If you live in Oregon, you know we wait a very long time for summer weather. This year has been no exception. Well, the kids are finally out of school, we’ve had a few beautiful days that could pass for summer, so it’s definitely time to leave the city behind.

For an easy getaway consider a day trip or overnighter to the Mt. Angel area. This small mid-Willamette Valley town is home to Mt. Angel Abby, hosts Octoberfest every year, and offers close proximity to Silver Falls State Park, the Oregon Garden, and Salem.

Founded by German settlers in the 1800s, Mt Angel’s Old World charm will make you feel like you’re in Bavaria, if only for a few blocks. Enjoy the shops and restaurants before visiting the Benedictine Abby. The Abby is open to the public and has a museum, library and bookstore. Rip was fortunate to be invited to sculpt Mary and Joseph, and the Crucifix, at the Abby this past winter. This weekend Mt Angel Abby will host their 6th Annual Festival of Arts & Wine. Rip will be participating. This annual fundraiser supports the Abby, Library and Retreat House. For more information call 503-845-3030.

You can’t beat Silver Falls State Park for all the nature you can handle in one place—of course waterfalls are easy to find, but this state park has miles of people friendly trails, picnic areas, and even camping. Silver Falls hosts several late summer events, so be sure to check their website.

If you haven’t been to the Oregon Garden, this weekend could be the time. Guaranteed to be in bloom and really seal the deal on summer, you can stroll the paths, lunch in the café, and even stay over if you can’t turn you back on that extra blast of color. This weekend is the Container Gardening contest. Vote for your favorite, shop the greenhouse and go home and make your own!

If you’re still on the go, make Salem, our state capital, one of your stops. Stroll the Capital Mall, visit the historic Bush Barn and Mission Mill, tour Willamette University, shop and dine. Salem is criss-crossed with wooded walking trails and has a river front city park. Most of these activities are free, so make a day of it.

We tolerate a lot of intolerable fall, winter and spring weather, but when summer finally arrives, it’s hard to beat Oregon. Today is the Summer Solstice—be sure to enjoy every minute of the longest day of the year!