Who knew Salem even had a river running through it? Before Riverfront Park began taking shape more than a decade ago, about the only time you'd see the Willamette was at 40 miles per hour, while crossing it on the highway bridge. Now nothing's more inviting in June than a stroll along the river. You can walk there from downtown; new pedestrian crossings on busy Front Street make access easy. Traverse the park's wide lawns for a look at the Eco Earth sculpture at the south end, or head to the steep riverbank to dip your feet in the water. The Willamette River? In Salem, you can't miss it.
PLAY Willamette Queen. WHAT: Replica of a vintage sternwheeler docks at the new marina and welcomes passengers on one- to two-hour excursions, with or without a meal. WHEN: Tue-Sun. HOW MUCH: $10 ($35 including brunch or dinner); reservations required. WHERE: North Parking Area; from Front St., turn west on Union St., which becomes Water St.; www.willamettequeen.com or 503/371-1103.
BRING KIDS Salem's Riverfront Carousel. WHAT: Indoor carousel with 32 hand-carved wooden horses. WHEN: 10-7 Mon-Thu, 10-9 Fri-Sat, 11-6 Sun. HOW MUCH: $1.25. WHERE: South Parking Area, at the intersection of Front and State Streets; http://www.salemcarousel.org" "www.salemcarousel.org" "" "_new"] or 503/540-0374.
A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village. WHAT: Imaginative children's museum anchors Riverfront Park's north end. WHEN: 10-5 Mon-Sat, noon-5 Sun. HOW MUCH: $5, under 3 free. WHERE: By North Parking Area, 116 Marion St. N.E.; www.acgilbert.orgor 503/371-3631.
EAT Picnic fixings from Cascade Baking Company. WHAT: Soups, salads, and sandwiches like the Reubenesque panini and treats like triple-layer mint brownies. WHEN: Breakfast and lunch Mon-Sat. HOW MUCH: $. WHERE: A half-block from the park, at 229 State St.; www.cascadebaking.com or 503/589-0491.
HEAR Salem's World Beat Festival. WHAT: Two days of international music, dance, food, and folklore, with more than 125 performances in Riverfront Park. WHEN: Jun 25- 26. HOW MUCH: $3 donation requested. WHERE: Throughout the park; www.worldbeatfestival.org or 503/581-2004. ―Bonnie Henderson