Northwest day trip: Treasures of Sherwood

A sweet small town in Oregon leafs out in spring
Bonnie Henderson

City dwellers longing to feel a budding sense of spring make weekend plans to visit the town of Sherwood, Oregon, in the month of April. The community's big shade trees start leafing out, and dogwoods, lilacs, and hawthorns planted a century ago begin bursting with color and scent.

Back in 1885, founder J.C. Smock named the town Smockville, as one would. The name lasted only four years ― Sherwood sounded so much more sophisticated to ambitious city leaders. But the old name lives on in period-style signs scattered throughout the little town's center, a place of century-old wooden and brick houses and a sense of nostalgia to match. While Sherwood's commercial center has shifted to busy State 99W, the old town's heart continues to beat to the slow pace set by a cluster of antiques shops and by neighborhood watering holes that invite lingering, even if you're not a neighbor.

Shops come and go, but a core collection of them keep Sherwood on the map for antiques seekers. Don't miss the furniture and early Americana at Smockville Station Antiques (170 N.W. First St.; 503/625-5866). The mix at Railroad Street Antique Mall (260 N.W. Railroad St.; 503/625-2246) is eclectic, with some 20 dealers' treasures on display. Whistle Stop Antiques (closed Sun; 130 N.W. Washington St.; 503/625-5744) is small but stuffed with collectibles from teacups to vintage pictures.

Plan to refresh yourself at Lavender Tea House & Gift Shop ($; closed Sun-Mon; 340 N.W. First; 503/625-4479), tucked in an 1892 Queen Anne cottage shaded by oak trees; stop in for a cuppa or reserve a table with friends for a three-course high tea. Or tip a pint at Clancy's Restaurant and Pub ($$; 185 N.W. First; 503/625-6711), a classic of another kind, where you can enjoy the walled patio on sunny days.

It's easy for visitors to miss Stella Olsen Park, but that would be a mistake, especially in spring. A serpentine wooden boardwalk winds over and through a lush wetland, with spur trails into adjacent neighborhoods; the park's main entrance is off S.W. Washington Street near Third Street, a two- or three-block walk from Sherwood's center.

See Smockville

Sherwood is southwest of Portland, about 5 miles west of I-5; take Tualatin-Sherwood Rd. (exit 289) southwest and follow signs to Sherwood Old Town.