February 2nd, 2024

DIY Writing Retreat: McMinnville’s Best Options for a Creative Weekend

A door with a gold decorative knocker opens to reveal a cozy sitting area with tufted velvet couch and chair and an electric fireplace.
The Atticus Hotel. Photo by Natalie Starr.

As a freelance writer and author, I need to carve out time and space to get work done wherever I can. Occasionally, that means treating myself to a do-it-yourself writing retreat with lots of writing time blocked out. I’ve found that the most fun retreats involve unique lodging, local food, and inspirational walks in whatever city I find myself in. If you’re building an itinerary for a McMinnville writing retreat–or simply want a lovely weekend in wine country–here are some great options to consider. 

Where to Stay

The nine tiny houses of The Boutique Retreat (910 NE Alpine Ave.) offer a variety of themed cottages to choose from. This tiny house hotel is in walking distance to both Mac Market and the shops on historic Third Street. 

McMenamins Hotel Oregon (310 NE Evans St.) offers the opportunity to stay in a (possibly haunted) 1905 building that has seen more of McMinnville’s history than most buildings in town. In typical McMenamins fashion, the hotel is well-adorned with art, photos, and local history. 

For a more upscale option, consider the Atticus Hotel (375 NE Ford St.) which offers a luxury experience complete with a mediterranean inspired restaurant, concierge service, and a variety of rooms from a luxury penthouse to microstudios. 

Where to Eat

Diners sit at warmly lit tables in a restaurant. A server cracks pepper onto the plates of their guests.
Hayward Restaurant. Photo by Kate Knapp.

There is no shortage of great spots to eat in McMinnville. For casual, fresh Latin American inspired food, you can’t go wrong with Pura Vida (313 NE 3rd St.), especially since they’ve opened up for breakfast. Ritzier options include La Rambla (238 NE 3rd St.) and Humble Spirit (411 NE 3rd St.). If you’d like a wider variety of food options in one spot, Mac Market (1140 NE Alpine Ave.) offers Honey Pie Pizza, Bodhi Bakery, and seasonal and local NW fare from James Beard nominated Hayward, as well as a full bar.

We know writers need coffee, so head to Union Block (403 NE 3rd Street) or Flag & Wire (755 Northeast Alpine Ave., Suite 100) for your morning pick-me-ups. If tea is your preference, head down to Velvet Monkey Tea Shop (216 NE Davis) for a quiet and cozy place to work. Don’t forget your laptop or journal to get some words in while you’re there. 

Finding Inspiration

People sit at tables with open books on them.
This year’s author fair features more than 25 published authors.

I think no visit to a small town is complete without a trip to the local independent bookstore. So after you’ve grabbed your coffee, head to Third Street Books. Perhaps I’m biased (I’m a bookseller there), but this little shop has everything you want in an indie bookstore, including an abundance of staff recommendations in all genres, and a surprisingly wide variety of topics for such a small space.

If you happen to plan your writing retreat in February, take a walk through the MAC Local Author Fair, held at the library (225 NW Adams Street). This year, it’s Saturday, February 24 at 2:00 pm. You’ll have a chance to meet local authors, buy their books, and find camaraderie among fellow writers. 

Whether or not you’re a writer, a DIY retreat or mini staycation is a fun and accessible option to spark creative inspiration. All it takes is a little upfront research and an openness to adventure.

A woman with long brown hair smiles.

Erin Hall is a writing instructor, small business marketing coach, and author of personal essays, short stories, and historical fiction. She lives and writes in Oregon Wine Country.