Most tourists bee-line to McMinnville for the dozens of wineries that dot the hillsides here and through Yamhill County. But there's plenty to discover in the small city at the base of the hills, from food-forward restaurants and coffeeshops to historically preserved theaters and a hopping arcade.
Given its proximity to Portland (45 minutes, if you hit the traffic lights through Sherwood just right), exploring the Mac proper, beyond the grape, makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Here's what you need to put on your itinerary.
Where to Stay
Before you get to any playing, and before you get to any eating, you need to be staying. On the outskirts of McMinnville’s historic downtown, A’ Tuscan Estate Bed and Breakfast offers rooms with an old-world, courtly charm, as though you’ve just woken up in a Jane Austen-esque fairytale—these accommodations have indeed bewitched us body and soul. (Check out their cottages, too.)
For a more urban, modern feel, check out 3rd Street Flats and the Atticus Hotel, both downtown. At 3rd Street Flats, you’ll find 11 self-service and full-service flats with amenities including complimentary wine and chocolate or local teas and coffee. At the luxe Atticus, the emphasis is on local pride; work by area artists hangs on the walls, the book selections have been curated by locals, and the connecting restaurant and lounge comes from Red Hills Kitchen, a longtime hangout for residents. (Pro tip: don’t forget to ask about the front desk about the secret drawing room.)
If all else fails, there’s always McMenamins. Their four-story Hotel Oregon across from the historic Mack Theater features 42 rooms, a restaurant, live music venue, and rooftop bar.
Where to Play
No trip to McMinnville is complete without a stop at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, which features a vast collection of aircrafts and spacecrafts, a flight simulator, a café, and tons of exhibits. The museum is also home to the Spruce Goose, a massive flying boat constructed by Howard Hughes. (November 2, 2022 marks the Spruce Goose’s 75th anniversary.)
Stretch your legs by checking out the trails at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey for a contemplative hike. (The monastery also allows visitors to rent our rooms at their retreat for the day.) Meanwhile, Joe Dancer Park offers a small trail system near the Yamhill River, plus a fun skatepark. Watch the planes take off at the Galen McBee Airport Park while you perch up on one of its many picnic tables about the forest trails. (Don’t forget to pay a visit to the mushroom house while you’re there.) Lastly, lace up for the Miller Woods Conservation Area. Throughout the 130 acres of forested grass land you’ll find an array of ecosystems, with more than four miles of trails. If you’re a cyclist, there are plenty of routes in the area to explore. Just make sure to pay a visit to Tommy’s Bike Shop if you need a tune-up.
Break open that piggy bank, we’re heading to Joysticks, a quarters-only arcade. (Don’t worry they’ve got an ATM in the back.) From the retro classics to a wall of pinball machines, make your mark on the leaderboards while sipping on something from their rotating tap list.
Vinyl heads can find a hidden gem at Vortex, the best (well, only) independent record store in the county, and literary nerds can find another book to add to their ever-growing “To Read” list at Third Street Books.
Where to Eat/Drink
Your day in McMinnville begins with a good breakfast. For a top-notch one, try Wildwood Café, a delightful country diner decked out with vintage signs on the walls and kitchen utensils hanging from the ceiling. Food’s pretty good, too. Try the Wildwood French toast, topped with their house-made granola. Red Fox Bakery & Café offers simple breakfast options and stellar pastries and breads. Don’t forget to snag a tin of macaroons.
Up Highway 99W in the parking lot of the Grocery Outlet, Antojitos La Gordita food cart serves up deliciously inspired Mexican food: tortas, flautas, tamales, burritos, esquite, and more. Wash all that down with a large horchata. For tantalizing Thai food, Thai Country Restaurant is a local favorite. (Note: amid coronavirus, this restaurant is doing takeout only.) Open Tuesday through Saturday, Mac Market has been serving rotating small plates from house chef Kari Shaughnessy, coffee, cocktails, and community in its 10,000-square-foot renovated warehouse since 2019.
Enjoy pizza, pool, and pinot noirs at the Oak, a two-story, full-service bar with seasonal cocktails and rotating beer on tap. After hustling some out-of-towners at the billiard table, swing over to HiFi Wine Bar for a post-game victory vino. There’s a lot to love here, but the space will especially resonate with music nerds for its vinyl selection, surround sound system, and live music. For Spanish-inspired cuisine, a trip to La Rambla is a must.
Blue Moon is the kind of place where you end your night, the kind of dive bar where locals chat it up with heavy-handed bartenders while Tom Petty plays on the radio. (It’s cash only at this establishment, friend.) For the cocktail-minded, Conservatory Bar has strong PNW focus, with handcrafted cocktails built from locally sourced ingredients.