It’s impossible to think of the Willamette Valley and not think of wine, so it’s easy to assume that a trip here with kids would feel limiting. Well, we’ve got good news for you! There is a ton to do in the Willamette Valley that is family-friendly, including outdoor adventures, local sweets, live music, and several world-class wineries that welcome visitors of all ages. So if you parents out there have been craving a trip to Oregon wine country, we have put together a possible 2-night itinerary to get you started.
*Note: Many of these places require advance reservations, so just make sure to book ahead of time.
Downtown Independence boasts attractions for the young and old(er)!
Head over to Independence at your convenience.
- Stop by Independent Ice Cream Shop and start the vacation off right with Huckleberry Heaven or Cotton Candy scoops for your upcoming stroll.
- Explore the waterfront.
- Stroll by the river and look for Osprey, skip rocks, bike, play games, or if you’re here in the warmer months, bask in the sun. Anything you like!
There is something for everyone at the Ice Cream shop, including more than 20 flavors of ice cream and dairy-free Italian ice.
Steps away from the hotel is Riverview Park, a great place to stroll, cycle, board, or goof around!
4pm: Check into your room at The Independence, put your bags down and take some time to shake away the real world. It’s time for vacation!
6pm: It’s time for dinner at Territory, the hotel’s restaurant. Dine on the covered patio and select from a number of gourmet selections sourced from local farms.
- For the picky eaters, we have grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, chicken wings, Mac ‘N Cheese, burgers, French fries, and more, just don’t forget the giant chocolate chip cookie for dessert!
8pm: Depending on bedtime for the kiddos, stargaze from the rooftop deck, or snuggle up for a heavenly night of sleep in our custom-made beds. You have a busy day tomorrow!
Savor the view and local dishes in Territory’s gorgeous covered patio!
Day or night, rain or shine, the rooftop deck is a great way to take in the spectaular views!
8am: Grab some FREE breakfast from the hotel and enjoy it up on the roof.
9 am: Head over to the Buena Vista Ferry and cross the Willamette River via boat. (If you brought your bikes, they are welcome on the crossing.) Explore the other side of the river, perhaps creating your own scavenger hunt or bird watching list.
The ferry is like something out of the past and is not to be missed! It is one of Oregon’s oldest continuously operated ferries and is free to pedestrians, $1 for a bicycle and $3 for vehicles.
11am: It’s time for wine tasting at Brooks Winery.
- The adults get to taste, while the kids can visit (and even feed!) the chickens on the property or play a game of corn hole or darts.
- A full menu is available for all members of the party. We recommend grabbing some lunch here.
What do you call a bunch of chickens playing hide and seek? Foul play!
Checkout their website for the rotating menu as well as monthly wine pairings.
12:30pm: Enjoy a local outdoor activity and see for yourself why the area has such a famous reputation for its natural splendor.
- During the summer months, we recommend floating down the Willamette River. (Inner Tubes can be purchased at most Fred Meyers or Outdoor shops.)
- There’s a reason this section of the Willamette is dubbed “the lazy river.” Gentle currents and no rapids make for a calm ride, and a drop off point directly in front of the hotel makes for a convenient afternoon.
- Other summer options include paddle boarding, swimming, and fishing.
- If you’re visiting in the spring, check out the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for stunning views of the colorful tulip fields, carnival rides for kids, and local vendors selling snacks like corn dogs, elephant ears, roasted corn on the cob, and funnel cake.
- For the fall and winter travelers, we recommend hiking. There are countless of local spots by the hotel, but if you’re up for a 50-minute drive, Silver Falls State Park is a must.
- This hike (which can include 2-10 waterfalls, depending on the loop you take) has been the dubbed “the best kept secret of Oregon,” by Intentional Travelers, and the breathtaking scenery has outdoor enthusiasts returning time and time again.
There are numerous places to float along the Willamette River though you can put in right in front of the hotel and take a leisurely trip down to Social Security Fishing hole.
With 40 acres of tulips, over 200 acres of outdoor space, and activities, the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival is one of the top spring attractions in the state.
Come for the tulips and stay for the children’s play area, baloon artist, wooden shoe making demonstrations, market, and food trucks!
The Silver Falls Nature Play Area has animal themed play areas with each dedicated to a certain animal, including bears, cougars, and crows.
Choose a longer hike or hit the prettiest falls on the under 1-kilometer North Falls Lookout trail.
4pm: Return to the hotel and relax before dinner. (Nap time, anyone? And yes, I mean the parents.)
6pm: Time for dinner at one of Independence’s many local eateries.
- Or, of course, you can always join us at Territory again!
7:30pm: Check out (or ask our front desk about) any local events happening that night.
- If you’re here in the summer, Independence offers free movies and concerts in the park.
- Independence also goes all out for several holidays including Fourth of July and Halloween.
- If you’re here in the winter, make sure to experience the winter lights show!
- When in doubt, check out Jubilee or Melting Pot for some dessert.
9pm: Head back to the room to relax, play a game, watch a movie, or sleep.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at Jubilee!
Check out the Independence Ampitheater website for the summer events calendar.
**Bonus early option**
5am: From April-September, take a hot air balloon ride over the Willamette Valley with Vista Balloon Adventures. See the Vineyards from a height, and watch the sun rise. There is no age limit, but riders must be at least 40-inches tall, so for those with younger kids, that might be something to consider for a future year.
Either way, the adventure continues…
The dazzling views will be worth the early morning wake up!
Each trip is approximately an hour long and will take you over the Willamette Valley while you gaze out at wine country, mountain peaks and volcanos, the river below, and up to five other balloons flying with you.
11am: Brunch at The Pink House Café
- See if the kids can spot it first. (Hint, hint… it’s pink.)
- Pink House Café has an entire menu designed for kids, offering selections from Pancakes, PB&Js, and Chicken Nuggets, to buttered noodles or pasta with marinara. (Don’t worry though; there are plenty of options for adult diners too!)
This cozy cafe is an over 80-year-old former house.
12:30: Time for one more winery! (After all, you are in wine country!)
- This time, head over Airlie Winery.
- One of the most welcoming and charming vineyards near Independence, this all-female owned winery welcomes children (and dogs!).
- You might see the two official Airlie doggies saying hi to everyone on the property, or going for a swim in the pond on those warmer days.
- Airlie allows patrons to bring their own food, so parents can pack kid-friendly lunches and sip as the kids explore the property.
Depending on how old your kids are, we have TWO options for your final afternoon of vacation…
The enchanting landscape of Airlie makes for an unforegettable experience!
Airlie’s canine ambassadors are always eager to welcome visitors!
For younger kids…
- Head over to Salem and take a ride in the famous Salem Carousel.
- Rides are only $1.50 each, or you can purchase an unlimited ticket for $10
- Check out the website for more information and specials.
3:30: While in Salem, make one final stop at The Gilbert House Children’s Museum, which offers opportunities to craft and play games.
The handcrafted carousel was built by an army of volunteers and community partners, taking nearly six years to finish.
For older kids…
2pm: Turn your last day into an epic adventure and head over to Enchanted Forest.
- Only 22 minutes from the hotel, Enchanted Forest includes rides, games, sweets, and even a haunted house! (Optional, of course.)
It’s now time to head home, but your second trip to Independence awaits whenever you’re ready. We hope you had a great time and we can’t wait to host you again!
The Museum is named after Salem native, A.C. Gilbert, an extraordinary scholar, inventor, Olympic athlete and gold medalist, entrepreneur, and magician. Gilbert was the proud inventor of the Erector Set!
Float through an old logging mill and up in the trees to end in a 40 foot drop to spectacular splashdown!
The Witch and other storybook characters have been entertaining and serving as an ideal photo-op since the park opened over forty years ago.