Scenically situated between Portland and the Oregon Coast, the Tualatin Valley connects an urban experience to a more pastoral one. Just a few minutes’ drive from downtown Portland, you can escape to the gateway of Oregon wine country as the Tualatin Valley is a part of the northern Willamette Valley, as well. The area is composed of 20 cities and towns that are surrounded by the Chehalem Mountains and Portland’s West Hills. The geography here fosters a cool growing climate for over 30 wineries in the area—perfect for Pinot! If you are visiting the Tualatin Valley for the first time, then check out our list of “Insider Tips” for things to see and do in the Tualatin Valley.
Of course, new visitors to Oregon have Portland and its bustling atmosphere at the top of their lists, but a trip into Portland’s backyard in the Tualatin Valley also ensures that newcomers to the area can actually experience the farms and vineyards that make Portland’s food scene so wonderful. The Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route is something to experience from an agricultural perspective. The 60-mile drive winds through the Tualatin Valley’s rural communities and through local wineries, nurseries and farms.
Wineries to consider along the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route include Hamacher Wines and Raptor Ridge Winery, the latter hosts a Tuesday evening yoga session in its tasting room. Also along the route, Plum Hill Vineyards is located on a historic dairy farm. Today, the creatures roaming Plum Hill’s property are not cows, but dogs and horses. Bella Rue Stables offers vineyard-side horseback riding during the summer months. For $100, your experience includes a gentle ride, full wine tasting and a decadent cheese plate. Guests can reserve a spot via email. Every Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer, Plum Hill Vineyards hosts a dog-friendly “yappy hour,” too.
The Tualatin Valley is a destination with many pet-friendly attractions. For even more dog-friendly fun, the Oregon Humane Society partners with the wineries of the Tualatin Valley for a dog-friendly wine tasting event, Canines Uncorked! Dogs get treats, massages and other perks while their owners sip on wine. Pups are welcome at many unique hotels, such as the new Aloft Hotel or the recently renovated McMenamins Grand Lodge. The Banks-Vernonia State Trail is one of the best trails for experiencing the seasons as its canopy of trees gracefully changes with the weather—and dogs love being walked on the carless, 21-mile path. For dogs—and humans!—who love the water, Henry Hagg Lake offers a serene lakeside atmosphere for fishing, lounging and swimming. In the summer, the Oregon Humane Society partners with the wineries of the Tualatin Valley for a dog-friendly wine tasting event, Canines Uncorked! Dogs get treats, massages and other perks while their owners sip on wine.
Tualatin Valley Food:
The Tualatin Valley is the most culturally diverse region in the state of Oregon. Of course, this beautiful diversity is reflected in the global cuisine offered here. In the city of Beaverton, nearly a dozen Korean restaurants are stationed within a 1.5-square mile radius. Whether you go gaga for kimchi, bibimbap or hot pots, there is an amazing Korean restaurant waiting for you. Nak Won and Du Kuh Bee are especially well-known for their Korean BBQ. Other Asian delicacies in the Tualatin Valley include the Japanese bakery, Oyatuspan Bakers. The bakery’s legion of fans load up on pastries filled with house-made curries, matcha and red bean paste.
In addition to a wealth of Korean food in downtown Beaverton, tea lovers can lift their pinky fingers at Clockwork Rose Tea Emporium; though, the décor here veers away from classic British style and into the realm of Steampunk culture. The expansive tea menu and accompanying high tea—with house-made clotted cream—is a decadent treat and certainly worth a stop!
In Hillsboro, Indian food is a mainstay as both Chennai Masala and Swagat Indian Cuisine are consistently named the best Indian restaurants in the Portland area.
Seeing a lot of birds? The Tualatin Valley is part of hundreds of species of birds’ annual migration. Cooper Mountain Nature Park provides 3.5 miles of trails through different habitats. Your view of the Chehalem Mountains may be interrupted by a variety of birds flying through the park’s conifer forest and oak woodlands.
As the Tualatin Valley is part of the northern Willamette Valley, its wineries are part of Wine Enthusiast’s Wine Region of the Year. While the 30-plus wineries of the area are known for Pinot, be sure to also try the interesting Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer varieties of the region. The chic, but unpretentious tasting rooms are a welcoming experience for those new to wine, as well as those who want to talk shop with the often-onsite winemakers and winery owners.
Heritage permeates throughout the valley, which is demonstrated through the Quilt Barn Trail of Washington County. More than 30 quilt panels have been installed at area farms and agriculture-related businesses. Each panel, in some way, tells the story of the area. See a map of all current quilt barn sites.
What’s your favorite tech gadget? There’s a good chance the Tualatin Valley is connected to it. Affectionately dubbed “Silicon Forest,” the Tualatin Valley is home to many high-tech companies, such as Intel, LAIKA Films and Tektronix. For the scoop on the area’s tech-savvy history, explore the hands-on exhibits at the Washington County Museum in Hillsboro.
Insider Tip: For easy travel plans, fly into the Portland International Airport as the Tualatin Valley is only a 35-minute drive from the airport. In addition to close proximity to Portland and the Oregon Coast, the Tualatin Valley is only a 50 minute drive from Multnomah Falls and the Columbia River Gorge. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and @WCVA for all things related to Oregon’s Washington County.
If you go: Oenophiles may prefer to book their flights on Alaska Air as the airline holds an Oregon Wines Fly Free promotion. Your boarding pass will grant you complimentary wine tastings at many area wineries—and you can check a whole case of wine on your return trip for free!
Article, photography and YouTube video by travel writer Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of The Tualatin Valley, however all opinions are my own.