Put a little culture on your calendar this weekend with an African music performance at Holladay Park, the Italian Festival downtown or a heaping helping of Americana (complete with cotton candy, thrill rides and farm animals) at the Oregon State Fair. Read on for details on how to take your trip around the globe without ever leaving the state, as well as other top picks for the weekend ahead.

oregon state fair swing rides

photo: Courtesy of Oregon State Fair

Worth the Drive

Satisfy Those Cotton Candy Cravings
Take a day trip down to Salem to check out the Oregon State Fair, a staple on many families’ summer bucket lists. Thrill rides, family entertainment, a free-range petting zoo and elephant ears will be on hand to fulfill your need for a huge slice of American pie. Fri.-Sept. 7, various start times, $5-$8/person; Free for kids 6 & under, All Ages. Event details.

Go on a Geocaching Scavenger Hunt
Head to The Oregon Garden in Silverton for a geocaching adventure through the garden. After a brief informational session about the basics of geocaching, teams of attendees will use GPS units to go on a scavenger hunt in the garden, filling out their Garden Passport along the way. Fee includes the info session and garden admission for one adult and child. Register online in advance. Sat., 2-4 p.m., $15/child and adult pair; $5 each additional child, All Ages. Event details.

East Side

Get Cultured with Fools in Paradise
Fools in Paradise wants to get your family dancing. This group of eclectic performers specializes in upbeat and danceable music using a variety of instruments and vocal harmonies originating from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Ghana and Guinea. Sat., 2-3 p.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

West Side

Ciao, Bella! It’s the Festa Italiana
Pioneer Courthouse Square is transformed into “Piazza Italia” for this non-stop three-day event which celebrates all things Italian. Kids will love watching the puppet antics of the Carter Family Marionettes, and they’ll get a kick out of the grape stomp and the pizza toss. Thurs.-Sat., 11 a.m.-11 p.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.

Play Together Outside at the Taste of Tinkergarten
The taste of Tinkergarten is a free class where you’ll get to see, first hand, what a Tinkergarten class feels like and how they inspire authentic, play-based learning for children in an outdoor setting. Fri., 9:30-11 a.m., Free, Ages 18 months-5 years with an adult. Event details.

Is the Oregon State Fair on your family’s summer bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

–Suzie Ridgway