With school virtual in Portland this year, your kids might be missing the grand tradition of the field trip. Take matters into your own hands with a fun and educational day out to enjoy the colors of fall, learn a few things, and get active. We’ve rounded up a few of the best places to take your kids in or near Portland on a fall field trip homeschool style. You don’t need a permission slip to head out to these destinations, just a sense of adventure and fun! Read on to find out more.

(Note: please check each website for COVID procedures and policies before heading out.)

photo:via Nick G. Yelp

Fort Vancouver and Pearson Air Museum

Take a field trip through history at Fort Vancouver. While the fort itself remains closed for now, the extensive grounds are still open and make a good place to wander. More importantly, the Pearson Air Museum is open! It’s a fun look at the region’s surprisingly important history as an airfield (one of the country’s oldest continuously operating airfields, in fact). And inside kids can take a look at some real pre-1930’s airplanes and learn about the Spruce Mill that operated onsite. You’ll also learn about the world’s first transpolar flight, and the story of Leah Hing, the first U.S.-born Chinese American woman to earn a pilot’s license.

Free Parking and Admission
9 a.m.- 4p.m. Tues.-Sat.
612 E Reserve St
Vancouver , WA
Online: nps.gov/fova/learn/historyculture/pearson.htm

TMK Creamery

Visit this dairy operation that packs a punch. Not only can you meet the animals and learn about the loving art of raising milk cows, but you can taste the dairy goodies, as well! Cheese curds, gouda, and even ice cream will lure anyone who’s not lactose intolerant. Even better, you can meet the cows. Their line-up of adorable big-eyed cows are called “cowlebrities,” and each come with a big name tag so you can address them properly. You’ll get the chance to offer them hay and even pet them, while learning about the careful and caring stewardship the small dairy farm upholds for their animals. Call ahead to let them know, and they’ll arrange an educational field trip style tour so you can really see behind the scenes.

4:30 p.m.- 7:30 p.m. Thu.-Fri., 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Sat.
27221 S Dryland Rd.
Canby, OR
Online: tmkcreamery.com

photo: aldo via yelp

Wildwood Recreation Area

A beautiful fall destination along Highway 26 on the way to Mt. Hood, Wildwood makes a great place to mix fun and learning in nature. Hiking and wandering the easy boardwalks is the main activity here. The Wetlands Trail wanders through the old growth forest, while the Cascade Streamwatch Trail is a 3/4 – mile paved loop along the Salmon River. Check out the underwater fish viewing chamber where you can spot salmon doing their thing in the river

$5/vehicle day-use
65670 E Hwy. 26
Welches, OR
Online: blm.gov/visit/wildwood-recreation-site

Howell Territorial Park on Sauvie Island

Fun is a main attraction every fall on a field trip to this farming island! Besides pumpkins, apple cider, and corn mazes, you’ll also be able to soak in some beautiful fall color from all the oaks blanketing the land. For a perfect picnic spot, head to Howell Territorial Park and spread your feast under the oaks. In the apple orchard behind the house you’ll find trees that were planted from cuttings carried by wagon over the Oregon Trail.

13901 NW Howell Park Rd
Portland, OR
Online: sauvieisland.org
Online: oregonmetro.gov/parks/howell-territorial-park

photo: lauren via yelp

Hoyt Arboretum

Portland’s biggest arboretum is a clear choice for a field trip filled with fall colors. Over 12 miles of hiking trails span 190 acres, and 6,000 trees like the color-changing birches, maples, oaks and magnolias. A stop at the visitor center will help direct you to which trail offers the most colors, whether you want red hawthorn berries or fiery yellow maples. They offer miles of stroller-friendly paths, a scavenger hunt for the kids, and plenty of great views. 

4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, OR
Online: hoytarboretum.org

Oregon Zoo

There’s so much to learn at the zoo! There’s always something wild and exotic, big and scary, tiny and cute, fuzzy and wuzzy around every corner at the zoo. While this year there are a few safety changes (namely, timed entry and some indoor areas that are closed), there’s still plenty of outdoor areas to roam and animals to see. Watch the river otters frolic, catch an anaconda feeding in the Amazon, or stay closer to home at the family farm. Make it a fun trip with a scavenger hunt, or maybe a bingo game involving all the animals.

9 a.m.- 3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.- 4 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
$17.95/ages 12+, $12.95/kids ages 3-11, free for children 2 and under
4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Online: oregonzoo.org

—Katrina Emery


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