Do you know where the Tualatin Valley is located? I bet you don’t, but you should. It’s right outside of Portland’s backyard. That’s Portland, Oregon. And it’s one of the most beautiful places to vacation in the USA if you like the great outdoors. I had a chance to visit this month, courtesy of The Washington County Visitors Association, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it.*
As I get older, I like to be outdoors during my life after 50. Maybe it’s because I spent so much time indoors during my 30+ years working in a corporate environment. Now that I have more flexibility it’s great to have time to travel and explore new places. Much of my recent travel has been international, so it was nice to explore the USA, especially the Northwest.
My plan included three days in the Tualatin Valley, about 30 – 40 minutes outside the city, and two days in Portland. It was a perfect mix of country and city living. Plus, despite all I had heard about rainy Oregon (and sadly the forest fires), we had sunny and warm weather the entire week.
DID I SAY I LOVED BOTH THE TUALATIN VALLEY AND PORTLAND ? DID I SAY I WANT TO GO BACK?
Yes, Yes, Yes! And you will too.
Welcome To The Tualatin Valley
“It is our pleasure to welcome you to our version of paradise, the Tualatin Valley. Ours is a destination filled with vineyards and wineries, u-pick farms, golf course, shops, main streets, festivals, restaurants and a variety of lodging options, and much of what makes Oregon a must-visit location,” says the tourism brochure.
Between my arrival on Tuesday and departure for Portland on Thursday, Washington County Tourism team members Sylke, Jackie and Ariel made sure I sampled a bit of almost everything (except golf since I’m not a golfer).
Upon arrival, I had lunch with the team at Watson Hall in Beaverton. “The casual eatery is known for its polenta fries, served with gorgonzola butter,” said Jackie. Yum, yum, yum. The town of Beaverton is home to big companies, like Nike and Intel. We didn’t see either corporate headquarters — they are very protected.
Jackie told me about Tualatin Valley during our drive to my lodging at the McMenamins Grand Lodge in nearby Forest Grove. “Tualatin Valley is situated in the northern Willamette Valley (WV) wine region, which was named by Wine Enthusiasts as 2016 Wine Region of the Year, While it’s a younger wine region than California’s Napa Valley, the Oregon spirit keeps people humble and approachable” she said.
“One of the reasons that wine grows so well in the WV is that the region’s latitude is the same as the Burgundy country in France. That’s why they are known for their Pinot Noir. This area in Oregon has cool nights and warmer days. They have a longer growing season too, so there is opportunity for a more complex flavor with the grapes and the wine,” she added.
Yoga & Wine Tasting At Raptor Ridge Winery
Yoga and wine, wow-o-wow, I can’t think of a better combination for a yogini like me. I was absolutely in heaven on Tuesday evening.
The Raptor Ridge Winery is located on a hill overlooking the WV. As the sun set over the vineyards, it was a beautiful spot to do yoga. The winery hosts weekly, all-levels yoga classes in its tasting room.
Yoga teacher Irene, also an accomplished chef, led us through downward facing dog, planks and warrior series, encouraging us to maintain balance in our lives. Annie, a student of mindfulness, and the owner with her husband Scott, of Raptor Ridge Winery, ended the class with a body scan meditation. She reminded us to think about “what your life is doing to your body and what your body is doing to your life.”
I was calm from the yoga session. The natural beauty overlooking the vibrant and lush vineyards relaxed me even more. Annie brought out Oregon cheeses and charcuterie to nibble along with our wine. I especially liked the Oregon Gruner Vetliner 2016, a white wine that goes nice with food, and a Pinot Noir 2014, with a spicy cinnamon flavor.
Raptor Ridge Winery is open every day for tastings between 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. In addition, they host a variety of special events throughout the year, such as Sunday brunches in the wintertime. They also have a wine club and host events for the wine club.
A Mellow Night At McMenamins Grand Lodge
Having stretched, meditated, consumed red wine, and flown nearly 6+ hours that day, I was quite mellow, ready to rest at the McMenamins Grand Lodge. It’s a 90 guestroom hotel featuring whimsical artwork and an eclectic decor.
I stayed in one of the newly renovated third floor guestrooms. Each has a private bathroom, and is named after a literary passage or book which inspired the artwork. The Lodge website says, “It’s a floor full of mystery and surprises around every bend. There are hand-painted headboards inspired by writers, and a Grateful Dead-inspired light bulb display.”
Lots More To Do In The Tualatin Valley
In the coming days there would be more to see and do in the Tualatin Valley including good eats with breakfast at Maggie’s Buns, lunch at South Store Cafe, a visit to Smith Berry Barn, and dinner at Yellow Llama, a Peruvian restaurant. Plus, a wine tasting and tour of Ponzi Winery and SakéOne and a mindful nature walk at Fernhill Wetlands. Ooh, ooh, ooh, and on Thursday, Ariel and I would be renting bicycles and riding part of The Oregon Trail. Stayed tuned — I’ll be sharing it all.
For now, it’s time to take a hot shower (so glad McMenamins provides big terry robes), and hunker down among the literary in a McMenamin’s big puffy bed.
Sweet dreams and ♥ to all.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: The Washington County Visitors Association sponsored my trip to The Tualatin Valley. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.