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, I was thrilled to have another chance to explore this small town and share with you all the best things to do in Cottage Grove, Oregon.
After touring the town for two days, I realized Cottage Grove has more than covered bridge appeal. It also has beautiful murals, great restaurants, rich gold mining history, and outdoor recreation opportunities galore.
As a plus, it is the perfect home base for touring the area’s wineries!
If you are planning on an Oregon getaway, here are all the best things to do in Cottage Grove.
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The Best Things to Do in Cottage Grove, OR
Check out the many covered bridges in Cottage Grove.
Let’s start with the main attraction – the Cottage Grove covered bridges.
There are a total of seven covered bridges in Cottage Grove. Two are next to downtown, and the others are a short drive away.
These are the cottage bridges you can find in and near Cottage Grove, along with the date they were built and a quick history.
- 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 (1920s): Downstream from Centennial Bridge, this foot and bicycle traffic bridge is no longer operational, but work is in progress to restore it.
- 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): The oldest bridge — you can drive through it!
- Stewart Bridge (1930): Close to Mosby Creek Bridge and above a local favorite swimming hole.
- Dorena Bridge (1949): You can drive through this bridge.
- Currin Bridge (rebuilt 1925): The 60-foot bridge crosses the Row River.
Check out the town’s 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.
Another favorite is the 1920s Main Street Scene mural, painted from a photo from the 1920s, as well as 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.
You can also visit the Cottage Grove Historical Society to find out more about Opal Whiteley.
Travel Tip: Download the Scenic Mural map.
Eat your way through the small town dining scene.
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 — delicious!
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.
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.
Hit the local bike trails.
Checking out the trails by bike is definitely one of the coolest things to do 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. If you are traveling with your pet, this is a great place to go for a walk!
Travel Tip: If you’d rather not bring a bike, Rainy Peak Bicycles (533 E Main St.) rents bikes for $5 an hour.
Learn all about gold mining 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.)
Go wine tasting at local vineyards.
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.
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.
Where to Stay in Cottage Grove
I had the opportunity to stay at two unique places in Cottage Grove.
Village Green Resort
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.
The hotel features comfortable rooms in a rustic setting with 14 acres of gardens, an outdoor seasonal pool, and an RV Park.
Close the I-5 and on Row River Road which leads to one of the county’s covered bridges, the Village Green Resort is in a great location to tour the sights of Lane County and is a short 4-minute drive to downtown Cottage Grove.
Before staying at the resort I had no clue about its fascinating history as I didn’t see any mention of it on the website. Built in 1960, it was originally called The Village Green Motor Hotel and operated as a luxury motor lodge. It was very posh with golf carts that shuttled people around.
Geared toward family and business travelers, one of their taglines was “Fun for everyone.” Some of the amenities included two pools, beauty shops, golfing, shuffleboard, bowling lanes and onsite dining and bar options. The hotel developed quite a reputation and for six years in a row, it won the Mobil Five Star Award. At the time only four hotels in America had earned that rating.
Located right off I-5, the Village Green Resort is super easy to find. It’s important to note, that the hotel consists of several buildings, all of which are on the ground floor (so don’t be looking for a multi-story complex). Once you pull into the hotel’s main drive you’ll see a covered area and a sign for the lobby. Pull under, and check in!
I arrived mid-afternoon and within minutes I was on my way to my room. As I mentioned all guest rooms are on ground level, and I’m not even sure how to describe the style, it’s almost a rustic barn look.
The resort has four different room types, standard, deluxe, executive and luxury suite. I stayed in deluxe room which featured a queen bed with their signature Moonstone mattress (super comfy), fireplace, and a private garden patio.
It also had a sitting area, desk, flatscreen TV, microwave, refrigerator. Outside of the bathroom, was an additional sink, which can come in handy when traveling with others.
The decor, a mixture of country and antiques, had a comfortable homey ambiance.
I really liked the spaciousness of the room, the fireplace that also had stonework that provided seating, and the outdoor patio.
In fact, one of the first things I did, was chill on the patio. Another perk of motor style lodging, you can usually park right in front of your room.
I stayed for one night and slept wonderfully. Since activities were so close, I felt like I had more time to simply relax either in the gardens or on my patio.
The next day, when I biked Row River Trail, I discovered the hotel is very close to the trail. From the hotel, all you need to do is ride your bike to the neighboring Walmart and catch the trail on the far end or the parking lot. From there, the trail goes into town, or to the covered bridges and the lake.
After my patio time, I decided to check out the gardens. Located behind the property, I easily found them and made my way along the path. We’d had a very hot summer with many wildfires and I didn’t expect there to be many colors, so I was pleasantly surprised to find lots of green and flowers still in bloom.
There is also a small cabin.
If you have children with you, this is a great stop for inside is a picnic table, chalkboard, and some coloring books.
I strolled around the gardens for almost 45 minutes enjoying the garden art, pathways, and blooming flowers.
The garden portion of the hotel is the closest to the highway, and while I did hear some highway traffic I didn’t find it distracting.
After I toured the gardens I checked out the rest of the property.
Unfortunately, the outdoor pool was being serviced while I was there, so I couldn’t go for a dip or a soak. But I did get to snap some photos. With the plants and trees behind it, it almost has a tropical vibe.
The landscaping is a big part of the hotel and as I wandered around I found fountains, art, and a large grassy area with a fountain and gazebo that is popular for weddings.
The resort also has a dedicated RV park. with full hook-ups ($30). Guests have access to the gardens, swimming pool, hot tub, laundry facilities, and restaurants.
The two dining options are Seasons at the Green Restaurant and the Fireside Lounge. Everything I tried was great!
For dinner, I ordered the tri-tip special and a glass of Chateau Lorane merlot. The tri-tip was cooked perfectly, and I had quite a bit leftover!
Lily of the Field B&B
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.
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!
Travel Tip: The owners said that Verizon gets cell reception at the B&B. I have AT&T, and it did not work.