Silverton, Ore., is known as the Garden City in a state famous for lush greenery and prolific gardens. My husband and I recently explored Silverton, an hour's drive south of Portland in the middle of the Willamette Valley (local T-shirts proclaim in rhyme that it's pronounced "Willamette, Damn-it"), and discovered a lot goes on in this little town. We spent $275 for two nights at the Oregon Garden Resort, $7 for admission to Silver Falls State Park, $24 at the Gathering Spot Café and $75 for halibut dinners and artisan cocktails at the Creekside Grill.
We checked into the woodsy, rustic lodge at the Oregon Garden Resort (895 W. Main St., Silverton;  966-6490, www.oregongardenresort.com), which houses a spa, a restaurant with sweeping views and a lounge with nightly live music. Our room was nestled in one of a series of cottages, with a fireplace and private balcony. Complimentary breakfast is included, as is free access to the adjoining Oregon Garden (www.oregongarden.org), where you can meander on winding paths through 80 acres of themed gardens (therapeutic, conifer, children's, rose, etc.) and a wetland area that filters the town's water supply. Tour the only Frank Lloyd Wright house in Oregon, designed for a gentleman rancher, which is also on the grounds. The property is bike- and pet-friendly.
You can sample Zombie Fries (sliced, tempura-battered portobello mushrooms in truffle oil) on the patio at Creekside Grill (242 S. Water St., Silverton; (503) 873-9700, www.creeksidesilverton.com), but for a real locavore experience, try the Hemp Burger by Sorta Sausage or the roasted corn and black bean salad at the Gathering Spot Café (106 N. 1st St., Silverton;  874-4888, www.gatheringspotcafe.com). Open 8 a.m.-3 p.m daily), between stops in the eclectic shops of the historic district.
We drove 15 minutes through a pastoral landscape of Christmas tree farms, fruit orchards and vineyards before arriving at the towering redwoods in Silver Falls State Park, where we walked the Trail of Ten Falls and thrilled at being able to walk behind and beneath a few of the cascades as they plunged into the deep canyons.
The lesson learned
Visit the last weekend of June and participate in the Petal Pedal — a gourmet distance bike ride that starts and stops in Silverton, with three different routes, mostly flat, that take in the patchwork-quilt views and tiny towns of the scenic Willamette Valley (www.petalpedal.com).
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