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Spruce Goose, Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, McMinnville, OR
Guest Author | 10/25/2023 | Itineraries

Wings to Wings: An Epic Day Trip from Corvallis to McMinnville

Are you a "wing" nut? All kidding aside, we’ve put together ideas to explore "wings" from Corvallis to McMinnville, making for a great day trip along Highway 99W. Choose from aviation, avian, AVA, and alpaca adventures!

Bring your camera and binoculars to the birding hotspot, the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge (26208 Finley Refuge Road, Corvallis), where 117 species of birds have made this habitat home. It's the perfect place to spread your "wings" and fly into the world of feathered friends. While there, you may notice small airplanes buzzing overhead from the Corvallis Airport off 99W (5695 SW Airport Ave, Corvallis), which is about a 15-minute drive north. This airport features the last surviving giant timber wood hangar on the West Coast.

Stay on 99W heading north, which becomes 3rd Street, as you drive through beautiful downtown Corvallis and swoop to Lewisburg. Want to meet a bird of prey up close? Chintimini Wildlife Center (311 NW Lewisburg Ave), with its eleven Raptor Ambassadors, offers public and private tours of their rehabilitation facilities.

Flit to Adair Village for the Camp Adair Memorial Gardens in the E.E. Wilson Wildlife Area (29694 Camp Adair Rd, Corvallis). Make sure you buy your $10 daily pass ahead of time so you can learn about Camp Adair’s impressive WWII history and watch the airshow of a variety of birds (including bald eagles, osprey, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and pheasant game birds) while piloting along the 1.5-mile interpretative trail.

(Photo Credits: William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, Lainey Morse; Chintimini Wildlife Center, courtesy the CWC; E. E. Wilson Wildlife Refuge, courtesy the Refuge.)

The following towns heading north on 99W are Monmouth and Independence. While Monmouth is home to Western Oregon University, and Independence has a cute downtown, why not head to the Independence Airport (4705 Airport Rd, Independence) to eat brunch at the tiny yet award-winning diner Starduster Cafe? They close at 2 p.m. daily and can get busy. Insiders say to call ahead to get on the waitlist. It's a fun place to fuel up on a meal while your imagination takes flight with the passing planes.

One of McMinville’s biggest attractions is the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville), home of Howard Hugh’s Spruce Goose, "the largest flying boat ever built." Here you can get your fill of all kinds of wings and even some non-winged flying machines!

(Photo Credit: StarDuster Cafe, Stacey Newman Weldon)

The fun doesn’t end in McMinnville! On your return trip to Corvallis, there are a few fun stopovers to add to your cruise. Head back to 99W and start south. North of Amity is Wings and a Prayer Alpacas (18100 OR-99W, Amity). Call ahead to check if the owners are there for tours or treks. If not, viewing from the fence is fine (but the alpacas may be in the barns).

After driving through Amity’s center, feed your inner co-pilot chocolate. Adjust your flight plan and detour to the Brigittine Monastery (23300 SW Walker Lane, Amity), where they sell fudge made by the monks! The shop is open daily, and they have gardens to stroll through (but don’t expect to see the monks, as they are busy with their duties).

Add AVA exploration with a detour off 99W to the Airlie Winery (15305 Dunn Forest Rd, Monmouth). Take your Heart of Willamette Wine Passport to this Willamette Valley AVA, dog-friendly, women-owned winery, where you can buy “meticulously crafted wines” and picnic by the pond. Let your taste buds soar by pairing a wine with the monk-made chocolate fudge!

Land your trip at the end of the day with a “Sunset and Cider” at Terra Bella Farm in Adair (6959 NE Elliott Circle). At this boutique farm experience, you’ll sip and snack with alpacas or goats and - of course - meet the winged ones - flocks of ducks and chickens. It's a whimsical way to wrap up your day filled with wings of all kinds.

(Photo Credit: Wings and a Prayer Alpacas, Brigittine Monastery, by Stacey Newman Weldon.)

As you taxi in for the last leg of your "wing to wing" journey of discovering the charming treasures along Highway 99W, having marveled at the avian wonders at the wildlife parks, delved into the rich history of aviation at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, or indulged your imagination with wine flights and alpacas encounters, remember to capture and share your incredible memories on your social media channels. Inspire others to embark on their own adventures by using the hashtag #VisitCorvallis.

Article by Stacey Newman Weldon. Feature Photo Credit: The Spruce Goose at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, by trackofalljades, CC BY 3.0. Keep up with Corvallis news, events and happenings by signing up for our email newsletter.

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