Every spring, I break out my all-time favorite picnic cookbook, The Picnic: Recipes and Inspiration from Basket to Blanket, and I do it up in style: Tiny foods. Finger-sized bites. Flavorful tidbits.
Picnics are the tiny traveler’s dream since they represent everything good about the tiny traveling lifestyle: Easy moments drawn out for maximum momentous pleasure.
Want a real fool’s errand? Try choosing the best picnic spots in and around McMinnville. This place might claim its fame through wine and restaurants and UFO festivals, but its real bliss is synonymous with the art of lingering, in place, all of life’s pleasures spread out around, the rest of the world goes all afritter. With easy food options nearby, it should probably be a tradition to stop, drop, and find a grassy knoll.
So here goes. I’m sharing my best places to lay a quilt, organized by categories so you can figure out the best fit for you.
Where: Wortman Park
Why: This little pearl of a city park has play equipment for the kids, a walking path through a pretty, shaded landscape, an on-site frisbee golf course, and lots of squirrels.
Get there: Wortman is right off of 99W, the main highway through McMinnville, on NE McDaniel Lane.
Bring: Your frisbee golf discs and any wheeled equipment (bikes, razers, skates) since the path is paved. You can print out a disc golf scorecard here.
Food: Pick up some savory croissants at Red Fox Bakery.
Where: Coeur de Terre Vineyards
Why: You don’t need hearts to be in love, but you do need privacy and great views. This vineyard and winery has all of those things, plus award-winning Pinot and a generous porch to hang out on.
Get there: From 99W south of McMinnville, take a right (drive west) on SW Masonville Road. Follow it as it winds for four miles, and the winery is on your right.
Bring: One perfect blanket for two people.
Food: Pick up a basket of pint-sized food at Roth’s upscale grocery on the way there. Try the olive bar, a sumptuous cheese counter (they can help you pick to pair with wines), fresh bread and seasonal berries.
Where: Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge
Why: Baskett Slough is perfect in every season, but if you catch it in June, you might meet some wildflowers and the Fender’s Blue Butterfly, which is found only in prairie remnants of the Willamette Valley.
Get there: Head towards Corvallis on 99W; Turn right on Coville Road. It will curve to the left, go up a small hill, and the parking lot is on your right.
Bring: Binoculars, an Oregon wildflower guide, and good walking shoes
Food: Stop by Amity Bakery & Cafe for house sandwich specials and any special baked goods for your trip.
Where: Miller Woods
Why: Get lost and found on the 130 acres of this private nature preserve just minutes from McMinnville.
Get there: Plan ahead: reservations are required, and you can book your visit on their website. From 99W, head West on NW Baker Creek Road. As Baker Creek bears left stay straight onto NW Orchard View Road. At the stop sign, turn right to stay on NW Orchard View Road. Proceed 1.8 miles, look for Miller Woods drive entrance on Right. Proceed down driveway 0.2 mi. Stay to the right to enter the parking area.
Bring: Good shoes for rain or shine, water bottles.
Food: Stop in at Harvest Fresh Grocery for deli sandwiches — the crew can accommodate any and all of you and your friend’s dietary needs.
Where: Lower City Park (aka Dragon Park)
Why: If you really came to McMinnville to walk and shop 3rd Street, you want to stay where the action is. This way, you can get your outdoor fix just steps from the boutiques and wineries.
Get there: Park is behind the McMinnville Library
Bring: Your walking shoes.
Food: Stop in at Peirano & Daughters, the Italian provisions outpost of Nick’s Italian Cafe owner Carmen Peirano, for European deli salads and fresh salumi sandwiches. They will be reopening June 24.
Learn more at Visit McMinnville.