An approachable, easygoing city with plenty to see and do, Portland makes a great family getaway. A fun fact for wine-loving parents is that the Willamette Valley, one of the nation’s fast growing high-quality wine regions with over 200 wineries, lies just outside Portland and makes a perfect day trip, with or without kids.
Best known for its award-winning Pinot Noir, the Willamette Valley is leading the charge around sustainable farming and that goes hand-in-hand with incredible dining opportunities today given our passion for the freshest possible food. In a day trip, there’s time to visit two to three wineries and stop for lunch.
The Willamette Valley offers both well-known brands like Adelsheim Vineyards, Archery Summit, Ponzi, and Domaine Drouhin, and up-and-coming producers to visit. Despite the success of these Oregon wines, the Willamette Valley feels local, undiscovered, and authentic. It is the anti-Napa Valley experience in many ways and you are certainly more likely to meet a wine maker here than in other popular wine regions.
I recommend choosing a mix of the well-known producers and boutique producers for a variety of perspectives. There are also six distinctive sub-appellations within the Willamette Valley, each with their own growing conditions. Within a day trip, you can easily experience at least two of them.
To help narrow down the best options and not have to worry about drinking and driving, we spent the day with Grape Escape Tours, who helped us plan an optimal itinerary. Ralph Stinton, our guide, provided excellent historical facts about the region and wineries.
Grape Escape Tours can take up to 12 passengers at a time in one of their vans and can even plan a catered wine dinner or lunch. Pricing runs from $80 to $175 per person depending on the size of the group and length of the tour. Ralph and his team can also coordinate a kid-friendly day out.
We checked out Alloro Vineyards in the Chehalem Mountains, a taste of Italy in Oregon with cypress trees and Italian-style architecture. It’s more akin to visiting a lovely family home than a commercial tasting room and is definitely kid-friendly with a garden and winery dog who is eager to play. We contrasted Alloro with the more commercial Domaine Serene, a cult favorite Pinot producer on an elegant estate.
After lunch and a tour of The Allison Inn and Spa, this boutique hotel is high on my parents-only getaway bucket list. Awarded the LEED Gold Certification, the Allison is both eco-friendly and luxurious with colorful, contemporary designs and textures using wood, stone, and other natural materials that integrate the hotel beautifully with the surrounding setting.
Although the hotel feels expansive and is set on 35 acres, it has just 85 guest rooms and is decorated with stunning pieces from Oregon artists. There’s a 15,000-foot spa featuring Eminence organic face and body products and treatments, as well as a lovely indoor pool. The hotel flows wonderfully and there’s a strong sense of place. Rooms start around $330 per night.
If you just have lunch at The Allison’s signature restaurant, Jory, it’s worth the stop, even if you aren’t lucky enough to stay the night. The open kitchen, serving farm-to-table culinary wonders using regional sources, is a huge treat. An in-house butcher produces their charcuterie, including melt-in-your-mouth smoked-duck pastrami. A model for eco-conscious dining, zero food goes to waste in Jory’s kitchen as everything is recycled and used for something.
Of course, they have an extensive regional wine list. A decadent day of pampering would be lunch at Jory followed by a visit to The Allison spa. In this itinerary, even if you didn’t have time to tour wineries, you could still try a variety of Oregon wines paired with amazing food.
If you stay in Portland with kids and want an urban home-base, Kimpton’s RiverPlace Hotel is a great family-friendly option with a variety of rooms that sleep families and wonderful service.
Want help booking a room at RiverPlace Hotel? Use Option 1 on the Check Availability button on our RiverPlace family-friendly review page and a Family Vacation Consultant will follow up to ensure you have the details you need to have the best vacation ever in Portland.
Editorial Note: The Allison Inn and Spa provided complimentary lunch and a tour. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy
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