It’s the Great Pumpkin, Portland

FieldTripPumpkins2014-4Hit one of these farms for the perfect gourd.

Go ahead, just try to get through this month without going to a pumpkin patch. We double-triple dare you. Or, just give in and revel in the fact that at some point in October, your family will find itself headed out of the city and down to the farm, where the air will smell like cider and caramel apples and your kids will do their best Linus imitation and toddle/run madly through the patch in search of that elusive just-right pumpkin. (The one they settle on will be indistinguishable from the hundreds of other pumpkins within view, but no matter. In their eyes, it will be perfection). Without further ado, we present a few of our most beloved Portland-area patches. Don’t see your family’s favorite here? Tweet us at @Metro_Parent or tell us about it on Facebook, and we just might see you there.

Sauvie Island Farms:
FieldTripPumpkins2014-2Yes, there are bigger pumpkin patches on Sauvie Island. (And the line to get over the bridge on a crisp October Saturday bears that out.) The Pumpkin Patch, Kruger’s and Bella Organics all have their many charms. But our heart belongs to this sweet, smaller-scale farm, off the beaten path in more ways than one. You have to drive a little further to get to Sauvie Island Farms, but it’s worth it. In past years, the family-owned farm has made a hay-bale pyramid for kids to scramble up. On a clear day, you can sometimes spot Mount Rainier on the horizon from the top. There’s also a pint-sized hay maze for the smallest kids, and a bigger corn maze for older kids. Gnarled apple trees dot the edges of the property and you can pick enough to fill your freezer with applesauce to last all winter. Pro tip: Ask the hayride driver to FieldTripPumpkins2014-6drop off your crew near the farm’s animals, and say hello to the chickens, geese and assorted other barnyard favorites. It’s all free, though you’ll pay for the pumpkins and apples, of course. (19818 NW Sauvie Island Road.) sauvieislandfarms.com

Plumper Pumpkins:
If you’re looking for an all-out pumpkin bonanza, Plumper is your place. These people are not messing around. Pumpkin bowling? Check. Swings, a teepee, a giant sandbox filled with grain, slides made out of giant tubes, slides that go from the top of a stack of hay bales to the bottom? Check, check, check, check and check. FieldTripPumpkins2014-3On the weekends, they add pumpkin croquet to the mix, along with what has got to be the metro area’s biggest assortment of gourd-flinging machines: a trebuchet, two hydraulics-fueled cannons that can supposedly launch a pumpkin 400 feet, even something called a “pumpkin popper.” Add in pony rides, face-painting, a cow-train and it’s clear that this place is basically Pumpkin-palooza. About those cow-trains though: Do your best to convince someone else to ride in these with your kids, if they aren’t old enough to go by themselves, particularly if you are prone to becoming slightly nauseous when wedged into a bucket-shaped seat and driven at breakneck speed over bumpy farm roads. The only downside is that it’s not cheap. That’s understandable: FieldTripPumpkins2014-5The family that runs the farm needs to cover the costs of so many great activities. Adventure passes are $10 per person, and some activities, like all those pumpkin-flinging machines, cost extra. (11435 NW Old Cornelius Pass Road.) plumperpumpkins.com

Pumpkin Funland:
At least once every October since our kids were born, we’ve loaded them up in the car and made the pilgrimage to Hood River to Pumpkin Funland. Because, come on, with a name like that, how could we not? The rest of the year, it’s Rasmussen Farms, but in October, it’s all pumpkins, all the time. Someone at Pumpkin Funland has a sense of humor: Every year, they choose a theme and use pumpkins (with the occasional assist from seasonal squash and Indian corn) to illustrate it. One year, it was classic children’s literature, and we walked around their exhibit hall pointing at Harry Potter scenes made from painted, dressed-up pumpkins. Another year, it was Olympic events (could YOU make a pumpkin diorama of the high jump? I didn’t think so). The theme often carries through to the farm’s corn maze, where you’ll find a running story, told in verse with new installments around every twist and turn. I can never leave their farm store without buying a jar of creamy pumpkin butter and a handful of honey sticks. And of course, there’s there pumpkin patch itself, boasting views of Mount Adams in one direction and Mount Hood in the other. If you really think about it, there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. (3020 Thomsen Road, Hood River.) rasmussenfarms.com

The Portland-area is home to more great pumpkin patches than we could ever write about. Here are just a few more of our favorites:

PUMPKIN

Fazio Farms, 8433 NE 13th Ave. Giant corn maze, a hay bale pyramid, kettle corn on the premises and a bouncy slide. You’re all set! www.faziofarms.com

Old McDonald’s Farm, 1001 SE Evans Rd., Corbett. Pumpkin picking on the first two weekends of October, plus a fire pit for roasting hot dogs and marshmallows and live bluegrass music. www.oldmcdonaldsfarm.org

Bella Organic, 16205 NW Gillihan Rd. A Jake and the Neverland Pirates-themed corn maze that turns into a “twilight” maze on Friday and Saturday nights throughout October, complete with a Halloween light display and costumed characters waiting behind carefully chosen corners. Costumes are highly recommended. www.bellaorganic.com

French Prairie Gardens, 17673 French Prairie Rd. NE, St Paul. The only ones we know of with pig racing, billed as “the Pig-tucky Derby.” Plus a special kids’ corral for the littles, and a whole raft of swings and slides. Definitely worth the drive. www.FPGardens.com

Lee Farms, 21975 SW 65th Ave., Tualatin. Face-painting, pedal carts and a seven-acre corn maze. www.leefarmsoregon.com

The Pumpkin Patch, 16511 NW Gillihan Rd. Farm-fresh produce and an enormous corn “maize.” www.PortlandMaze.com

Joe’s Place Farm, 701 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver. A permanent fort maze to clamber on, plus homemade apple cider and dozens of varieties of pumpkins. Closed on Sundays. www.joesplacefarms.com

Julia Silverman

Julia Silverman

Julia is a former Associated Press Oregon education and politics reporter, who has also worked as a web editor at Oregon Public Broadcasting. She likes reading, cooking, hiking, swimming, and being left alone at the end of the day to watch some pretty bad TV. Her twins, Ben and Elly, like making trouble.
Julia Silverman

Latest posts by Julia Silverman (see all)