Brownsville, Oregon represents all that is beautiful when it comes to small-town living, to the point that it became an example of one in a Hollywood film. Just south of the state capital of Salem, Brownsville has a charming atmosphere and is an ideal destination for those hoping to enjoy an Oregon vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities.
If Brownsville looks a bit familiar, that might be due to the fact that parts of the 1980's movie Stand by Me were shot there. To honor the fame bestowed upon it, the town holds a Stand by Me Day Festival in late July each year, which includes a Ray Brower Memorial 5K Run (named after a character central to the story's plot).
The Great Outdoors
Western Oregon and the Pacific Northwest, in general, are an outdoor lover’s playground, with dozens of stunning peaks to climb, clear waters to paddle through, and loads of wildlife to observe. One of the best places to get some time in nature near Brownsville is the Middle Santiam Wilderness to the east of town. The 8,000-acre wilderness has a variety of great hiking trails, with the Chimney Peak Trail being one the more popular ones as it visits a massive 5,000-foot-tall rock feature.
One of the best day trips to take when in this part of Oregon is Crater Lake National Park. It’s relatively small and can easily be explored in a few hours, but also has some relatively long trails that could take a day to explore. What’s important though, is that from nearly every vantage point, you’ll have spectacular views of the beautiful volcanic lake – the deepest in North America.
If beaches are more your style when you book an RV in Brownsville, head over to Wakonda Beach just south of where the Alsea River meets the Pacific Ocean. Its Beachside State Recreation Site has some of the best powdery white sand you’ll find in the Pacific Northwest. It’s right off the Pacific Coast Highway, which makes for an excellent drive, but isn’t as packed with tourists as it is farther to the south in California.
Brownsville’s closest campground is the Diamond Hill RV Park, which is just south of town and right off Interstate 5. The park offers full hookups for your motorhome rental from Brownsville, along with laundry facilities, a playground, and a small convenience store to stock up on the essentials. This could be a good place to stay if you’re thinking about making trips down to Eugene when you rent an RV here.
Another option that’s a bit farther away is the Foster Lake RV Resort, which sits on the southern shore of its namesake lake. Sites there have full hookups for your Brownsville camper rental, and on-site amenities include a fitness room, a swimming pool, convenience store, laundry facilities, and camp kitchen. Additionally, the park is right next to beautiful Foster Lake, which is an excellent place to rent a kayak or go for a swim on a hot day.
Gills Landing RV Park is on the South Santiam River. The amenities are fewer here, but it still offers full hookups and showers, and easy access to the big park on the South Santiam River. The setting is quiet and ideal for travelers hoping to get away from urban life for a while.
Exploring the City
History buffs will enjoy a visit to the Linn County Historical Museum. Though small, the little building is quite fascinating and loaded with interesting artifacts, providing some insight into rural Oregon’s past. There’s an authentic covered wagon parked outside the museum along with a few boxcars and a caboose from the Southern Pacific Railway too. Next door to the museum is the Moyer House, which is a well-preserved example of a 19th-century Italianate Villa house.
Another compelling historical site can be found at Thompson’s Mills State Heritage Site in the nearby town of Shedd. It’s the last water-powered mill in Oregon, and daily tours and demonstrations of the mill are given every day. While the mill’s value is primarily as a historical example, all of the equipment inside still works and could be used to process grain.
Having an RV rental in Brownsville is an exercise in small-town living. You may need to go a short distance over to the town of Halsey to find groceries and supplies or head up to Lebanon for a broader selection of stores. To fuel up your campervan rental near Brownsville, look for truck stops along Interstate 5.