With cooling temps, back to school, and that exciting feeling of change in the air, Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer. Fill your weekend up with fun with these ideas below, from free backyard games, farm festivals, ice cream spots, and more!

Find Ice Cream

Find Ice Cream

Because a sweet treat is always a good idea, whether it’s full or non-dairy, here are five spots to find the best ice cream around town. Try them all and vote for a favorite! You might have to try them all twice, just to be sure!

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Ready, Set, Gorge

Get out and play in Portland’s backyard, the Columbia River Gorge! It’s a popular weekend to get out, so use Ready, Set, GOrge to plan and travel safe. You can also book popular attractions like Multnomah Falls, which now requires reservations.

In addition, The site has maps, trailhead information, shuttle options, and more to make it a fabulous trip. If you’re coming from Portland, head north to the Washington side or further east to The Dalles to beat the crowds and find spectacular scenery.

Online: gorgefriends.org

Dahlia Festival

The Annual Dahlia Festival is a rainbow of color and blooms for every flower lover. The indoor pavilions are closed for safety this year, but outside the fields burst with botanical fireworks - over 370 varieties! Learn how to grow your own, or bring some cut flowers home with you from this free event that spreads over 40 acres.

995 NW 22nd Ave. Canby

More information here.

Find a Swimming Hole

Cool off and have a blast with a dunk in the water at one of these natural spots around town.

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Catch Dinos at OMSI

The Dinosaurs Revealed exhibit closes it's door after Labor Day- it's your last chance to catch it! Journey back in time to watch these animatronic dinos come to life. Exhibits will teach even your dino-loving kiddos new things. Find your favorite before they leave!

More information here.

Head to the Playground

Sometimes a simple day at the park can be the best way to make memories. Strike out to find a new-to-them playground and maybe a new-to-you neighborhood! You’ll find climbing ropes, pirates, oversize xylophones, and more! Bring a picnic (or grab a local goodie) and spend the day exploring.

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BBQ & Backyard Games

Find all the fun you need right in your own yard with these sidewalk games. Fire up the grill and make it an evening event!

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photo: via Oregon State Fair

Discover the Oregon State Fair

Labor Day Weekend is the grand finale to the summer’s big event, the Oregon State Fair. Eleven days finish off with a bang with livestock competitions, cook-offs, six stages of live music, dog shows, and plenty of baby animals. Future farmers, animal lovers, and fried food aficionados are welcome.

More info here.

Discover a Science Experiment

Encourage some messy and scientific exploration with some classic science experiments like making rock candy, a vinegar-powered boat, and of course: plenty of slime.

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View Wildlife at Portland Audubon

The Vaux Swifts migration happens every year, but the 2021 viewing at Chapman Elementary is cancelled for safety this year. Instead, head straight to the Portland Audubon to enjoy their 172-acre Wildlife Sanctuary, with hiking trails, a wildlife care center, and a nature store.

5151 NW Cornell Rd
Portland, OR
Online: audubonportland.org

Get Lost in the Corn Maze

Get a jumpstart on fall fun (and maybe beat some fall crowds) and check out the corn maze at Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch! This epic maze winds through almost two miles of corn and is great for all ages. Bring snacks: it can take up to 45 minutes to get through!

16511 NW Gillihan Rd

Portland, OR

Online: portlandmaize.com/

Art in the Pearl

This free three-day festival has been named one of the best art fairs in the country! Running Sep 4-6, it combines over 100 artists showcasing their work alongside original songs, great food, and hands-on activities for kids.

Find it at the Northwest Park block of Portland between W Davis and NW Flanders at NW 8th Ave. 

More information here.

Go Fishing

Cast your lines into some of the best family friendly fishing holes around. Maybe you’ll catch something for the grill!

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Head to a McMenamins

With a variety of locations and events across the Northwest, McMenamins boasts unique family fun in refurbished historical locales. They offer a myriad of concerts and dinners along with miniature golfing, frisbee golf, soaking pools, beer and wine tastings, and more. Edgefield, Kennedy School, and Grand Lodge are just a few of the great locations to check out!

Online: www.mcmenamins.com/

Head to Oaks Park

An amusement park might just be the best way to send summer off with a bang on Labor Day. Head to our favorite Oaks Park for all-ages rides, a carnival, a train ride, and the all-important snacks.

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—Katrina Emery

Featured image via unsplashed


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