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Named from the anglicised form of the Hebrew word "shalom," meaning peace, Salem provides visitors with exactly that -- plus a horde of historic sites to explore and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Oregon's capital, one of the oldest cities in the state, exudes simple, small-town hospitality with just enough politics and culture to keep things interesting. Tour the grand, gold-domed State Capitol to learn about the workings of the government, then head to the observation deck for a fantastic view of Salem and its surrounding area. The whole city is a living history lesson, brimming with old buildings and landmarks, notably the Mill Mission Museum. Art buffs should not miss the impressive Pacific Northwest collection at the Hallie Ford Art Museum. In between sights, take time to relax with a picnic at Bush's Pasture Park, or enjoy wine tasting at some of the local vineyards. Salem's idyllic setting, in the heart of the emerald Willamette Valley, coupled with its historic role as political hub for Oregon, make it the perfect choice for a delightful and interesting weekend away.
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