Resting along the banks of Oregon's Willamette River, Salem is centrally located in the heart of the Willamette Valley. Boasting an urban vibe complemented by a friendly, small-town charm and historic setting, “Salem is easy to get to and easy to get around once you are here,” states Debbie McCune, director of sales for Travel Salem. Oregon’s capital city off ers a wealth of spaces for meetings, conferences and events.
Where to Meet
Any size group will find a suitable space at the Oregon State Fair & Expo Center, located on the state fairgrounds. The wide array of options range from the outdoor 8,900-seat L.B. Day Amphitheater to the cozy 4,000-square-foot Floral Building with a capacity of 220. The Jackman-Long Building is perfect for large expositions or trade shows. With a 48,000-square-foot main hall and 5,148-square-foot meeting area, it has a capacity of 3,466. The multipurpose Pavilion Building has a 30,504-square-foot floor surrounded by tiered seating (5,000 fixed and 2,000 temporary seats). Additional options include the versatile, 36,000-square-foot Columbia Hall with room for 4,000 attendees, and the intimate 5,450-square-foot Cascade Hall, accommodating as many as 300 seated or 500 standing guests.
Located in Salem’s historic downtown core, the Salem Convention Center offers a versatile 30,000 square feet of event space that can be customized for meetings as small as 10 people to gatherings as large as 1,500. Featuring state-of-the-art technology, the venue’s 14 rooms can be arranged for any combination of convention, trade show, meeting or conference activities. Expansive windows bringing in natural light and stylish interiors featuring locally recycled materials reflect the natural beauty of the Willamette Valley. Built to con form to the standards of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the building has been recognized as one of the best green workplaces in Oregon. Moreover, its convenient location provides easy access to downtown Salem’s dining and shopping opportunities.
Conveniently adjoining the center, the historic Grand Hotel in Salem provides refined hospitality and modern comfort in its 193 rooms. The luxurious hotel offers complimentary breakfast and high-speed Internet, a 24-hour business center and regional cuisine in the elegant Bentley’s Grill and Lounge. Smaller groups seeking a unique venue should check out the Chemeketa Center for Business and Industry (CCBI). The modern, high-tech facility offers an array of meeting and event options for groups of as many as 120. Totaling approximately 5,500 square feet, its meeting rooms, boardrooms, classrooms, auditorium and demonstration cooking kitchen are all equipped with high-end audio-visual equipment and Internet access. Sara Dove, director of CCBI, says, “Our full in-house catering and convenient downtown location make CCBI a good choice for anything from a standard business meeting to a graduation or retirement party.”
With 10,000 square feet of versatile function space, the Red Lion Hotel and Convention Center offers a variety of options, as well. The facility’s 11 modern, well-appointed meeting rooms can be arranged to accommodate any size function from a meeting for five to a reception for 400.
What to Do & Where to Go
Post-meeting activities range from relaxing to invigorating. In the heart of downtown, Riverfront Park stretches along the banks of the Willamette River and is perfect for a scenic morning run or late-afternoon stroll; the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway follows the river from Portland to Eugene. South Salem Cycleworks has convenient bicycle rentals— as well as tandem, trailer, cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals—and can provide route information about scenic rides around the city or along the bikeway.
The historic buildings of downtown Salem house boutiques, specialty shops, art galleries and department stores. The beautifully restored Reed Opera House is a unique hub of activity. Inside the 145-year-old building, local shops and restaurants provides an eclectic shopping experience.
The public gardens of the Deepwood Museum & Gardens and Bush’s Pasture Park are steeped in history and perfect for a postmeeting getaway.
Salem is also the heart of the Willamette Valley wine country. Travel Salem can arrange tours of local wineries, such as the awardwinning Willamette Valley Vineyards, that showcase the region’s fine wines. For suds lovers, Ale Ways Brewery Tours—which primarily operates on weekends—takes visitors around the craft beer scene in Salem and Willamette Valley. “This is a fun option for anyone interested in learning about Oregon’s craft beer scene and sampling some great brews,” explains tour leader Bobby Marcum.
Nearby attractions include Silver Falls State Park, The Oregon Garden and the Santiam River recreation areas. “With so much to do and see in the area, it is worth planning an extra day or two,” says McCune.
While it may be Oregon’s second-largest city, Salem has a comfortable, small-town atmosphere that makes meeting here an enjoyable experience.