This city has a lot to do and see, which means you could spend days here and not even scratch the surface of what the city has to offer. Here’s a list of some of the best things to do in Salem, Oregon.
The Oregon State Capitol
Salem is Oregon’s capital city, so it makes sense that the Oregon State Capitol is one of the top things to do in Salem. Visitors to the grounds can enjoy a tour of the building, as well as additional tours up to the observation floor at the top of the tower. The Oregon State Capitol is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm, and Saturdays from 9 am to 4 pm. Oregon State Capitol tours are free and can be booked online. The building is closed on state holidays.
It’s no secret that Salem is an exciting, vibrant city, and while there are lots of things to do in town, the Willamette University in Salem is a fantastic place to find a little slice of it all. Whether you’re looking for a place to host a conference, a way to spend time with friends and family, or even just a fun day trip, the Willamette University has something for everyone.
The campus is home to many popular landmarks, as well as loads of hidden gems for those who know where to look. Plus, the university is conveniently located close to downtown, with easy access from all major roads. This makes it appealing for visitors who want everything from fine food to great shopping experiences while they’re there! So make sure not stop at least once during your stay at this incredible destination.
Family Outings at Chemeketa Community College
Chemeketa Community College is one of the great things to do in Salem, Oregon with family, friends and even your pets. Start the day at Chemeketa Pond, which is a beautiful spot for sunbathing on a hot summer day. It’s also an amazing spot for birdwatching.
We recommend stopping by and taking a photo in front of the pond’s beautiful waterfall. If you’re lucky, you might see ducks, geese, swans and two types of herons here during your trip! Checking out Chemeketa Park is highly recommended while you’re there.
Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The museum has a collection of Native American baskets that date back several hundred years, which are displayed in chronological order from oldest to most recent. The artistry and craftsmanship of the older baskets is astounding. It would be easy to spend hours examining their unique designs and symbolism.
The museum also has a display of artifacts from this area’s first inhabitants, Native Americans who lived here before Europeans arrived. You can see the tools they used for fishing and hunting, as well as some weapons like arrows and spears.
Hallie Ford Museum of Art
One of Oregon’s premier art museums, Hallie Ford houses a collection of 7,000 works in several galleries. It features a variety of permanent and visiting exhibits, from 19th century European paintings to sculpture, prints and photographs. If you’re interested in learning more about the art on display, you can take advantage of a free guided tour every Saturday at 1:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m.
Seasonally, the museum hosts events like concerts, lectures and gallery talks – attending them is one of the best things to do in Salem, Oregon. You can also bring children to the museum for interactive workshops and classes on the first Saturday of each month.
Fun Stuff to Do at Riverfront Park Carousel
Salem’s Riverfront Park is a great place for families and kids. It has the largest carousel west of the Mississippi, a playground, a splash pad (in the summer), and a great view of the Willamette River.
The Riverfront Carousel was built in the early 19th century and has spent most of its life at the Oregon State Fair. It was moved to its current location in 2004 and renovated later on. The carousel is housed in a building with an observation deck on top. There are 48 hand-carved animals on the carousel, including horses, chariots, giraffes, ostriches, and more.
Bush’s Pasture Park
The Salem area is full of fun activities and attractions for you to enjoy. A wide variety of museums, art galleries, shopping, dining and entertainment make this city a great destination. Bush’s Pasture Park is a large city park in the center of Salem that contains many historic homes, gardens, and other attractions.
The park has 90 acres of grounds with a developed portion including a baseball diamond, tennis courts, soccer field, playgrounds and picnic areas. The remainder is a natural area with a network of hiking paths winding through it. The park also hosts the Bush House Museum, one of the original homes on the property. There is a fee for parking in the park during designated hours.
Minto-Brown Island Park
With over 1200 acres of land, Minto-Brown Island Park is one of the largest urban parks in the United States. The park has a variety of entertaining things to do, and even though it’s just a short drive from downtown Salem, it feels like you’re out in the country. Bring your dog along and take him for a swim in the Willamette River, or bring your paddleboard or kayak and explore the river yourself.
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Salem, Oregon, check out the mountain bike trails or go hiking on one of the many trails that are available. There are also several picnic spots throughout the park for you to stop and enjoy lunch.
Best Things to Do in Salem, Oregon with Kids
Salem’s Enchanted Forest has been a favorite attraction for kids of all ages since it opened in 1971. The 80-acre amusement park includes more than 100 colorful characters, rides, and attractions, including the storybook lane, mini golf, the haunted house, and the toboggan ride. Also, on site are a gift shop and food stand.
Gilbert House Children’s Museum
Salem’s Gilbert House Children’s Museum is a great place for kids to explore. It has hands-on, interactive exhibits that allow children to learn about science, technology, literacy and the art, all while having fun. Many of the activities are aimed at children ages 6 and under, but older kids will still enjoy it. The Gilbert House Acorns preschool program is also well-regarded as one of the best in town (and there are many).
Take a Stroll at the Vineyards
Willamette Valley Vineyards is an Oregon winery that offers a lot of events, including concerts and dinners. The winery also has a restaurant, two tasting rooms and a gift shop. The Willamette Valley Vineyards are one of the most popular Oregon wineries for wine tastings due to their large selection of wines. Many people visit the vineyard for wine tasting and then buy a bottle to take home with them.
Other wineries near Salem include Eola Hills Wine Cellars, Montinore Estate and Brooks Wines. These wineries have different events going on at different times of the year, so check out their websites to find out what’s going on!
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