Top 19 Things To Do In Salem, Oregon

things to do in salem oregon
| 8 min read

The city of Salem lies in the state of Oregon in the United States. The unique landscape is characterized by Willamette River which flows through the city and the lush green Willamette Valley which is known to produce some of the best wine and cheese. Founded in 1842, Salem became the capital of Oregon in 1857 and a center of culture of arts in the state. Various artists find their way to the city to get inspired or to showcase their new work. The city flourishes with historical and natural attractions that not only form the major landmarks of the city but can’t be missed because of their significance in history or culture. Out of the long list of these must-visit places, we have put together a list of the top things to do in Salem, Oregon, for your convenience.

1. Visit the historic Reed Opera House

Visit the historic Reed Opera House in Salem, Oregon, and witness the true culture of the city. You will find a variety of local stores, shops, restaurants and bars. Built in the 19th century by Cyrus Adams Reed, the building represents the city’s performing arts culture and legacy. The opera house also accepts bookings for weddings, social gatherings, conferences and other celebrations, so you can have your important celebration with a piece of history. State-of-the-art audiovisual equipment is also available for rent.

The Reed Opera House

Address: 189 Liberty St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: The Reed Opera House

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 9am - 9pm

Price: 20 USD

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2. Ride the Salem Carousel for a true Salem experience

Looking for some fun and adventure in Salem, Oregon? You can visit the riverfront Salem Carousel for it. This lively amusement park found right on the riverfront bustles with visitors in the evening and it gleams with light. The carousel is the first of the things you see at the park. From admiring exquisite artistry to creating community projects, there’s a lot to do here. The whole ride is quite magical altogether, and a great place for enjoyment, whether you are with your family or traveling solo.

Salem Carousel

Address: Address: 101 Front St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Salem Carousel

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 10am - 7pm

Price: 10 - 15 USD

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3. Sample award-winning cheese at Willamette Valley Cheese Company

The commune of Willamette is known the world over for its delicious and variety of cheese. Gouda, Havarti, Jack, Cheddar, Brie, Fontina and Mozzarella and some of the best varieties made here. When in Willamette, you can’t miss sampling this award-winning handmade cheese. The temperate climate of the city along with the rich volcanic soil favors the production of cheese, resulting in mouth-watering produce. The company also makes unique mixed cheese as well, like Briar Rose Creamery, La Mariposa, Ferns’ Edge Goat Dairy and Ochoa’s Queseria, some of which are made only in Willamette.

Willamette Valley Cheese Company

Address: Address: 8105 Wallace Rd NW, Salem, OR 97304, USA

Website: Willamette Valley Cheese Company

Opening hours: Tues - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

Price: 30 USD

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4. Enjoy outdoor movies in Salem’s Riverfront Park

Salem Riverfront Park entrance - Oregon
Source: Photo by user M.O. Stevens used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Salem Riverfront Park is known for outdoor movie shows. This is one place you can enjoy movies under the open sky and stars. The magnificent park is a well-known attraction already, and many of those who visit are there only to enjoy the outdoor movies. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, an amphitheater, and Eco-Earth Globe, an outdoor sculpture and community art project, makes this possible. You can also enjoy special theme nights and dedicated movie nights.

Salem Riverfront Park

Address: 200 Water St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Salem Riverfront Park

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 8am - 8pm

Price: 10 USD

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5. Explore the Salem Wine Trail and sample different wines

Vineyard in Willamette Valley
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user David Burn used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Fancy some fresh wine straight from the vineyard in Salem? The Salem Wine Trail is it. Set in acres of forest and farmland, the Willamette Valley produces an exquisite variety of wines and it is home to aromatic vineyards. Some vineyards are only open to visit while some offer wine tasting throughout the week as well. In a day, you can visit four to six wineries if you are driving your car and less if you are relying on public transport. Visit in July or August when wines are in full bloom.

Salem Wine Trail

Website: Salem Wine Trail

Opening hours: Mon - Sun: 10am - 6pm

Price: 0 to 20 USD

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6. Tour the iconic Oregon State Capitol

The Oregon State Capitol is the building housing the state legislature and the offices of the governor, secretary of state, and treasurer of the U.S. state of Oregon. This makes the building an important attraction for Salem visitors. One of the major historical places in Oregon, the State Capitol building reflects the rich culture and heritage of the city. The Capitol is decorated with artwork, fountains and colorful gardens on the outside and it also has the Douglas fir and Oregon grape trees which are the state tree and flower respectively.

Oregon State Capitol

Address: 900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Oregon State Capitol

Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 8am - 5pm (closed on Sat & Sun)

Price: 10 USD

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7. Relax amid nature at Bush’s Pasture Park

The historical Bush’s Pasture Park lies in the site of Asahel Bush House in Salem Oregon and it also houses the Bush House Museum. You can relax in the botanical garden which is open daily for members of the public who are seeking to connect with nature. Skateboarding enthusiasts also visit to practice their moves on the tracks. The park also has walking trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, natural groves of old Oregon white oak trees, cherry and apple orchards, and a rose garden with over 2,000 roses! Such is the diversity and magnificence of this park.

Bush’s Pasture Park

Address: 890 Mission St SE, Salem, OR 97302, USA

Website: Bush’s Pasture Park

Opening hours: 5am - 9pm (daily)

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8. Shop for fresh produce at E Z Orchards Farm Market

The famous E Z Orchards Farm Market sells diverse and local agricultural produce by the small local families. The rich soil and mild climate of Willamette Valley have given the opportunity to local communities to produce unique and diverse agricultural products. The E Z Orchards Farm Market sells these products today, and so this market is the best place to purchase farm-to-table goods. Every season has its own specialty so you can buy different products in spring, summer, fall and winter.

E Z Orchards Farm Market

Address: 5504 Hazelgreen Rd NE, Salem, OR 97305, USA

Website: E Z Orchards Farm Market

Opening hours: 9am - 6pm (daily)

Price: 20 - 25 USD

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9. Book a romantic stay at Grand Hotel

The luxurious Grand Hotel is one of the best hotels in Salem, Oregon, if you are looking for a romantic getaway. The magnificent and upscale property offers 193 smoke-free guestrooms apart from a wide range of top-class facilities and services. There’s free Wi-Fi throughout the property. You can dine at the onsite restaurant that also serves free buffet breakfast daily. The Grand Hotel also offers other facilities like an indoor pool, a fitness center, a front desk, a business center and much more for your convenience. The rooms are designed with contemporary decor and light color shades that offer a homely feel.

Grand Hotel

Address: 201 Liberty St SE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Price: from 219 USD

Star Rating: 3 Star

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10. Take your kids to Gilbert House Children's Museum

The interactive Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem Oregon is housed in several historic Victorian buildings which have also found their way to the National Register of Historic Places of the US. Gilbert House Children’s Museum also provides summer camps, birthday party packages, and outreach programs. The interactive exhibits are very attractive for the kids, who also enjoy the giant slides, the maze, the 52-foot (15.8-meter) tower Erector Set, the American Flyer Train, the Mammoth Dig, a miniature village, an amphitheater and much more.

Gilbert House Children's Museum

Address: 116 Marion St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: 10 USD

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11. Marvel at the architecture of OSH Museum of Mental Health

Visit the OSH Museum of Mental Health to witness mental-health-related exhibits and also to learn about the therapist courses. Located in the oldest building on the Oregon State Hospital campus, it includes permanent and changing exhibits. The museum is currently run by volunteers and it is supported by the generous donations of community members and competitive grants. The museum is a good place to visit if you are traveling with kids or solo, as there are definitely interesting things to see.

OSH Museum of Mental Health

Address: 2669, 2600 Center St NE, Salem, OR 97301, United States

Website: OSH Museum of Mental Health

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 12pm - 4pm (closed on Sun & Mon)

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12. Spend a day at Minto-Brown Island Park

Minto-Brown Island Park is the largest park in Salem, Oregon, which has a playground, a shelter, walking, jogging and bike trails, picnic areas, a dog park, several fishing spots, and a paddle boat area. Spread over acres of lush green woods, the park also has a separate dog area for your dog. Don’t forget to visit the wildlife sanctuary where you can spot blue herons, ospreys, squirrels, and rabbits, and observation platforms. The park results in offering a green patch in the middle of the city.

Minto-Brown Island Park

Address: 2200 Minto Island Rd SW, Salem, OR 97302, USA

Website: Minto-Brown Island Park

Opening hours: 6am - 9pm (daily)

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13. Learn about local art at Hallie Ford Museum of Art

Hallie Ford Museum of Art belongs to the Willamette University Salem in the Oregon state of the United States. The third-largest museum of Oregon, the museum lies in the downtown and showcases a diverse collection of art from across cultures and eras. Six exhibition galleries contain artwork from different mediums such as sculptures, paintings, basketry, and prints. The museum also features local art and artists. The most interesting turns out to be the basketry made by the Native American tribes in the Pacific Northwest.

Hallie Ford Museum of Art

Address: 700 State St, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Hallie Ford Museum of Art

Opening hours: Tue - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Mon)

Price: 10 USD

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14. Explore Willamette Heritage Center

A museum and cultural center in Salem, Willamette Heritage Center features several structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places. There’s also a research library at the heritage center. Visitors can tour the mill buildings with displays of original 19th and 20th-century machinery and photos about industrial wool processing. The house and its interior are furnished with a mid 19th-century appearance, and it features a medieval-style water mill.

Willamette Heritage Center

Address: 1313 Mill St SE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Willamette Heritage Center

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)

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15. Go fishing at the Cascades Gateway City Park

The 100-acre (40.5-hectare) city park is the place for sports lovers who are looking for ball fields, disc golf, fishing, trails and picnic shelters. This large urban park also has a natural trail and footpaths and natural areas with colorful gardens and green lawns. You can try a hand at fishing at the Walter Wirth Lake or play a round of golf at the 18-hole disc golf course! Kids enjoy playing at the playground or you can go on a family picnic here.

Cascades Gateway City Park

Address: 2100 Turner Rd SE, Salem, OR 97302, USA

Website: Cascades Gateway City Park

Opening hours: 6am - 8pm (daily)

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16. Pamper your taste buds at Roger That BBQ

things to do in salem oregon | pamper your taste buds at roger that bbq
Source: instagram

The contemporary Roger That BBQ is where you can indulge in a range of barbecue dishes like never before. The owner started the restaurant as his hobby was making BBQ dishes. The restaurant serves tacos, sandwiches, sides, snacks, kids’ menu, BBQ combos and local meats made in homemade sauces. They also have barbecue plates & sandwiches doled out on rustic, counter-serve digs with outdoor picnic tables. Don’t forget to try the perfectly pit-smoked meats!

Roger That BBQ

Address: 1492 Brush College Rd NW, Salem, OR 97304, USA

Website: Roger That BBQ

Opening hours: Thu - Sun: 12pm - 5pm (closed from Mon - Wed)

Price: 30 USD

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17. Make the most of the night at Victory Club

The lively Victory Club gets hotter at night when you will find a young crowd when the sun goes down. The club organizes special nights like live music nights, taco Tuesdays, etc, and local music nights and karaoke nights. The club is a great social hang out in Salem whether you want to visit with friends or solo. Enjoy craft beers, cocktails and Oregon spirits with delicious appetizers and music to go with it and make the most of you evening in Salem.

Victory Club

Address: 155 Liberty St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Victory Club

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 11am - midnight (closed on Sun)

Price: 30 USD

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18. Set sail on a scenic cruise with Willamette Queen Sternwheeler

Willamette Queen Sternwheeler is where you can book cruise trips in Salem. The cruise line company organizes some fantastic nature-friendly scenic cruise trips which you definitely can’t miss. Watch the Willamette River lined with cruises and sternwheelers which were once used as the main mode of transportation. The air-conditioned dining area accommodates 82 guests at the outdoor seating deck. You can book a ticket online for a trip or also book for family reunions, anniversaries, birthdays and other social gatherings.

Willamette Queen Sternwheeler

Address: 200 Water St NE, Salem, OR 97301, USA

Website: Willamette Queen Sternwheeler

Price: 20 USD

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19. Travel back in time at the Historic Deepwood Estate

History buffs would love to visit the Historic Deepwood Estate in Salem, Oregon. Completed in 1894, the house also has a museum and garden and it is operated by Friends of Deepwood society. The garden is also open for events and to the public. A colorful garden, as well as acres of mowed lawns and trees, surround the property. Whether you are traveling solo or with your family, this place definitely deserves a visit.

Historic Deepwood Estate

Address: 1116 Mission St SE, Salem, OR 97302, USA

Website: Historic Deepwood Estate

Opening hours: Wed - Sat: 8am - 5pm (closed from Sun - Tue)

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Salem is full of surprises

The cosmopolitan culture, the amazing climate and the scenic valley and the river make Salem a perfect destination in the US, whether you are traveling solo or with family. The city has diverse things to explore from parks and the riverfront to museums and galleries. Based on whether you are traveling solo or with your friends, there are unlimited things to do. If you need more information on any of these things to do in Salem, Oregon, please feel free to drop us a comment below.

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Neha is a traveler and professional writer driven by passion. She also makes sure to live life on her own terms.

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