The 7 Best Things to Do in Albany, Oregon

Albany Oregon Willamette River Ellsworth Street Bridge Benton Linn Counties
GarysFRP / Getty Images

Albany is the best-kept secret in Oregon, and it makes sense. The town’s charms are easily overlooked as you drive by a collection of chain stores and strip malls, but if you drive through the city’s historic downtown, a different picture takes shape. Albany is home to three historic districts with buildings dating back to the 1850s in more than six different architectural styles. It’s the kind of place where smiling faces greet their neighbors as they pass on the sidewalk, heading to their favorite independent businesses. Add in a lovely location at the confluence of the Calapooia River and Willamette River, amazing restaurants, a historic carousel, and proximity to wine country, and you’ll be glad the secret is out of the bag.

01 of 07

Visit the Historic Carousel and Museum

albany carousel

Courtesy of Albany Visitor's Association

503 W 1st Ave, Albany, OR 97321, USA
Phone +1 541-497-2934

The Historic Carousel and Museum is the pride and joy of Albany. Volunteers in the community have been working together to restore it for almost 20 years. The mechanism is over 100 years old, and each one of the elaborate animals is hand-carved over a period of roughly nine years. Even if you don’t intend to actually take a ride, it’s worth visiting the building to watch the volunteers in action or tour the museum downstairs, where historic carousel animals and more are on display.

02 of 07

Treat Yourself to an Incredible Meal

Sybaris Steamers

Courtesy of Sybaris

Albany is home to a surprising number of incredible restaurants, including the James Beard Award-nominated Sybaris Bistro. This should be a must-stop on your visit. The food is fantastic, fresh, and just as good, if not better, than anything that will cost you twice as much in Portland. The service is friendly without being overbearing, and they also have fantastic cocktails.

The city is also home to many immigrant-owned restaurants, including Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant, which specializes in traditional Hungarian fare sourced from local ingredients, many of which are grown in the restaurant’s own hydroponic garden.

Margin Coffee offers irresistible local coffee, tea, quiches, and pastries if you're just looking for a quick bite.

03 of 07

Visit Willamette Valley Wine Country

Springhill Cellars

Courtesy of Springhill Cellars

Springhill Cellars is located within the Albany city limits and typically open to the public for tastings from May through December. It’s small, family-owned, and most of the grapes are sourced from their own estate vineyards. The tasting room is cozy, charming, and friendly.

But once you get outside Albany, you’ll find the surrounding area is dotted with wineries, most within less than an hour's drive. Willamette Valley Vineyards in Turner is less than 20 minutes away. They’re a large-scale operation with spectacular views and a gorgeous, posh tasting room with indoor and outdoor fireplaces.

If you take a picturesque 40-minute drive through farm country to Monroe, you’ll find the hills are dotted with small wineries where you can chat with the owners or winemakers as you taste their way through their lineup. It’s a special experience. Standouts include Bluebird Hill Cellars, a winery and bed-and-breakfast where you can bask in stunning views as you sip a glass of award-winning wine on a lovely wrap-around porch.

04 of 07

Get Active

Monteith River Park

M.O. Stevens via Wikimedia Commons

As previously mentioned, Albany is located on the confluence of the Calapooia River and Willamette River, which makes it a great place for kayaking and fishing. There also plenty of scenic hiking trails in the area.

Monteith River Park is located downtown. It’s a great place to take a stroll along the river or enjoy a picnic or a game of horseshoes. If you’re lucky enough to be there in summer, the park is also home to Albany’s free summer concert series.

If your dream getaway includes golf, you’re in luck. There are two 18-hole public golf courses within Albany’s city limits: the Golf Club of Oregon and the Springhill Golf Club.

Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07

Explore Local History

Covered Bridge in Oregon
Buddy Mays / Getty Images

If you want to learn more about what life was like in Albany in the early days, be sure to stop by the Monteith House, which served as a store, private home, and community worshipping and gathering place in the mid-1800s. Since it’s rumored to be haunted, tours of Monteith House are especially popular around Halloween.

The Albany Regional Museum communicates even more of the area’s history with a focus on early industries like timber, metal, and the railroad.

If you’re looking for a unique backdrop for photos or simply want to get out and take a scenic drive, a driving tour of Linn County’s historic covered bridges is a lovely way to spend an afternoon. 

06 of 07

Support Independent Businessess

The Natty Dresser

Courtesy of the Natty Dresser

One of the joys of spending time in downtown Albany is the way the businesses support each other. If you start up a conversation with a store owner, they’re likely to tell you which shop you should visit next. They look at themselves as partners, not competitors, and genuinely delight in each other’s success.

The sidewalks are lined with unique businesses. Be sure to pop into the Natty Dresser, a men’s haberdashery and gift shop that also offers unique services like hat shaping, alterations, and shoe shining.

Also not to be missed is Gallery Calapooia, where you can buy artworks created by local artisans in a variety of mediums and price ranges. It’s the perfect place to pick up a beautiful reminder of your visit to Albany.

Finally, at the end of the day, take in a movie at the family-owned Pix Theater.  In addition to regular movie fare like popcorn and candy, they also offer unique concessions like veggie and hummus plates and three-cheese and pesto quesadillas. They even serve local beers and ciders.

07 of 07

Stay in a Historic Airbnb

Airbnb in Albany, Oregon

Courtesy of Airbnb

Although there are several chain properties within the city limits, there aren’t currently any hotels in Albany’s historic districts. There are, however, many gorgeous, reasonably-priced privately owned rental units. To make the most of your visit and truly get a feel for Albany’s personality, opt for an Airbnb in one of the historic districts. There are many fabulous options available whether you’re looking for a single room, a historic downtown apartment, or a whole house to yourself.

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The 7 Best Things to Do in Albany, Oregon