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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.

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!

Nature Passport: Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge

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

 

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge's Wildlife Center includes lookouts, exhibits and a nature store.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge’s Wildlife Center includes lookouts, exhibits and a nature store.

Sometimes, we must go beyond the boundaries of our homes to find refuge. We mean refuge here in the metaphorical sense, feeling comfort, safety and a much-needed respite from a loud world. For your next refuge, make like the birds and head to the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge. A quick drive from downtown Portland, the buzz of the urban world is replaced by gentle pitter-patters of a natural one.

Those pitter-patters come from the nearly 200 species of birds, 50 species of mammals and 25 species of amphibians and reptiles that take their own refuges here throughout the year. Keep a look out for ducks (and their spring ducklings), songbirds, coyotes, hawks and even an eagle rearing its young in a magnificent eagles. Bring your binoculars, your camera (so you can take pictures like the winner of our Instagram contest) and your Nature Passport. Don’t have a Nature Passport yet?—order a complimentary copy now! This handy guide to the Tualatin Valley’s 727 square miles of nature spots encourages outdoor lovers to seek out the best wildlife watching with stamps to be collected at 10 different locations. A rubber stamp print of a cooper’s hawk will be waiting for you at the wildlife center of the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge.

For a full weekend of wildlife wonder, plan your stay–or extend your visit–in the Tualatin Valley during the May 16 Tualatin River Bird Festival, which celebrates all things bird with guided tours, decoy paintings, casting clinics and more. Year-round, there’s the wildlife watching itinerary. The first stop is the Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge—which we’ve hopefully sold you on—followed by more wetlands, sweeping views and beautiful birds at Cook Park, Jackson Bottom Wetlands and Cooper Mountain Nature Park.

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge at sunset

The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge at sunset.

Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge
Location: 19255 SW Pacific Highway, Sherwood, OR 97140
Phone: (503) 625-5944
Refuge Hours: Dawn to dusk daily
Wildlife Center Hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10 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
Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center
Tualatin River

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

Nature Passport: Tualatin River

Posted on: February 25th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

tualatin river

Splish-splash, I was takin’ a…paddle! The Tualatin Valley’s landscape wouldn’t be complete without the water habitats of wetlands and rivers. Order a free copy of our Nature Passport—a complete guide of wildlife and outdoor attractions in the area—for information on the best river access points and the creatures you’ll encounter there.

The Tualatin River is a calming, yet driving force running throughout the length of the Tualatin Valley. The water trail is home to all sorts of local animals, including Great Blue Heron and Green Heron and Ospreys. It’s no wonder that these fish-eating birds hangout by the riverbed as so many cutthroat trout and steelhead swim under the river’s soft current.

Before modern roads were paved throughout the region, the Tualatin River use to carry steamboats full of local crops. While you won’t find a steamboat chugging along the river today, kayaks and canoes are a welcomed sight. In the summer months, the Tualatin Riverkeepers provide boat rentals out of Cook Park.  Through winter and spring, you can stop along the river’s picnic points for a peaceful lunch date. Share your picnic outing via the Winter Wonder Instagram Photo Contest!

For those planning ahead, pencil in these fantastic annual Tualatin River Events:

Tualatin River Bird Fest Paddle
May 16 | Bridge Boat Launch | 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. | free to $50

Tualatin River Discovery Day Paddle
June 27 | Tualatin Community Park | 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. | free to $30

A MidSummer Night Paddle
July 18 | Tualatin Community Park | 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. | $10 to $50

Fall Colors Paddle
October 3 | Browns Ferry Park | 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. | $10 to $50

Tualatin River’s Cook Park Entry Point
Location: 17005 SW 92nd Ave, Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: (503) 218-2580
Trail Hours: open year-round
Riverkeeper hours: July-September, Friday-Sunday from 9 a.m. to 7 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
Tualatin Hills Nature Park and Interpretive Center

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

Five Great Playgrounds in the Tualatin Valley

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nature Passport: Cook Park

Posted on: May 21st, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Relax in the gazebo at Cook Park, keeping an eye out for colorful birds, insects, and butterflies.

Relax in the gazebo at Cook Park, keeping an eye out for colorful birds, insects, and butterflies.

There are 727 square miles of outdoorsy wonders in Oregon’s Washington County and Cook Park occupies 79 glorious acres of them.  With so much land to cover in just one park, it’s hard to know where to start. Enter, the Nature Passport. Don’t let its handy, little size mislead you—this guide is jam-packed with useful information on Cook Park and other outdoor attractions.

How do you connect with nature? Whether it’s by a kayak ride, bird watching or frolicking in a butterfly garden, Cook Park has it. Adjacent to the Tualatin River Wetlands—a prime place to spot woodpeckers and owls—the Tupling Butterfly Garden is brimming with dozens of flowers to attract curious folks, hungry insects and fluttering butterflies. A quaint gazebo stands at one end as a restful spot to watch butterflies dance between lavender and black-eyed Susans.

If you can tear yourself away from the butterfly garden, then explore the other 2.5 miles of trails, which include the Ki-a-Kuts pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The bridge is named after the last chief of Atfalati Native American tribe, who held a deep connection to the Tualatin River. Today, the river is still much loved with canoe and kayak rentals available during the summer months from the Tualatin Riverkeepers.

While Cook Park makes for a lovely Sunday picnic, it’s just as wonderful for a merry jubilee. The Festival of Balloons is exactly that (June 20-22). Each day of the festival includes a 5:45 a.m. hot air balloon launch, creating a whimsical spectacle of hot air balloons gently swaying over the Tualatin Valley. Cook Park then transforms into a thriving carnival with crafts, games, car shows and even a beer garden!   

So, how will you connect with nature at Cook Park?

Cook Park
Location: 17005 SW 92nd Avenue, Tigard, OR 97224
Phone: (503) 718-2591
Hours: Dawn to dusk daily

Past Nature Passport Blog Post: Banks-Vernonia State Trail

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

Eighth Oregon Wonder

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

Are the Seven Wonders of the World on your bucket list? How about the Seven Wonders of Oregon? When it comes to Oregon’s Seven Wonders, why see just one? In fact, it’s quite easy to plan a getaway to see both Oregon Wonders of the Oregon Coast and Mt. Hood, using Oregon’s Washington County as the equally-as-beautiful hub between them.

Just 64 miles from the Mt. Hood, you can make it to Oregon’s Washington Country in under an hour-and-a-half. Go from skiing on the mountain to drinking spectacular Oregon Wine in the Tualatin Valley.  For a no-stress day or wine tasting, book the Beer & Wine Hotel Package with the McMenamins Grand Lodge. The package includes lodging for two at McMenamins’ charming and historical property, transportation to and wine tastings with Grape Escape Winery Tours, as well as two hearty meals at the lodge. Pick a bottle from each winery you visit to create a make-your-own case. If you fly through Alaska Airlines, then you can check the whole case for no extra charge. Yes—that’s right. With the Wines Fly Free promotion, you can bring home a whopping 12 bottles of our finest wine without the hefty shipping fee. If that’s not the eighth Oregon Wonder, then we don’t know what is!

If your legs are still sore from your day on the slopes, then give your arms a workout instead. During summer months, the Tualatin Riverkeepers rent canoes and kayaks at Tigard’s Cook Park boat launch on Saturdays and Sundays through September. There’s also an Alder Creek’s Tualatin rental location at Brown’s Ferry Park where river-lovers can rent canoes, as well as single and tandem recreational kayaks. All this time on the lazy and relaxing Tualatin River should whet your appetite for the next Oregon wonder on your list: the Oregon Coast. Only 75 miles from the Cannon Beach and Seaside alike, Oregon’s Washington County is a perfect connecting point between the glorious peak of Mt. Hood to the sea-level of the State’s shorelines. With the lush vineyards and rivers between the two, it’d be a traveling travesty to not spend time in Oregon’s Washington County, as well.

The wonders of Oregon included David Hill Vineyard & Winery and the Tualatin River

The wonders of Oregon included David Hill Vineyard & Winery and the Tualatin River.

 

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

Ask a Local: Sheri Wantland

Posted on: April 28th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Sustainable, preservation-focused wetlands are Sheri Wantland's mission...and showing visitors a good time!

Sheri Wantland of Clean Water Services and the Fernhill Wetlands gives visitors her inside scoop on Oregon’s Washington County

When it comes to vacation planning, nothing is more valuable than the local scoop. So, we turned to Sheri Wantland, Public Involvement Coordinator at Clean Water Services. Sheri ensures the continued preservation and enjoyment of the Fernhill Wetlands. As a 25-year local of Oregon’s Washington County, she has the ultimate tips.

What makes the Fernhill Wetlands so special?
It’s one of the best places for birding and now Clean Water Services is creating natural treatment wetlands with a water garden, dramatic boulders, lovely arched bridges and trails designed by the world renowned landscape designer, Hoichi Kurisu.

What do you love most about interacting with visitors?
New and returning visitors are surprised to learn the natural treatment wetlands will benefit wildlife, water quality and ratepayers.

What’s one can’t-miss attraction?
Forest Grove is one of Oregon’s oldest cities with National Historic Districts, elegant homes and notable architecture.

Describe a perfect day in Washington County.
Homemade breakfast with fresh local berries, a stroll through the farmers market for fresh flowers, a hike on Cooper Mountain and lunch at Cruise In Country Diner. Then, stops at a hilltop winery for amazing views, a drive around Hagg Lake and through Forest Grove’s historic neighborhoods, a walk through the Water Garden at Fernhill and dinner at the McMenamins Grand Lodge.

What’s a “hidden gem” of the area?
The only genuine bald eagle nest on display in the world is at the education center at the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve.

What’s your favorite summer event?
Tualatin Riverkeepers’ Discovery Day is the easiest canoeing ever. You can’t beat the scenery and serenity.

Where do you go when you want some seriously good grub?
Maggie’s Buns has yummy home style cooking and one of her famous cinnamon rolls is a meal in itself.

What should visitors take home as a souvenir?
A lovely Pinot Noir from one of our many excellent wineries.

Describe Oregon’s Washington County in 5 words or less.
What more could you want?

Please note: to protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed at Fernhill Wetlands.

Previous Ask a Local Posts:
SakéOne’s Steve Vuylsteke
Bag&Baggage’s Scott Palmer
Vine Gogh’s Jenny Schildan

Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway: Wheel Turn #1

Posted on: February 26th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Warm up or cool off from a great ride at Rood Ridge Park.

Warm up or cool off from a great ride at Rood Ridge Park.

Cyclists are smitten with the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway and its 50 miles of cycling nirvana. While the terrain of Oregon’s Washington County is no doubt part of the bikeway’s power, any bicyclist will tell you that it’s the unexpected pleasures that take a ride from pristine to spectacular.

This is why we’re kicking off a monthly “wheel turn” series, showcasing highlights along the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway. And okay—we’re not going to take you painstakingly turn by turn. However, we’re thrilled to break this half-century ride into mini stretches of fun.

Many cyclists choose to begin (or end) their time on the bikeway at Rood Bridge Park and Rhododendron Garden, which is worth exploring in its own right. The über active can jump of their bikes and play a game of doubles on the tennis courts. Alternately, trade wheels for paddles with the park’s kayak and canoe ramp. After pedaling hard, a relaxed row down the lazy Tualatin River provides a nice respite.  For just a quick-stop, spend a few minutes wandering through the mix of woods and wetlands, mapping out your ride on the picnic tables, or taking in the view of fluffy pink rhododendrons.

Just down the road from Rood Bridge Park is the Meriwether National Golf Club. The club provides a great opportunity for fun-seekers who want a short ride followed by a short 9-hole course. That pairing is sure to work up an appetite for ahi tacos or BBQ pulled pork sandwiches at the Meriwether Grill.

This is just one of a multitude of ways to experience the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bike Route. Start wherever you want on the bikeway—and complete whatever feels right to you. Next month, we’ll discuss the wineries and farm stands along the SW Johnson School Road of the bikeway.  

Road Closure Notice:
The N.W. Porter Road portion of the bikeway in Forest Grove will be closed for a film production event on Saturday, March 1 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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

Fuel Your Hobbies

Posted on: January 17th, 2014 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
What's your hobby. From bowling to antiquing, we can help you enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.

What’s your hobby. From bowling to antiquing, we can help you enjoy your hobbies to the fullest.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the best ones reignite an existing passion rather than try to force a new one. Your resolutions should honor what you love. Fittingly, January is National Hobby Month and we have tons of ways for you to indulge in your favorite pastimes in Oregon’s Washington County.

Biking
Pedaling the 50 mile stretch of the Tualatin Valley Scenic Bikeway is one of the best ways to clear one’s head for 2014. The bikeway is best for intermediate and advanced cyclists, but newbies can enjoy the 21-mile sweep along the Banks-Vernonia State Trail.

Bowling
Be the kingpin of your bowling team by practicing on vacation. The 42 state-of-the-art lanes at Big Al’s could be the home of your 300-game. Hobbyists of the gamer or sports variety go ga-ga for the big screens and exceptional arcade.

Collecting
Dust off that box in the attic—it’s time to revitalize your favorite collection! How can you not with two amazing and MAX-accessible markets rolling through the Washington County Fair Complex. First hit up Portland’s Rain of Glass Show and Sale (January 25-26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., $7 admission) for all things glass: glass appraisals, displays, and glass repairs.

The Funky Junk Sisters Vintage Flea Market (January 31-February 1, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $7 admission) is a favorite of Flea Market Style Magazine, Romantic Homes Magazine, and Flea Market Décor Magazine for upcycled treasures.

Fishing
Take in amazing views by boat or canoe. Hagg Lake has tranquil waters and (of course) beautiful fishing from March to November. Get ready to reel in crappie, bluegill, trout, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and yellow perch. Angler’s licenses can be obtained from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for $33.

Gardening
Al’s Garden Center helps gardeners keep their love of flora thriving through the winter with free or affordable weekend workshops for succulent bowls, indoor herb gardens, and orchids.

Is cooking your hobby? Get inspiration for new recipes with our soup roundup, combining National Hobby Month with National Soup Month!