While Portland gets a lot of foot traffic and attention in the spring and summer, we’re going to let you in on a little secret: it’s equally as magical during the fall! The city has a certain moodiness and coziness that comes to life during the cooler months of fall and winter, when we can finally wear our favorite sweaters and order pumpkin-flavored everything.
Whether you live here or you’re just passing through, we’re here to convince you that nothing beats fall in Stumptown. Here are a few things to look forward to, plus some things to do this fall in Portland, so you can properly maximize the season.
The Leaves Are Changing
The leaves, they are a-changin‘! While we think Portland is beautiful all year long, there’s just something about the fall that makes this city shine, as evergreen trees contrast with bright displays of red, orange, yellow and purple. And one of the best ways to see fall colors is by embarking on a hike. 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. And if you’re headed towards the Hood River area, there are even more fall hikes to uncover in the Gorge!
The Temperatures Are Cooling Down
After that heat wave we experienced this summer, we’re looking forward to some cooler temperatures and crisper air. Come fall, temperatures dip down the low 70s and 60s, with nights dropping to the 50s. And by late October, those temperatures drop another 10 degrees, preparing us for much colder winter days ahead. Before we have to dust off our ski jackets, let’s embrace the moderate temperatures of fall, made even sweeter with sunshine and pretty leaves. It truly is sweater weather in Portland during the fall!
Portland Has the Best Cider
The Pacific Northwest — especially Washington state — is known for its impressive apple production. In fact, with a total of 165,000 acres of apple trees, the state produces about 58 percent of all apples grown in the country! So, naturally, Portland has convenient access to apples, perfect for making cider, of both the alcoholic and non-alcoholic variety. There are plenty of places to get hard cider in the Portland area, from small cideries to massive taphouses serving craft beer and cider side by side. And if you’re up for an apple picking adventure, head to one of these you-pick orchards in Washington!
Cozy Coffee + Tea Shops Abound
When temperatures begin to drop and the rain begins to fall, we trade our outdoor patio hangs for cozy interiors, often found at our favorite coffee and tea shops in town. Thankfully, Portland has plenty of both to choose from, providing the ideal place to retreat from the weather, sip on a hot beverage, and stay warm while leaves cascade to the concrete outside the window. Need some new suggestions? Visit one of our favorite coffee shops in the city — and if coffee isn’t your “cup of tea,” visit one of these cozy tea shops instead!
We Have Plenty of Pumpkin Patches Nearby
What is fall without pumpkins? Portland is completely surrounded by pumpkin patches, where you can pick your own pumpkins and enjoy a variety of fall activities, like hayrides, corn mazes, crafts and kids activities, petting zoos, and much more. Use our guide and interactive map to pick the pumpkin patch nearest you for a day filled with family-friendly, fall-themed fun!
We Have the Scariest Haunted Houses
For many, fall is synonymous with Halloween. If that’s you, get your scream on at one of the many terrifying haunted houses in the Portland area, which includes everything from your traditional haunted house to a haunted corn maze — and even a couple of haunted Christmas attractions to keep you screaming well into December. Throughout your journey, you’ll encounter plenty of creepy crawlers, ghouls, goblins and zombies to keep you on your toes.
The Vaux’s Swifts Are Back
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.
Portland is Home to 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 in October. 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.
NOTE: After cancelling the event in 2020 due to COVID, the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta is back for 2021! Mark your calendars for October 16 and check this page for more details as the date draws closer.
Pumpkin Drinks Are Everywhere
This time of year, pumpkin is finding its way into just about everything on the menu — our cupcakes, bread, soup, cookies, and certainly our coffee and beer. While a certain worldwide chain has made a name for themselves for their PSL, we like to support local coffee shops by ordering the pumpkin drinks on their menu!
And when it comes to seasonal fall beers, StormBreaker’s Pumpkin Pedaler Pumpkin Ale is one of our favorites this time of year. They describe it better than we can: “The Pumpkin Pedaler rides into Portland with warming aromas of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Perfectly balanced flavors of pumpkin and spice with hints of maple sweetness lend way to a creamy mouth feel. With a bright orange color and a thick white foam head this autumn treat is like pumpkin pie in a glass. Just get out of his way if you see him coming.”
The City is Perfectly Positioned for Fall Day Trips
With all this fall goodness going on, who would ever want to leave Portland? Well, with so many incredible destinations nearby, it’s only right to embark on a little getaway. Some of our favorite fall trips include exploring Cannon Beach and other beach towns, making the short drive to Hood River and driving along the Hood River Fruit Loop, spending the weekend exploring the outdoors in Bend, sipping wine in the Willamette Valley, or picking apples in Southwest Washington.
What are you looking forward to this fall in Portland? Let us know in the comments below!