Fun for all during winter break

December 12, 2023, Lynne Brown

The Willamette Valley offers a variety of fun activities in December, especially during the holiday season. There are plenty of family-friendly activities and attractions to enjoy.

Here are some enjoyable things to do in the region:

  • Christmas Markets: Explore the local Christmas markets and craft fairs that pop up during the holiday season. You can find unique gifts and enjoy a festive atmosphere.
  • Holiday Light Displays: Drive or walk through the neighborhoods with the best holiday light displays. Some areas go all out with beautifully decorated homes and streets. At the Benton County Fairgrounds, visit the drive-through Pastega light display. With many iconic cartoon characters decked out in lights and movement, the Pastega light display is a Corvallis classic over the holidays.
  • Ice Skating: Some cities, like Eugene and Salem, set up temporary outdoor ice skating rinks during December. It’s a fun activity for all ages.
  • Holiday Theater and Performances: Check out local theaters and performance venues for holiday-themed shows, concerts, and plays. In Corvallis, the Regional School of Ballet will perform The Nutcracker on December 8th and 9th at the Corvallis High School Theatre.
  • Outdoor Activities: If you enjoy the outdoors, consider hiking, nature walks, or even a scenic drive through the picturesque Willamette Valley.
  • Hot Springs: Soak in the warmth of the hot springs in the nearby Cascade Mountains to stay cozy during the winter months.
  • Festive Dining: Try some of the region’s excellent restaurants and cafes, which may have special holiday menus and seasonal dishes.
  • Wine Tasting: The Willamette Valley is known for its excellent wineries and vineyards. Many wineries have festive events and tastings during December. It’s an excellent time to sample some local wines and enjoy the beautiful vineyard scenery.
  • Holiday Brews: Oregon is famous for its craft breweries. Enjoy some seasonal brews at local breweries, many of which release special holiday-themed beers.

Family Fun in the Willamette Valley

Experiences designed especially for kids add to the festive atmosphere in December. Here are some things to do with kids in the Willamette Valley during December:

  • Holiday Light Displays: Visit holiday light displays, like the Pastega Light Display at the Benton County Fairgrounds, or simply drive through local neighborhoods and appreciate the displays put on around town.
  • Visit Santa Claus: Many venues in the area invite children to come visit Santa. Look for local listings where Santa will be, such as the Heritage Mall in Albany, and take your kids to see Santa, share their wish lists, and take pictures.
  • Christmas Train Rides: Some scenic train rides, such as the Oregon Rail Heritage Center’s Holiday Express in Portland or the Holiday Express in Hood River, offer festive train rides with holiday decorations and even Santa on board.
  • Storytime at the Library: Many libraries in the area host special holiday-themed storytime events for children, often with crafts and activities.
  • Christmas Tree Farms: Visit a Christmas tree farm and let your kids choose a tree to take home. Many of these farms offer additional activities like hayrides, hot cocoa, and more.
  • Holiday Craft Workshops: Look for locally advertised holiday craft workshops and classes for kids. These events often teach children how to make ornaments, decorations, and other festive crafts.

Check the event calendars of surrounding towns for the most up-to-date information on family-friendly holiday activities. 

December is a magical time to get out, explore the region, and create lasting memories.