24 hours in Silverton, Oregon: Bright lights and big waterfalls

Walkable small town and a walk-behind waterfall

Close to Portland, Salem, and Eugene, the wee town of Silverton, Oregon, is a wonderful destination anytime of year. (December, though, is especially magical—we’ll get to that.) Even 24 hours in Silverton can be a great way to get to know not only the town, but the incredible outdoors on its doorstep—especially the iconic, close-by, must-see Silver Falls State Park.

Whether you have only a little time to spend in Silverton, or if you’re planning a larger trip to the area, here are some suggestions to get the most out of your time in this beautiful part of Western Oregon, right up in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains—and minutes from one of the world’s most iconic waterfalls.

Silverton

Downtown Silverton

Silverton’s downtown gives you a walkable, friendly town center that’s a joy to wander around. Local shops, eateries, and more abound. Historic buildings keep the town centered in its roots, but Silverton hasn’t stuck itself in the past, either. Local entrepreneurs bring a fresh, current feeling to downtown.

Oregon Garden Resort

Loving the holiday lights at the Silverton Christmas Market in the Oregon Garden Resort.
Loving the holiday lights at the Silverton Christmas Market in the Oregon Garden Resort. And we had a fireplace in our room waiting to warm us up from the cold!

Just outside of downtown Silverton, the Oregon Garden Resort offers spacious rooms, gas fireplaces, and serene grounds.

Holiday Bonus: Visiting during December? Stay at the Oregon Garden Resort, or get a separate admission, to their incredible Silverton Christmas Market winter wonderland of holiday lights. Bonus: There are activities for the kids, from visiting Sant to snowless tubing (which our kids said they liked more than snow tubing). Also check out the German-style food stalls, craft market, and, most importantly, the fire pits for warming up! 

Gordon House

Located at the Oregon Garden Resort, Gordon House is the only Oregon property designed by iconic architect Frank Lloyd Wright. It’s a fascinating place to wander through, and regular tours are available.

Directions to Silverton, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park

Only a half-hour drive from Silverton, Silver Falls State Park packs in 10 waterfalls, vast forests, and serene hiking trails. This temperate rainforest park is open year-round . Rivers, forests, and lots of trails… It’s a wonderful way to get outside, even during winter.

Walk behind a waterfall

With fall rains driving big water, winter can a great time to visit Silver Falls State Park—and walk behind South Falls, its most iconic waterfall.
With fall rains driving big water, winter can a great time to visit Silver Falls State Park—and walk behind South Falls, its most iconic waterfall.

If you do only one thing here, hike South Falls. It’s one of the world’s most iconic waterfalls! Why? You can walk behind it!

Hike as much or as little as you want

The Trail of Ten Falls connects all the main falls in the park. The entire trail runs about 9 miles, but it’s easy to pick and choose your own segments.

Along with South Falls, Upper North Falls and North Falls are great to see, and you can get to each via short hikes.

Take a rest at the café

On the way to South Falls, you’ll pass a timber building housing a café and a nature display (great to check out with the kids).

Whether stopping by on your way to or from your waterfall adventures, the reasonably priced café gives you a chance to rest, warm up, or cool down, with a range of beverages and food. During our December visit, there was nothing like a grilled cheese and a bowl of soup by the raging fire.

Directions to Silver Falls State Park

A restorative 24 hours in Silverton

Finding fungi on the trail is always a great way to get the kids fascinated and checking out something up close.
Finding fungi on the trail is always a great way to get the kids fascinated and checking out something up close.

During our 24 hours in Silverton, we…

  • Enjoyed our cozy room at the Oregon Garden Resort
  • Marveled at the lights displays on the grounds
  • Read holiday stories and drank cocoa
  • Hiked South Falls and Upper North Falls
  • Warmed up with a lovely light lunch at the Silver Falls café
  • Wandered about in Silverton

Above all, we replenished. Wonder. Joy. Togetherness. Our Silverton jaunt was a lovely way to relax during the ever-busy holiday season—and get outside for a needed dose of Vitamin N (Nature) and Vitamin T (Together).

We’d been wanting to visit Silverton for years. Now that we have, we can’t wait to return. After all, we’ve still got eight waterfalls to check out!

About the author
Learners and Makers
We are the St. Clair Family: Anthony, Jodie, Connor, and Aster. As Learners and Makers, our family of four slows down, connects, and enjoys the world and each other's company. We have been traveling full time since 2022.