The Nearby Tourist: The Whimsy of Wilsonville


In the quest to visit nearby towns with fresh eyes and a disruption to my everyday routine, I hit up Wilsonville. I stopped by once on my own, and then again with my whole family. We had more than enough to fill an entire day of discovery and exploration, and we will undoubtedly be back!

This town and surrounding areas felt like a literal breath of fresh air – so much gorgeous farmland and woodsy areas – but with plenty of adorable places to eat, drink, and explore. And as someone who is irrationally stressed out finding a parking spot in Portland, Wilsonville and its easily-accessible parking made the day that much better. Whether planning an adults-only trip or a day with the family, Wilsonville is a whimsical spot to add to the rotation.

Farms & Outdoor Spaces

Driving through woods and farmland leads to our first stop at Graham and Tooze Farm It’s adorable, filled with farm animals to check out, and a country store stocked with farm fresh eggs, firewood, and local gifts. A sweet spot to check out with everyone, but if you’re on your own and want to partake in some gentle yoga, Red Barn Yoga has you covered. If you love the farm atmosphere but also like to cook, then I highly recommend you check out The Kitchen at Middleground Farms for cooking classes geared to both kids and adults.

Craving some fresh air and nature, we headed to Graham Oaks Nature Park for plenty of bike, walking, and hiking trails. It was stunning – perfect for kids to go wild and explore and for the adults to enjoy scenic reprieve. If birding is more your cup of tea, then you will want to spend some time in Coffee Lake Wetlands.

We also took a bike trip through nearby Champoeg park, where my daughter exclaimed, “It looks like the fairies live here!” She’s not easily impressed, but this spot had a hint of magic to it! If you just want a good old fashioned park to explore and keep the kids happy, Memorial Park is the spot for you. Not only does it include a great, newly expanded play structure, but it also boasts over 100 acres of green space and trails to explore.

Eats and Sweets

If you’re needing some coffee to start your day, Corner Coffee Shop is cozy and sweet with lots of offerings and delicious breakfast sandwiches, and is next door to Wild Grains, a gluten free bakery with plenty to offer. As someone who is very attached to her gluten, I saved my appetite for sweet treats for a bakery a little up the road: Lux Sucre. Hands down, this spot is one of the best bakeries I’ve ever visited and I anticipate many more treks. Filled with High ceilings, beautiful, bold wallpaper, and selfie-worthy bathroom décor, this spot is a delightful blend of quirkiness, delicious treats, and ambiance. The kids devoured their Lucky Charm flavored cupcakes, and I loved the macaroons and wide selection of loose leaf tea.

And while you’re out in this direction, if you head just a little further south to Canby, there’s an adorable bookstore worth the detour! I know this doesn’t fall under the category of Eats and Sweets, but coffee shops and book stores are my peanut butter and jelly. If the way to your heart, like mine, is through independent bookstores, then don’t miss the Book Nook!

For lunch and dinner options, there’s plenty of delicious places to choose from. My kids were partial to McMenamins Old Church and Pub for the atmosphere and wooden beams, and I can always get behind their classic tater tots. Other highly recommended places we were advised not to miss include Kirin Ramen for great Japanese food and Abella for spectacular Italian food. Several locals told me that next time I’m in town, I have to make it to Boones Junction for their well known burgers and gourmet pizza. For locally sourced food and a fantastic deal on happy hours, Oswego Grill is the way to go and another local favorite.

Fun Extras

And perhaps the biggest hit of the day, for my children at least, was the trip to Bullwinkle’s. An afternoon filled with go karts, bowling, a ropes course, boats, mini-golf, and arcade games is just about everything they could have ever asked for. I ended up having more fun than I was prepared to admit, and now my kids are clamoring to go back as soon as possible.

If you’re lucky enough to get a day to yourself when you don’t have to participate in mini golf unless you want to, Wilsonville has some pretty spectacular adult-centric activities that beckon after a long winter cooped inside. The Soak Box Spa offers a variety of sessions including floating in salt water, cold plunges, and warming up with an infrared sauna for maximum physical and mental health benefits and some well-deserved relaxation.

If wineries and breweries are your thing, then you can’t miss Lady Hill Winery, a family run farm and winery, that will impress you with the wine and the views. If you’re feeling more in the mood for beer, stop by Ordnance Brewing for snacks and at least fifteen of their in-house beers on tap. Dogs welcome!

Not only was Wilsonville scenic, charming, and filled with plenty of entertainment for all of us, but I was also reminded how visiting a new place can invigorate the soul. A diversion from our routines and ordinary spots proved reinvigorating and inspiring, and now we are armed with some new favorite spots that we will undoubtedly be visiting again!

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Emily Corak has spent the last three decades in the Pacific Northwest and prefers to live in Vancouver because parking in Portland terrifies her. A mom to two kids, ages 3 and 7, Emily has been an educator for the past decade and she currently works with middle school English language learners. She wasn't planning on becoming a mother, but she's glad she was so careless because it turns out she really likes being a mom. Most days. Emily is now going back to school for her MFA in creative writing after deciding she had more to offer the world than breast milk and unsolicited grammar advice. When the world allows, she spends any spare cash on plane tickets, and she lives for books, tea, and all things Top Chef. She occasionally writes about anything and everything that comes to mind, and you can find her work here: