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The Ultimate Fall Bucket List for the Portland Area

  |  Neighborhood Insight, Portland

Fall is here! With the colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, cool crisp air and pumpkin-themed everything — we couldn’t be more excited to welcome fall in the Portland area. To help you maximize this idyllic season, we created a complete fall bucket list, featuring local businesses, iconic area events, and endless fall fun for all ages.

There is no shortage of things to do in Portland during the fall — and our list proves it!

 

See Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage in Portland, OR

One of the most quintessential (and free!) fall activities is viewing fall foliage, either on a leisurely hike or a drive through an area packed with maples transitioning to red, orange, yellow and purple. Some of our favorite hikes for fall colors in the area include the Hoyt Arboretum Loop Hike, the Maple-Wildwood Loop Hike at Forest Park, and the Trail of Ten Falls at Silver Falls State Park. Learn more about each hike on our guide to the Best Hikes to See Fall Foliage in Oregon + Southwest Washington, which includes options in Central Oregon and across the Washington-Oregon border into the Vancouver area.

 

Sip on Local Hard Cider

In a region known for its apple harvest, it’s only right to sample some of the city’s best cider. And we’re talking about the adult kind of cider! Explore our list of the best hard cider providers in the city and choose one to visit this fall — or attempt to visit each of them throughout the course of the season. Featuring over 30 ciders on tap, Portland Cider Company is one of the largest cider houses in Oregon, offering one of the most diverse collections of cider in North America. Visit their Portland Cider House on Hawthorne for endless cider drinking complemented by a wide range of pub food.

 

Pick Pumpkins on Sauvie Island

Pumpkin Patches Near Portland, OR

Head to Sauvie Island for endless pumpkin-picking fun! Some of the best pumpkin patches in the Portland area on Sauvie Island include Bella Organic, Kruger’s Farm and The Pumpkin Patch, a family farm with a fresh produce market, a patio cafe, a coffee shop, a gift shop, a corn maze and a 1929 red animal barn. October is filled with fun at The Pumpkin Patch, including the produce market, you-pick pumpkins (9 a.m.–5:45 p.m. daily), hay rides, a giant hay maze, The Maize and much more.

 

Get Lost in a Corn Maze

If you didn’t get lost in a corn maze, did you even “autumn”? There are a number of farms with corn mazes near Portland, including Fazio Farms, Heiser Farms, Lee Farms, Liepold Farms, Packer Orchards Bakery & Farm Place, Vancouver Pumpkin Patch, Bella Organic, Kruger’s Farm, and The Pumpkin Patch. Challenge yourself by attempting to escape one of these extravagantly designed corn mazes!

 

Visit the Multnomah Whiskey Library

If you haven’t heard about the Multnomah Whiskey Library, that’s no mistake. This unmarked speakeasy-esque whiskey lounge in the heart of downtown is designed for whiskey aficionados and casual whiskey-sippers alike. The cozy upstairs lounge features brick walls, an elegant chandelier, and an impressive wall filled to the brim with whiskey bottles representing all major and lesser known styles of distilled spirits known to the modern world. To take the exclusivity to the next level, the Multnomah Whiskey Library offers a membership program, allowing members to make reservations, skip the line, and access a variety of perks. However, all are welcome to skip the line by opting for the downstairs Green Room, a more relaxed environment with the same commitment to excellence.

Looking for more secretive spots in the city? Discover 7 Speakeasies in Portland You May Not Know About.

 

Savor Brunch

Brunch is arguably the most important meal of the day and fall may just be the best time to enjoy it. And thankfully, Portland has plenty of exceptional brunch places, serving all the must-haves, including Benedicts, chicken and waffles, pancakes, omelettes, mimosas and Bloody Marys. One of our favorite settings for brunch in the city is Tusk, which features plenty of white space, natural wood, industrial light fixtures and an iconic portrait of Keith Richards floating in a swimming pool hanging over the bar.

 

Get a New Book

Book Lover's Guide to Portland, OR

Fall and winter are the perfect time to start a lengthy book series, finally read that book collecting dust on your shelf, or join a local book club to connect with other readers. Find out everything you need to know about reading in Portland with our Book Lover’s Guide to Portland, packed with information about bookstores, libraries, book-loving businesses, and various literary events and programs.

 

Scream at a Haunted House

Test your limits by visiting a haunted house in the area at least once this Halloween season. If you don’t know where to start, consider The Fear PDX, the largest Halloween event in Portland with a variety of attractions. Whether you enter The Dark Carnival, Dead City, The Doll Factory or The Mansion, prepare yourself for creepy creatures, dark rooms, terrifying scenes and endless fright.

 

Try a New Coffee Shop

No matter how long you’ve lived in the Portland area, you know there is always a new coffee shop to try. Take a look at some of our favorite coffee shops in the city, including The Great North in St. Johns. They serve coffee from Coava, tea from The Jasmine Pearl Tea Company, and pastries from Dos Hermanos and Petunia’s Pies & Pastries. Plus, The Great North makes all of their own syrups, sauces, chai and specialty sodas in-house, ensuring the highest quality and natural ingredients. Stop by this cozy neighborhood coffee shop for a latte or a quick bite to eat (they have breakfast sandwiches and yogurt bowls, too!).

 

See Vaux’s Swifts Divebomb Chapman School

If you’ve lived in the area for a while, you are well aware of this incredible — and frankly, strange — occurrence at Chapman Elementary School. From mid-August through mid-October, the largest concentration of Vaux’s swifts in North America gather in the sky above the school just before sunset for a period of 10–30 minutes, before flying into the brick chimney until sunrise. This is part of their annual migration to southern Central America and Venezuela. This daily ritual attracts hundreds to thousands of spectators each fall — and if you haven’t seen it before, be sure to join the masses this year.

 

Witness the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

Photo Courtesy of Scott Marx via the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta

To witness the most “Pacific Northwest” fall activity we could possibly imagine, head to the Lake at Tualatin Commons for the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta on October 19. Watch as costumed paddlers race around the lake in massive 1,000-pound pumpkins in a series of wacky races. While this certainly is the main attraction of this award-winning event, you can also enjoy a pie eating contest, a kids’ costume contest, pumpkin golf, pumpkin bowling, clown shows and much more.

 

Attend a Farm Dinner

Can you imagine a more dreamy setting for enjoying a delicious meal than on the farm where the ingredients were grown? Complete with local wine pairings, live music and educational opportunities, farm dinners provide the ultimate culinary experience. Take a look at some of the best farm dinners in the region, several of which extend through October — and some even into December!

 

Go Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley

Wine in the Willamette Valley

As we transition to colder temperatures, there’s something extra magical about sipping a glass of pinot noir, the variety this region is known for. Visit one of the best wineries in the Willamette Valley, from Hawks View Winery in Sherwood all the way south to Cristom Vineyards just outside of Salem. Some offer airy patios perfect for those warmer fall days and most have cozy tasting rooms to shelter you from the rain on a gloomy day.

 

Visit The Grotto

Many flock to The Grotto to see the brilliant display of lights during the holiday season, but it is an underrated destination during the fall. Surrounded by fir trees, colorful rhododendrons and other native plants, The Grotto is a 62-acre Catholic sanctuary welcoming more than 350,000 guests of all faiths each year. The foliage here comes to life during the fall! Plus, visitors may see the marble replica of Michelangelo’s famous Pietà carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff, or ride the elevator (for a small fee) to the top of the bluff for a breathtaking, panoramic view of the area.

 

Drink Tea at Lan Su Chinese Garden

Tea at Lan Su Chinese Garden

Photo Courtesy of © Lan Su Chinese Garden

Considered the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China, Lan Su Chinese Garden is a peaceful oasis in the heart of the city. The Teahouse in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections offers visitors the ability to sit, relax, and enjoy tea while gazing into the garden. And all throughout the month of October, Lan Su Chinese Garden is celebrating poetry, tea, and tea arts with their special Tea & Poetry series.

 

Travel Along the Hood River Fruit Loop

Drive the scenic route to Hood River to embark on the iconic Hood River Fruit Loop. This 35-mile drive through the Hood River Valley features 29 member stands offering a variety of wines, fruits, vegetables, flowers, ciders, food and more. The farm-fresh goodness continues well into the fall at a number of stands, including Pearl’s Place, Smiley’s Red Barn, Fox-Tail Cider & Distillery, Packer Orchards & Farm Place, Packer Orchards and Bakery, Draper Girls Cider Company, Kiyokawa Family Orchards & Fruit Stand, Mt View Orchards Cidery & Fruit Stand, and many more. Learn more about the many stands along the Hood River Fruit Loop using our complete guide.

 

Go to the Zoo

Oregon Zoo

Photo Courtesy of the Oregon Zoo

While the zoo is a popular destination all year long, there is lots of activity happening at the Oregon Zoo during the fall. The season kicks off with Oregon Zoo Oktoberfest on September 28 and continues through Halloween with their Howloween at the Zoo, which offers two weekends of fun for little ones to go trick-or-treating amongst wildlife.

 

Drink a Seasonal Beer

There’s nothing quite like sipping a seasonal fall beer this time of year. Many breweries in Portland are creating delicious autumnal brews, including Wayfinder Beer, a relatively new brewery operating out of a century-old brick warehouse in Portland’s central eastside. Their Freiheit Oktoberfest Wiesn is a stronger export-style lager made seasonally “for consuming under the big tents.”

 

Happy Fall!

What do you love to do this time of year? Let us know in the comments below — whether or not it’s on our list!

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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