Sometimes, a city just gets it right.
Salem has always been blessed with a beautiful location right on the Willamette River and on the edge of the Willamette Valley wine region. The city has taken advantage of this ideal location by improving the Riverfront Park and utilizing it and its great potential. First they added an old-time refurbished Salem Riverfront Carousel, housed indoors to keep it safe from the elements. They added the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village Children’s Center – a fabulous place to take the little ones. They began removing the remnants of old industrial sites that marred the natural beauty of the area. The park is refurbished with wide, undulating paths that follow the river and criss cross to the playground, or to the little Salem Riverboat which docks at the park and can take visitors on leisurely cruises on the river. There are plenty of benches set out so visitors can sit and watch the wildlife play in the wetland areas that hug the shore of Minto Brown Island across the water. There is plenty of room for a picnic in the shade of a tall oak tree, or a game of frisbee on wide lawns.
Throughout the year, the park is utilized as a perfect setting for celebrations such as the annual World Beat Festival, Fourth of July fireworks, wine festivals, or movies in the park. The newly added stage/covered area is well-designed to look similar to an old Oregon Trail covered wagon, paying homage to Salem’s roots. Nearby is a gigantic globe and the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge which looks similar to the wings of a butterfly. A statue of Governor Tom McCall stands proudly on the shore of the river, the man who brought Oregon to the forefront in the fight for sustainability before being “green”was in style by creating the first ever bottle-bill. This wonderful park sits right on the edge of downtown, making a visit to downtown Salem well worth your while!