Must see Attractions in Salem Oregon

Salem is the capital of Oregon as well as Marion County seat and boasts a population of over 154,00 making it the third largest city in the state. Founded on the Willamette River in 1841 by Methodist missionary Jason Lee, Salem was named after the Biblical word for peace and intended as a Native American community. Lee eventually drew up a town layout and sold off lots in order to raise funds for the foundation of the Oregon Institute now known as Willamette University. Nicknamed “the cherry city” because of the cherry growing industry, Salem became capital of the Oregon Territory in 1851.

Capitol Mall is a 16 block area comprised of government buildings including the domed state capitol building and features Capitol Park and its statues to regarded Oregon figures. The capitol structure is modern Greek marble that was dedicated in 1938 (it is the third capitol house) and recognized from a distance by the pioneer statue atop the dome. Inside, visitors can tour the rotunda and historical, art and mineral exhibits.

Riverfront Park is 23 acres of rolling lawns and walking paths partially overlooking the river that is a fine place for family outings. The park is home to the Riverfront Carousel and its 42 horses. The area was formerly an industrial and warehouse district and the bright tile decorated Eco Earth Globe used to be an acid storehouse belonging to Boise Cascade Paper Mills. A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village is a children’s museum devoted to arts and humanities as well as science housed in three historic buildings and outdoor discovery center.

Bush’s Pasture Park is 40 acres dominated by rose gardens. Included on the grounds are the 1882 greenhouse Bush Conservatory, Bush Barn Art Center and 1877 Italianate home Bush House Museum. Deepwood Estate is an 1894 Queen Anne Victorian home situated on 4.5 acres of English-style gardens within the park.

Willamette Heritage Center at Mission Hill is a 5.5 acre area encompassing a number of historical homes, Pleasant Grove Church, restored 1889 and the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill complex. The most noteworthy home is Lee House and Parsonage belonging to Salem founder Jason Lee. The Marion County Historical Society and Archives are also located on the grounds.

The Prewitt-Allen Archaeology Museum is located on the campus of Corban University. At Willamette University, there is the Collins Science center and Martha Springer Botanical garden. Salem’s premiere art center is the Hallie Ford Museum of Art offering two floors of art exhibits. Wine enthusiasts may want to check out the Honeywood Winery and Bethel Heights Vineyard. The primary shopping areas are the Salem Center Mall downtown and Lancaster Mall.

From May to October, the Salem Saturday Market offers local produce, crafts and products. The Wednesday Farmers’ Market occupies Courthouse Square during summers and Holiday Gift Market opens in December. For two days every June, Salem hosts the World Beat Festival presenting international cuisine, music and dance. Another annual summer event is the Salem Art Fair and Festival held in Bush’s Pasture Park. The major summertime attraction is the Oregon State Fair held from late August through Labor Day at the Oregon State Fairgrounds.