Salem Tourist Information and Tourism

(Salem, Oregon - OR, USA)

Many tourists tend to treat Salem as nothing more than a day trip destination, although if you are able to stay even just a little longer, you will find much more to this state capital than initially meets the eye. The Mediterranean summers are warm to hot, and the winters are relatively mild, meaning that you can get out and about year-round.

Based within the Willamette Valley, Salem was settled in the early 1840s, becoming the capital of Oregon in 1851. Today, the city is famous for its profusion of flowering cherry trees, which line many of the main streets and the Capitol Mall, and have earned Salem its nickname of the 'Cherry City'.

When the skies are at their clearest, it is quite possible to see the distant Cascades mountain range, including the active volcano Mount St. Helens. In the city itself, the Oregon State Capitol Building is an important landmark, around which much of the city's tourism industry is based. Just a matter of minutes away from the Capitol is the Salem Tourist Information and Visitors Center, which resides on High Street Northeast, close to the Marion County Sheriff's Office.

Salem Tourist Information and Tourism: Top Sights

Much of the region's landscape has been shaped by the Willamette River, a tributary of the Columbia River that caused much flood damage to Salem in the mid-1990s. Today, the river is lined with waterfront attractions, with the Tom McCall Waterfront Park being a real highlight and named after a past state governor, who is remembered for his successful efforts to cleanup the river and landscape its westerly bank. Riverside trails are popular, while for the more adventurous tourist, canoes, kayaks and boats can all be hired on this busy waterway.

Comprising roughly seven blocks, the Downtown Salem Historic District is a good place for tourists to sightsee and maps of the area can be obtained from the tourist information office, detailing a self-guided route past the main buildings. For the best possible views of this part of Oregon, holiday makers should consider a hot-air balloon flight from the local company based in the suburb of Sunnyslope, to the southwest, and get ready to see downtown Salem and the Willamette River from a very different angle. At the Elsinore Theater on High Street Southeast, classic movies, concerts, musicals, comedy gigs and other theatrical events are regularly staged, and at the Reed Opera House on Liberty Street Northeast, the imposing Italianate-style Reed Opera House is called home by the Salem Repertory Theater. Families will certainly enjoy spending time at the Enchanted Forest theme park, which is the creation of a local man who built the majority of the buildings virtually single-handed over many years - a real labor of love. And for sports enthusiasts, the open-air McCulloch Stadium on State Street is where the Willamette University's athletes and football team regularly train and compete. More information about Salem Tourist Attractions.

Guided tours of the Oregon State Capitol Building are strongly recommended to tourists and being completely free of charge, are understandably extremely popular at peak tourism times. The unusual drum-shaped dome makes this capital a truly unique building, with visitors being able to explore the underside of the dome, climbing some 121 steps to check out the exceptional panoramas provided by the observation deck (part of the Tower Tour). Further important landmarks in Salem include the Mahonia Hall, close to the Willamette Slough, and the Historic Deepwood Estate on Mission Street Southeast, which dates from the 1890s and is today owned by the city of Salem, being operated as an attraction. On State Street, the towering spire of the First United Methodist Church is quite difficult to overlook and this historic church has its origins as long ago as the 1870s. More information about Salem Landmarks and Monuments.

Tourists with a keen interest in the arts can choose between a number of museums, some of which are completely free to visit. These include the A. C. Gilbert's Discovery Village, Bush House, the Forest History Center and the Prewitt Allen Archaeological Museum, the latter of which lives within the library of Corban University. Another popular choice is the Willamette Heritage Center, which is located at the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill and offers much information about the history of the buildings making up this complex. Both the Jason Lee House and the Methodist Mission Parsonage are part of this attraction, dating back to the early 1840s and relocated here more than a century later, in the 1970s. And if you are a lover of art, then the Hallie Ford Museum of Art at the Willamette University is a safe bet, as is the Roger Yost Gallery of Fine Art on State Street and the Bush Barn Art Center on Mission Street Southeast, where contemporary art from the 20th and 21st centuries is showcased by artists from throughout Oregon and also the Pacific Northwest. More information about Salem Museums and Salem Art Galleries.

Salem is situated on the northwestern side of Oregon and within reasonably close proximity to the Pacific Ocean coastline, to the west. A number of coastal towns and beaches are suitable for excursions, such as Lincoln City and its Wecoma Beach. Also to the west is the Straub State Park, next to Nestucca Bay, where seasonal whale watching and hiking trails are both big draws. Close by, the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Reserve makes for another popular day trip. To the south of Salem, the small city of Albany offers more urban and cultural attractions, including the mid-19th century Thomas and Walter Monteith House and the Willamette River Festival each year at the end of July. The northerly suburb of Keizer is home to the Keizer Heritage Museum and the springtime Iris Festival, and further north, the city of Portland is worth visiting for its zoo, science museum, historical society and art museum. You may also like to take a tour of some local vineyards, head eastwards to the Silver Falls, or pay a visit to Mount Angel, a small village with a big Oktoberfest beer festival. More information about Salem Attractions Nearby.

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