle for one of 25 PGA Tour Cards.

Wapato Showdown
August 23 | all day | Brown Park | free
Car enthusiasts show off their tricked-out cars and motorcycles with fun contests to boot.  

Labor Day Tasting at Quailhurst Vineyard Estate
August 30 | 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Quailhurst Vineyard Estate | $10-$20
Watch Quailhurst Vineyard Estate’s beautiful horses while sipping the winery’s fine Pinot.

Labor Day Wine & Art Show
August 30-September 1 | noon to 6 p.m. | Plum Hill Vineyard | No cover charge
Celebrate the long weekend with wine from Plum Hill Vineyards and great local artists.

Summer Festival at Garden Vineyards
September 11-14 | noon to 10 p.m. | Garden Vineyards | free
Live music, wine, and delicious food…Garden Vineyards does the end of summer right.

Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day
September 13 | all day | McMenamins Grand Lodge | free
The McMenamins Grand Lodge can’t wait for St. Patrick’s Day. Enter, an Irish-themed party now

Sidewalk Chalk Art Festival
September 20 | 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Valley Art Gallery | free
Release the artist within! Create a colorful sidewalk masterpiece in historic downtown Forest Grove.

Annual Corn Roast
September 20 | 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. | Pacific University | no cover charge
Feast on fresh roasted corn as a tribute to the last of summer’s harvest.

OMSI Star Party: Autumnal Equinox Celebration
September 20 | 7 p.m. | Stub Stewart State Park | free
Welcome the new season with a star party. Experts will help you catch a glimpse of Venus, Saturn and Mars.

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Golf’s Next Superstars at the WinCo Foods Portland Open

Posted on: July 18th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments
Expect blue skies, a green course and colorful spectators at the WinCo Foods Portland Open.

Expect blue skies, a green course and colorful spectators at the WinCo Foods Portland Open.

When people think of Oregon, they often think green. And this is not just because of the trees. There are also our premiere—and indeed green—golf courses. Tiger Woods even had a breakout performance at the 1996 US Amateur Championship at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

Eighteen years later, one of the caddies from that record-book match, Scott Harrington, will re-enter the same green as a competitor for the inaugural WinCo Foods Portland Open (August 18-24, 2014). Northwest native Scott will be joining 155 other top-notch golfers vying for one of the 25 PGA Tour Cards on the historic and beautiful Witch Hollow course.
Who knows? The WinCo Foods Portland Open may unveil the next Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth or Russell Henley. Golf lovers are encouraged to watch and see which PGA hopefuls have their magic moment on the Witch Hollow course. The tournament’s executive director, Jeff Sanders, said “The drama and excitement of the regular season ending Web.com Tour 25 Card event will bring back memories of Tiger Woods electrifying and historic three-peat at Witch Hollow in the 1996 US Amateur. Come watch the stars of the Web.com Tour compete at one of the best venues in the Pacific Northwest.”

The golfers are playing for the big bucks, but you don’t have to break the bank to watch. Ticket prices start at $15 and kids 17 and under are admitted free. Beyond golf, the WinCo Foods Portland Open will continue the fun after tee time with live music, as well as a free Sunday morning pancake breakfast. What’s more, your golf mania will be going to a good cause as WinCo Foods has committed to give 100% of all ticket sales revenue to charities and youth organizations in Oregon and Southwest Washington.
While you’re in town for the competition, you might as well do a little golfing of your own with the “It’s Tee Time” golf package, which include an ultra-comforting stay at the Grand Hotel at Bridgeport.  Good news! This is an ever-green package; so, it’s good to save for a fall golf getaway, as well.

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

Rosebuds & Cornhole

Posted on: May 14th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
After enjoying the Portland Rose Festival, you'll compete in the Oregon Cornhole Championships with rose-tinted glasses.

After enjoying the Portland Rose Festival, you’ll compete in the Oregon Cornhole Championships with rose-tinted glasses.

Whether you’re more of a gardener or tailgater, June 6-8 is going to be amazing with both the Portland Rose Festival and Oregon Cornhole Championships. The mix of urban festival and town sport makes a great start-of-summer getaway.

Friday, June 6
After partaking in Portland Rose Festival activities, escape to our vineyards and valleys for even more fun.

When booking your accommodations—be sure to use cornhole hotel deals to receive a $20 gift card! One option is the McMenamins Grand Lodge, which is the location for the Oregon Cornhole Championships Kick Off (8:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.; free). Play social and “Luck of the Draw” cornhole tournaments, heightened with McMenamins signature brews and bites. While exploring the property, peek into the Alice Meek Inkley Room. The room is named after the woman whose portrait hangs there. In her painting, Alice holds—fitting to the weekend—a rose!

Saturday, June 7
Rise and shine—it’s time to play, toss and win at the Oregon Cornhole Championships (8:30 a.m. start at the Stoller Center; $20 entry fee). No experience is necessary to vie for the cash prizes! Learn more!

If you get knocked out of the running early, then make a consolation prize out of the North Plains Smokehouse Summit: Brews, Blues & Championship BBQ (noon to 9 p.m. on Commercial Street at Main, North Pains; free). The summit is more than BBQ. Enjoy a craft beer garden, live blues music, car show and poker run. BBQ die-hards can plan their visit around the schedule of judging events.

Sunday, June 8
Counteract the savory goodness of last night’s BBQ with Maggie’s Buns. The famous cinnamon buns are larger than a cornhole!

There are still plenty of Rose Festival shennanigans to be had, but we bet you’ll be tempted to stay in Oregon’s Washington County so that you can stop and sip the Rosé over smelling roses. Try the light and dry sparkling Rosé from Apolloni Vineyards

P.S. Register early for the Oregon Cornhole Championships!

Ride Beyond National Bike Week

Posted on: May 12th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

May is a lot of things. It’s flowers from April showers, that we then gift on Mother’s Day. It’s the smell backyard barbeques with cornhole set-ups to match. As May is National Bike Month (and this week is National Bike Week), May is also the time to plan an epic cycling trip.

You never forget how to ride a bike. More so, make unforgettable memories while biking Oregon’s Washington County. There’s a stretch of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway for everyone in every skill level, as well as expert cycling shops to help you get the gear you need.

Happy National Bike Month!

Happy National Bike Month!


Use National Bike Week to prepare for the Beaverton Banks & Beyond Bicycle Tour. It’s three months away—the perfect amount of training time! Use the itinerary below to make your bike time double as vacation time.

Friday, August 22
You may not want to drink before the ride, but at least pick a bottle to pop open after tomorrow’s race. The Urban Decanter offers a collection of excellent Northwest wines.

Fuel up for the ride with Izgara Middle Eastern Cuisine. A protein heavy meal of hummus and schwarma is more than filling. Plus, Friday night is a popular one as a lively belly dancing performance weaves through the tables.

Settle in for the night at the wonderfully eccentric and cozy McMenamins Grand Lodge.

Saturday, August 23
It’s race day! At 7 a.m., check in (though register here beforehand for $25-$40). The NW Bicycle Safety Council welcomes novice to advanced riders along a scenic 100-mile, 86-mile, 64-mile or 32-mile bike tour of farmlands and forest.

After showering , you’ll be ravenous, yet jovial. This is the perfect combo for jesters and turkey legs at the Oregon Renaissance Festival.  

Sunday, August 24
Before heading home, soothe the toxins from sore muscles with a massage and mineral pool soak at the McMenamins Grand Lodge’s Ruby Spa. Continue the healing process at Hippocra Teas. The staff there is well versed on healing tonics.

P.S. Check out even more upcoming bike events R&R, Pedal by Pedal.

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Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn #3

Posted on: April 30th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Unger's Farm Store is just one of the breathtaking rest stops along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

Unger’s Farm Store is just one of the breathtaking rest stops along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway

We’re back with our second 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 #1 and Wheel Turn #2.

After fueling up on strawberries from the Unger’s Farm Store, hop back on your bike to round the curve of SW Johnson School Road. At the cross roads, follow the trees on SW Tongue Lane; though it will be your nose and eyes that will be working overtime. The scent and view of dense trees lining the edge of the Forest Hills Golf Course is nothing short of intoxicating. Bonus: the forested ridge keeps wayward golf balls from flying into bicycle spokes.

Turning right onto SW Golf Course Road, cyclists are prompted with a choose-your-own-adventure moment.

Option 1:
The left-hand turn onto SW Blooming Fern Hill Road takes you off of the scenic bikeway, but wine enthusiasts can’t resist a  visit to A Blooming Hill Vineyard & Winery. Tiny yet mighty, the vineyard’s tail-wagging greeters lead visitors to the tasting room. Cutting back onto the bikeway on SW Fern Hill Road, cycle past the beautiful Fern Hill Cemetery (a slice of Oregon Trail history!).

Option 2:
Cycle the beautiful span of SW Golf Course Road, peppered with seasonal farm stands. We’re suckers for a pit stop at Blooming Nursery. With 1,800 varieties of perennials, herbs and garden pizazz, you might be tempted to balance a bulb kit on your handlebars for the rest of the ride.

No matter your path, the ride will be amazing. Every stretch has something unexpected and undoubtedly beautiful. Tune in next month to see what the fourth “wheel turn” has in store.

In related news, a pioneer of our beloved Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway recently received some major props. The Washington County Visitors Association’s Stakeholder Development Manager, Allison George, received the Oregon Tourism Development Award for her passionate work in developing and launching Oregon’s 10th scenic bikeway. The award celebrates innovative practices, sustainability, and creative problem-solving. Way to go, Allison!

Drum Roll for Cornhole

Posted on: April 23rd, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
cornhole shot 500

If you can throw a bean bag, then you could be the first Oregon Cornhole Champ!

Cue drum roll please…Who’s ready for some bean bag tossin’? Get ready for the inaugural Oregon Cornhole State Championships!

Yes—cornhole! Or maybe you know it as “corn toss,” “bean bag toss” or more generally that tailgating game.  Like a game of horseshoes—but with corn bags and wooden boxes instead of horseshoes and steel stakes—this party game has evolved into a sport of its own with practiced artforms, friendly competition, and a fan community to boot. Whether you’re a cornhole ace or total newbie, the Oregon Cornhole State Championship is a strong contender for a fun and totally unique weekend getaway.

Get your toes beanbag wet: Pre-tournament festivities
Join the
Kick Off Party at the McMenamins Grand Lodge (Friday, June 6, 4-9 p.m.). Before all the hubbub of the championships, come play in a low-stakes cornhole match. There will be free games, as well as “Pay-as-You-Play” options (that can lead to some awesome prizes). Loosen your arm—and your courage—with a pint or two of McMenamins’ Rubinator brew before tucking yourself in for the night in the historic hotel. Reserve your room now!

Serious Bean Bag Tossing: Tournament Day
Even cornhole players with a laissez-faire approach can vet for top spot in the Oregon Cornhole Championships at Pacific University (Saturday, June 7, 8:30 am. to 11:00 p.m.). And hey—why not put yourself out there and give it a shot? Especially since the tournament is only $20 per person, which includes a one-season membership to the American Cornhole Organization (ACO). Play solo or as part of a doubles team.

JUST ANNOUNCED: Cash prizes will be awarded to the top finishers in the two categories.

1st place: $250
2nd place: $125
3rd place: $50

Doubles (per team):
1st place: $500
2nd place: $250
3rd place: $100

Who knows? Maybe you’ll have the day’s lucky arm, winning yourself a “golden ticket” entry into the ACO World Championships of Cornhole. And even if you only throw duds, you’ll surely leave with a great story of a totally unique weekend. Register now!  (Must be an Oregon resident with valid Oregon ID to participate as a competitor in Saturday’s tournament.) 

And don’t forget to find places to stay while on your cornhole competition adventure!

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