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Stately Events in Salem

Oregon’s elegant capital city is a breath of fresh air for events

By Amanda Christensen

In the heart of Oregon’s sprawling Willamette Valley sits the city of Salem, the capital of the Beaver State and home to a flourishing scene of delectable restaurants, historic museums, lively attractions, and an abundance of meeting and event venues. Its location in the valley makes it an agricultural hub for local products, from ciders and spirits to berries, nuts, cheese, and—of course—wines.

Oregon Pioneer statue atop the  Oregon State Capitol building in Salem
Oregon Pioneer statue atop the Oregon State Capitol building in Salem || Photo by Jake, courtesy of Adobe

Vibe: “Salem’s status as the capital of Oregon lends a sense of importance and official ambience to corporate gatherings,” says Debbie McCune, director of sales for Travel Salem. “The proximity to the Oregon State Capitol and government buildings can add a distinctive touch to meetings.”

Transportation: For local Oregonians gathering in the capital, Salem is conveniently located—accessible by car via Interstate 5. For out-of-state business visitors flying into Portland International Airport, Salem is an hour’s drive away. For those who would rather fly direct, there are two routes that fly into Salem Municipal Airport: one from Burbank, California, and the other from Las Vegas, Nevada, both via Avelo Airlines.

Hotels: For a historic backdrop, gather at The Holman Riverfront Park Hotel, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, formerly The Holman Building that served as the home of state government from 1857 to 1876. Today, it offers an array of event spaces including its 1,150-square-foot Holman Ballroom, which can host up to 100 theater-style. The Grand Hotel adjoins the Salem Convention Center and features on-site meeting spaces. There are also several branded Wyndham, Hilton, and Marriott hotels in the city.

Meeting Venues: The Salem Convention Center stands prominently in the city’s downtown and features 14 flexible meeting rooms totaling 30,000 square feet of function space. The Oregon State Fair and Expo Center is on the northeast side of the city and offers noteworthy spaces attendees will remember, including the Floral Building and the Historic Horse Stadium. Consider the Willamette Heritage Center, originally built in the 1840s, with space for groups of up to 350.

Restaurants: “Salem’s culinary scene, which includes a variety of local and international dining options, can enhance the overall experience for corporate visitors,” says McCune. Consider Bentley’s for comfortable fine dining with menu items including fresh seafood and choice steak, all made with Pacific Northwest ingredients. The restaurant has semiprivate group dining options available for various event types. Best Little Roadhouse offers miniature golf on-site as well as catering services, while Beehive Station features a variety of food trucks attendees can explore post-meeting.

Must-Sees and -Dos: It’s not a gathering in the Willamette Valley without a wine tasting. Organize a visit to any of Salem’s nearby wineries and sip on a glass of pinot noir, the varietal the region is most known for. Airlie Winery, Andante Vineyard, and Eola Hills Wine Cellars offer tastings and site tours. For the history enthusiasts in your group, add a tour of the Bush House Museum or the Deepwood Estate to the agenda. Take advantage of the outdoor opportunities in Salem with a kayaking excursion on the Willamette River or tree climbing via guided tours at Silver Falls State Park.