Discover Oregon’s Outdoor Winter Experiences

Most know about Oregon’s lush greenery in springtime and the best waterfalls to visit in the summer. But countless breathtaking and unique sights are transformed in the winter here, offering unique and enchanting moments like raging waterfalls, active wildlife and beautiful scenery. So, bundle up and get outside!

The Oregon Challenge Passport

A great way to get started is to pick up an Oregon Challenge Passport, which offers over 140 locations around the state to begin exploring.

The Oregon Challenge was created to get people outside and active to enjoy nature year-round, including the winter months when the cold tends to keep people bundled up indoors. The Oregon Challenge Passport includes locations in Oregon’s three major valleys, 11 national forests, and more. The Passport also includes information about Oregon’s flora and fauna you might encounter while exploring! 

Once you get a passport, may the adventures begin! Check off each location as you visit, and don’t forget to enjoy local businesses and shops along the way. Challenge yourself and see how many of the 140 destinations you can visit!

The passport is self-regulated, so when you come across something or visit a location listed in the booklet, make a note next to the entry of the time and what you saw. Additionally, the Oregon Challenge suggests you make a new photo album to further document your adventures, and even share them on social media. 

You can get your own Oregon Challenge Passport for $10 online, or purchase one at Margin Coffee in downtown Albany.

Follow The Oregon Challenge Facebook and Instagram for news and updates regarding the passports.

Winter Adventures Around Oregon

Recommendations courtesy of The Oregon Challenge

If you haven’t visited McDowell Creek Falls County Park in the wintertime, then you are missing out. This time of year the falls are flowing full with water from the Santiam River. With over three miles of hiking trails, the park offers viewing decks and wooden bridges to The Royal Terrace and Majestic Falls, a few smaller cascades and breathtaking scenery. 

One of the more diverse hiking areas is in McDonald-Dunn Forest. Located near Corvallis, the forest has trails fit for anyone from beginner to advanced hiker to families, bicyclers and more. There are almost 30 miles worth of trails in the Forests, meaning you can visit countless times and always have a new experience. 

Talking Waters Gardens in Albanyis a great location for a scenic stroll, and even during winter the area is teeming with a variety of wildlife. Many of the ponds are drained in colder months as well, exposing features like “the weeping wall,” a former loading dock left over from an old mill that has water flowing over it in abundance during warmer months. 

There are endless sights to see in the South Santiam River area. If you’re looking for a family-friendly winter experience, explore gorgeous snow parks with skiing, sledding, snow-mobiling, tubing, snowboarding and snow-shoeing opportunities. If hiking is your thing, stay below snow level and traverse routes like Trout Creek Trail and Rooster Rock. Along Trout Creek you’ll get to experience the rushing blue waters and cascading waterfalls that become even more majestic during winter months. For a more family-friendly version of the Trout Creek Trail, begin at the Trout Creek trailhead, but take the alternative Walton Interpretive Trail. 

Yet another spectacular South Santiam spot is The Gordon Meadows Hike. While the hike is 8 miles round trip, there are multiple meadows along the trail where you can relax and enjoy the scenery and then head back around if you’re looking for a shorter hike. Or, if you just want a spot to enjoy winter scenery and spend time with family, the roadside pullout at Lost Prairie is a great place to play in the snow.

West of Albany, enjoy a view of magical Mary’s Peak in the Coast Range after hike along lush green meadows in Beazell Forest. There are two loops in the Beazell Forest area as well as multiple other trail variations to enjoy along Plunkett Creek. Hike through this majestic Douglas forest by taking the South loop trail, which will lead you through a plantation and into another meadow. End your hike by checking out Lumos Winery or Cardwell Hill Winery, which are both in close proximity!

Along Oregon’s spectacular coast is Cape Perpetua. The Cape’s popularity is well deserved, as its main lookout is over 800 feet above the ocean, making it one of the highest viewpoints accessible by cars on the Oregon Coast. Cape Perpetua is located in Siuslaw National Forest, and the area features 26 miles of trail possibilities to explore, complete with incredible forest vegetation, endless scenic views, tidepools, a geyser, coastal caves, caverns and more. 

Ultimately, wherever you choose to go in Oregon this season, there is no doubt that you’ll get a unique and beautiful experience out of it. Who knows, maybe winter will become your favorite season to explore our wonderful outdoors! 

What can we do in the winter? Plenty!

Oregon winters offer fun and adventure, from the unfettered views of mountain streams and waterfalls, to searching for architectural treasure in historic buildings. 

So, if you are asking yourself, “What do we do, now that it’s winter?” In Albany, Oregon, the answer is: Plenty!

McDowell Creek Falls County Park. Photo by KateLynn LaGrone.

Indoors or out, Albany offers a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. Take a day and hit the highlights, or make it a weekend and take them all in.

History

Albany is home to the largest collection of architectural styles in the state and self-guided tours are available with maps that show you the way through three of the city’s historic districts, providing short bits of history about many of the buildings and homes.

If you prefer an electronic approach, download the app, Albany Explorer, to your cell phone and access the same information, along with audio files for covered bridge tours and information about places to eat, shop and explore.

Covered Bridges

There are eight covered bridges in the county, five of them clustered around the town of Scio. A map gives you a route to see all five. Three more are located east of Lebanon.

Waterfalls

A must-see side trip to McDowell Creek Falls County Park offers spectacular scenery. Hike the loop to see all five of the falls, which should be in full flow. The loop is just under two miles. Prepare to hike some stairs and inclines.

A cozy table at Sybaris Bistro.

Food and Beverage

After a day of adventure, relax in the cozy confines of one of Albany’s pubs or by the crackling fireplace of Sybaris Bistro that boasts a world-class chef at the helm. Enjoy twice-Beard-nominated Chef Matt Bennett’s take on locally sourced and seasonal ingredients, and desserts to die for! Local wines are also featured.

Speaking of wine, visit Springhill Cellars Winery, which overlooks the Coast Range and has a tasting room featuring some of the best Pinot Noir varieties in the Willamette Valley. Tastings are by appointment December to April.

Albany sports several pubs and taphouses, each serving top-of-the-line brews and spirits. Try Calapooia Brewing & Vivacity Spirits, or DeLuxe Brewing & Sinister Distilling. Or pull up a chair at The Squeaky Cork, a Scottish-inspired pub serving tasty fare such as Shepherd’s Pie and Whisky Mud Cake, along with fine spirits and brews.

In Albany, winter isn’t the time to slow down. The fun is just getting started.

2021 Christmas Parlour Tour

Celebrate Christmas – from the inside – at the Monteith House and six other lovely historic homes on the 42nd Christmas Parlour Tour, from 2 to 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 12. 

Six homeowners have graciously opened their homes for this event, the first interior homes tour in Albany since Christmas of 2019, just before the Covid-19 Pandemic began. Since that time, the Summer and Christmas tours have been exterior events, with homeowners decorating their porches and yards and some offering photos and video of their interiors. 

Enjoy a peek inside some of Albany’s historic homes, which will be decorated for the holiday season. The Monteith Historical Society will also decorate Albany’s oldest frame home in the style of Christmas from the mid-1800s. 

Mask and distancing policies will be strictly enforced, and, as usual, visitors are asked to please not touch items in the homes and to not take photos or video. 

Tickets

Tickets will be available for purchase online at monteithhouse.org until 10 p.m. Saturday, December 11, 2021, and may be picked up the day of the tour. If you haven’t purchased tickets in advance, a limited number will be available on the day of the tour at the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave. SE, for CASH/CHECK ONLY. The cost is $15 per person. Well-behaved children under 12 are admitted free with a paid adult. Proceeds benefit Monteith House Museum.

To receive your ticket, which includes a copy of the tour map and wrist band, bring your Eventbrite e-ticket receipt on tour day to the Albany Visitors Association office, 110 3rd Ave. SE. The office will be open from 1 to 6 p.m.

Highlights

Participating historic homes and buildings throughout the Monteith and Downtown Commercial Districts will open their doors to tour participants. Meet the owners and learn about the architecture, the original occupants and the ins and outs of restoring historic structures.

You can ride a horse-drawn wagon to a few of the stops, or drive, walk, bike or hike the tour on your own. The wagon will start and end at the Albany Regional Museum, 136 Lyon St. S., where light refreshments also will be served.

Christmas music will be played at various locations.

Additional information

The Christmas Parlour Tour is “self-guided.” You can tour the homes in any order you like. Spend as much or as little time at each location as it suits you. Several of the buildings are within walking distance of each other, while a few may be outside your comfortable walking distance, requiring your own vehicle. Visitors usually take three to four hours to fully enjoy the tour.

And as long as you’re in Albany, do a bit of holiday shopping. Find unique gifts in antique and specialty stores. Indulge in a pastry or a decadent cup of hot cocoa, a frothy cappuccino, or a farm-fresh dinner in one of the many eateries and bistros downtown. Take a ride on the Albany Historic Carousel, which is beautifully decorated this time of year.

Albany’s Annual Interior Tours were created by a group of friends and neighbors to share the past through the architecture of historic dwellings. They are coordinated by Albany’s Historic Interior Home Tour Committee with the help of the Albany Visitors Association and sponsored by the Monteith Historical Society.

For more information about Albany’s Historic Interior Tours and other Albany events and attractions contact the Albany Visitors Association: 541-928-0911.

Top 10 Events to Bring Holiday Cheer to Everyone

Everyone deserves to make the most of their holidays and balance family activities with nights on the town and holiday shopping. Throughout the remainder of November and December, Albany has many opportunities for adults, kids and families alike to celebrate the season. 

Be sure to observe all Covid-19 restrictions when out and about at events or in businesses, including physical distancing and wearing a mask.

Family Fun: Kid-friendly events for the whole family to enjoy 

Hop in the car and take the family on a light-filled trip around Albany to see the beautiful entries in the 2021 Nighttime Magic Holiday Lights Contest. For a map of where to find these wonderful homes, go here. The lights will be up through Jan. 1.

Take a festive train ride and sip hot cocoa on the Candy Cane Express while watching Lebanon pass by during this hour-long holiday adventure. Hosted by Santiam Excursion Trains, the Candy Cane Express is a round trip train ride, including photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs.Claus and hot cocoa with candy canes to enjoy. This ride has something for everyone, with a luggage car converted to a movie, popcorn and crafts center and a car with a fully stocked bar and beverage station! 

There will be six train cars per trip, and inside seating is available to everyone. There are also two open-top cars for passengers to enjoy the fresh air above the train. Although it’s covered overhead, this train doesn’t have windows, so bundle up in your favorite winter gear! Weekly on Saturday and Sunday until December 19, the Candy Cane Express will take three trips a day. Tickets are $27 for adults, $23 for kids, $20 for seniors and free for toddlers and veterans. 

Albany’s Historic Carousel & Museum is hosting exciting holiday events this year. On December 3, they’ll be putting on a 1st Friday event where participants can come in their coziest holiday pajamas and enjoy cookies and milk during a special storytime with Santa and the carousel’s elf, “Burl.”  

This “Storytime & Santa” event begins at 5:30pm, and the fun continues until 8pm. On December 11, the carousel will be hosting a “Breakfast with Santa” event, where kids can meet Santa and enjoy a meal! Seating is limited so be sure to register soon. This event is SOLD OUT!

Albany’s Downtown Twice Around Parade is a great way to kick off your holiday season! Beginning on Broadalbin Street at exactly 5pm on December 5, you can view the parade by standing or sitting socially distanced along its 8-block route. This parade will get you in the holiday spirit as you watch the festivities unfold, ending in a fantastic tree lighting that will take place 20 minutes after the parade. The tree lighting is visible from the Two Rivers Market and surrounding blocks, so there’s plenty of room to space out and safely enjoy the event!

The Historic Albany Annual Christmas Parlour Tour is once again indoors this year, with Covid-safe protocols. Explore the history of Albany’s historic homes and their unique and vintage architecture and design. The Christmas Parlour Tour is an experience unlike any other, where you can be transported as far back in time as the mid 1800s, when the Monteith family founded Albany. See vintage Albany holidays come to life on December 12 from 2pm to 7pm. Advanced tickets strongly recommended. 

Night Out: Experience a festive night out in historic downtown Albany 

Check out local artists’ work at Gallery Calapooia’s First Friday Event. Starting at 6pm and ending December 3 at 8pm, this month’s featured artist will show their latest pieces at the gallery. If you’re looking for a peaceful December night of art-viewing, then mark your calendar with the Gallery Calapooia’s 1st Friday. 

Supporting Albany’s small businesses during the holidays can make for a great night on the town! As part of Downtown Unwrapped events, Small Business Saturday will be taking place on November 27, and many of Albany’s small businesses and restaurants will be participating, so be sure to shop, dine and have fun at local places! Enjoy a delicious meal at local favorites, such as Sybaris, Vault 244 Bistro, and many more that you can browse here. Albany’s Pix Theatre is also a fun way to spend Small Business Saturday watching a movie while enjoying beer, food and treats at their amazing snack bar. Be on the lookout for participating businesses and their events on the 27th! 

Watch the talented actors at Albany Civic Theatre by attending “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley.” This Christmas play is a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” and follows Mary Bennett as she searches for love during Christmas. Watching this love story is a great way to get into the holiday spirit and support the production of ACT plays and musicals. 

Showings are 7:30pm on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 16, 17, and 18. The matinees will start at 2:30pm on December 12 and 19. Tickets can be purchased online on ACT’s website. If tickets are not sold out, you can also purchase them at the door. 

Buy & Sell Festive Goods: Local shopping for holiday gifts and keepsakes 

Albany’s beloved Farmers’ Market, which closes in late November, reopens for one day on December 11 for the annual Holiday Farmers’ Market. This special pop-up market has local vendors selling fresh produce, dried flowers, homemade gifts, honey, jams, teas, holiday greeneries, baked goods, canned fish, dried beans, house plants, nuts, herbal products and more! The market is a perfect opportunity to find a special and unique gift for anyone from a wide variety of vendors. Locally-sourced products are a thoughtful way to say happy holidays and support our small businesses at the same time!

The Holiday Farmer’s Market will be on December 11 from 10am to 2pm.  

Visit The Penny Cottage Christmas Boutique in Lebanon to find a wide selection of unique holiday decorations, vintage finds and gifts, or treat yourself to a vintage furniture piece or home decoration. The Penny Cottage is hosting its Christmas Boutique on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 10am to 4pm until December 11. 

If you’re looking for a special, handmade gift, look no further than the Ropp Family Farm Christmas Barn. Ropp Family Farm has filled its barn with all the homemade holiday goods you can think of: decor, quilts, wreaths, furniture, gifts, toys and more! Enjoy a delicious lunch while you shop by trying the freshly made soups, breads, pies, cookies, and coffee they offer. 

The Ropp Family Farm Christmas Barn is open on November 20, 26 and 27 and December 3, 4, 10 and 11 from 9am to 4pm. 

Navigating the schedule of the holiday season can be difficult, so we’ve created itineraries to make the most of your December and support Albany’s small businesses and events. Each itinerary is created on a week-by-week schedule, so you can explore events while you’re visiting. Click on the itinerary links below to view, download and print! 

Weekend-only Fun 

After 5pm Only 

All Days, All Times 

Check out all of these events and discover more by browsing our event calendar.

The 2021 Nighttime Magic Holiday Light Contest WINNERS!

“Christmas Spirit on Waverly”, 1924 Waverly Dr. SE

A huge CONGRATULATIONS to this year’s winners and a giant THANK YOU to all our participants! The 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners are Christmas Spirit on Waverly, 1924 Waverly Dr. SE; The Tree of Lights, 4203 Winners Circle Ave SE; and Light up the Night, 1327 NW North Albany Rd.

For all to enjoy, this brief VIDEO of the participating homes will show at the Pix Theatre before feature films through December. All participants will receive a gift card to The Pix!

Nighttime Magic winners are entitled to bragging rights for the entire year and all participants will receive a gift card to one of our wonderful local businesses ranging from $45 to $150. Participating businesses include El Palenque Mexican Restaurant, Natural Sprinkles Co., Novak’s Restaurant, PizzAmoré, The Pix Theatre, Southpaw’s Perfect Pizza, and Urban Ag Supply.

A special Thank You to our sponsors for helping to light up Albany: Burcham’s Metals Inc., Broker Robyn vanRossmann of Town & Country Realty, and Hospitality Vision!

Houses throughout Albany will continue to be are decked out in holiday themes through January 1st.

Get a map or list of homes below.

  1. Download the Albany Explorer App for the addresses and a map  Apple iOs: Download the free app at the Apple Store for iPhone or iPad Android OSDownload the free app at Google Play for Android.
  1. Download and print the map 2021 NTM Map or list 2021 NTM List
  2. Get a printed map at the Albany Visitors Association, 110 3rd Ave SE Open M-F 9-5 and avialable in our 24hour information kiosk by the front door.

HOW PEOPLE ENTERED the 2021 Contest

The contest drew about 30 participants last year, with the winners (First, Second and Third places) taking home goodies such as certificates to local businesses like Sybaris, Southpaws, Bodie Bakery, The Natty Dresser, Urban Ag Supply and The Pix Theatre.

Helping coordinate the event to make the season bright is the Albany Visitors Association, along with premier sponsors Burcham’s Metals, broker Robyn van Rossmann from Town & Country Realty, and Hospitality Vision.

Residents are encouraged to enter the contest for the best use of lights in decorating the exterior of their homes for everyone to enjoy and vote for their favorite. The winners will gain bragging rights for the year and receive some great prizes, including a variety of gift certificates from local stores.

Judging this year will again be open to the community. Pictures of entries will be posted on the AVA Facebook page and addresses will be included for people to drive by. A holiday light drive will be posted on the Albany Explorer App and community members can vote for their favorites via Facebook or by emailing the Albany Visitors Association.

Public voting will open on Friday, December 10 and continue through Sunday, December 19, 2021. Winners will be announced by Tuesday, December 21.

Here are the details for anyone wishing to take part:

1. Entries must be within the city limits of Albany.

2. To enter, email a picture of the completed light display to info@albanyvisitors.com, by 5 p.m. Monday, December 6.

3. Entries must include: Participant’s name; full street address; title of the display; email address; and phone number.

4.  Lights need to remain on from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. December 6 through January 1, or longer if you like!

That’s all it will take to be a part of Albany’s Nighttime Magic this year!

People wishing to drive the route to look at the participating locations can pick up a list of participants at the Albany Visitors Association beginning December 10, or download the Albany Explorer App.

Thank you to all the homeowners who participate in this program. Without your efforts this wonderful community tradition would not be possible.

So, make a plan, break out the lights and have a big and bright holiday season!

Capture autumn photos in these scenic Albany locations

If you’re looking for the perfect spot to visit to capture pictures during autumn, look no further than the most scenic spots in Albany. Here, the month of November boasts beautiful bright-colored leaves creating an orange and red color backdrop. There’s a myriad of picturesque places to snap photos, but local Albany-based photographers have shared some of their favorites.

By Tori Thorp

Photo taken by Troutman Photography at Bryant Park

Troutman photography, a business run by Clare and Daniel Troutman, is located in the heart of historic downtown Albany, and they’re no strangers to seeking out the best spots for every season. 

Clare Troutman recommends heading to downtown Albany starting November 4, when there will be lights strung up in the streets for the holidays, and the shops will have holiday decorations displayed in their windows. 

Another Downtown spot Clare recommends is the Promenade, a spot between 1st and 2nd avenues, where the combination of lights and colors make wonderful portraits. 

“They’re gonna have strong lights, and they’ll have the glow from the theatre in front of them,” Clare said. 

As for more nature-based shots, Clare has two go-to parks during the fall. The first is Bryant Park, where there’s a spot along the Calapooia River where one of Albany’s iconic landmarks, the Ellsworth Street Bridge, rises in the background. The river, coupled with the bridge, makes for a memorable snapshot at any time of the year.                         

The second park is Timber-Linn Memorial Park. For the next few weeks, the trees at Timber-Linn will continue to change colors to the oranges, reds and yellows of fall. In the summer, Timber Linn remains a great photo spot with its green and bright landscape.

Albany’s covered bridges have long been a destination for unique and rustic looking photos, but the addition of fall-colored leaves make pictures taken here especially breathtaking. According to Albany photographer Don Backer, the patterns and old textured material of the bridges make for great shots. 

“Moon over Hoffman Covered Bridge” by Lori Norton

Backer recommends using old brick buildings downtown as a photo background for the same reason, old materials that add texture to the photos. If you’re downtown, you can head to Monteith Riverpark, where a sidewalk trail that Backer says can produce interesting photos as you begin your walk. At the end of the trail there is a mural that makes for a great photo as well. 

Additionally, Backer mentions that the myriad of family farms that can be found in and around Albany make for excellent season-specific photos, with features like corn mazes and pumpkin patches that can make beautiful backdrops, as well as provide a fun time. 

Backer also suggests taking a walk through Albany’s historic districts to find the spots that look the most interesting to you. The many historic homes provide great year-round photos.

“Cloudy Winter Afternoon” by Lori Norton

Photographer Melinda Martin advises photo-seekers to explore the farms of Linn County on which there are barns and pastoral scenes to capture. She also says that further up on Highway 20 along the Santiam River there are scenic areas and hikes that make for great pictures. 

Videographer and photographer Cameron Settlemier is knowledgeable about the trees in the Willamette Valley and the time during the fall when they are most vibrant. This time of year, he recommends photographers visit McDowell Creek Falls just outside of Lebanon, where the maple trees produce a vibrant background. Settlemier also says the Eighth Street canal between Washington and Broadalbin in Albany produces wonderful scenery, as well as other locations up and down the banks of the Calapooia River, Marys River, Yaquina River, South Thomas Creek and other waterways sporting a range of trees with unique colors of fall.

Settlemier mentions that short day trips outside of Albany may produce some beautiful fall pictures. On the coast, Vine Maple trees grow in abundance, and have vibrant red leaves in the fall. Other day trip destinations not far from Albany where you may find fall colors include: the Columbia River Gorge, the eastern edge of Hood River, and other locations in Philomath and Corvallis.

Albany has great places to grab a fall-themed coffee

By Tori Thorp

Coffee lovers celebrated International Coffee Day Oct. 1, but if you missed it, fear not! You can still grab a steaming fall-flavored mug at one of Albany’s many locally owned coffee shops. Here are just a few options.

Checking out a matcha latte at Margin Coffee. Photo by Melinda Martin
  1. Margin Coffee: 206 2nd Ave. SW, Albany, OR 9732

Margin’s matcha latte is the talk of downtown Albany, and for a limited time they’re carrying seasonal fall flavors! Margin’s harvest season drinks include apple cider, cardamom lattes, honeybadger lattes (honey with cayenne pepper), and sugar and spice lattes. If you’re looking for something fresh and delicious to pair with your coffee order, try their raspberry, chipotle and goat cheese croissant!

  1. Citadel Oasis: 425 1st Ave. W, Albany, OR 97321

The Citadel Oasis is the newest addition to Albany’s cafe scene, and they do much more than coffee if you’re looking for a fun meal out. For their seasonal flavors they have pumpkin muffins, cookies, and peppermint flavored espresso drinks. On October 23rd, they’ll be hosting a wine and paint night for $40 per person, and every Friday at 7 p.m. they host Friday night magic. Stop by anytime during their hours for board games and delicious food and drinks!

  1. The Brim Coffee Co: 241 1st Ave. W, Albany, OR 97321

The Brim Coffee Company, located on 1st Avenue, is a cozy place to escape a cold day and sipa hot cup of coffee. The Brim offers many options, including their lavender and vanilla London fogs! This season they have  delicious fall flavors to add to your latte, including mocha, Americano or chai: maple, toasted marshmallow, brown sugar cinnamon, and pumpkin pie!

  1. Little Wuesten Cafe: 115 Ellsworth St. SW

Nominated as one of the best bakeries in the valley, Little Wuesten Cafe is an excellent spot to grab a bite to eat with the accompaniment of hot coffee. For breakfast, try one of their pretzel breakfast sandwiches, or stop by for a loaf of Zwetschgen-Ingwer Brot, a delicious bread made with fresh prunes and almonds. They also carry all the classic coffee options, so you can have your snack or meal with your favorite. 

  1. Pacific Perk: 1421 Pacific Blvd SE, Albany, OR 9732 and 350 NW Hickory St.

Pacific Perk is a drive-through coffee shop for those who love flavor– and they have plenty of them! This coffee shop offers a variety of unique flavors, including specialty coffee like their candy bar flavored menu, which has options such as Butterfinger, Three Musketeers, Twix, and more. Keep an eye out for their fall and winter options like the pumpkin spice latte! Visit one of their two locations to check out their extensive menu options. 

  1. Snow Peak Coffee Co: 1260 Price Rd. SE, Albany, OR 97321

Snow Peak Coffee, another drive-through shop located near Timber Linn Memorial Park, is offering some October specials! Their fun fall flavors include:

  • “Spooky Latte”: pumpkin spice and toasted marshmallow.
  • “Full Moon Mocha”: white chocolate and irish cream.
  • “Candy Apple Red Bull”: green apple and caramel drizzle. 
  • “Midnight Red Bull”: blue raspberry and blackberry. 

Stop by soon for one of these uniquely fall-themed pick-me-ups!

Albany has many more coffee shop options to choose from, including: 

  • Brown Cow Coffee Company
  • Mill Town Coffee
  • The Human Bean 
  • Sidekicks by Pastega 
  • Allann Bros. Coffee
  • Spirit Espresso
  • Dutch Bros
  • Starbucks

For a complete list of Albany coffee shops and their locations, click here

Looking for a treat to accompany your coffee? Stop by Natural Sprinkles Co. at 202 2nd Ave. SW to try one of their fall themed pastries such as the caramel apple sugar cookie, a pumpkin chai cupcake, or pumpkin cheesecake brownies!

Photos by Brett Murphy

Get into the spirit with Halloween events

Get into the spirit of Halloween in and around Albany with several events planned for this fall with haunted corn mazes, trick or treat activities and other fun, or just enjoy getting out on crisp days to stroll through several farmers’ markets during the month of October.

COVID-19 restrictions may remain in effect for some sites and events, so call ahead when possible, check the Calendar of Events at the Albany Visitors Association website, albanyvisitors.com, or call the AVA at 541-928-0911. Keep an eye on the AVA Calendar of Events for changes and any new events or activities.

Here are a few fun activities you and your family won’t want to miss:

Find your own special pumpkin patch this Halloween season.
Photo by Nancy Hunt

The Albany Downtown Association/Movies at Monteith is sponsoring a Downtown Halloween Scavenger Hunt, from Oct. 25 through Oct. 30. A fun activity for the whole family, be on the lookout for Halloween images displayed on windows throughout downtown for a chance to win a movie night prize basket to the Pix Theater! Entry forms/coloring sheets will be available for download here or at the ADA website. Forms can also be picked up at the ADA office, 126 Ferry St. SW. Then, head out on your hunt! When you are done, head down to the ADA and drop it off before midnight on Oct. 30. Happy hunting! As an added bonus, kids can dress up and have their photo taken while at the ADA (and score a piece of candy in the process!) to enter the Facebook Costume Contest. Office hours are weekdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a special time of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30. NOTE: Some businesses downtown are offering candy to their customers, but the ADA is not sponsoring a Downtown Trick or Treat.

For more information, visit www.albanydowntown.com or call Albany Downtown Association at (541) 928-2469.

The Trolley of Terror will not be stalking the streets of Albany this year. Instead, the Monteith Historical Society is holding the Monteith Historical Ghost Walk on Oct. 22-23 and Oct. 29-30. Experience the most “spirited” tales told by lanternlight. Cost is $5 per person, and children in strollers will be admitted free. Four tours leave every 15 minutes each night beginning at 7 p.m. from the Monteith House, 518 2nd Ave. W., and are limited to 15 people each. Participants are asked to wear comfortable shoes, dress for the weather, and bring a flashlight. Brave souls can register online at monteithhouse.org, or by calling 541-220-0421. Tours take about 45 minutes.

Get those costumes ready and decorate your vehicle! Join Albany Parks & Recreation for a Trick-or-Treat Cruise-Thru, presented by Pacific Cascade Federal Credit Union. Trick-or-treat from the safety of your car at Timber-Linn Memorial Park, 900 Price Rd. SE. Every child attending must be registered by Oct. 15. A registration receipt will be required to be admitted into the park. You can sign up online at https://www.cityofalbany.net or by calling 541-917-7777.

Here is a list of more places to visit and events to take in during the Halloween season:

Farms and fun

Davis Family Farm: Take hayrides to the pumpkin patch and enjoy cider and donuts throughout October. Open daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., 4380 NE Hwy 20, Corvallis. For cost and other details call 541-752-0697.

Midway Farms: Enjoy fresh apple cider and other delicious fare at this dedicated gluten-free family farm at 6980 NW Highway 20 between Albany and Corvallis. Open daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Bose Family Farm Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze: The name says it all! Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. 35765 Cyrus Road NE, Albany.

The Melon Shack: The Day Corn Maze, beginning Sept. 24 and ongoing daily 10 a.m. top 6 p.m. through Oct. 31, is a highlight, plus pumpkins and fresh donuts! NE Garden Ave. at NE Highway 20, Corvallis. For info go to their Facebook page or call 541-243-4152.

Kenagy Family Farm: Kenagy farm has pumpkins, gourds, winter squash, decorative corn and corn stalks, and all of the proceeds go to charity! Hours: Monday – Saturday 9 a.m. to dusk and Sunday 11 a.m. to dusk. 541-979-1490.

Don’t forget about your Albany Farmers’ Market to find your perfect already picked pumpkin with a large variety to carve, cook, or bake it in a pie, along with all the other tasty harvest treats our valley has to offer. The market is open every Saturday from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Also available are:
Corvallis Farmers Market: open 9 am-1 pm, NW First Street and NW Jackson Avenue
Lebanon Downtown Farmers’ Market: open 2 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through October. Corner of Main and Grant streets.
Sweet Home Farmers’ Market: open 2 to 6 p.m.

Thompson’s Mills cider pressings: Come and help press the apples on Oct. 30 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., then take home some delicious, fresh cider. Cost is a $5 contribution per half-gallon. And while you are there, take a tour of the last operating water-powered mill in Oregon. The mill, 32655 Boston Mill Drive, 2 miles east of Shedd, is open daily 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (except major holidays) for guided or self-guided tours. Masks are required. If you can’t make to the pressing but still want to enjoy some cider, call 541-654-2052 to reserve a jug.

Monteith Living History Saturdays: 1 to 3 p.m., all Saturdays in October at the Monteith House, 518 2nd Ave. SW. Step into 1850 at the Historic Monteith House with exciting activities like, woodworking, pioneer doll making, baking biscuits, making butter and many other family friendly activities! To register in advance, or for more information, call 541-220-0421. A suggested donation of $8 covers the cost of materials.

Festivals

Fall Fiber Fest at Iron Water Ranch: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Oct 23-24, at Iron Water Ranch, 35179 Riverside Dr., Albany. Multiple vendors will offer a variety of fibers to stock up on for the coming cooler weather.  Raw wool, roving and locks, yarn and felted pieces will all be available. A little something for everyone.

More spooky fun

Tennessee Thunder Railroad: Saturdays and Sundays noon to 4 p.m. in October, 37672 KGAL Drive, Lebanon. Cost is $7 adults, $6 kids 2-12, and under 2 admitted free. Masks are required. Admission also gets you access to the pumpkin patch, fall themed photo backdrops and 4 acres to roam. For information, 458-223-0258.

2021 BOOzy Express: 6 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 30. Get into the Halloween “spirit” with this 21-and-over event. Dress up in your favorite costume and rock the night away on this 2-hour ride and enjoy heavy appetizers, music and a full bar! COVID guidelines apply on board the train. 

Haunted House at Morningstar Grange: 7-11 p.m. on Oct. 22, 23, 29, 30; and 7-10 p.m. on Oct. 17, 24, 31. Cost is $5 per person, cash or card, and proceeds will benefit the Grange and local charities. Masks are required. The Grange is located at 38794 Morningstar Grange Rd., Albany. For information, call 541-666-0410.

ACT Production of “Dracula”: Bram Stoker’s famous novel comes to life at Albany Civic Theater, 111 1st Ave. SW; evening performances 7:30 p.m., matinees 2:30 p.m., Oct. 22, 23, 24(m), 28, 29, 30. Admission $14, (discount $11). Get tickets online at http://www.albanycivic.org/or 45 minutes before curtain.

Trunk or Treat: 5 to 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 29, Albany Boys & Girls Club, 1215 Hill St. SE. Save the date for this fun event! Volunteers handing out candy from the trunks of their vehicles will be located in the Teen Center/Indoor Soccer field parking lot at the Club. Dress up and get ready to see some decked-out trunks.

Talking Water Gardens is waiting for you

By Molly Miller

Would you like to stretch your legs, inhale fresh air and walk in solitude as lush greenery and fall colors surround you?

I have the spot for you.

Talking Water Gardens offers solitude on warm fall days. Most of the vegetation is comprised of native plants. Photo by Molly Miller

Late summer and early fall is a great time to get outside and enjoy all of those things, and what better place to experience them than Talking Water Gardens in Albany.

Social distancing? Two miles of soft bark and light gravel footpaths offer plenty of room to safely stroll amid rainbow colors of seasonal foliage and the peaceful sound of cascading waterfalls.

Talking Water Gardens is a manufactured wetland that uses a natural process to cool treated wastewater before releasing it into the Willamette River. The water flows through a series of ponds and waterfalls, creating a wonderfully lush environment. Families come. Singles or couples wander. Birders stroll, stop, stroll. Actually “stroll and stop” is the most observed way of exploring in the park.

Most of the trails are wheelchair accessible. Pets are allowed on leashes.

While salmon and steelhead benefit from the cooler water that the wetland provides, people and wildlife find other rewards. Walk through the gates and you find that electronics do not hold sway. In their place are birds calling, water rushing and cattails whispering with the wind.

This is where you can turn your face to the sky and your feet to the gentle path and take in some of the unusual details of the area. The path leads walkers to one such detail alongside a canal that follows the length of the Weeping Wall, the former loading dock of the Simpson plywood mill that previously occupied this land. During warmer months when the area is running at full capacity, water cascades over the wall into the canal.

The Weeping Wall, exposed during a low-water cycle, and canal.
Photo by Molly Miller

The summer season, with its higher temperatures, requires cooler water be delivered to the Willamette, so the ponds will be full.

Winter allows time for maintenance, cleaning, repair and replanting of vegetation. At this time a visitor will often see some drained ponds or waterways, and the Weeping Wall might be dry, revealing the old mill’s loading dock.

Beaver, mink, turtles, frogs, migrating ducks and hundreds of species of birds of different colors join the mostly native plant species inside the wetland.

“We work to ensure that as many plants native to Oregon are used in our natural treatment systems,” said Joe Deardorff, the Natural Treatment Systems Specialist for the City of Albany Public Works.

While Deardorff’s current focus is ensuring native vegetation renewal, his work includes an understanding of both plants and wildlife and how they interact in the environment. He is familiar with the inhabitants that make their home within the wetland.

“Beavers do live in the park,” says Deardorff, who added that although beaver dams are not easily visible to visitors, gnawing marks on trees give clues of beaver being present.

Gnawed tree stumps are a beaver’s calling card.
Photo by Molly Miller

Although beavers, being more nocturnal, are elusive, plenty of sunning turtles and jumping frogs are viewable in the summer and early fall. Repeat visitors can watch baby ducks grow in increments over the spring and summer. Bird calls, which can be identified by apps, are heard on the trails at all times of the year.

Adventurers of all ages – whether they be locals or people from around the state, the country or the world – are drawn to this area, including tech professionals from other countries who want to replicate a similar model.

Roughly 60,000 visitors visit Talking Water Garden yearly. It is open daily, sunrise to sunset, so please come and add your footprint to this path of nature and sustainability!

If You Go

For more about Talking Water Gardens, located at 577 Waverly Dr. NE, in Albany, click here. It is free and open to the public 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset. To get there, follow Front Avenue east past the Albany Millersburg Water Reclamation Facility until it turns into Waverly Drive, which dead ends at Talking Water.

Molly Miller is a freelance writer who loves to share travel and history adventures in Oregon.

Harvest time is a great time to have fun

Fall is just around the corner and harvest activities will be ripe for the picking for those with plans for fun and adventure.

Photo by Dan Bateman

COVID-19 restrictions may remain in effect for some sites and events, so call ahead where possible, check the Calendar of Events at the Albany Visitors Association website, albanyvisitors.com, or call the AVA at 541-928-0911. Keep an eye on the AVA Calendar of Events for changes and any new events or activities.

Here are a few harvest events and places to visit you can enjoy with your family this fall:

Thompson’s Mills cider pressings
The mill, located in Shedd, will hold its cider pressing events after a year off due to COVID-19 restrictions. Come and help press the apples, then take home some delicious, fresh cider. And while you are there, take some time to tour Thompsons Mills, the last operating water-powered mill in Oregon. Dates are Sept. 18, Oct. 9 and Oct. 30. Times are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day.

Farmers Markets
Fresh produce, fish, meat, and other tasty fare are available at several Farmers’ Market locations around the mid-valley. Albany’s is the oldest continuous market in Oregon and is open 9 am to 1 p.m. Saturdays through November. It is located at Fourth Avenue and Ellsworth Street next to City Hall. Visit the website here.

Also available are:
Corvallis Farmers Market: open 9 am-1 pm, NW First Street and NW Jackson Avenue
Lebanon Downtown Farmers’ Market: open 2 to 6 p.m. Thursdays through October. Corner of Main and Grant streets.
Sweet Home Farmers’ Market: open 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through September; corner of 12th Avenue and Kalmia Street.

Bridges, Bikes & Brews
This first-ever event, set in Scio on Saturday, Sept. 18, will include self-guided covered-bridge biking tours, guided van tours, live music, food trucks, local breweries and more. Proceeds will go toward new Fairgrounds Event Center, to be built in or near Scio. Check-in for the bike event will be 7:30 to 9 a.m., and fairgrounds activities begin at 10 a.m. Go here for more information.

Albany Scottish Festival & Highland Games
Don’t miss the first annual Albany Scottish Festival & Highland Games for a day of food, music, and heavy-throwing events on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Timber-Linn Memorial Park. For information visit Facebook Albany Scottish Festival.

Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail

Find a bounty of businesses with harvest ideas for the fall in the Mid-Willamette Valley Food Trail brochure, which is available at the Albany Visitors Association, or on its website at albanyvisitors.com. Find restaurants featuring locally sourced food – such as Sybaris or Frankies – or visit a farm to take advantage of seasonal produce, fun activities or even stay the night. And don’t forget to peruse our long list of vineyards for an afternoon of tasting in the beautiful countryside or locate a cozy brewpub to enjoy finely crafted beers and the tasty menu items many of them have to offer. Can’t decide what to do? Then use one of three itineraries provided in the brochure to get a few interesting ideas on how to spend the day around our little corner of the Willamette Valley.


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