The Willamette Valley is the beating heart of Oregon’s picturesque wine region, home to two thirds of the Beaver State’s wineries and famed for its exceptional Pinot Noir. Sandwiched between the Oregon Coast Range and the Cascade Range, it also boasts the six largest cities in the state and some of the most pet-friendly destinations in the country. Here are our favorite things to do, pet-friendly places to stay, and dog-friendly restaurants in the Willamette Valley.
Posted by Billy Francis
Things to Do
Whether your idea of heaven is wandering along rows of grapevines with your best friend or treading in the pawprints of pioneers, this scenic region is full of tantalizing activities that welcome two- and four-legged tourists.
Sample Pinot and More With Your Pup
There are nearly 700 wineries in the Willamette Valley, and many of them are proudly pet-friendly. Keeler Estate Vineyard in Amity offers visiting “pawtrons” the chance to join their wine club for dogs, ‘Pinots and Puppies.’ An add-on for human members, this exclusive club includes a doggy gift upon signup and an organic dog treat with each allocation, all for an additional $5. Fido will also be pleased to know that a portion of each membership goes to Homeward Bound Animal Rescue, Oregon’s first no-kill shelter. For experimental wine in arguably the most scenic surroundings in the valley, make your way to Johan Vineyards for a grape hike together in the Van Duzer Corridor.
Get a Bird’s-Eye View of Wine Country
As featured in the 2021 edition of our Ruff Guide to the United States, Tour DeVine by Heli offers a VIP (very important pooch) experience that starts in McMinnville with a pre-flight breakfast and glass of bubbly. You and Fido will then be whisked away by helicopter to begin a winery-hopping adventure that includes two or three stops and breathtaking aerial views of the region.
Explore 1,000 Off-Leash Acres
Sandy River Delta Park is described by most who visit as “doggy heaven.” This diverse and beautiful recreation space is fondly referred to as Thousand Acres by locals, thanks to the vast territory it covers. Dogs are welcome to explore the entire area without the constraints of a leash, which means Fido can play fetch in open fields, romp through wild wetlands, stop to pick delicious blackberries, and cool off in the two rivers within the park.
Keep Fido Weird in Portland
Grab Fido's beanie and round glasses and head to the hipster capital of Portland. Ranked at number one in our 12 Most Pet-Friendly Cities in the U.S., Portland has more dog parks per capita than any other city. Sellwood Riverfront Park is one of the most popular, especially with canines who love to splash. Pups will also learn why Portland is known as Rose City when they visit the International Rose Test Garden, home to 10,000 rose bushes. After a pleasant stroll through the scented gardens, get the scoop on the city’s weird side with local comedian Erik Kennon on his free Secrets of Portlandia tour.
Take a Scenic Drive
At approximately 150 miles long and 60 miles wide, there’s a lot of the Willamette Valley to explore. One way to see it all is by embarking on a scenic drive with your canine co-pilot. Over the Rivers and Through the Woods Scenic Byway traverses five different ecosystems and takes travelers from Willamette Valley to the West Cascade Mountains. It takes roughly three hours to drive the 60-mile distance and includes highlights such as Brownsville’s historic Main Street, a climb into the foothills, and the Crawfordsville Covered Bridge. Another popular scenic drive is the Silver Falls Tour Route, which takes you through winding mountain roads. The payoff at the end is Silver Falls State Park, where you can hike with your hound to two waterfalls.
Stop and Smell the Flowers
After a day under the spray of the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park, head to nearby Silverton to see a different type of natural display. Oregon Garden is an 80-acre botanical treasure that welcomes dogs to stroll through 20 specialty gardens showcasing the region's unique floral offerings. The highlight is a garden devoted to the canine community. Stop for a selfie at the statue of Bobbie the Wonder Dog, who traveled more than 2,500 miles on his own to return to his family in Silverton after he was lost in Indiana.
Walk in the Pawprints of Pioneers
The Oregon Trail was a wagon route that connected the Missouri River to the Willamette Valley. Spanning more than 2,000 miles, it was an amazing feat for the pioneers who made it. Pay a visit to historic Oregon City, where the trail is said to have ended, and explore the original capital of the Oregon territory with your pup. Waterdogs can hop in a pet-friendly kayak with eNRG kayaking for a tour of Willamette Falls, the second-largest waterfall by volume in the United States.
Places to Stay
Whether your pooch prefers creekside accommodation, art studios, or getting pampered at a luxury hotel, there’s a unique stay to suit her taste in the Willamette Valley. Spend a few nights in the city or embrace a secluded getaway at these dog-friendly hotels and vacation rentals.
Bundle Up in a Bungalow
Describing Beryl’s Bungalow as pet-friendly might be an understatement. Dogs are the guests of honor at this cozy vacation rental in Springfield. Your pooch will be welcomed to your private studio apartment by Bosco the Bernese Mountain Dog. Canine guests are provided with towels for muddy paws and have free roam of a spacious dog run in the backyard. During the day, enjoy the mountain and creek views from the property, then hang out around one of two fire pits when the sun goes down. Four-legged guests stay for free.
Enjoy River Views in the City
Overlooking the Willamette River, Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel is one of Portland’s premier pet-friendly accommodations. Before you put your feet up for the night, take a walk through Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where 100 ornamental cherry trees in bloom create a wonderful backdrop for Fido’s next photoshoot. When you arrive back at the hotel, Fido can enjoy another cherry on top when he curls up in his complimentary bed after enjoying treats from the front desk in the bowls provided. Two pets of any size are welcome for no additional fee.
Relax Next to the Creek
Spend a few nights with your pooch at Daniel S. Yoder House, a historic 19th-century home with a creek running alongside it. Located within walking distance of the state capitol and downtown Salem, this unique property makes a great basecamp during your stay in Oregon’s capital. After an afternoon of off-leash fun at Minto-Brown Island Park, keep the leash off in the private fenced yard and enjoy the sound of rushing water from Mill Creek. Dogs are welcome for an additional fee.
Spend the Night in Historic Surroundings
McMinnville’s main street is dominated by a four-story building that has been around since 1905. Once home to a banquet hall and then a bus depot, the locally celebrated building now houses McMenamins Hotel Oregon. Dogs are welcome to stay with their owners, hang out at the on-site sidewalk pub, and enjoy the close proximity to downtown amenities and nearby wineries. Pets of any size can stay for an additional fee of $15 per pet, per night.
Stay on the Hill
After a day of drinking wine and feeling fine, put your paws up. Roundhouse on the Hill, located in the charming rural town of Amity, offers a unique and secluded stay overlooking the valley below. Dogs of any size are welcome for no additional fee.
Chow Down and Lounge in Luxury
One of our pet-friendly hotels to love in the West, Dossier Hotel makes the perfect downtown basecamp for exploring all the canine adventures Portland has to offer. Comfy pet beds, bowls with mats, and welcome treats are waiting in your pooch’s room. Hungry hounds have breakfast, lunch and dinner options on the room service pet menu. Dogs are also welcome at the craft beer happy hour, where they might be rewarded for their presence with a treat. The lobby library even has a dedicated pet section with titles on dog massage, Doga and pet psychology. Two dogs of any size are welcome for no additional fee.
Paint a Pretty Picture in an Art Studio
Bring along your canvas to paint your pet at this secluded art studio. Located in the quiet countryside but just a short drive away from the breweries and restaurants of Eugene, this secluded spot has the best of both worlds. The charming studio has dog towels on the back porch for your pup’s feet and a private backyard to use during your stay. The pet fee is $20 per stay.
From fantastic food carts to adoptable dogs pulling pints, the Willamette Valley’s food scene has reached tasty new heights. Sample the goodies at these pet-friendly eateries.
Martha's is a cafe and bar with an expansive patio on the ground floor of Revolution Hall, a music venue based in a historic school building in the Buckman neighborhood of Portland. While you wait for your food and drinks, Fido can play off-leash in the Washington High School Dog Park just in front of the pet-friendly patio.
Barbecue With Wine and Swine
Storrs Smokehouse is a serious pit in Oregon wine country. This Newberg BBQ joint serves up meat smoked low and slow with a twist. They utilize wine from surrounding vineyards in the process to give their 'cue a regional flavor. Dogs are welcome on the outdoor patio whenever weather permits.
Grab a Slice in Stunning Surroundings
Left Coast Estate combines a love of winemaking with a connection to the land. Bring your leashed pooch along to join you as you sample wine made on the premises and enjoy a bite to eat, including wood-fired pizzas and a variety of specials on weekends.
Tin Shed Garden Cafe offers a slice of Portland’s incredible food scene for brunch. Pups are invited to dine in the cozy covered patio with their own special menu. The Shed’s most popular canine dish is home-cooked sweet potatoes and chicken, but be sure your pooch saves room for a serving of the Doggy Dessert: peanut butter banana ice cream with yogurt and a dog biscuit.
Pizza and Corgis? Yes, Please!
Hey, Neighbor! Pizza House brings hand-tossed, neo-neapolitan pizzas to Eugene. Inspired by adorable corgis Roux and Phife, who make the occasional appearance, this pizza place invites you and your pooch to eat on the patio together. If you’re local, don’t forget to sign up to their Pie Points scheme to earn free grub.
Visit a Local Market
Get a taste for Oregon’s seasonal delights at Red Hills Market in Dundee. The owners, Jody & Michelle Kropf, make simple and delicious food that locals and visitors can’t get enough of. Start your day off with espresso and pastries in the outdoor area with your pooch for company. It’s also a great spot to stock up your basket to take with you on a vineyard picnic.
Bring Fido to the Yard
If you can’t decide on a cuisine for dinner, The Yard Food Park has you covered. This diverse eating emporium in Salem offers 18 different food carts that serve up everything from fish and chips to sushi and Philly cheesesteaks. The outdoor space is pet-friendly, so your dog can join you as you hunt for the “pawfect” dish.