With its historical downtown and lush greenery flanking the undulating Columbia River, Vancouver, Washington, is a Pacific Northwest paradise for the laid-back. This is just fine with Vancouver Segway Tours, a family-owned company that invites its patrons to experience the small city in one of the most relaxed manners?from a Segway.
The upright machines, which balance themselves through dynamic stabilization technology and yoga classes in their off-hours, respond to the movements of the rider, moving forward and backward along with the helmeted guests. This allows the riders to glide through the city's streets and park paths comfortably and confidently as they learn historic tidbits about the area.
Just west of Mount Hood, Henry Creek High Country Guides' owner and naturalist Tyler Allen puts the skills he learned in Alaska to the test, ushering clients to local fishing holes and teaching them everything from casting the line to grilling their catch in the wilderness. With a focus on conservation and respect for the environment, Allen and his groups embark on half-day trips through Oregon's lush majesty in search of a place to hook a cutthroat trout or kokanee salmon. Trips end by reeling in the day's catch and pouring a complimentary craft beer.
A refurbished relic of the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition, Portland's first and only "World's Fair," the Aurora State Bank building has gone on a hundred year journey to become the landmark it is today. Transported from Portland to Aurora in 1905, its vaults have played host to robberies, Hollywood productions, and dental cleanings. Though the bank's two original vaults remain, they now house racks that Pheasant Run Winery fills with their small-batch, locally sourced wines. Winemakers harvest their grapes from local and sustainable vineyard estates in Willamette Valley, Walla Walla, and Horse Heaven Hills and ferment them into New World-style wines. They cold-soak grapes in small bins to extract more color and flavor for their signature pinot noir and blend merlot, syrah, and cabernet grapes to create a rich red with notes of blackcurrant and plum and the power to unite feuding grape vines.
This grey brick building is also home to their tasting lounge. Guests walk through the original doors and across the original lobby tiles to savor glasses at tasting tables surrounded by dark wood-trimmed windows. Visitors can also find a rotating collection of prints, paintings, ceramics, and jewelry from local artists. The winery owners also connect to the community through their donations to local charities and non-profits.
Born into a winemaking family in Hungary, Josef immigrated to the United States in the late 1950s to pursue baking. After more than a decade, however, he cooked up a new idea. Together with his wife Lilli, he purchased a scenic plot of land in the Willamette Valley and planted his first grape vines in 1978—making St. Josef's one of the earliest wineries in Oregon. Even as his ambition grew, Josef never forgot his roots; his first varietals—namely, riesling, gewürztraminer, and pinot gris—harkened back to his youth in central Europe amid the Adriatic's glistening waves of chablis.
Today, the 40-acre winery—now by a third generation of Josef's family—produces bottles of crisp whites and earthy reds, filling at least 90 percent of each batch with grapes grown on the St. Josef's vineyard. Even as Oregon's wine industry has grown over the years, Portland Monthly praises the well-aged coziness of St. Josef's, saying they've “yet to find a better sipping spot” in all of Willamette Valley.
In Aurora, visitors can find antiques that are as old as the town itself. Founded back in 1856, Aurora has been lauded as one of the best destinations in the U.S. for antiquing, and many of the historic buildings are now occupied by locally-owned businesses including Aurora Mills Architectural Salvage, Time After Time, White Rabbit Bakery, and Aurora Antiques. In addition to antiques, the town is home to a number of artisanal wineries, candy shops, and galleries where artists showcase their hand-made wares.
With uniforms as sleekly black as the paint jobs of the town cars and limousines they drive, Alpha & Omega Limousine Service's pilots transport travellers in style. Like all limo services, they ferry folks to and from weddings, airports, and special celebrations. They also put their knowledge of local culture to work for them, offering special tours of seasonal sights of fine dining. The Limo and Lunch tour travels to one of 10 fine area restaurants, the Wine Country tour samples beverages from four nearby vineyards, and the Christmas Lights Tours show off Queen Ann Victorian Mansion, which hangs over one million lights on the property every year.