If your kids are anything like ours, they’ve had their Halloween costumes picked out for months and are begging for a visit to the pumpkin patch. Since we love Halloween as much as they do (besides the over abundance of candy and inevitable sugar high, of course), we’ve mapped out a sweet day trip to Saint Helens to really rev up the excitement for the spooktacular season. Saint Helens is where the first Hallloweentown and Twilight movies were filmed and in a homegrown, month-long celebration, scarecrows line the streets as local shop keeps try to outdo one another to create the most creative and clever scarecrow. Shopkeeps wear costumes and Halloween themed activities and deals abound.

What to Do:
There are two merchant districts to explore. Just off of Highway 30 on Columbia Blvd is the Houlton district. Here is where you will find the St. Helens Book Shop and Houlton Bakery. Both businesses cater well to Portlandish sensibility and are super kid-friendly.

Continue down Columbia Blvd to Olde Towne, the historic riverfront district that was the set of Disney’s Halloweentown. You might want to see what’s playing in the vintage Columbia Theatre or trade in books at WordforWord used book shop (they have espresso for you caffeine-desperate mamas). One of the most fun things to do, especially in costume season, is to browse Jilly’s of Beverly Hills where there are fairy wings, prom dresses, wigs, jewelry, props, costumes and things you never imagined. The Vault Climbing Gym is another kid-friendly spot to play, especially on a rainy day. The rock walls are open to families and they provide the gear and instruction you need. Call 503-396-5605f or information.

Pick up a free walking map featuring Twilight and Halloweentown Locations, Dark History and Haunted Places at any number of local merchants.

Don’t Forget the Pumpkin Patch:
On your way in or out, find over 20 varieties of pumpkins, gourds and squash. While other Portlanders are in Sauvie Island gridlock, visit Bernet Farms pumpkin patch, open from 9:00 am until dusk every day in October. On the last three Fridays and Saturdays of the month, the Bernet Farm Corn Maze will be haunted. Visit the farm zoo, and take a hay ride. On Saturday October 20 Bernet Farms hosts PumpkinFest  with live music, a bouncy castle, and games… including a pumpkin catapult. Bernet Farms is located at 51372 Dike Road in Scappoose. Dike Road is a fantastic drive for aspiring birders. Watch for hawks on the fence posts, Osprey, heron and swan.

Kids Will Love:
Costumes are in-style for the whole month of October and can earn prizes and discounts from local merchants. Activities include an I-Spy Adventure game organized by local merchants and free to visitors, haunted tours and DIY harvest games.

Parents Will Love: 
You’ll love the sleepy, laid-back atmosphere of this town. The old waterfront area has one main street that stretches only a few blocks, making it a safe place to let kids try some independence. Saint Helens is perched on the Columbia River and at this time of year the trees across from the city docks on Sand Island lose their green. The city docks, if its not too cold, can be the perfect place to spot migratory waterfowl. Children are required to wear a life-jacket.

If you plan to stay the night, mention Halloweentown for a discount at the Oak Meadows Best Western (the only place we recommend).

Follow the action on Facebook at HalloweentownOR.

Getting There:
Head out through Northwest Portland on Hwy 30. You will pass the gorgeous and gothic St. Johns Bridge. Need to pick up a bale of straw? Just past the bridge is Linnton Feed and Seed. Continue on Highway 30 about ten miles and turn off on Johnson’s Landing Rd before Scappoose if you want to stop at Bernet Farms. Then head back to Hwy 30 and continue to Saint Helens. Here is a google maps itinerary. http://goo.gl/maps/g2PG5

Have you visited Saint Helens? Any tips for a successful (and tantrum-free) trip here? Leave us a comment below. 

— Amber Dennis (she took the awesome photos too!)