You’ve been on the edge of whether you should visit Salem, OR or not, not sure it would be worth the money to take the trip. That’s perfectly reasonable, plenty of other places have tons of things to see and do, but Salem OR has its little charm that you should check out.
This is a list for your convenience on every reason that you and your family, if you have any you want to take, should visit Salem OR. You’ll be immersed in history before you know it, experiencing all the joy from days past.
The Reed Opera House
This Opera house was recently renovated to maintain and enhance some of its more worthwhile features, the bathrooms coming to mind. Its located right at downtown Salem and had its grand opening there back in 1870. So, as you’re walking down the fabulous looking area, you might just take a step in here.
To say the least this building has great historic value to the people of Oregon, and they also value it for the office space as they’ve been using it for restaurants, retail, and offices on the side. They’ve got all that room in that giant building, why not multitask a little bit.
Another little fun bit about this building is that it was added to the National Register of Historic Places, again back in 1978. It’s almost surprising that it didn’t register for that sooner, but at that point it wouldn’t have been quite as historic would it. The Reed Opera House is something that you guys should check out when you visit.
Salem Movies in the Park
You’ve probably been to a drive in before, and you probably had a ton of fun, as long as you could stay awake that is. The Riverfront Park along the Willamette River is an outdoor theater and is completely free, you just might need to bring a blanket or some folding chair to be comfortable.
It started in 2008 and is still going strong with its 22 by 13-foot inflatable screen. This is the exact kind of thing that I would want to go to if I needed some fresh air. Also, I have to make sure I have some popcorn and candy on hand, with a ton of soda to compliment it, so like me your gonna need to bring your snacks.
Also, a little insider tip is that you can make the park an entire fun day, have a picnic, play games with the kids, and then end it with the movie. If you do, you could get there early enough to get the best seats. The choices that you have is between a classic 80’s film, action, or a kids movie, it’s up to you.
Broadway in Salem OR
Sticking to the show’s scene is Salem’s little slice of Broadway. The theatre, Enlightened Theatrics has a lot for you to see and tons of tickets to give away, so your almost guaranteed a seat if you want.
Its directed by Vincenzo Meduri and is trying to give life to Salem through the “Spirit of Broadway,” and the new owners as he says, “have a first-class vision of bringing New York-quality live theatre, culture and entertainment and style in downtown Salem.”
If you’re a fan of theatre you can check it out and see if they have anything on par with Hamilton. It’ll make for a fun night out on the town for you guys if nothing else.
Salem’s Art Fair
This is a big one, for 60 plus years, Salem OR has been hosting the Salem Art Fair and Festival. It lasts three straight days, honoring every form of art that’s been created throughout history, and celebrating the ones being created here in the present, by artists who have poured their blood and sweat into their pieces.
The festival takes place in Bush’s Pasture Park and is nationally ranked as one of the best Art Festivals. It’s also fun to note that it is the biggest festival of its kind in Oregon, so there’s going to be a lot for you to see. You’re especially going to see a lot of different art, as around 200 artists have been included in the fair, featuring dozens of these pieces for viewers to enjoy.
It’s also going to be great for the family as beyond the art is tons of food and games for them to take part in. There’s going to be beer, food, music, and wine gardens every time this non-profit festival takes place every July, so you can schedule a trip during this to make it even more special.
This is a big one for all the alcohol fans, as Gilgamesh’s Motto is “a beer for everyone,” and their dozens upon dozens of choices backs that up heavily. It opened its door back in 2012 as three brothers, the Radtke’s, and their dad Lee took an entire summer renovating an old warehouse into a full-blown brewery.
When they were making their brewery at the warehouse, they also decided to have a bit of fun and made a smart choice. They included a restaurant to it, where people can enjoy their specialty beers and delicious food. It’s a stylish little place full of beautiful woodwork and metal fabrication, a great place to stop by for dinner after visiting the brewery.
The Deepwood Estate
If you’re looking to find some history, the Deepwood Estate is the place your gonna wanna go. All the way back, over a hundred years in 1894 the Queen Anne Victorian house was built on over four acres of gardens, plains, and natural trails right in the heart of Salem.
It has such a story to tell with every room, every step an echo of the ghosts that once walked the hallowed halls. It’s not going to be a surprise when you feel chills, ghosts passing through you as they give you an unearthly tour through it.
The Sunset Magazine has called it one of the four “best historic homes” in the west, so that’s something of a reassurance that your trip isn’t going to be a waste, this alone is going to be something for the trip, if you found everything else unpleasant.
You can take a guided tour by living humans, which is very informative, and they can answer any of the questions you’ll be throwing at them, and you will have questions, the house is just too interesting not too. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Homes because it was found to be so historically important, you can see how people lived back in the day.
Also, just a little tip, if you start to feel a little overwhelmed, you can take a stroll through there lovely gardens and the breeze to get some fresh air.
The Salem Carousel
This one is a little smaller compared to the others on the list, but it is on here for a reason, I mean, who can resist a beautiful carousel. Inspired by a family trip, Hazel Patton took in 1996, she found magic in carousels and wanted to bring it back to Salem.
She found the wonder in the wooden horses and the beautifully ordained poles she was holding onto. She brought it back for everyone to enjoy in her hometown because of the inspiration she found with her experience.
The town says that it’s an important foundation of there hard work and pride for their community, a gathering place for the town to come together for. It’s an amazing experience for you to enjoy with your family, ice cream and a carousel ride, a fun classic that can’t go wrong.
If you’re visiting, then this is a great opportunity for you. If you want a more in depth look at downtown Salem and need an insider’s view of the things, then you have the Salem Greeters at your disposal.
Guides from around Salem volunteer to be tour guides to visitors wanting to learn a little bit more about their town. They take groups of six or less and bring you to the most interesting parts of downtown and can give you explanations with their personal experiences around them.
A really important thing to note, is that they are not professionals and are not being paid, like I said they are volunteers and are doing this to be nice, so you can treat them like a friend showing around their childhood town.
They can also bring you to little gems around downtown, little experiences that you wouldn’t normally be able to see on your own. They can take you around to find them and help explain how amazing they are in their way.
You can book your tour on the website and you need to do it seven days in advance to give them a little prep time.
Willamette Heritage Center
This is a bit of history that isn’t as much immersive as it is informative, in comparison to the others on this list, but it is defiantly something you should visit on your trip, I mean it designated an American Treasure by the National Park Service. It’s been recently renovated by some of the best contractors Salem Oregon has to bring it back to its former glory.
The Willamette Heritage Center is a five-acre campus full history, and it contains 14 historic buildings that give a tale weaving their story of Oregon. A few highlights of the Center are the permanent exhibits and visit pre-Oregon Trail pioneer life, located in the Willamette Valley. You can stop by the oldest standing wood frame house in Oregon, and one of the greatest preserved Victorian-age factories. The research Library is for those who wants some records to back up everything they see, it contains records, documents, and photographs that give a picture of the past.
The center likes to give educational programs year-round, trying to spread the history that they love with music, and lights, and activities, so be sure to check it out on your trip, if you decided to go.
Riverboat Sunday Brunch
This is one of the most fun things you can do in Salem. You can take a leap back in time to enjoy the preserved beauty of the Willamette River on an authentic Sternwheeler which has been in use for decades. The Willamette Queen is the Sternwheeler that you’ll be sailing on and was created with the likeness of the Mississippi and Yukon Territory Riverboats with working paddles that push the passengers forward. It is something you’re not going to want to miss.
As you enjoy your brunch aboard the ship, you can view the natural beauty of the nature surrounding you. The staff are all really nice, and the captain sometimes makes personal visits to the passengers to make sure there having a good time, he also makes sure to make regular announcements if anything interesting pops up on your journey.
It’s a two-hour cruise for you and your family, and you can enjoy amazing food the entire time, it’s a salad, two different entrees, vegetables, pasta, and desert), and for the entire family, it provides non-alcoholic drinks for all the soda addicts. That mixed with scenery is worth the trip, it’s a great way to make some memories.
Ok, this one is a little surprising, Salem Oregon, the little country town that boasts about its history induced locations, is also famous for its cheese, and nowhere else in Salem is cheese most appreciated than the Willamette Cheese company.
This award-winning company has the highest quality handmade, farmstead cheeses in such quantity and flavor that you will be a cheese lover going out if you aren’t already one. It specializes in the big four cheeses, Cheddar, Brie, Gouda, and Mozzarella. The cows that they farm from are all cared for with great love and each one is in top notch health, which is great to know.
This company is a family business and they have put special care and attention in their work, they want t ogive people the best cheese they can make, and they certainly deliver. This on top of this giant list is an amazing reason to visit Salem Oregon.