Every year we round up the very best in Portland-area fall fun. This year the season will look and feel different, but we’ve collected some of the quintessential Portland fall fun activities, plus some new ones to try. Mask up, stay safe, and have fun!

Photo courtesy Meg Asby

Thank you to our sponsor Tri-County Farms. Go fresh, go local with Tri-County Farms.

Take a hike. Check out our recommendations for hikes where you can see great fall colors. If it’s too early or too late to catch the trees in action, try one of these fun family-friendly hikes

Make a fall craft. The rumors are true: It rains in Portland. While most drizzly days are great for outdoor adventures, there are those times where you just want to stay dry and stay in. Enter: fall crafts. Check out these ideas for fall decorations and projects for memorable rainy day fun. Hate mess? Try this low-mess craft that won’t leave your house covered in glitter.

Looking for more art ideas? Portland’s art studios have adapted in resourceful ways to keep kids’ creative juices flowing during the pandemic. The Craft Factory is offering art projects to go, Mimosa Studio is offering in-person painting by appointment or to-go painting kits, and Portland Child Art Studio is offering in-person classes again. Check out our list of arts and crafts studios in PDX for more options.

Pick some apples. There’s not much more satisfying than that delicious crunch of a freshly-picked apple. There are lots of great apple picking spots around town. Here are a few of our favorites. And once you’ve picked …

Make applesauce. Peel and quarter as many apples as you can stand, throw them in a pot with a splash of water to prevent sticking, boil over medium-high heat until soft, puree and voila – fresh apple sauce! Try adding cinnamon or strawberries to the sauce for a twist on the classic.

Explore the Oregon Zoo. The zoo has reopened with social distancing protocols in place. Read our review, get some tips on what to expect, and plan your trip to this old favorite. Plus, Howloween is back!

Visit a pumpkin patch. No family’s fall is complete without a visit to a pumpkin patch. Not only can you pick out the perfect carving pumpkin, but you can also visit with animals, ride on a hay wagon, take part in fall-themed activities and even bite into a delicious caramel apple. Here’s our list of the area’s pumpkin patches.

Visit a socially-distant playspace. Portland Parks and Recreation has set up traffic playgrounds and playspaces for creative, no-contact play.

Gather leaves. Put on those rain boots and take a stroll around the block trying to find the most beautiful leaves you can. Put them in a mason jar like a bouquet, make them into a craft, or—if you’re feeling really ambitious—rake them into a pile and jump into them. (Hint: taking a slo-mo video of your kids executing the jump will lead to a full afternoon of active fun!)

Plant fall veggies. Spinach and arugula can withstand cooler temps and grow quickly. 

Plant bulbs. Visit your favorite garden supply store for spring bloomers such as daffodils, tulips or hyacinth. Your kids will love the reward of seeing these flowers in the spring.

Puddle stomp. Yes, your child will get wet and dirty. But isn’t that what childhood is all about? This can also lead to our next idea…

Take a bubble bath. Cool, drizzly days call for warm, bubbly baths. Throw in a few caps of bubbles along with measuring cups and other kitchen utensils to change up the regular bath routine. 

Try pumpkin spice bath bombs. Your kids will love our bath bomb recipe; just sub in pumpkin spice extract for the essential oil!

Get lost in a corn maze. Take your pumpkin patch experience to the next level by venturing into a corn maze. Bring your boots, and be prepared for an hour or more of meandering. And be sure to reward yourself with your favorite fall treat afterwards!

Get a hole in one. While there are still some warm and dry days, try one of these mini golf courses with social distancing measures in place. 

Head to Hood River. Whether it’s to take in the beautiful scenery, to sip some apple cider or to explore the area, Hood River is a great fall destination. Don’t forget to tour the Fruit Loop!

Make a fall treat. It’s pumpkin-spiced everything season. Not your favorite flavor combination? How about making some of these fall- and Halloween-inspired goodies over on our Pinterest board?

Take a bike ride. Riding your bike through a big puddle might not be the cleanest activity—but it’s one of the most satisfying. Take advantage of the bike paths in the off-season to really set out and explore. Here are some suggestions for bike routes that are great for kids.

Search for rainbows. You know the type of weather—those rainy days with the sun shining through the raindrops—basically October through February. Where there’s that kind of rain, there’s rainbows. Go find one. And if you find that pot of gold, share it around!

Recapture your zen. No matter the season, the Portland Japanese Garden is lovely. Fall can be an especially wonderful time to visit, as the colors become more vibrant and the summer crowds thin. Pick up the scavenger hunt sheet while you’re there, or just enjoy the garden on its own.

Downward dog. Try Cosmic Kids Yoga for a break during the day. 

See a Blazers game. Fall marks the start of the basketball season. Even if you’re not the biggest sports fan, seeing a professional game can still be really exciting! Check out “Kid City” while you’re there, which features sign making, face painting and more.

Take in a show. We are lucky to have great kids theatre here in Portland. Take the family to see music, a play or musical with Oregon Children’s Theatre, Northwest Children’s Theater or Oregon Symphony’s Kids Series.

Skip the parking fee. Metro’s free Parking Days are coming up on October 121and November 11, 18 and 26. Enjoy free parking at Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp, and Chinook Landing Marine Park. Those days don’t work for you? You can always find your perfect park with Metro’s online park finder tool. Most other parks have free parking.

Treat yourself. Ice cream, doughnuts and more: Try one of our readers’ poll winners for sweet treats (scroll down for the treats section!). 

Read a book. Grab a blanket, some hot chocolate and your favorite book for some cozy, snuggly family time. Here’s a list perfect for fall from Annie Bloom’s Books.

Learn something new. While we’re all familiar with OMSI and the Children’s Museum, there are many more museums around town that can get your kids (and you) engaged. Scour some fun and enriching kid-friendly museums around town here.

Get into the Spirit of Halloween(town). Weekends throughout October you’ll find lots of spooky and not-so-spooky family-friendly fun at St Helens’ Spirit of Halloweentown.

Get Artsy. Check out beloved local artist Mike Bennett’s famous Crypto-Zoo: Museum of Mystery in St. Johns. Play games, win prizes, and walk through the immersive museum filled with 26 life-size Cryptids, Monsters and Mythical Beasts! Plus don’t miss the Halloween concert with Hi Joe Kye! on October 30, 3pm. Free. Masks required and social distancing enforced. Daily, 10a-5p, through November 5.

Tour a graveyard. Davis Graveyard is back for more Halloween thrills! Starting October 1, the spooky effects will be running every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

Check out the Spooky Farm Walks at Frog Pond Safari. Before dark the walks are more kid-friendly. Bring your teens after dark for some serious scares!

Trick or Treat! The ultimate free October event! Get those bags or buckets and get some candy!

Tour the hood. Walk around the neighborhood at night and find the house with the spookiest, most over-the-top Halloween decorations. Maybe it’s even your house?

Show off those costumes. If you are avoiding trick-or-treating this year, you can still have kids show off their costumes! Set up a friends or family Zoom call so your kiddos can wear their getups and share how excited they are about their costumes — with someone else! Win-win!

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