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Salem OR as a good base for short holiday?

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I'm planning a short holiday in Oregon with my sister in mid-June and trying to pick a base for our trip. I'm flying out from NYC on the weekend of June 13 to take a photography workshop in Portland (Sat-Sun). My sister will drive down from Bellingham on the Sunday to meet me. We'll do some exploring on Monday-Tuesday, and then drive together to Seattle on Wednesday, where I'll catch a late afternoon flight back to NYC.

We definitely will be travelling to Eugene (either on Monday or Tuesday) to visit the Cascades Raptor Center because my husband adopted a turkey vulture in my name as Christmas present and I want to meet her :) I love photographing animals, so I'm hoping to photograph the raptors at the Center again (I visited there a few years ago). If I'm lucky, I might be able to swing an insider's tour - I'd love to see behind the scenes because I volunteer for a wild bird rehabilitation center in NYC.

Aside from that visit, we have nothing specific we need to do, but we want to visit a couple of wineries, and I'd like to practise what I learned in the workshop (with Eddie Soloway) by photographing some nature scenes. And we probably want to go for an easy walk/hike in a park or something similar. Proximity (e.g., 30 minutes' drive or so) to decent restaurants would be a plus.

I'm thinking that Salem might be a good base, since it's about an hour from Portland, an hour from Eugene (where the raptor center is located), relatively close to some of the wine areas, and about a 4-hour (maybe 4 and a bit) drive to Seattle. The flight I'm looking at leaves at 4 pm, so we'd probably want to leave Salem by 10 am.

I had looked into staying in a B&B (I stayed in a really nice one a couple of years ago in McMinnville), but B&Bs tend to have king or queen beds. I love my Sis, but I want my own bed, so that points in the direction of a regular hotel (and there's often more choice in a larger town like Salem). I noticed they've got a well-reviewed Hampton Inn there, and I've got a boatload of Hilton points I could use.

What do you think, and do you have a suggestion other than Salem?

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