Top 10 things to do around Salem

by Jennifer Johnson,

  • City of Salem

No matter what time of year you visit Willamette University, there are plenty of fun things to do in Salem — and our faculty, staff and students are sometimes at the center of it.

Here’s a list of a few Willamette favorites:

1. Hallie Ford Museum of Art

A jewel of Willamette’s campus and Oregon’s third-largest art museum, HFMA packs an incredible amount of art into its space. Exhibitions range from classical to contemporary work, and permanent galleries highlight Pacific Northwest and Native American artists among many others.

2. The Space Concert Club

Professor of Chemistry Karen Holman’s band, City of Pieces, performs at this venue and several others in the Salem area. Known for great vegan food and drinks.

3. Capitol City Theater

Professor of Chemistry Chuck Williamson regularly performs and teaches improv there. Other Willamette connections as of 2019: Emma Jonas ’15 regularly performs improv and standup and Owen Lyon-Smith ’21 is a student team show performer.

4. Elsinore Theatre

Musicals, comedy, classic movies, concerts. The president of the Elsinore board is a Willamette alum.

5. Oregon Symphony Association in Salem

Performs every year on Willamette’s campus.

6. Oregon State Capitol

Located across the street from the capitol, Willamette is the only university in the Pacific Northwest that offers such direct access to state policymaking. Students intern for judges, research at the state archives and contribute to our laws.

Check out the moon rock, too. In the governor’s office, view the small lunar samples collected from the Apollo 11 mission in 1969. Astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin brought back the samples, which were distributed to all 50 states by President Richard Nixon.

7. Minto-Brown Island Park

There are more than 1,200 acres of open and wooded areas to explore in Salem’s biggest park (and you might catch President Steve Thorsett on a morning run.)

8. Gilbert House Children’s Museum

Interactive children’s museum with 15 exhibits. Located near the popular Riverfront City Park.

9. Willamette Heritage Center

Across the street from Matthews Hall — and on your way to Tokyo International University of America — the center features early settlement buildings, shops, art galleries and cooperative artist studios.

10. Reed Opera House

Renovated historic building that houses shops, restaurants and bakeries.


Back to Top