A Day in Salem, Oregon
Since having kids, I have come to appreciate the Salem area more than ever. It is incredibly family friendly and if money is tight and a full fledged vacation is out of the picture, Salem would be the perfect location for a “staycation.”
Here is a list of just a few of our favorite destinations in Salem.
Pre-Outing Coffee Stop: Broadway Coffeehouse
Broadway Coffeehouse is our favorite locally owned coffee house. Here coffee is an art, but they are not pretentious about it. Bring the family along and find the perfect spot to sit down somewhere within their spacious building.
They serve Stumptown coffee and their latte art is sure to impress the little ones. There is also an adjacent yogurt shop, if that is in the budget. Broadway is located between Keizer and downtown. If you are coming from the Portland area, this would be a great stop as you head into Salem.
Salem Saturday Market
The Salem Saturday Market is one of the best frugal outings in the area. If we don’t have plans on the calendar, this is where we can be found. This is also one of our children’s favorite places to go.
The market is open every Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm April – October and offers about 200 vendors during peak season. It can be found in the state parking lot at the corner of Summer and Marion Street. It is near the State Capitol building (great short walk) and has plenty of free parking.
If you are looking for a bathroom the market has portable toilets and sinks to wash up in. Over the years it has steadily grown and is the perfect size for families to explore.
Be sure to keep your eyes out for free balloons for the little ones, and the market often has activities for young children at the Saturday Market booth.
If the troops are hungry, there are plenty of yummy things to sample and it is the perfect spot for a frugal snack. Grab some kettle corn, a fruit cup, or a loaf of artisan bread and head over to listen to the live music.
Lunch: Venti’s Cafe
Venti’s is our favorite place to eat together as a family. If going out to eat as a family is in the budget, this would be a delicious place to eat. They now have two locations.
Venti’s Cafe is in downtown Salem on Court Street and is a counter service style restaurant. They have great specials and the restaurant is nice and open.
I love taking our kids here because it so easy to just order at the counter, find our own spot, and even just roll our stroller right up to the table when there is room. For fresh healthy food the service is quite fast.
The other location is the new Venti’s Cafe and Taphouse on Commercial Street in South Salem. This is a family-friendly sit down restaurant with a clean play area for children. They have coloring menus and crayons, kids cups, and plenty of options for even the pickiest of eaters. Sometimes it can get busy during peak meal hours, so call ahead and make a reservation if you are planning a visit. Even this mini van driving mama feels hip after eating there.
Both locations have a menu with a wide variety of options and they consider themselves “multi-culti.” Meat eaters, vegetarians, vegans, and people needing gluten-free options will all have plenty to choose from. They also have a bazillion craft beers on tap.
After you chow down you will need to find a place to burn off the amazing sweet potato fries.
Minto Brown Island Park
We absolutely recommend Minto Brown Island Park. We can’t get enough of this place and I know you will love it too. It is very large and has two parking lots to choose from, each leading to different things to explore. It is near an urban area, but functions as farmland, nature preserve, wildlife refuge, and park. I always feel like I am on a vacation when we visit this peaceful park.
We usually park in the first parking lot on the right hand side and then head back across the road and visit the ducks before continuing on. Its paved paths are great for riding toys, family bike rides, and strollers.
If you visit during the summer, be sure to bring a basket because there are tons of blackberries to pick. The park has bridges, streams, ponds, a huge dog park, portable toilets, a play structure, wildlife, educational signs (actually cool ones), over a hundred bird species, and lots more. This expansive park is the ideal place for a nature walk.
Snack: Great Harvest Bread Company
One of our family’s frequent stops is Great Harvest Salem. I love that they use freshly ground flour and all-natural ingredients, and my kids love all the yummy choices. Grab a free slice of bread for everybody, and buy a loaf of whole wheat cinnamon chip for french toast the next morning. The scones, brownies, huge cookies, ice cream sandwiches in summer, and savory breads are also to die for.
Their downtown location is right next door to Venti’s Cafe on Court Street and their South Salem location is on Commercial on your way to Venti’s Taphouse. They also have a West Salem location.
Still looking for more fun?
If you happen to have any spare time in your day be sure to check out Riverfront Park. The park offers a carousel, splash pad, amphitheater, real bathrooms, giant globe, pathway down to a small stern wheeler, large grassy areas, and huge play structure.
Kari is a blessed wife and mom to 4 year old twins and a 21 month old. She lives in Salem and loves local natural/organic deals, frugal homemaking, creativity with little ones, planning parties, and small projects around the house.
Ready to discover (or re-discover) Portland? From the coast to the Gorge, from Clark County to Salem, The Ultimate Guide to Portland Family Fun will allow you to experience the awesomeness this area has to offer!
This post may contain affiliate links. See the disclosure policy for more information.