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If I’m honest, Corvallis was never on a “must visit” list of mine. But 2020 is full of twists and turns, and so there we were in Corvallis near the end of September. Despite some uncooperative weather on our first day, we got to discover and enjoy some of the best things to do in Corvallis.
As it turns out, there’s way more to Corvallis than just Oregon State University. In fact, we didn’t even drive by OSU until we were on our way out of town.
Instead, we focused our time in Corvallis on hikes, brews, and wineries. Here’s a two-day Corvallis itinerary that balances getting into the great outdoors with indulging in some manmade pleasures. Almost all options are dog-friendly or can be made so!
Day 1 in Corvallis
One of my favorite ways to explore a new city is to just walk it. And there’s no better or more delicious place to walk through than a farmer’s market.
The Corvallis Farmers’ Market goes from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays April-November (plus a smaller market on Wednesdays). There are plenty of produce vendors (we got such delicious figs!), as well as artisans, meat and fish kiosks, and food carts — perfect for a grazing breakfast.
And it’s dog-friendly! This is a huge deal because so many farmers’ markets (including those in Bend) aren’t.
Continue your exploration of the rest of downtown Corvallis via one of my other favorite activities: doing an art crawl.
Have a long lunch at Block 15 Brewing
Once you’re ready to rest your feet, head over to one of Corvallis’ hometown breweries: Block 15. They craft a ton of different beers, including some of the best themed and seasonal beers we’ve had (like a fermented ale with peaches!).
Besides brewing great beer, Block 15 is also active in the community. Earlier this year, they created Black is Beautiful, a blackberry-infused Imperial Stout, and are donating 100% of the proceeds of that beer to the local NAACP.
The food at Block 15 is also really good. I’m not typically a salad person when I’m eating out, but Block 15’s 185-Mile Salad looked too good to pass up.
And it didn’t disappoint.
The aged gouda, craisins, and hazelnuts on the bed of mixed greens — all sourced from local Oregon producers — were so well-balanced. I also added their smoked BBQ chicken, which was so flavorful and brought all the delicious aspects of the salad out a hundredfold.
Hike Marys Peak
Once you’ve sobered up (or go get sober by strolling by the Willamette River), get in the car and drive to Marys Peak, the highest peak of the Oregon Coast Range.
While it’s not super high up at 4,101 ft, it can be considerably colder than Corvallis, which is almost at sea level, so bundle up before you go up to the day use area. Marys Peak is part of Siuslaw National Forest, so you can either use your National Parks pass or pay a $5 parking fee.
From the parking lot, you can either take a more scenic dirt trail (Summit Loop) or walk up a shorter, paved road. As far as I’m concerned, the first option is the only option — who comes to the mountains to walk a paved road?
Once you get up to the summit, go counterclockwise and enjoy the 360° views. Marys Peak is a local favorite for a quick weekend hike, and it’s not hard to see why!
As you walk around the entire peak, you’ll see meadows and forests, waters and cities. On a clear day, you can see many of Oregon’s highest mountains as well as the Pacific Ocean.
There are longer hikes at Marys Peak as well if you’ve got more time — and maybe a pup that’s older than 12 weeks. One option that looked interesting to us for when Kokomo is older is the North Ridge Trail, which adds 4.4 miles each way and an elevation difference of almost 2000 feet.
Have a surprising Korean meal
On your way home, stop at Young’s Country Kitchen for dinner.
We encountered Young’s Country Kitchen by accident. It was pitch dark and I thought I was hallucinating after a really long day when I saw neon lights flashing Korean at the side of the road.
I looked at my partner and said, “No way, they must mean country kitchen like chicken and dumplings or something.” But nope, there it was, on the outskirts of Corvallis, a food truck serving up authentic Korean food.
In addition to Korean classics like bibimbap and japchae, Young’s Country Kitchen also serves some Chinese and Japanese dishes. The food was delicious and spot-on — the bibimbap even had gosari!
Day 2 in Corvallis
They call it Sunday Funday for a good season. Swap out those hiking boots for some casual shoes and hit up the Willamette Valley wineries nearby.
Willamette Valley, aka Oregon Wine Country, goes roughly from Portland in the north all the way down to Eugene in the south. It’s known for its pinot noir, so we were super excited as it’s one of our favorite varietals. (We especially like the pinot noir from Scribe, one of our favorite Sonoma wineries.)
Most of the wineries near Corvallis are actually located in nearby Philomath, but they generally don’t open until 11 a.m., so take your Sunday morning slow.
After breakfast, drive just outside town to Fitton Green. This 308-acre county park is popular with local joggers but isn’t a popular tourist destination, making it perfect for a spot for a relaxing stroll.
Follow the main trail, and you’ll be treated to gorgeous views emblematic of the Pacific Northwest. On a clear day, you can also see parts of Corvallis and Philomath from Fitton Green.
A lunch fit for day drinking
After your easy morning hike, roll up your sleeves for some delicious barbeque from Eats & Treats. After one of their many scrumptious meat-and-sides plates, you’ll be plenty ready to drink the afternoon away.
Eats & Treats is a dedicated gluten-free restaurant, making it a perfect dining option for anyone who is celiac, gluten-free, or gluten-intolerant. But their BBQ certainly doesn’t suffer a bit because of this difference.
P.S. Don’t forget to check out their desserts display — the s’mores sandwich was so rich and decadent.
(Note: I don’t think Eats & Treats is technically dog-friendly — we got takeout — but there’s no reason you can’t grab the food and enjoy a picnic in the park.)
Wine down in Willamette Valley
Then it’s time to go drinking.
The first winery we hit up was Lumos Winery, which has the most gorgeous views from its deck. I mean, can you get more idyllic than drinking wine and nibbling on cheese while sitting in Adirondack chairs and enjoying this view?
The sun was out in full force for us, making it the most glorious autumn wine tasting day. We had both the white and red tasting flights, with a preference for their whites.
There was plenty of space at Lumos Winery to socially distance from others, with additional picnic tables available around the grounds of the winery.
We also hit up Cardwell Hill Cellars, which is just down the road from Lumos.
The setup here is much simpler, just picnic tables on the greens next to the vineyard. Cardwell Hill doesn’t have set flights, so we started off with their “choose your own tastings” before deciding to just get glasses of pinot noir.
Both Lumos and Cardwell Hill are super laidback, so you can take your time enjoying your wine. No timed reservations like some places in Napa or Sonoma.
If you want to visit more dog-friendly wineries or have other special considerations, check out this searchable directory from the Oregon Wine Board.
Sit back, relax, and drink the Sunday scaries away!
Where to stay in Corvallis
Corvallis might be Oregon’s 10th largest city by population, but it really isn’t all that big at roughly 60,000 people.
We actually choose to stay in Philomath because it was closer to the things we most wanted to do — aka more nature and wine than city — and because there were more affordable dog-friendly options there.
And in doing so, we found this gem of a darling Airbnb. Babette’s an artist who fills this spacious 3-bedroom Airbnb with art that she makes or collects.
Out on the deck, there are multiple hammocks overlooking a huge and well-landscaped garden. We loved the serenity of the woods and enjoyed reading and sipping our morning coffees in the hammocks, while Kokomo had a blast exploring the garden.
The place is also super affordable compared to nearby offerings. We just had the two of us plus Kokomo, but the place would’ve fit 8 people. Definitely a great option if you like being away from the crowds.
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