Photo Courtesy Borislav

It’s fall, y’all! After that first torrential rain, I am ready to jump into fall with both rain boots, armed with hot apple cider and decorative gourds. Fall is my favorite time in Portland. And once I had kids, it renewed my joy in the fall traditions of carving pumpkins, picking apples, and supporting the same local farms and businesses every year. We are lucky to have so many pumpkin patches and apple farms here in Oregon, but it can get complicated. Some charge a flat admission fee, while others have extra amenities with costs (Train rides! Petting zoo!) that my kids beg to do, and now fall is starting to get real expensive! 

So here’s what I do to keep the fall vibes high and my budgets low. My top five frugal activities for fall are:

Al’s Garden Center
  • Al’s Garden Center—Come load up on pumpkins here, all sizes for only $1.99. They have a fun fall harvest package that includes a corn stalk, straw bale, pumpkin and a potted mum for $25 if you want to decorate your porch. There are also specialty, extra warty pumpkins for $4.99. The garden center also has a pumpkin washing station that occupied my kids for a solid 20 minutes while they washed our seven  pumpkins. At that price, we felt great about getting a few extras for the neighbors!
  • Hood River Fruit Loop—It’s a gorgeous drive to get out there, and we always make a stop at Packer Orchards for cookies and jams. But our favorite destination is Kiyokawa Farms. It’s got the largest selection of apples, pears and Asian pears — we usually go when  my favorite Empire apple is ready to pick — and they have a fun kids playground as well. On the way back, we grab an early outside dinner at pFriem Brewery. Be sure to get on the online waitlist so you won’t have to wait an hour for your table! 
Hood River Fruit Loop
  • Oregon Zoo hosts Howloween every year for the last two weekends of October. If you are a member, you can reserve your tickets for free. Kids  dress up in costumes, running around the zoo during the scavenger hunt and watching animals eat, swim with and stomp on their pumpkins. 
  • Our Table Cooperative—If you must have your annual pics at a pumpkin patch, this cute organic farm in Sherwood is the place to go! They  have hayrides, craft activities and other fun fall things throughout October. Plus, they serve housemade chili and cornbread and hot chocolate and mulled cider. Make sure you stop by their farm store with grab and go meals or for their local produce. You will find our family there on October 23, when they are making apple cider donuts. 
  • Pumpkin Display in West Linn—If haunted houses aren’t your jam, this is a fun alternative. This is an annual kid-friendly Halloween display featuring 200 intricately carved pumpkins with music, fog, lasers and UV glow lights. October 16-17, 23-24, and 30-31, 5-10 pm, 2885 White Salmon Ct., West Linn. 
Vikki Rubens
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