While traveling I-5, you will find the small towns of Sutherlin and historic Oakland tucked in between Roseburg and Eugene. I know you’ve seen it, the bright green shop with huge mushrooms on top of the building, that’s the north off ramp for the town of Sutherlin. While it’s a great pit stop to grab a quick coffee, if you just take a little time and explore a little further you will be delighted to find a friendly community in growth. Enjoy a meal, shop at their locally owned businesses, get outdoors and hit a trail and you will be overcome with the warm welcome you receive.
As I mentioned the iconic shop with mushrooms on top, it’s much more than what you assume it is and definitely worth stopping into. The Magic Mushroom / Oregon Gift Shop is named after the beautiful “Magic Mushroom” lamps that shop owner Linda’s husband makes. He started making the lamps in the 1970s in Santa Monica, California and he has continued creating them ever since. Not only can you buy the lamps there, this is the spot to shop for unique gifts mostly made by local artists here in Oregon including jewelry, tie dye clothing, crystals, rocks, and even honey!
When you head east on Central Avenue you will reach downtown where you can shop at a variety of different locally owned shops in one spot. Family & Friends Mercantile is a cooperative where you can not only purchase locally made crafted goods, but DIY classes are offered on a regular basis by sister-owners Lynne Ralls and Sue Eggleston.
Just two doors down stop into The Woodshop where local woodworkers join together to sell their beautiful art and where you can also buy a variety of wood to make your own creations. If you have time, chat up Mary the shop owner who has fantastic stories that will have you belly laughing and you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face.
After that head across the street to Books Gallery where you can grab a cup of coffee while you peruse their huge selection of old and new books. If you need help finding a specific book, owner Levi knows the store like the back of his hand and will point you in the right direction If you have the time, walk through the labyrinth of shelves, find a cozy nook, and read your favorite authors amongst the company of giant plants placed throughout the shop. More than just a bookstore, they are becoming a community hub for creative events and are looking towards growing together with their community.
Since you will already be downtown, you MUST stop in for a visit to the Radio Days Theater of the Mind Museum. Don’t let the outside deceive you because it is not what you think it is. While there are many antique radios to look at, you will find a treasure trove of vintage collectibles that have been lovingly curated by the owners Dennis and Rhonda Wright. Ask Dennis about anything in the museum and his eyes spark with excitement as he tells you about each item. People fan their passion donating amazing items including three player pianos that actually still play. Throughout the year they host classic movie nights where they provide popcorn and candy, complete with vintage movie seating. You definitely have to see it to believe it. Stop in on Fridays and Saturdays to get a tour!
To complete your shopping excursion, I always say that if you want to find the pulse of a community, shop at their local farmers market. Shop local makers goods, nibble on artisan foods, and listen to live music while you stroll the Sutherlin Farmers’ Market on Thursday afternoons, April – October.
EAT & DRINK
If you are traveling on the weekend you must stop into Wailani Shave Ice and Island Grindz. You can just feel the good vibes as you walk through the door. Wailani is all about bringing community together and putting a smile on every person’s face that walks through the door. Enjoy Hawaiian plate lunches and Vietnamese BBQ for lunch or dinner and then top off your meal with one of their fluffy as snow shave ice. In the summer enjoy food truck Fridays, a community gathering of food trucks with adult shave ice, and music.
While downtown make sure to stop into Backside Outpost, Backside Brewing Co’s sister restaurant serving up their beer, cocktails, and delicious pub fare. They often host live music and other community events on their outdoor patio. If you like belly filling sandwiches, then a stop at Nellie’s Deli & Tap House is a must. Nellie’s offers custom made hot and cold sandwiches piled high with deli meats, and fresh veggies. They also offer salads and wraps, and local beer on tap.
Walk, bike or wheelchair at Ford’s Pond just minutes from downtown Sutherlin. Enjoy the two mile path that goes around the whole pond, half of which is paved and includes viewpoints for wheelchairs along the way. If you’d like a more primitive trail, two loop trails are manicured for hiking and mountain biking, the Meadowlark Loop is .7 miles and Rosa Ridge is .9 miles. In the works is a new all abilities playground that will include water features, musical instruments, a log forest, wheelchair accessible equipment and more.
If you are looking towards a day on the water, Cooper Creek Reservoir offers all the outdoor activities one could desire. Hike and mountain bike trails, grab your fishing rod and take your boat out for the day, bring a picnic and spend a day swimming. It’s a great spot for the whole family!
TAKE A STEP BACK IN TIME IN HISTORIC OAKLAND
Oakland was the first city to be placed on Oregon’s state historic registry. Walk around downtown to see its original brick buildings that were built in the 1880s and 90s with Stearns Hardware being in operation since 1887. Stop in to the Oakland Flour Mill Antiques and Gifts and Old Town Antiques to not only shop but take in the history of the buildings they inhabit. The Oakland Flour Mill not only sells antiques but offers handmade gifts and artisan goods made by locals, a great place to grab some gifts.
If your stomach starts rumbling then you can stop into Oakland Tavern (another historic building, established in 1898) where you can nosh on huge sandwiches while you sip an ice cold beer. Or walk around the corner to The Secret Wine Society where you can enjoy wines from local wineries and from around the world. Spend an afternoon in conversation with their very knowledgeable staff while enjoying small plates, cheese and charcuterie boards.
You can dig a little deeper into Oregon wine and head out to Spire Mountain Cellars where you can enjoy their estate grown Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, and Rosé while taking in stunning views of Tyee mountain. When you are finished there head north to Meadows Estate Vineyard & Winery where their tasting room offers sweeping views of their 17 acres in the Umpqua Valley. Finish off your day by heading back into town to the Triple Oak Wine Vault where they specialize in Umpqua Valley wines.
A visit to Oakland would not be complete with a stop at Mildred Kanipe Memorial Park to say hello to the resident peacocks. At the day use area you can visit Mildred Kanipe’s grave and home that was built in 1865. Enjoy the picnic area and walking path that takes you along a creek bed with views of Mildred’s buggy shed, barns, and old orchards. Nearby find multiple hiking trails for a range of experience levels and even some trails for equestrians.
NOTABLE ANNUAL EVENTS
Sutherlin is a fantastic destination to visit anytime of year but if you’d like to center your vacation around some events there are a few to choose from.
Join the community in celebrating your four legged friends at the Umpqua Woofstock every June. Play doggie games, get doggie photos and they can even win prizes.
Do you love live music? Gather at Sutherlin’s Central Park every Thursday evening for the months of July and August at Music off Central. Bring a blanket, order food from the food truck, and listen to a variety of local, regional and sometimes national musicians. The splash pad and playground are nearby so that even the kids can listen while they play!
Join the North Umpqua’s Sutherlin in what’s soon to become a summer tradition for you and your family at the Sutherlin Throwdown. Enjoy a weekend of Bags, BBQ & Brews at this Pacific Northwest BBQ Association sanctioned BBQ competition featuring up to 40 teams battling for $10,000. At the same time the Southern Oregon Cornhole league will be sponsoring a competition with up to 120 teams competing for $5k in prize money. To top it all off there will be a Brewfest featuring breweries from all over the state.
Celebrate the best of summer at the Sutherlin Blackberry Festival in August. Enjoy the small town vibe at car shows, golf tournaments, vendors, mud volleyball, blackberry cooking contest, a drive in movie, live music and more.
In addition to the usual hotels, Sutherlin and Oakland have some pretty unique options to enhance your stay. At the KOA in Sutherlin you can spend the night in The Griswold Family Vacation Trailer where you can also enjoy all of the amenities of the park including an outdoor movie theater, playground, and lawn games. In Oakland there are even more options. Mildred Kanipe Memorial County Park has a large campground with restrooms, hiking trails and horse camp. Meadows Estate Winery Farmhouse offers a cottage that sleeps four and a larger house that accomodates up to fourteen with views of their vineyard below. If you’d like to stay closer in town the Oakland Guest Suite sleeps four and is located on a beautiful property on the outskirts of Oakland and is within walking distance of historic downtwon Oakland.
There’s so much to do and see in the North Umpqua, make Sutherlin the basecamp for your next adventure.