Salem has a bad reputation of being the armpit of Oregon. I’ve lived here for the majority of my life, and, even though there are a lot of idiots living here, I can honestly say it is not.

Here is a quick rundown of a few things my city should be proud of…

Word of Mouth Bistro

Amazing food. Friendly Service. You can not go wrong at Word of Mouth. Everything on the menu is amazing (they also have a bar if it is a Bloody Mary type of morning). If it is your first time visiting, forget your primal diet and order the cinnamon roll pancakes AND biscuits and gravy.

Word of Mouth is the best place to eat in Salem and is well worth the 30-40 minute wait for its limited seating. (If you aren’t into waiting, call in an order to go.)

Water Front Park

With a bike path, carousal and amphitheater, there is a lot of fun to be had on a sunny day on the river front. The River Front is a great place to gather, and alcohol is allowed with prior approval. Turn Up.

Enlightened Theatrics

Salem’s professional music theater company is offering 4 FREE performances of Once On This Island this weekend at the Historic Grand Theater. They still have tickets available for a few of their showings. Visit for more information on reserving your seats if you will be in the area.

Salem Cinema

Salem’s only independent theater regularly brings in some of the best independent movies from around the world. This theater is a blessing for those of us who aren’t into watching dinosaurs fight with Transformers for two hours when we go to the movies. (FYI: The Way, Way Back opens up this Friday.)

Courthouse Athletic Club

When I tell my friends that “I’m going to the Courthouse,” they usually ask me what I did. But the Courthouse is an athletic club with five locations throughout Salem. They do a really good job of keeping things exciting, fun and friendly with programs like Club Dance and C2V – which stands for Courthouse to Venti’s where the goal is to exercise and then run to beer.

Mt. Angel Oktoberfest

Good vibes with great food and beer. This is a great place to meet people and dance if you are okay with not hearing any hip hop for extended periods of time. It’s also free. (Bring a DD.)

La Hacienda

La Hacienda’s South Salem location is the best Mexican Restaurant in Salem. Their tortillas should be world famous. Everything tastes fresh on every visit. My favorite is the chicken fajitas. I’m 6’4” and 240, and the fajitas are big enough that I have food to take home for lunch the next day.

The Elsinore Theater

The Elsinore is a beautiful theater with an epic mural of Cleopatra on its back. Although events are the Elsinore are generally not aimed at younger audiences, occasionally a promoter will book the venue for someone like Daniel Tosh.

The RAM on Sunday Night

The best sports bar in Salem offers half off everything on Sunday nights. Turn Up.

An Hour Drive to Portland or the Coast

I didn’t want to bring Portland into this, but having only an hour drive to see the Timbers and Blazers play OR go to the beach on a sunny day really is a blessing.