Welcome to Oregon City, Oregon’s hometown. This small city about 13 miles south of Portland has been an important location for Native Clackamas peoples for thousands of years, as they’ve gathered to trade and fish along the banks of Willamette Falls. After European settlers arrived, Oregon City became the capital of the provisional government of the Oregon Territory in 1845. Today many historic businesses, new ventures, distilleries, wineries, food-cart pods and cafes are all vibrant pieces of the Oregon City culinary quilt. Here’s how to have a tasty trip.
Enjoy Modern Grub on Main Street
Along the Willamette River, you’ll find the quintessential “Main Street USA” downtown Oregon City. It may have a 1950s vibe, but downtown is a modern social oasis. Corner 14 Foodcarts Spirits & Brew, a community-focused indoor and outdoor space, has 11 unique cuisine carts, cocktails and Celtic axe throwing. Across the street, Oregon City Brewing Company is home to world-cuisine food carts offering Thai, sushi, Mediterranean and more. Or grab a table at one of downtown’s great sit-down restaurants, including Canard, Nebbiolo or Mesa Fresca.
Take an Atomic-Age Ride to Midtown’s Views and Brews
From downtown you can’t miss the futuristic 130-foot Oregon City Municipal Elevator. Hop a short, free ride up to Midtown for spectacular views of the river from the viewing platform at the top of this 1955 outdoor elevator, one of four municipal elevators in the world. At the top, notice the 1840s historic homes like the McLoughlin House, some with plaques denoting historical significance and notable Oregon City residents.
Once you’ve enjoyed your stroll, a fine selection of whisky awaits you at The Highland Stillhouse, an authentic Scottish pub overlooking Willamette Falls. Enjoy hearty Scottish comfort food like haggis balls (seasonally) and beer-battered Oregon rockfish or Pacific cod fish and chips.
Feeling playful? Shuffleboard, pinball and jukebox fans love the Madison Taproom for snacks, brews and ciders poured from 15 rotating taps. If you prefer your buzz from coffee, Singer Hill Cafe is the place to kick back with a swirl-topped latte and flaky slice of quiche while admiring their beautiful vertical gardens, both inside the café and outside on the patio.
Maybe you’re thinking brunch for lunch? Visit The Hive Social to enjoy fried chicken and waffles or eggs benedict in a bright, modern space. Or, if you’re craving the perfect burger, cruise through Mikeʻs Drive-In, a local institution for juicy made-to-order burgers.
Drink Craft Beers and Spirits Uptown
A bit farther southeast is Oregon City’s modern Uptown district, the business core of Oregon City and a hub for craft breweries, distillers, cider works and eateries.
Did you know that right here in Oregon City is where Portland got its name? Two New Englanders tossed a coin to see which of their hometowns Portland would be named after. You know who won. (History buffs can even take a self-guided tour of the Ermatinger House where it all took place.) Named after that fateful flip, Coin Toss Brewing Co. is a standout taproom and brewery where you can kick back with a pint from a rotating selection of IPAs, stouts, fresh-hop brews and lagers. There’s even a special Oregon City Golf Club beer to celebrate the club’s 100th anniversary.
Four minutes south of Coin Toss Brewing Co. by car, 12 Bridge Ciderworks uses Hood River Valley fresh-pressed apples and fruit juices from local orchards to make its popular ciders, including the medium-sweet Hawthorne Apple and tart, dry Burlington Boxcar Dry. Donʻt miss seasonal offerings like Maple Haze, made with real maple syrup and Oregon hazelnuts. If you prefer spirits, 10 minutes south off Highway 213 is an award-winning artisan beverage company, Trail Distilling. This woman- and veteran-owned distillery and tasting room has an outstanding Trillium Pink Pinot gin, which is rested in pinot noir casks, as well as First City rum, vodka or whiskey.
Take a Mini-Road Trip to Go Wine Tasting
Uptown is also a gateway to several Willamette Valley wineries located in the hills outside of town. Christopher Bridge Wines grows classic Willamette Valley pinot noir and pinot gris, blocks of chardonnay, and German grapes, with tastings open all year on weekends. The stone architecture of Villa Catalana Cellars frames a stunning vineyard vista. Make an online reservation for a tasting flight to pair with a wood-fired pizza.
King’s Raven Winery produces wines inspired by Burgundy, including red and rosé pinot noir. It’s also one of the only places in Oregon you can taste wines made from the intriguing German hybrid Phoenix, which produces a refreshingly dry white. The tasting room is open year-round from Friday to Sunday. Centered on Burgundian tradition, Forest Edge Vineyard specializes in chardonnay, chardonnay blends and a barrel-aged sparkling chardonnay. Complimentary tastings are offered in a forested setting. Check all wineries’ websites for hours and seasonal closures, which can vary from year to year.
On your way back to Oregon City, refuel at Uptown’s Lil’ Cooperstown Bar & Grill, which serves classic and creative burgers like the Whiskey BBQ Bacon, big salads, breakfast all day, and signature pizzas and sandwiches. Or visit The HiVe Taphouse for a pint and a rotating menu of homestyle cooking prepared fresh by the Perky Pantry food cart. If it’s the weekend, you might even catch some live music. Now relax, settle in and welcome home to Oregon City.