Small town have a tendency to upend your expectations of travel. Instead of exalting vistas and towering monuments, there are tiny moments of deeper connection and everyday joy. The slower pace primes you to notice these snapshots, and the longer you stay in a small town, the more they start to accumulate. All of a sudden, you realize that it’s only been a few days and you have somehow already become part of the fabric of a place.
Here are some of my favorite McMinnville moments that feel like magic
1. You’re a celebrity. You hesitate for a moment at one of the crosswalks on Third Street and realize you’ve stopped traffic entirely.
2. Helpful people everywhere. You’re staying at the Atticus Hotel reading hand-selected books by Nicholas Walton of, who has hand-selected C.S. Lewis’s theological dream poem The Great Divorce for your room, and then you run into him the next day making your latte at Flag & Wire Coffee Company.
3. Civics matter. You’ve picked up and are reading the paper again. It’s the 152-year-old News-Register – seriously, what small towns put out such a large newspaper anymore? – and it looks like you might recognize a few names already.
4. Mom and pop thrive. After having stayed at the Douglas on Third boutique flats, grabbed your morning latte at Union Block Coffee Company, and finish the night off at The Oak, only to discover that they are all owned by the same family.
5. Somebody loves you. The staff at Red Fox Bakery is already pulling your seasonal fruit scone as you walk up because you’ve been there every morning this week.
6. Experts in the ether. While up on the rooftop at McMenamin’s Hotel Oregon, you struggle to get the perfect angle to capture a sunset across the Willamette Valley and the town’s veteran photographer walks over to help you out.
7. Your new best friend. Dressed to the nines, you slip into the swanky cocktail lounge at Thistle and leave feeling like you’re besties with one of the nation’s top mixologists, Patrick Bruce.
8. Ease of access. Having snuck out of the rain and into the 5th Street tasting room of Brittan Vineyards and get schooled by an a true wine artist, Robert Brittan, who scrapped life in Napa Valley to coax brilliance out of the world’s most persnickety grape varietal (Pinot noir).
9. Farm-to-table for real You’ve eaten breakfast at The Diner, lunch at Valley Commissary, and dinner at Pura Vida, and you realize you’ve eaten produce grown by the same enterprising, first-generation Millennial farmers at Even Pull Farm.
10. Constant contact. The people on the street are looking you directly in the eye. Maybe it feels weird at first because you’re coming from a big city where eye contact sometimes feels like a threat, but you’re getting used to seeing, and being seen. It feels good.
Learn more at VisitMcMinnville.com.