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Salem was established in the early 1800's as a farming community. The town grew during the years of the California gold rush. Salem became the capital of Oregon in 1851 after it was moved from Oregon City. The capital was then briefly moved to Corvallis in 1855, but in that same year was permanently moved back to Salem. The first two Oregon State Capitol buildings tragically burned down. The third and current building was completed in 1938, complete with its distinctive gold-plated pioneer statue, the "Gold Man," perched atop.
Salem is located in the mid-Willamette Valley, about halfway between Portland to the north and Eugene to the south; it's about a one-hour drive from either city on Interstate 5. If coming in East of the Cascades Hwy. 22 will take you right into Salem.
Greyhound and Amtrak Thruway serve Salem frequently. If staying in Central or Eastern Oregon there is a Cascade bus that travels through all seasons. Prices are relatively inexpensive.
Also Cherriots and Wilsonville's SMART system jointly operate the 1X express transit bus between the Downtown Salem Transit Center and the Wilsonville WES rail station (with service to Tualatin, Tigard and Beaverton (with its MAX light rail connection to Portland and the entire Portland region). This bus and rail connection only operates weekdays and in the morning and afternoon (no mid-day, night or weekend service), but operates in both directions during its operating time. The current fare for the 1X bus is $2.50 one way. The fare for the WES train is $2.30 which is valid as a 2 hour ticket on the Portland regional TriMet system, for a combined total fare of $4.80 one way from Portland to Salem.
The Amtrak station in Salem is just to the east of the downtown core and is served by the regional Cascades train and the long distance Coast Starlight train. The Amtrak Cascades (Eugene-Salem-Portland-Tacoma-Seattle-Vancouver, BC) has 2 runs daily in each direction and the Coast Starlight (Seattle-Portland-Salem-Eugene-Sacramento-Bay Area-Santa Barbara-Los Angeles) has one run daily in each direction. Be aware that northbound Coast Starlight trains can be delayed many hours on their journey from Los Angeles. The Cascades trains are really only an option for day trips from Salem and Eugeneto Portland or passengers who stay overnight in Salem. Day trips from Portland to Salem both directions by train are not possible considering the schedule however there is Amtrak Thruway coach service.
The Cherriots bus system is city wide taking you from the suburbs to downtown and into Keizer, Oregon, and has central transit center in downtown Salem where all the buses arrive and depart. Prices are as follows:
Exact Cash Fare: Drivers don't make change, so please have exact fare if you're paying cash. And please, no Canadian coins.
Downtown Salem Historic District, 200 Commercial Street SE, . The Salem Downtown Historic District was officially listed in the National Register of Historic Places on September 28, 2001. The district is a seven block area roughly bounded by Chemeketa, High, Ferry, and Front Streets. There are a total of 92 buildings, 67% of which contribute to the historic character of the district. A walking tour brochure is available on the City of Salem's website.
Mission Mill Museum, 1313 Mill St., ☎ 503-585-7012, . The site of the museum features working displays of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and several other historic Salem buildings, which have been relocated to the site. There are five buildings total that make up the Mission Mill Museum, all of which date back to the 1800s. Once a month the Mission hosts a Big Band night with Ballroom Dancing.
State Capitol Building, ☎ 503-986-1388. If you are lucky enough to be in Salem on a sunny day you should go to the Capitol building and take the tour to the top of the building to see the Gold Man (The Golden Pioneer). Observation Deck tours are available to the public, on the half hour, Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are parks located all around, complete with gardens and large fountains. The fountain directly in front is a haven for kids to play and cool down in the summer time.
Willamette University's Campus, State St.. Very nice in the spring. Oldest established university on the west coast.
AC Gilbert's Discovery Village, 116 Marion St. NE, ☎ 503-371-3631 (email@example.com, fax: 503-316-3485). Perfect for the younger kids, mostly preschool to about 13 years old. A hands on fun learning center housed in charming turn of century buildings and decor.
Bush House, 600 Mission St. SE, ☎ 503-363-4714 (fax: 5033713342). Built just after the settler arrived from the Oregon Trail, this historic old homestead now houses the art of Salem's finest artists. In the summer you can wander through the fragrant Rose Garden and take a hike on a popular trail with the lunch crowd from nearby businesses.
Friends of Historic Deepwood Estate, 1116 Mission St. SE, ☎ 503-363-1825.
Marion County Historical Society Museum, 260 12th St., ☎ 503-364-2128 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: 503-391-5356).
Western Antique Powerland, 3995 Brooklake Rd. NE, ☎ 503-393-2424. One of the largest museums of tractors, steam engines, and antiques farm equipment in the world. To add more interest they have implemented a truck and street car museum where you can catch a ride on an antique streetcar. "Annual Steamup" in Jul-Aug.
Forest History Center, 2600 State Street, ☎ 503-945-7208, . Displays at this museum will all aspects of the forestry profession, from early logging by oxen and early lookout towers, to the latest use of aircraft, computers, and satellite imagery. Admission is free.
Salem Skate Park, downtown's Marion Square Park. This skate park has two bowls that are connected by a snake. There is also a secondary skate area, called the "streetscape," which has plenty of grind space and ramps. The skate park is open to skates, skateboards, BMX bikes, and more.
Bush's Pasture Park. A 90.5-acre urban public park and botanical garden located just south of the downtown area. The park is a historical site and contains many trails, playgrounds, tennis courts, picnic areas, gardens, and orchards. Willamette University has its football, track and field, and baseball stadium located in the park. Also home of the Salem Soap Box Derby.
Balloon Flying Service of Oregon, Inc., 323 Marietta St. SE, .
Cottonwood Lakes Golf Center, 3225 River Rd. S, ☎ 503-364-3673.
Enchanted Forest, 8462 Enchanted Way, Turner (7 mil S of Salem), ☎ 503-371-4242, . A land of fairy tales where you walk through Medieval castles, down wooden sidewalks in the Wild West, or meet a ghost in the haunted mansion. This small theme park has rides for kids and adults with an Alpine Rollercoaster, bumper cars, trains and more. In one of their many restaurants is a gorgeous water show with colorful lights bouncing off streams of water.
Salem Riverfront Park, 116 Mission St. NE. Sits along the Willamette River in the historic downtown area of Salem. Kids will enjoy the huge hand-carved carousel, considered one of the best carousels in the U.S. Willamette Queen Sternwheeler is popular for lunch and dinner cruises with good stories about the settlers. Expansion plans and bicycle rentals are being worked out.
Minto-Brown Park, 2200 Minto Island Road SE, . This large, 898.9 acre natural park includes open and wooded areas with many trails for walking, jogging, biking, and roller blading.
Willamette Mission State Park, 10991 Wheatland Road, NE. The park occupies land where the first mission for American Indians was founded in 1834 by the Reverend Jason Lee. Members of the Methodist Mission were later active in the formation of Oregon government. A monument is located in the park providing information on this settlement. The original mission buildings are represented by framed outlines called ghost structures. A landing for the Wheatland Ferry -- the first to carry the covered wagon across the Willamette River in 1844 -- is in the park. Lots of trails for hiking and biking. Civil War re-enactment over the 4th of July.
Bentley's Grill (Bentley's Grill and Restaurant), 291 Liberty St. SE, ☎ +1 503-779-1660, . Northwest ingredients with fresh seasonal seafood, artfully presented salads and choice of steaks served nightly.
Best Little Roadhouse, 1145 Commercial St. SE, ☎ +1 503-365-7225. For Salem, it actually has some ambiance. Try the Caesar salad with fresh grilled Northwest Salmon, Tri Tip sandwiches or salad. Mini golf course just outside the building.
Brick Bar and Broiler, 105 Liberty St. NE, ☎ +1 503-375-0959. Very popular with the college students, you will find it busy on weekend nights. The food is good here although it can get a little smokey from the bar.
Busick Court Restaurant, 250 Court St. NE (half=black from River Front Park), ☎ +1 503-370-8107. The place to stop for breakfast or lunch if you are in downtown Salem. The Banana-Nut Stuffed French Toast was the starter selection for Rachel Ray's visit to Salem on "$40 a Day". Just to sip the special blend of coffee and read a paper is a treat in this quaint storefront restaurant.
DaVinci Ristorante, ☎ +1 503-399-1413. It has Italian food, including the Pork Tenderloin Italian herbs. Also they make their own pizza in a beautiful stone oven. When you sit down they bring you fresh made warm foccacia. Popular with the martini crowd for happy hour drinks.
Gerry Frank's Konditorei, 310 Kearney St. SE, ☎ +1 503-585-7070. Try the Champagne cake with raspberry filling, quiche or sun dried tomatoes with asparagus. They have a good deal with their soup and half sandwich or quiche and a slice of cake for about $8.
Marco Polo Global Restaurant, 210 Liberty St. SE #150, ☎ +1 503-364-4833. Excellent variety of Asian food. Vegetarian selections available, also spicy (and non) dishes.
Rudy's at Salem Golf Club, 2025 Golf Course Rd. S, ☎ +1 503-399-0449. Situated on a beautiful golf course in an old manor house it's a relaxing and enticing restaurant. They bring in prime corn fed beef and has an in-house butcher so you get the freshest and best cuts of meat. Popular on Sunday morning with Caramelized French Toast and omelets.
The Sassy Onion Grill, 1244 State St, ☎ +1 503-378-9180, . A popular restaurant in the city, it is visited frequently by both students and government workers. Known for its french toast, it serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week and is located just east of the capitol and Willamette University.
Cascade Mountains (highway #22 east) - some of the best hiking terrain in the Pacific Northwest
Mt. Angel (30 minutes north-east) - Bavaria in the US! - a cute German village famous for its Oktoberfest held every September
Sisters (highway 22 east, ~1.5 hours) - a fun little town with the look of an old western village complete with wooden sidewalks, small boutique shops and restaurants
Oregon Wine Tour Salem is minutes away from some the finest wine country in the world. Reknowned for Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, Oregon has become a destination for wine connoisseurs everywhere. Tour safely and comfortably with a good Oregon wine tour company like Sunshine Limo Service and Wine Tours - http://SunshineLimoService.com/WineTours.html
Silver Falls, . Silver Falls about a 30 minute drive East of Salem. The drive takes you through historic Oregon farmland. Silver Falls is a great place to hike, camp and picnic. The main falls are easy to get to about a 5 minute walk from the parking lot. You can view it from up top but the best experience is to take the short hike down the hill where you can walk behind the falls. There is a 7 mile hike passing by 10 waterfalls ending at another parking lot at the North Falls. Although smaller than the South Falls it is still stunning. You can rent cabins or if you like to ride they have a beautiful horse camp with many trails to enjoy.
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