Weekend Travel: What I love about my home town

Wanna come on a virtual weekend travel tour?
Ok- Let's go!

I'm sharing my favorites around town, so let's get started!

Sometimes you live in a place for so long, and it becomes so familiar, that you start to forget all the  great reasons you live there.

After hopping around my city for an afternoon, visiting a few of the places I love the most, I realized there's really a lot to love.
Come visit the place I grew up in- the state capitol, Salem, Oregon.

I've lived in every corner of this city, and have great memories of life here.  
Now I am making my own memories with my own family, and I'll show you some of the places you need to see when you visit.

Salem is in the heart of the beautiful Willamette Valley.  
To the pioneers who settled here, it was the Garden of Eden.  
Lush, green, fertile land.

And as many people have discovered in the last two decades, it's a fantastic place for wine.
We are fortunate to live minutes away from several vineyards, and it's one of our favorite things to do here.

One beautiful spot that is just 8 minutes away from our home is Zenith Vineyards.  
The gorgeous views and welcoming fountain make this a popular spot for weddings.

Wine tasting is easy in the Willamette Valley because there are always several clustered together, and more just a short drive down the road.
I love the easy, laid back vibe of our tasting rooms.

Heading back into the city, Salem is full of wonderful historic buildings, revitalization projects, and fun coffee shops and restaurants.

My favorite lunch spot is The Wild Pear.
Fabulous bistro style food.  Everything is always fresh and unique.
The black and yellow checkered floor on the inside is my favorite.

I spent much of my childhood on this street (State Street).  
My dad had a graphic design business right across from the restaurant.
There wasn't a lot going on back then- now there are boutiques and businesses that make this a wonderful place to walk and shop.

Oregon- and the Pacific NW in general- is known for being a coffee lover's haven.
My favorite spot?
The Ike Box.  

that's me with my girls- we love to get together and catch up here.
Tiffany, (seen here in the hat) is the GM of the Ike Box.
Formerly a funeral home, it has been converted to a coffee shop, concert / event venue, with it's focus being on kids who learn great life skills.
The owners are great friends of ours, and have had a heart for serving kids in need for many years.
Their non profit organization, Isaac's Room, ties into the concept of the business, and it's great to support a place that helps others too!

Just a few blocks away is Willamette University.  
The campus is on several acres, across from the state capitol, and filled with beautiful brick buildings.

Willamette U. is known for it's law school.  
There is also a sister school linked to Willamette, Tokyo International University of America.  
We've enjoyed summer cultural programs that the students and staff offer, as well as the TIUA dining hall where you can have authentic Japanese dishes.

One of the events I love most at Willamette is the Lighting of the Star Trees at Christmastime.

We like to go with friends and enjoy a fabulous holiday dinner in the dining hall, and then head outside  for hot chocolate and gather around the Giant Sequoias as they are lit with string lights.
The choir sings traditional carols, and it is a wonderful way to start the holiday season in the community.

Across the street, is our state capitol.

The capitol mall is always beautiful in any season. 

I did live away from home during college.  
One of the spots I missed most was Bush Park.

Wide open green spaces, and even when it's busy, it's hardly ever crowded.  
Mature oak trees, playgrounds, ball fields, acres of green grass; all nestled in a quaint neighborhood full of cottages and bungalows.

It's also a great spot for family photos, weddings, and a romantic stroll through the rose garden.

The Elsinore Theatre is also a spot of local pride.  
Modeled after the castle in Shakespeare's Hamlet, the historic, gothic style theatre has seen many different forms of entertainment.
Growing up, I went to see movies here.

The Elsinore has a long but recent history of passionate preservation- it's stage has graced many celebrities over the decades, and is now back to it's original glory.
Stained glass windows, tapestries, and a 1500+ pipe organ.
Even the back side of the building is undergoing a renovation.  
This mural featuring silent and early film stars, has undergone a facelift and been restored. 

Not all the art in Salem is for grown ups though.  
In 2000, Salem's Riverfront Carousel opened to the community. 
Each horse was hand carved and painted by volunteers.
It is a gorgeous and fun place to visit for all ages.  Special 'holiday' horses are brought out during Christmas time, and other horses are rotated out during the year.
Jazz- a zebra, has been a long time favorite at the carousel.

The Carousel sits in the middle of Salem's Riverfront Park, which is another beautiful place to play and visit- all on the banks of the Willamette River which runs through Salem.

Thanks so much for letting me take you along on this visit of the place I call home!
I hope you enjoyed your visit, and plan to come see it in person!

Salem was recently featured in Sunset magazine in the Day Trip profile.
You can read even more on my hometown in their October issue.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual tour!

xo Denise

Let's Connect!


  1. What a nice post--enjoyed seeing Salem from your perspective. Oregon is such a wonderful place to live. We only make it to Salem once a year usually--to the fair and straight back home. Looks like in the future maybe we should take the time to look around Salem a bit more! :)

    1. yes- you really should!! Christmas season is especially pretty ;)

  2. Salem looks beautiful, I have never been to Oregon before and would love to see it. Chicago is one of my favorite cities and I could live there in a heartbeat!

    1. Thanks Lisa! It is such a beautiful state- you should visit! :)

  3. I love this. Looks like you live in such an amazing place.

    1. Thanks Val! It's home, and there are some pretty special spots here! ;)

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