Albany looks a lot different downtown than from the freeway. The motels, gas stations and fast food joints whiz by when driving Interstat-01d423534269b264e 5 through the city in the center of the Willamette Valley.

But downtown, there’s a growing core of locally owned businesses that emphasize food and drink, along with the shopping. It’s a perfect setting for valley visitors attending a big game 10 miles away at Corvallis, but not wanting the long lines that can result from a crowd.

The south side of First Avenue, between Broadalbin and Ellsworth streets, gives an indication of what’s going on in Albany. Four historic buildings in the so-called Flinn Block, dating back to the 1878 Revere House, have been restored and now include a dozen businesses at street level.

And they are the types of businesses most towns of 51,500 residents would love to have.

In a row there are Vault 244 Bistro Lounge and tapas bar; Blush Salon; Tup Tim Thai; Calapooia Gallery; the Flinn Steakhouse; Equine Exchange; the Toy Factory; Sunny Patch Boutique kids store; First Burger; Sweet Red Bistro; Two Rivers Fly Shop and Jordan Jewelers.

That pretty well covers it, with everything to keeping kids and fly tiers happy to hand-crafted cocktails and fine dining. Click here for the full Oregonian article