Person with a flowing open map on a hillside vista
Person with a flowing open map on a hillside vista

How To Travel Abroad Without Leaving OregonSeven Places in Oregon that transport you to other cultures

First published 11 January 2022

For those of us with wanderlust, the pandemic greatly curtailed our travel plans, confining us exclusively to local destinations, and only those where it is safe to go. Thankfully, the Pacific Northwest brings with it many amazing proxies for foreign travel. In this piece, we explore the regions, towns and venues throughout the Northwest that share some stunning similarities with their European, Scandinavian and Asian counterparts. If you can't hop on a plane right now, jump in your car and satisfy your wanderlust while contributing to the local economy. Here are seven places where you can travel abroad from your car.

Bandon: Scotland

The Oregon coastal town Bandon on the Sea sounds like it was swept off the coast of the British Isles. Bandon Dunes Golf Resort proves the case. This rolling course in a rugged traditional Scottish links design was built on gorse-choked cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Its chief architect is David McLay Kidd, a Scotsman and second-generation golf celebrity. His father was a longtime superintendent of the famed Gleneagles course in Scotland.

The course has wide fairways, but the fast links style is merciless. Balls roll forever. The rough is difficult---natural sagebrush---and you must sink your putt or your ball may end up far from its intended destination. "Golf as it was meant to be" is Bandon Dunes' motto and a nod to its origin in Scotland.

Medford: Italy

If it's that Italian wine lifestyle you seek, DANCIN Vineyards will deliver. (photo: DANCIN Vineyards)

In Oregon wine country, you can travel to Italy and France without leaving the I-5 corridor. For an Italian experience, go to DANCIN Vineyards, in the verdant hills west of Medford. The vineyard makes Barberas, Sangioveses and ports through traditional winemaking techniques. Its vineyard tasting room and piazza-like setting is a beautiful place to take your love, don big sunglasses and your best shoes, order a thin-crust pizza from the pizza oven and drink a bottle of classic Italian wine in a setting reminiscent of Piedmont.

Wine Country: France

Likewise, if you need to escape to France to sip its burgundies and pinots, cut your travel time to a quick drive to Domaine Drouhin in the Dundee Hills, where Veronique Boss-Drouhin plies her French winemaking family tradition. The Drouhin family roots go back to the 1880s in Beaune, France, the heart of the Burgundian wine experience, where Joseph Drouhin, Veronique's great-great grandfather, began buying vineyards and making excellent wines. That rich family tradition continues in both Beaune and the Dundee Hills, where you can sit back, look over the vines transported from France and truly have one foot in the terroir of Beaune.

Other wineries in Oregon where French winemaking is de rigueur include: Phelps Creek Vineyard in Hood River, where French winemaker Alexander Roy is the director of winemaking; and Chapter 24 Vineyards, where renowned Burgundy vingeron Louis-Michel Liger-Belair consulted the winemaking team that also included Michael Etzel, winemaker at Beaux Freres, another Oregon winery with Dijon clones and French-style wines.

Mt Angel: Bavaria

Mount Angel throws a huge Oktoberfest and has a Glockenspiel Building to prove its Bavarian roots. (photo: City of Mount Angel)

Oregon's Bavaria is centered in Mount Angel, along the western flank of the Cascades. Bavarians had already immigrated to this rural area in the 1880s when Benedictine monks from Engleberg, Switzerland established Mount Angel Abbey, a Benedictine monastery. Mount Angel is a translation of the Swiss town, Engleberg. Nonetheless, Bavarian culture is a compelling force, and soon Mount Angel became Oregon's Germanic enclave. The centerpiece of German culture is Mount Angel's Glockenspiel building, with carved figures and a working town square clock. Naturally, Mount Angel is home to an enormous Oktoberfest every year and a Wurstfest in February. Take home locally made wurst from Mount Angel Sausage Company and continue the festivities with friends and neighbors.

The Wallowas: Switzerland

The Wallowas in Northeastern Oregon are often called Little Switzerland for their size, shape and feel. Accessed from the mountain arts community of Joseph, visitors can plan day hikes with water, a sandwich from Old Town Cafe and chocolate from Arrowhead Chocolates, then off you go into Eagle Cap Wilderness, a smaller-scale Alpine outing. If you're going to make the trek all the way, you might as well go big---either with a multiday wilderness camping experience, or use the Scandinavian-esque The Jennings Hotel as your refined base camp for healthy day hikes up to breathtaking wilderness tarns.

Real Ales: England

Sometimes just the culture of one venue can completely transport you to a different place. Such is the case with The 3 Legged Crane Pub and Brewhouse (formerly Brewers Union Local 180) in Oakridge, where real ale is served British-style from the cask and firkin. Hand-pumped like pubs in England, cask-conditioned ale retains its yeast once pit into casks, where it undergoes a secondary fermentation while cellaring in casks and served at an optimal 53 degrees---slightly warmer than most Oregon craft styles. The journey to the tiny hamlet of Oakridge will add to the experience, as will the mountain biking if you want to challenge yourself in a different way.

Perhaps the only other bold experiment with real ale pulled from casks in Oregon is Porter Brewing Company in Redmond, where patrons can sit down to small-batch cask-conditioned imperial pints of real ale.