Once again... I loved this question! I pretty much love all the questions I get as the AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador. Enjoy this trip as you ride along while you read my response!
"We are 4 adults planning a trip (~5-7 days) in early August. We have a wedding outside of Sacramento, CA and plan to fly from San Francisco to Portland, rent a car and ?????? We are in mid sixties, don't hike, raft, fish, - just site seeing; we enjoy country lodges, B&B's. any suggestions? One of us is a historian, 2 are shoppers and the third can go either way!!"
I think today is your lucky day! I am not only the AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador, I happen to also be an inn inspector for the Oregon Bed & Breakfast Guild! So, I know where all the best inns are here in the valley but feel free to peruse the entire website at www.obbg.org
Here is a list of some of my most favorite B & B's and lodges here in Oregon:
Sakura Ridge, Hood River Valley: http://sakuraridge.com/ ( a gorgeous lodge not in the Willamette Valley but one of my fav places to stay )
Le Puy A Wine Valley Inn: http://lepuy-inn.com/
Black Walnut Inn: http://www.blackwalnut-inn.com/ (truly a has a lodge feel)
Abbey Road Farm: http://www.abbeyroadfarm.com/
I have more so please let me know if you'd like a more extensive list. You can also use the interactive map on the website listed above for the B & B guild.
Now for some fun! I will stick to the Willamette Valley as you will most likely get some wonderful ideas about other areas from a few other AskOR Ambassadors.
One place I would def put on your short list is the Oregon Gardens: http://www.oregongarden.org/ This is a beautiful place and be sure to take a tour of The Gordon House. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, this is the only one of his homes in the entire state of Oregon. From the gardens, I would head over to our state capitol, Salem! A tour of the state capitol building should be on your list as well. Here is the link: http://www.oregonlink.com/capitol_services/capitol_services.html This would actually be a great place to begin your journey! From Salem, I am going to guide you over to Corvallis and Albany. Both cities are well known for their shopping, delicious food and museums. Although, I happen to be partial to Albany since that is where I live.
The Albany Regional Museum plays host to photographs, artifacts and writings that tell an awesome story of this region. Once known as the "hub" of the Willamette Valley, Albany's history portrays a bustling and vibrant town as evidenced by our historic districts. Albany boasts the most in number and the most varied styles of historic homes and buildings in the entire state of Oregon. So... it is not unusual to see photographers walking our neighborhoods to capture our gorgeous homes. You can pick up your self guided tour book at our local Albany Visitors Assn. Here is the link: www.albanyvisitors.com
In Albany, you will also find a huge two story antique mall. This place is amazing and I try and go at least once a week. Here is their link as well: http://albanyantiquemall.com/ Besides this mall, you will find a few more antique shops, some boutiques and several places to have coffee, lunch and/or dinner. Albany also is home to the only Hungarian restaurant in Oregon and if you love dessert, go to Novak's and ask for the "chocolate box!" So good!
You will also find a place so magical here in Albany that you just won't believe it! Check out our darling Albany Carousel Museum and Carving Studio: http://www.albanybrassring.com/ This is a 15 year project ran entirely by volunteers. We only have about 5 years left to complete this project but it has been an amazing feat. Each piece of this carousel including each animal is hand carved, hand painted and once the pieces are finished, they await the finished carousel at several shops and restaurants around town. You are free to go in and peruse the museum, watch the carvers at work and ask for a tour and get the whole story. The volunteers there are happy to show you around.
One last little suggestion here is to check out the little town of Brownsville, Oregon. A pioneer town that is home to one of the best little museums in all of Oregon, the Linn County Museum ( http://www.co.linn.or.us/parks/museums/historymuseum.html ) is pretty spectacular for such a small Oregon town. If you get to Brownsville, check out Randy's Coffee House: http://www.randysmainstreetcoffee.com/ Their cinnamon rolls are to die for!
I hope this info has helped and please let me know if you'd like some suggestions for dining, wineries or more shops. I am happy to help!
Thanks for your question and if you get to Albany, come by and say hello. I am also happy to set up a tour of the carousel museum for you and if you'd like to taste amazing Pacific Northwest cuisine prepared by our very own James Beard Award nominated Chef, Matt Bennett, I am happy to make reservations for you and your friends as well.
Enjoy your trip whatever you decide to do!
Travel Oregon AskOR Willamette Valley Ambassador
The Pfeiffer Cottage Inn 541-971-9557