This spring, I had a quick tour of Cottage Grove, Oregon that left me wanting more. Known as the covered bridge capital of Oregon, it has the largest grouping of covered bridges on the West Coast, and the only remaining covered railroad bridge west of the mighty Mississippi River. When an opportunity to return came my way, thanks to an invitation by Village Green Resort, I was thrilled to have another chance to explore this small town.
After touring the town for two days, I realized Cottage Grove has more than covered bridge appeal. It also has murals, foodie stops, gold mining history, and outdoor recreation. And, it is the perfect home base for touring the area’s wineries.
If you are planning on an Oregon getaway, here are seven reasons to visit Cottage Grove.
Disclosure: You can help support my small town travels by using the affiliate links in this post, at no additional cost to you.
1 – Covered Bridges
Let’s start with the main attraction – covered bridges. There are a total of seven covered bridges. Two are next to downtown, and the others are a short drive away.
- The Centennial Bridge (1987) – A pedestrian covered bridge at the end of Main St. built from the timbers of two demolished covered bridges.
- Swinging Bridge – Downstream form Centennial Bridge, this foot and bicycle traffic bridge it is no longer operational.
- Chambers Railroad Bridge (1925) – The only remaining covered railroad bridge in the West. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places it is open to foot and bike traffic.
- Mosby Creek Bridge (1920) – Is the oldest bridge and you can drive through it.
- Stewart Bridge (1930) – Close to Mosby Creek Bridge and above a favorite swimming hole.
- Dorena Bridge (1949) – You can drive through this bridge.
- Currin Bridge (rebuilt 1925) – The 60-foot bridge crosses the Row River.
Travel Tip: To learn more visit the Covered Bridge Tour Route.
2 – Scenic Murals
Cottage Grove has 20 murals, and almost all of them are within walking distance of downtown. Some of my favorites were the Buster Keaton Mural that commemorates the movie “The General” filmed near Cottage Grove in 1926. The 1920’s Main Street Scene Mural painted from a photo from the 1920s. And, the Opal Whiteley Mural, that pictures the town’s gifted young author and natural science genius who caused quite a sensation after she said she claimed she was a lost princess of France.
Travel Tip: Download the Scenic Mural map.
Travel Tip: Visit the Cottage Grove Historical Society to find out more about Opal Whiteley.
3 – Dine and Drink
While in Cottage Grove I got to explore its culinary scene and tried a few places in town for dining and drinks. At Jack Sprats Restaurant, I had Moroccan fish and rice. At the Axe and the Fiddle, I had a burger, and a beer, and another beer at The Brewstation, which also has a food truck outside. At the Village Green Resort, a short drive from downtown I had a Caesar chicken salad, onion rings, and a happy hour wine at the Fireside Lounge and for dinner at Seasons at the Green Restaurant I ordered the tri tip special. To satisfy my sweet craving I popped into Backstage Bakery & Cafe for a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie.
4 – Biking
Checking out the trails by bike was one of the favorite things I did in Cottage Grove. I rode a section of the Covered Bridge Scenic Bikeway, also called the Row River Trail. The trail starts in downtown Cottage Grove near Bohemia Park and extends for almost 16 miles around Dorena Lake. I rode out to Mosby Bridge and back.
I also biked the paved trail at the Row River Nature Park. The park is 56 acres and has paved and dirt paths. Located along the river, you can expect to see some wildlife.
Travel Tip: If you have young children with you, the park is a good option as the trails are shorter and you can stop at the Monarch Waystation, fish in the stocked ponds, or dip your feet in the river. And, if you are traveling with your pet, this is a great place to go for a walk.
Travel Tip: If you are traveling by car and have the set up to bring your bike, bring it.
Travel Tip: If you’d rather not bring a bike, Rainy Peak Bicycles (533 E Main St.) rents bikes for $5 an hour.
5 – History
If you love gold mining and its history, you’ll want to stop at the Bohemia Gold Mining Museum. Dedicated to gold mining in the Bohemia Mining District, which is 34 miles from Cottage Grove in the mountains, the museum has a collection of gold mining artifacts, photographs, ore samples, and more. Staff is happy to give a short tour that explains some of their items and the history of Bohemia mine.
Travel Tip: Open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm. Suggested donation: $2. (check the website first, in case their hours have changed.)
6 – Unique Stays
I had the opportunity to stay at two unique places in Cottage Grove. The Village Green Resort features comfortable rooms in a rustic setting with 14 acres of gardens, an outdoor seasonal pool, onsite dining, and an RV Park. Built in 1960 as a luxury motor lodge the hotel is a piece of Cottage Grove history. If you are looking for an affordable hotel with comfortable rooms with modern amenities, you’ll want to stay here.
If you are more of a get in touch with nature sort of traveler, then I’d recommend Lily of the Field Bed and Breakfast. Located on 1200 acres in the mountains near Dorena Lake, the setting is idyllic with forest trails, gardens, and views that take in the surrounding forest. And, a perk when you stay at the two-room B&B is that you get the entire space to yourself, which includes two bathrooms, a downstairs living room, and a patio. (I’ll be writing about my stay here at WanderWithWonder.com soon.)
Travel Tip: The owners said that Verizon gets cell reception at the B&B. I have AT&T, and it did not work.
7 – Wineries
If you are a wine lover, plan to visit the nearby vineyards. The closest is Saginaw Vineyard, which is around an 8-minute drive north of Cottage Grove. Further away are the vineyards on the Territorial Highway, which is 70 miles and goes from Cottage Grove to Junction City. Closest to Cottage Grove is Iris Vineyards, King Estate Winery, and Chateau Lorane. I’ve been to all but Chateau Lorane and can recommend each one.
Travel Tip: Many wineries have summer and winter hours so be sure to check the websites to see when they are open.
Travel Tip: Dining at King Estate Winery is very popular. I’d recommend making a reservation.
That wraps up my seven reasons to visit Cottage Grove. Did you find something that you’d like to do?
Note: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with accommodations and tastings for the purpose of review. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.