Best Things to Do in McMinnville, OR

McMinnville is a charming Oregon town just an hour southwest of Portland. The town is well-known for its historic ties to the Oregon Trail and for the various wineries that can be found throughout the area. I recently spent a few days in McMinnville over July 4, and these are some of my favorite things I did while visiting!

Check out the historic homes

The town of McMinnville was first established in the mid-1800s, and the area’s rich history is still evident today. There are tons of historic homes throughout McMinnville, and many can be found on sidestreets near the main downtown area. A great way to enjoy these homes is taking a drive or walk through town!

Go shopping downtown

McMinnville’s downtown area, which primarily runs down NE 3rd St, is super cute and full of awesome shops. You can shop for everything from clothes to art and locally-made treats. I highly recommend taking a stroll down NE 3rd St and popping into any stores that catch your eye.

Learn about the local history

McMinnville is home to a number of museums that educate visitors on various facets of the town and its history. One of the most well-known museums in the area is Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, a huge museum that holds a number of civilian and military aircrafts. Another great option is the Yamhill Valley Heritage Center, which focuses on McMinnville’s agricultural history.

Taste some local wine

A visit to McMinnville would truly be incomplete without sampling some local wine! There are a lot of tasting rooms and wine bars in downtown McMinnville, and all offer unique blends and offerings. I was thoroughly impressed with my visit to R. Stuart, but you really can’t go wrong in McMinnville.

Keep your eyes on the skies

Did you know McMinnville is home to the country’s second largest annual UFO festival (with Roswell, New Mexico being the location of the first largest)? In 1950, a number of UFO photographs taken on a local McMinnville farm were published in the city’s newspaper. Since then, the small town has become a surprising hub for UFO-chasers. Whether or not you believe in aliens, it is fun to keep an eye on the skies during your visit. In fact, my dad is big into astrophotography, and he captured some amazing star photos during our time in McMinnville (though we didn’t spot any UFOs). Check out his website to see more incredible astrophotography!

I highly recommend a visit to this charming Oregon town, and if you’ve been before I’d love to hear what your favorite activities in the area are!

How to Explore Newport, OR

Newport is a quaint town on the coast of Oregon that is teeming with things to see and do. Located just 2 hours southwest of Portland and 5 hours south of Seattle, Newport is the perfect coastal escape. From rugged coastline to charming shops and some delicious food, Newport truly has it all. If it’s your first time visiting Newport, these are some of the top activities to make the most out of your trip.

Start your day with some coffee

Newport is home to a number of great coffee spots, so make sure to kick off your visit with a cup of Joe. If you prefer something quick, check out one of the coffee stands in town, such as Bonnie’s Espresso or Camp One. There are also a lot of roasters in town where you can enjoy a more laidback coffeeshop experience. My favorite is Surf Town Coffee – make sure to try their lavender chai!

Grab some treats

Another activity I recommend doing in the morning is paying a visit to Pacific Sourdough, which is technically 20 minutes down the road in Waldport. Pacific Sourdough is a legendary bakery that is well-known throughout the Pacific Northwest. They offer a wide variety of breads and both sweet and savory baked goods. I’ve sample the sourdough baguette, lemon rosemary sourdough, lemon bar, lemon poppyseed loaf, chocolate chunk cookie, marionberry muffin, and old-fashioned sugar cookie, and all were to die for! Warning: be prepared to wait in line if you don’t arrive before opening.

Go seal-spotting and explore some tidal pools

You can spot all kinds of animals throughout Newport, from eagles to whales and seals and so much more. One of the best places to do some wildlife-spotting is Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area. Near the Yaquina Head Lighthouse you can find a set of stairs leading right down to the rocky beaches below. At low tide, countless tidal pools of all shapes and sizes are formed where you can spot anemones, starfish, crabs, and other marine life. You’re also likely to spot some seals in the distance! The Yaquina Head area is not only beautiful but also an incredible opportunity to experience Newport’s biodiversity firsthand.

Enjoy some local grub

Unsurprisingly, Newport is known for serving up some exceptionally delicious seafood. You can find everything from small hole-in-the-wall joints to upscale culinary experiences, and almost all are sure to impress. Clam chowder, oyster shooters, and fish and chips abound in Newport, and there are some amazing restaurant options to sample some of freshest and most flavorful seafood I’ve had in the PNW.

Buy fish straight from the source

For seafood-lovers, Newport is a true paradise. There are several great markets in town where you can buy some incredible seafood. One of the coolest options for purchasing seafood is Chelsea Rose, where you can buy a variety of items straight off the boat! Just head down to the pier off of Bay Boulevard and keep an eye out for the vessel. Right down the road is Local Ocean Seafoods, which is another awesome spot to purchase seafood as well.

Get high (in the sky)

Just 15-20 minutes north of Newport you can find Cape Foulweather, a beautiful land formation rising several hundred feet above the sea. There’s a stunning view from this point and you’re guaranteed to get some amazing photos. I also think this would be an amazing place to go stargazing or do some astrophotography, which my dad is really into (you can see some of photos right here).

Despite its small size, Newport offers a surprising amount of activities and sights that make it the perfect weekend destination. I hope you find this guide helpful as you plan your trip, and if you’ve been to Newport before I’d love to hear your top recommendations!