Labor Day in Oregon?

We’re thinking about traveling to Portland/wine country with another couple over Labor Day. We originally were thinking SF/Napa, but the fear is that it would be so congested that our enjoyment would be diminished.

Is it just a madhouse on Labor Day weekend in the Willamette Valley? Any other tips would be greatly appreciated.


I’m sure it’s busy that weekend, but cannot fathom it is near as congested as Napa. One of the locals can confirm.

I’m sure it’s not as crazy as Napa; I just wondered if it would be so busy as to make tasting a chore.

Thanks for chiming in.

Should be busy but not crazy (those would be Memorial Day weekend and the weekend after Thanksgiving when many small wineries are open for the only time all year). If you go for appointments at smaller wineries it’s even better. And stay off Hwy 99W between Sherwood and McMinnville as much as possible, use the other local roads.

Do you have a preferred alternative route from Portland to McMinnville? I’ll be making that drive (both ways) in May. Thanks!

I agree with John.

As a local, it’s a little different because the best alternate route depends on your point of origin. From my house, I like to take 210 into Newberg and then 240 towards Carlton. Much more scenic, as well. The choke points are Dundee and Lafayette. Do not exceed the posted speed limit in Lafayette.

What Patrick said. You can even take 99W to Newberg, but once in Newberg head up to Hwy 240 to Carlton then down to Mac. Reverse that to return. 210/219 between Portland and Newberg is more enjoyable however, albeit a little windy going down into the Yamhill Valley.

There are some other back roads from Portland to Newberg but they are less easy to describe to a non-local.

Patrick and John, thanks for the tips. It’s always nice to hear from locals about traffic because I’m sure our GPS will try to take us on 99W the whole way. We may try to hit up a tasting room in Carlton or Ribbon Ridge on the way back to Portland since we’ll already be up that way.

I like 1-5 to Wilsonville Rd if going to Dundee, then using 233/18 if going down to McMinnville. I-5 all the way to Salem for any points south of McMinnville.

Labor Day is pretty quiet in McMinnville. More people are headed for Central Oregon or the beach.

As far as getting to/from McMinnville, I do this a couple times a week. From downtown, I-5 to Tualatin, Tualatin-Sherwood Rd to 99W, 99W to Newberg. From 3pm to 7pm, take 240 toward Yamhill-Carlton and then to McMinnville. Otherwise continue down 99W through the disaster that is Dundee. Take the Hwy 18 cutoff to McMinnville. You can get to Mac by going through Lafayette but it takes the same amount of time and leaves on the wrong side of town. Checking Google maps works pretty well.

Thanks to Patrick, John, Paul, and Rick for the route tips. I’ll be headed to Portland 2 weeks from today!

I use this route for my travels to the area as well. Bell Road from Sherwood is scenic if not in a hurry.

I was in Portland/WV last Labor Day. It wasn’t bad at all, crowd-wise. Had an awesome time.