July to October are the best times to wander the country roads in the Willamette Valley, exploring the grounds of its many wineries. Fall is spectacular, with leaves at their colorful peak in late October. Winters are usually mild, but they can be relentlessly overcast and downright rainy. Visitors not disturbed by dampness or chill will find excellent deals on lodging. In the spring rains continue, but the wildflowers begin to bloom, which pays off at the many gardens and nature parks throughout the valley.


International Pinot Noir Celebration. During the International Pinot Noir late July and early August, wine lovers flock to McMinnville to sample fine regional vintages along with Pinot Noir from around the world. P.O. Box 1310800, McMinnville, OR, 97128. 800/775–4762.

Oregon Bach Festival. Eugene hosts the world-class Oregon Bach Festival, with 18 summer days of classical music performances. 1257 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, 97403. 541/346–5666 or 800/457–1486.

Oregon State Fair. In late August and early September the Oregon State Fair in Salem has 8,000 things to do, see, and taste, ranging from carnival rides, top-name concert performances, animals, carnival-style games, and bodacious rides. 2330 17th St. N.E., Salem, OR, 97301. 503/947–3247.

Tigard Festival of Balloons. Look high in the sky for evidence of the colorful Tigard Festival of Balloons in June—hot-air balloons soar above the town throughout the weekend, launching from Cook Park. 19600 S.W. Cipole Rd., Tualatin, OR, 97062. 503/612–8213.