Visitors often ask us for recommendations on interesting, unique places they can go to see another side of Salem, Oregon. Salem is a trove of must-visit local attractions like Salem’s Riverfront Carousel, the State Capitol building, Bush’s Pasture Park, Willamette Heritage Center, Gilbert House Children’s Museum, and many more.
Though those are all undoubtedly great locations to visit, we thought we’d take this opportunity to show some love to the lesser talked about must-visit locations that Salem has the offer. Many of these local gems are hidden in plain site! Consider adding these unique destinations to your itinerary the next time you come to town.
Most Fascinating: Oregon State Hospital – Museum of Mental Health
Museum of Mental Health at the Oregon State Hospital is certainly one of our more unusual attractions. When you go, we guarantee you will learn something new as you look back at the haunting past regarding the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness. Visitors are engaged with mental patient’s stories that range from tragic to just plain bizarre. Movie buffs will appreciate the fact the Oregon State Hospital is the setting for the novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and the movie, starring Jack Nicholson, was also filmed here. The museum is the only one in North America and one of a few in the world. For exhibit info, admission and hours, please visit oshmuseum.org.
Most Unpretentious: Honeywood Winery
You want the Oregon Wine tour experience, but you are short on time. Not to worry! There is a local winery right in the heart of the downtown Salem, OR. Nestled in the corner of 13th street and Hines you’ll find Honeywood Winery, the oldest producing winery in Oregon. Enjoy complimentary tastings in their tasting room as you browse their gourmet marketplace. This historical landmark is an ideal place to sample various fruit varieties such as elderberry, mead and blackberry wines as you relax on the patio terrace. This local gem also carries an eclectic mix of local Willamette Valley and Oregon souvenirs and gifts, so you won’t have to go home empty handed. www.honeywoodwinery.com
Coolest Place to Catch a Movie: Salem Cinema
For a fun night at the movies, the Salem Cinema is a safe bet. This little gem of a cinema has loads of character and features a range of art, foreign, mainstream and indie cinema. Relax in the comfortable and eclectic lobby before or after the film as you snack on their very reasonably priced concessions! Visit www.salemcinema.com for movies schedules and events.
Best Place for Hipsters: Broadway Coffee House
Broadway Coffee House takes the coffeehouse experience to the next level. Don’t let our superlative fool you. This coffee hot spot is great for hipsters, non-hipsters and everyone in between. Their baristas are passionate about providing their guests amazing coffee and will sometimes host a coffee tasting that’s free to the public. Talking to them about their craft and the variety of coffees is an experience onto itself. The bright and open interior space is an ideal place to relax with a book, catch up on work, visit with a friend and listen to some local live music. There’s even a parent room! While you are there, take some time to peruse the artwork by up-and-coming local artists in their gallery. Open Daily 6am — 10pm. www.broadwaycoffeehouse.com
Best Outdoor Market Experience:Salem Saturday Market
Perhaps you are seeking artfully salvaged hummingbird feeders? Or locally made gourmet pasta? How about some fresh fruits and vegetables? Unique gifts? Chances are you can probably find these and more among Salem Saturday Market‘s bountiful and welcoming vendor booths. Besides, we’re all about supporting our local economy! The market also hosts various events and activities throughout the season in addition to a Monday Market and Wednesday Farmers Market. Visit www.salemsaturdaymarket.com for details. One reviewer on TripAdvisor recently posted “You could get great fresh flowers, art was unique and diversified, I could even get my knifes sharpened. After that visit the food carts, just try and pick everyone had a different cart idea, sit down and enjoy live music. Great fun for the family, very friendly with lots of samples offered with out even asking. Just great all around family fun.”
So, there you have it! Five fun, unique, and interesting local gems you’ll enjoy checking out next time you’re in town! Seeking more info?