Silverton, Oregon’s Garden City
By Marguerite Cleveland
Farms, gardens and vineyards are reborn each spring with lush greenery and bright, colorful florals peeking out from their winter hiding places. What better place to experience this rebirth than in Oregon’s Garden City—Silverton.
As winter slips away, thoughts turn to nature’s annual rebirth, and what better place to experience it than Oregon’s Garden City. The charming town of Silverton, Oregon, is tucked away in the quiet side of the Willamette Valley. Incorporated in 1885, the downtown area is like a Victorian time capsule with lovely late-19th century buildings lining Silver Creek and nestled among stately oak trees. The town is the perfect destination and base to explore all the area has to offer. Downtown has wonderful shops and restaurants, and is a gateway to nearby farms and vineyards.
The stunning waterfalls—yes, there are more than one at Silver Falls State Park—and the Oregon Garden will refresh nature lovers with their gorgeous scenery. Day trips on country roads will take you through a lush agricultural area filled with family farms and vineyards. Russian and German immigrants have created diverse communities sharing the culture and foods from their homelands. The nearby Mount Angel Benedictine Abbey fills the souls of visitors who come to enjoy the peaceful retreat. Following a centuries-old monastic tradition, the monks brew their own beer from hops grown on their land for those who seek a livelier experience.
Where to Stay
Just outside of Silverton is the lovely Oregon Garden Resort. It’s a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle of Oregon’s bigger cities, but it is close to Salem and Portland. The resort rooms are spread out in separate buildings with plenty of parking. Situated adjacent to the Oregon Garden, this is a lovely property, and many guests enjoy evening walks around the property. The resort offers a seasonal pool, year-round hot tub and the Moonstone Spa—all great options for relaxation. Room rates include breakfast. The Fireside Lounge is the social hub of the resort and offers a nightly happy hour. There is live music most nights. Check the website for special events. There are some interesting options throughout the year.
If you love wine, look at the Oregon Resort’s partnership with the Cascade Foothills Winegrowers. This is a group of 15 small family run wineries nestled in the Cascade Foothills in the quiet side of the Willamette Valley. You’ll find uncrowded tasting rooms and, chances are, the winemaker is pouring your wine. Guests of the Oregon Garden Resort receive exclusive deals at these wineries. Just show proof of your stay with your confirmation email.
Oregon Garden Resort - OregonGardenResort.com
Where to Eat
The Main Street Bistro & Coffee in Silverton has a local following for breakfast, but the lunch is equally as good. It is in an historic building with two gorgeous chandeliers, which are pretty fancy for an early meal. The lunch portions are generous, and the house-made soups are very tasty.
The Oregon Garden Resort has a restaurant, but the Fireside Lounge is such a cozy choice. When your name is Fireside, you need to have a fireplace worthy of the name. This one doesn’t disappoint with floor-to-ceiling stone dominating the middle of the room accompanied by a two-sided fireplace with a crackling wood fire. Nosh on Oyster Shooters, Coconut Shrimp or Deep-Fried Avocados while sipping on Oregon wine or a craft cocktail.
The Mount Angel Sausage Company is a must stop for Food Network aficionados. The network showcased the company and its “notoriously sought-after Fire Haus Brats.” The site houses the sausage company, a European market and a restaurant. The food is authentic with all your favorites, and the sausages are worth buying some to take home with you. The only problem will be choosing from the large variety of options.
Fireside Lounge - OregonGardenResort.com/dining/fireside-lounge
Main Street Bistro & Coffee - (f) Main St. Bistro & Coffee
Mount Angel Sausage Company - MtAngelSausage.com
What to Do
Start your visit with a walking tour of Silverton exploring all that downtown has to offer. There are charming covered bridges crossing over Silver Creek that are so picturesque. Stop by the Visitors’ Center and pick up a guide to the Silverton murals. There are more than 30 that depict the history of the region. You can also download the Silverton Mural Society app, which gives you a map and information on each mural.
Explore the more than 80 acres of botanical gardens at the Oregon Garden. The focus is on the diverse botanical bounty of the Willamette Valley and the Pacific Northwest in over 20 specialty gardens. The commitment to sustainability is fascinating—especially the Rediscovery Forest. There is one of the largest collections of miniature conifers in the country and an Oregon Heritage tree, the 400-year-old Signature Oak.
The only Frank Lloyd Wright home in Oregon is the Gordon House. It is an example of his Usonian homes which he designed to be in harmony with the land and were unique to the United States of North America (USONA). Wright included a wood Fretwork window pattern that was unique to each home. The guided tour is informative, and you will learn about the history of the home and Wright’s architectural features.
Silverton - SilvertonChamber.org
Oregon Garden - OregonGarden.org
The Gordon House - TheGordonHouse.org