CGE’s Grad Guide to Corvallis

As part of our responsibility to the grad employees of OSU, we’ve amassed a large collection of tips from grad students about how to get along in Corvallis. These include recommendations on where to eat, where to drink, where to buy furniture, and how to enjoy life in and around Corvallis and the Willamette Valley. We call it CGE’s Grad Guide to Corvallis.


Welcome to Corvallis!

There are so many things to do here that are often overlooked by the average
graduate student. Check out the City of Corvallis website for information on population, ways to get involved, and an A to Z guide of everything you will need to know to navigate around this smaller, but big-hearted city.  Also check out the Visit Corvallis website for additional information.  Join the CGE social list by sending your email address here to get emails from CGE members about parties, meet-ups, rides to Portland, roommate requests, and more.  Keep up with CGE hosted social events by checking our calendar. And read on for a summary of  what CGE members recommend in Corvallis…

The Oregon Experience

Now that you are in the state that is home for the next few years, we thought it would be good to provide you with a list of fun things to do in Oregon.  The list is roughly divided into the three main regions of Oregon.


The Oregon Coast is one of the most scenic stretches of land in the US. It is an ideal place for fans of lighthouses, seal and whale watching, surfing, saltwater taffy, and excellent seafood. The following are just the beginning of the wonderful things you can do at the coast:

  • Take the scenic drive out to Newport, the closest coast town to Corvallis. Average travel time is about 45 minutes. Most of the great coast activities suggested can be found in close proximity to Newport.
  • Go crabbing! Many bait shops on the coast will gladly rent you crab nets for the day.
  • Check out the great tidal pools! Found up and down the coast, these shallow pools offer hours of great exploring.
  • Consider the Oregon Coast Aquarium. Located on the South side of Newport, the Oregon Coast Aquarium offers hours of awesome observation time. From the cuddly sea otters to the suspended walking tunnel through the shark tank to the always changing specialty exhibit, the Aquarium is a great break from studying.
  • If you’re strapped for cash, visit the Hatfield Marine Science Center, located near the Aquarium and free.  It’s also part of OSU – you might run into grads working out there!
  • Go hiking on Cape Perpetua. Located about 20 miles South of Newport, Cape Perpetua Park offers some great hiking trails and spectacular views that will get you out of the office and onto a trail.
  • Don’t forget to check out Newport’s historic downtown for some great shopping and dining.
  • It’s your birthday? Grab a fresh brew at the Rogue River Brewery – they give you a free drink on your birthday!
  • Tired of Newport? Like cheese? Try heading North to Tillamook to check out the cheese makers!
  • The Coast Range is a great place for mushroom enthusiasts and wildlife watching. Explore the amazing old growth in Drift Creek Wilderness, east of Seal Rock (between Newport and Waldport).

You can also get to the coast without a car!  Check out the Coast to Valley Express.  Or you can email Itchung Cheung at OSU to see about vanpool spots, times and pricing.


The Willamette Valley in Oregon is a great place to work and play. In addition to the awesome attractions you will find in Corvallis, there are many other places to check out up and down the valley. We’ll give you a good start with this list of fun activities, but keep exploring!

  • Go for a hike on Marys Peak – located about 8 miles west of Corvallis. If you are looking for a more secluded hiking experience, swing by the Starker Forest Product Office: 7240 SW Philomath Blvd – between Corvallis and Philomath on the south side of the highway. Just sign a permission slip and enjoy a usually solitary trip on their forest lands.
  • Check out the plethora of vineyards in the Valley! The Willamette Valley is producing some the best Pinot Noir around these days. Tyee is a great place to start and is a nice bike ride a couple of miles south of Corvallis.
  • If getting out to the vineyards is too much, keep an eye out for the annual wine walk that happens in the spring in downtown Corvallis.
  • Go blackberry picking and make a pie! If blackberries aren’t your favorite, scope out some of the great U-Pick blueberry, strawberry, and other farms that surround the Corvallis area.
  • Warm day? Try tubing on the Mary’s River! It’s cleaner than the Willamette, but some folks have no problem diving into the Willamette either.  (For the Willamette, get in at Willamette Park and out at Michael’s Landing.)
  • Ride your bike! Corvallis is a really bike friendly town and you can get almost anywhere by bike.
  • Volunteer! Corvallis has a Soup Kitchen, a Humane Society, and a variety of other organizations that are always looking for volunteers. You can do a one-time act of goodness or set up a weekly volunteer schedule.
  • Check out the various festivals that go on during the year. The most notable is the Fall Festival, which happens in late September in Central Park.
  • If you are around the day after Thanksgiving, the local Holiday Parade is a treat, as is the free cocoa that is passed out!
  • Catch an indie flick at the Darkside.
  • Swing by El Presidente and order a Consuela!
  • Check out the Saturday and Wednesday Farmers’ Markets for some great crafts and fresh produce. Pick up a handmade soft pretzel and stroll up and down the waterfront.
  • Play disc golf at Willamette Park or Adair Village.
  • Get involved in clubs, sports and PAC classes at OSU.
  • Take a salsa class.

Want to get out of the Corvallis Area?

  • Head north up I-5 and check out Silver Falls.
  • Go to Crater Lake. Camp there if you can spare the time.
  • Head south a few hours to the giant California redwoods.
  • Soak in the hot springs near Eugene or Portland.
  • Catch your favorite band by keeping up on the events happening at the Rose Garden in Portland and the WOW Hall or MacDonald Theater in Eugene.
  • Check out the giant Saturday Markets in Eugene and Portland.
  • Head up to Portland for a Broadway on the Road production or the local ballet.
  • Check out the Alberta Street Art Walk that happens once a month in Northeast Portland.
  • Go shopping in the Southwest quarter of Portland or get a little more trendy at the boutiques by Northwest 23rd and Glisan.

Eastern and Cascades

Most everything you need you can find on the Coast or in the Valley, but if you are looking for more of an outdoor adventure you might want to check out the Cascade Mountains and Eastern Oregon. This list contains a few suggestions, but like the other two sections, this is just the beginning of the great adventure you can have in Oregon!

  • Go skiing! Dixon Rec Center offers a ski bus to Mt. Hood Meadows every Saturday of winter term for a pretty reasonable rate. Dixon’s outdoor center offers a variety of outdoor gear for rent at really great prices, too!
  • Go camping in the Cascades! Sisters is a great place to camp as well as hike. The Siskiyous in Southern Oregon are another great place to camp and hike.
  • Check out a local guide on Oregon caves for a good time spelunking.
  • Check out the Columbia Gorge that runs along the Northern edge of Oregon.  One major spot along the Gorge:  Hood River, where you can find para-sailing, windsurfing, local breweries, great ice cream, orchards, and just a short drive away, mountain biking and Mt. Hood.
  • The Steens and Alvord Wilderness in southeast Oregon is also one of the most beautiful places in the area.
  • Head out to Bend for some great winter sports, good shopping, and delicious beer tasting.
  • Visit John Day Fossil beds and Fossil, OR


A listing of many local Corvallis restaurants and reviews can be found at:

Restaurants close to campus

  • American Dream Pizza. Good pizza. Reasonably priced, and has some good deals on different days of the week. American Dream is a great place for a slice and a salad. 757-1713. 214 SW 2nd St.
  • Bombs Away Café. Lunch is reasonably priced (they have a $5 lunch special that includes a drink!) and the quality of cooking is good. Ingredients are local and/or organic whenever possible. Broad selection of beers on tap and with live music and the gaggles of other graduate students and faculty. 2527 NW Monroe Ave. 757-7221.
  • Clodfelter’s. Great atmosphere, few undergrads! 758-4452. 1501 NW Monroe.
  • McMenamin’s. 758-0080. 2001 NW Monroe Ave. Simply, the World’s Best Tater Tots. Decent beer, too. Second location at 758-6044, 420 NW 3rd St.
  • Nearly Normals Gonzo Cuisine. Outstanding food and by far the best outdoor seating in town. It is the only strictly vegetarian restaurant in town with mainly organic and locally grown produce. 753-0791. 109 NW 15th.
  • Tarn Tip Thai Cuisine. Open 7 days a week and has a $5.75 lunch special. 2535 NW Monroe Ave. Corvallis. 757-8906.
  • Young’s Kitchen. Korean & Japanese food. Sushi, udon, teriyaki ribs, yakisoba. 757-1626. 2051 NW Monroe Ave.

Recommended, but a little farther away

  • Block 15: The food is of the burger/sandwich/salad variety and uses a lot of local, seasonal ingredients.  They buy carbon offsets. 758-2077. 300 SW Jefferson.
  • American Dream downtown. Awesome pizza & beer & cocktails and laid back environment with great rooftop seating outside when the weather is nice. 753-7373. 214 SW 2nd St.
  • Evergreen Indian Restaurant. Their lunch buffet is always delicious (that last word needs to be sung out loud to get the full effect!). 754-7944. 136 SW 3rd St.
  • McGrath’s Fish House. Best and freshest seafood in town. New England Clam Chowder is better than Mo’s of Newport, reminiscent of the East Coast, even!. Waitstaff is excellent. 752-3474. 350 NE Circle Blvd.
  • Novak’s Hungarian Restaurant. In Albany ($12-18 entrees). It’s got the *best* food in the area and a good wine list. (541) 967-9488. 2306 Heritage Way SE, Albany, OR 97321.
  • Peacock breakfasts – They are definitely greasy spoon, but only $2, and if you want you can get a Bloody Mary! The location is downtown. Good for Saturday morning before the Farmer’s Market. 754-8522. 125 SW 2nd St.
  • Woodstock’s Pizza Parlor. Made by people and baked in an actual oven and not on a conveyor belt. 737-8626. 1045 NW Kings Blvd.

Bars in Corvallis

  • Bombs Away (Monroe and 25th) is a strong contender for the crowd favorite. It seems to be the place where the bar initiation begins for many grads. The $2.50 pints on Tuesday night are extremely popular (but go there early to avoid the crowd) . Not too many undergrads seen in here. The atmosphere is great when there’s live music playing.
  • Squirrels Tavern (Monroe and 2nd ) is a Corvallis institution. A favorite of the locals, this place has great beers (lots of microbrews on tap), food and pool. With live music on most weekends, rarely seen undergrads and a laid-back atmosphere, this downtown bar comes highly recommended.  It’s cash only, though!
  • Crowbar (2nd and Madison) is another popular bar downtown. It’s often crowded and loud, but the drinks are amazing, featuring liquor infused with fruits in apothecary jars right there on the bar. In short, good bartenders, great drinks and pizza until closing time.
  • Peacock (also 2nd and Madison) has a dance floor upstairs, if that’s your thing. Has a younger crowd (read: undergrads) compared to the other places. The bar downstairs has great drink specials ($1 PBR all the time, $2.50 micros during happy hour, $1.50 micros on Thursday and many others). Also has some nice pool tables.
  • Block 15 (Jefferson and 3rd) comes highly recommended for its beers. They usually have at least ten different beers, all brewed on the premises, on tap! Their happy hour food is a good deal ($2 off appetizers from 3 to 6), and the late night menu (10 to close) can’t be beaten.  They rotate beers often.
  • Harrison Bar and Grill (on Harrison, between 5th an 6th) has nice drink specials, decent food, fun karaoke and free pool on Wednesday and Sunday.
  • Suds and Suds on Kings Blvd (close to Lincoln St), attached to Woodstock’s pizza. They have “around the world” beer cards- get all 50 spots signed off, and you get your name on a plaque on the wall! They also have free popcorn.
  • Downward Dog on 1st St (close to Monroe Ave.) Cloud is said to make the best cocktails in town. Also, the happy hour & late night menus are pretty cheap & delicious.  Be sure to check out Cloud & Kelly’s next door when you go!


The easiest way to find apartments in Corvallis is by going to the following websites:

Pinion Property Management (
1605 NW Monroe Ave., Corvallis


Sterling Management (
1600 SW Western Blvd # 190
Corvallis, OR 97333

These two manage a large number of apartment complexes and rented houses and both maintain lists of vacancies on their websites.

There are quite a few apartments in Corvallis that are not managed by either of these two firms. You can walk around the streets close to campus and if you see a place you like with a sign that it’s up for rent, give the listed number a call. Also, keep an eye on the CGE social list (join by sending your email address here) and  Craigslist for roommate-wanted ads and/or rooms to let. The local newspaper (the Corvallis Gazette-Times) remains an excellent source for apartments to rent.

If you have problems with a property owner or questions about your rights as a tenant, contact Bob Loewen of the City of Corvallis Housing Division at or 541-766-6944.


OSU Surplus
644 SW 13th ST
The best place to find great deals on furniture, lamps, bicycles and a whole bunch of other useful stuff is the OSU Surplus Store which is open on Wednesdays from 12-3 pm. You can also check their website ( for the items they have for sale but the best way to find a great deal is to simply show up at the store.

Goodwill Store, 9th St. and Starker Ave.

ARC, next to Grocery outlet near 9th and Beca.

Habitat for Humanity ReStore— on 9th right next to Goodwill.

Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on Craigslist. People leaving town are usually more than willing to give their stuff away for next to nothing and you can great deals on furniture and household items here.

International Students

First time in the US? Here are some tips:

  • If you are filling out a W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate) form for the purpose of paying U.S. income taxes, please make sure you are allowed to claim more than one (1) exception or withholding code. The rules governing this are different depending on your country of origin, and the Payroll Office may default you to a ‘0’ depending on that. Check with the Payroll Office or International Programs (in Heckart Lodge at 2900 SW Jefferson Way) if you have any questions.
  • If no one is picking you up at the airport you can use the Hut shuttle to go to Corvallis.
  • You may want to spend the first few days with an American host family. Check the three days home stay program.
  • Having a conversation partner helps enhance conversation skills as well as make new friends.
  • Check the “Preparing for arrival” information on the ISFS website.

Health Insurance

  • Having a health insurance is mandatory for international students and their dependents. Check the international student insurance plans.
  • At OSU, international students are automatically enrolled in the OSU International Student health insurance plan. If you are a grad employee and would like to use the PacificSource plan (which is better and cheaper) instead, you must fill out a waiver by the third Friday of the term and turn it in to Student Health Services. Otherwise, you will be charged for the cost of the international plan in addition to the PacificSource plan.
  • Be familiar with the common medical and insurance terminologies.


Grad Student Parents

Student Parent Advocate: This person’s job is to act on your behalf on numerous OSU committees, respond to your University concerns, and be your resource for all things family-oriented in the OSU and Corvallis communities. The SPA can also connect you to other campus resources designed for parents, as well as other student parents, and can be contacted at 541-737-4906 or The office is funded out of student fees.

General advice from other grads

Note: This advice is based on the experience of individual grads at OSU, and may be contradictory. Everyone has a slightly different experience.

  • Get a map of campus and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Pay attention at your orientation.
  • Be persistent in browsing the Grad School webpage. It has lots of information, but it’s in lots of different places, so don’t give up!
  • Ask other grads about the instructor before signing up for a class.
  • Be sure to check in with the staff at the Graduate School, especially around things like oral prelims, your defense, and meetings of your committee. They are really nice.
  • Be mentored! Your adviser may not be a skilled mentor, so don’t hesitate to schedule time with them and follow up.
  • Get out of the lab or office and do something social: become a regular at a cultural center, scale the climbing wall, take a salsa class (just search for ‘salsa corvallis’), or join an intramural sports team.  A little balance between work and life can go a long ways towards maintaining an even keel while in grad school.
  • You can often buy books cheaper online than in the university bookstore, but be sure to allow for shipping time.
  • Be nice to all office staff! Who do you think really runs this place, anyway? This especially includes your department’s grad coordinator, if you have one.
  • Ask other grads – they often know more than professors, and sometimes even more than office staff. There are strong mutual support networks of grads at OSU. Be sure to have at least one grad in your department whom you can ask, as things often vary significantly between departments.
  • Pick and choose your commitments very carefully.
  • Take advantage of all the services OSU has to offer – Dixon Rec Center, Media Services, access to a psychologist, nutrition consultants, exercise consultants, etc.
  • Professors really want grad students to work on the professors’ research projects. It is cheap labor, so don’t be too complimented when they ask you (a little complimented, but not too much).  If they are offering funding, however, pay attention!
  • Sometimes figuring things out on your own about how OSU works is more valuable than simply being told, and even if you feel lost at first, you’ll figure it out eventually.
  • Sign your partner or spouse up for an affiliate card at the OSU ID center – for a one-time $20.00 expenditure they can utilize most of the stuff available to students on campus (library, athletic tickets, cheap membership to Dixon, etc.) See here for how.
  • Don’t be afraid to take lots of thesis credits, and, if possible, try to avoid taking more than two classes per term, especially if you’re on an assistantship or fellowship.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact CGE with questions or concerns, especially about employment.

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