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It can be tempting to hunker down and hide from the gloomier weather when fall arrives. But given how many fun things there are to do in Portland with your family in the fall, why would you? You’ll find thirty ideas below for family-friendly fall fun—both outdoor and in.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. 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 …
  5. 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.
  6. Explore the Oregon Zoo. On Friday, October 18, there’s Squishing of the Squash, where you can see some of the world’s largest land animals demolish some of the area’s largest pumpkins. Howloween is two weekends of fun, treats and educational activities (October 19-20 & October 26-27). Costumed trick-or-treaters learn about wildlife in a fun scavenger hunt throughout the zoo. And with the bigger kids back at school, fall is a great time to take the little ones to the zoo (we recommend these 5 spots for prewalkers).
  7. Get scared at a haunted house. While some haunted houses are just too scary for young ones, hardy tweens who like to get scared can have a blast at one of these haunted houses. Plus there are a few options on there for even little ones. 
  8. 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!)
  9. 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…
  10. 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.
  11. Visit a new arts & crafts studio. There are tons of arts & crafts studios around town. They are filled with supplies and creative ideas. And best of all – you’re not left with the cleanup. Check out our list of open studios here.
  12. 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!
  13. 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. Try to time your visit for the Hood River Valley Harvest Fest on October 11-13!
  14. 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.
  15. Go to a fall-themed event. You’ll find dozens of ideas to celebrate the season on the PDX Kids Calendar: harvest festivals, mask-making, performances and much more.
  16. 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—like haunted houses, story times, costume parties, a pumpkin lighting and more.
  17. 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?
  18. 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 on the off-season to really set out and explore. Here are some suggestions for bike routes that are perfect for kids.
  19. Give back. Any time of year is a great time to volunteer as a family. Set a pre-New Year’s resolution to check out one of these kid-friendly volunteer opportunities.
  20. Try a ladybug nature walk. For little ones (about ages 2 to 5), try out one of these Portland Parks & Rec-led, slow-paced nature walks. You’ll find them at parks across town through the beginning of November. Read up on them here.
  21. Plot your trick-or-treating route. It’s never too early!
  22. 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.
  23. 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!
  24. Check out a new outdoor playground. With the cooler and wetter weather, many playgrounds empty out. But that doesn’t have to stop you! Just grab a towel or two to wipe down the slides and swings and you’re set. Here are some of our very favorites.
  25. Or an indoor one. Of course, sometimes it’s just too cold. Enter: indoor playgrounds. Here’s the open gym schedule for the fall.
  26. Go to the Pumpkin Regatta. Who wouldn’t want to see giant, hollowed out pumpkins turned into boats and sailed across a lake? I mean come on! This year’s is October 19 in Tualatin.
  27. 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.
  28. 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.
  29. Downward dog. Yoga is a great way for kids to get some wiggles out—and all while staying warm and dry too! There are many options for kid-friendly yoga in town. Here’s our list.
  30. 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.
PDX Parent Staff - Admin
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