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Downtown Independence and Riverview Park a weekend spot to relax

Mar 23, 2013   |  

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The amphitheater at Riverview Park makes a nice place to sit, drink coffee and read the newspaper. / Zach Urness / Statesman Journal
A sidewalk winds through Riverview Park in downtown Independence. / Zach Urness / Statesman Journal

If you go

In a nutshell: A large park in downtown Independence
Main activities: Hiking, biking, picnicking, dog-walking, reading, boating
Amenities: Picnic tables, amphitheater, bathrooms, off-leash dog park, playground equipment, boat ramp, trails.
Fees: None
Trails: The roughly 2.5 mile Willamette River Trail begins at the park.
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
More information:
Season: Year-round
Kids: Yes
Dogs: Dogs must be on a leash unless at off-leash dog park.
Address: 50 C Street, Independence
Getting there: About an 18 minute drive from Salem. From Salem, follow Highway 22 west for 5.4 miles. Exit left onto Independence Highway / OR Highway 51 and follow it 6.3 miles into town. The park is on the left downtown. To park, turn left onto C Street, into a large parking area along the river.

There are nice views of the Willamette River from Riverview Park in Independence. / Zach Urness / Statesman Journal
Riverview Park and downtown Independence go hand-in-hand. / Zach Urness / Statesman Journal


Itís a simple activity, no doubt.

But after a long week at work, after staring at the computer screen so long the artificial glow feels burned into your skull, thereís one patented way to recharge your batteries during the weekend.

It involves walking downtown, buying a coffee, scone and newspaper, than heading for the nearest park (hopefully with a view of a river) and spending the late morning or early afternoon reading.

For me, that simple trip can mean the difference between continued tranquility and the violent desire to drop-kick my computer into the flames of a garbage incinerator.

So yes, itís important.

And one of the best places Iíve found for the coffee-scone-newspaper therapy is downtown Independence and Riverview Park, which are basically one and the same, located about 12 miles from Salem.

Riverview Park works well because there are great places to sit and read ó I enjoyed the grassy steps of the amphitheater. Thereís also a view of the Willamette River, high-quality playground equipment for the kids and even an off-leash dog-park nearby if Fido needs to cut loose.

More than a few places within walking distance of the park offer the coffee and scone, but the one I picked was a new business called ďLionís Share Coffeehouse & Bakery.Ē A comfortable place that opened a month ago, Lionís Share has local art on the walls, its menu written in chalk and that wonderful sense of being in a very old building. More importantly, the coffee comes strong and the blackberry scone ó which is flaky and delicious ó hits the spot.

If the coffee-and-scone option isnít yours, downtown Independence also caters to those who find tranquility in ice cream, pizza or microbrew (though you canít take that to the park) and, I suspect, any other type of comfort food that might grab your fancy.

After youíve picked up whatever treat you might desire, make sure to stop and enjoy the water fountain and gradually make your way down into the park. A trail beginning at the end of the parking lot, at a concrete bridge that leads to the dog park, provides for a pleasant stroll along the Willamette if you so desire.

In general, though, Iíd recommend enjoying a coffee and scone, hopefully soaking up the springtime sun, and feeling the computer screen burn melt out of your brain. Itís a simple activity, no doubt, but it makes a difference.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer in Oregon for five years and blogs at He can be reached at or (503) 399-6801. For more news, adventures and trips see Our Oregon Outdoors on Facebook or ZachsORoutdoors on Twitter.

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