Updated: Oct 13, 2019
Are you obsessed with Fall as much as me?!
This is the season all year that I wait in anticipation for. The crisp, cool air. The damp and frosty mornings broken up by the brilliant warmth of the sun busting through in the afternoon. Leaves changing colors to vibrant yellows, reds and oranges across the entire landscape contrasted by the dark hunter greens of our dense forests. The scent of pumpkin-spiced everything wafting from local coffee shops. The tastes of hot stews, soups and casseroles. Football and hockey as constant entertainment. And of course layering up in the latest of fall's fashions to stay warm.
Fall is my jam. My happy place. It's the time of year I tend to flourish.
The next few blog posts will be a guide to "a few of my favorite things" as we head into this most cherished season of them all. My guide will include my favorite must-wear items, pacific NW places to go, activities to do, foods to eat, products to try, entertainment to binge, and of course my favorite fall kicks.
First up... A list of my favorite local must do's and places to go. Enjoy!
CurvesWithKicks' Fall Season Local Must Do's & Go's
I am blessed to live in the Pacific NW (Oregon) where family farms are in abundance. Only a few minutes in any direction and you can find yourself at a rustic farm offering the most quintessential of autumn traditions. From picking out pumpkins, tasting hot apple cider, getting lost in corn mazes, petting the friendly farm animals, or shopping to your heart's delight, everything is at your fingertips in moments from home. My favorite is to find quiet little farms that specialize in unique varieties of heirloom plants, veggies, flowers and pumpkins. This year's pick is at Papa's Pumpkin Patch in Sherwood, Oregon. With pre-picked options and acres of u-pick varieties, I found some of the most beautiful arrangement of pumpkins I have ever seen - grays, whites, pale pinks, pale yellows, blues, greens and a variety of dark oranges and reds. Bumpy to smooth, striped to solid, large as a boulder to as tiny as a golf ball, or long twisted stems to little stumps - there were thousands to choose from. They also have a large landscape of u-pick sunflowers and wildflowers across their property for cents to a stem! This little farm might not have all the amenities that some large farms in Oregon have (petting zoos, pumpkin launches, mazes, face painting, etc). But what they do have is the iconic, rustic, dirt-on-your-boots, do-it-yourself pumpkin experience great for all ages and families big to small. I found that since this farm isn't a massive attraction, it made it easy to navigate and enjoy all the farm has to offer without the crowds and high prices. Support local, small businesses and bring a few friends!
Looking for more fall action? My next pick locale for much more buzz, is the Hoffman Farms Store. The unique and charming white tower against a picturesque natural landscape makes for a perfectly quaint outing to the countryside. After parking and walking up to the heart of their property, you are greeted by a stone path flanked by their adorable farm store on the right and a covered picnic area to the left. Today, the sounds of a live band played tunes as the buzz of children laughing and families chatting filled the air. The scent? Yes, exactly like what fall should smell like. Hot apple cider donuts, popcorn, roasted nuts and the subtle crispness of autumn leaves falling to the ground. This farm is packed full of fun activities for families to enjoy. Children's barrel rides, scenic train rides, hay bale mountains, corn mazes, pumpkin cannons and more. If you are in the area, be sure to make this a destination for your family this season.
Apple Apples Apples
You can't experience fall without diving into the sweet and delicious varieties of apples served in every sort of way. One of my favorite ways to eat apples this time of year is by peeling them, removing the core and cutting them in half. Then baking them in the oven cut-side down to soften them. Then coat them in a crumble topping (brown sugar, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, oats, salt, flour and butter) and rebaking them until they are soft and toasty. Serve hot with vanilla bean ice cream on top and there you go. A fall explosion in your mouth.
I have never been to a u-pick orchard, so this is top of my list this season. So, I will be picking to my own delight at Sherwood Orchards to stock up on a score of these delicious fruits.
If you're not into picking your own fruit, I highly recommend visiting Oregon Heritage Farms just outside of Beaverton, Oregon. They offer a wide variety of fresh picked apples and other autumn fruits, as well as activities to enjoy. They really focus on the education of farming and know how to cater to a crowd of adults or kids. Their farm store is adorable. Stocked full of local finds and gifts, an apple tasting area and bakery. The apple cider slushies are A-MAZ-ING! A must try. And don't forget to grab a bag of mini apple cider donuts... you won't regret it!
Farm Stand Shopping
E.Z. Orchards & Farm Market is a place that is nostalgic for me. When living in Salem, every fall my mom and I would drive out to the orchards to get a few fresh, hot apple cider donuts. These donuts are like no others I have ever had. Always served warm, delicately rolled in sugar, these little rings of heaven are the perfect taste of fall. Their farm market is a rustic and charming shoppe with a wide variety of jarred and fresh foods, gifts, keepsakes, decor and more. They also have a jam-packed event schedule especially for the fall with all of the autumn favorites like hayrides, corn mazes, duck races, petting zoo and of course pumpkins! Check them out - and for the love of fall - don't leave without a bag of their freshly made apple cider donuts! E.Z. Orchards is located just east of Keizer, Oregon in the heart of the Willamette Valley.
Coffee Shop Chillin'
If you have ever visited me in my 'hood of Newberg, I most likely have taken you to The Coffee Cottage in the historic downtown center. This adorable former home turned into a quirky hub for caffein and delights is the heart of Newberg. This is my favorite place in town to go and hide away to write, read a book, people watch or just take a breather all while enjoying a cup of joe, a delicious lunch and never leaving without grabbing on of their A-class, delectable homemade scones. They have quiches and breakfast burritos always available with a line up of pastries and treats to accompany any cup of coffee, tea or the like all made to your taste. Their lunch menu is pretty robust fitting any appetite you have. The staff are incredibly friendly and show their love of serving their local community. They are a year-round favorite for me, but I tend to increase my appearance here during the fall and winter. I am counting down to when they will have their cranberry orange scones in season! Can't get enough.
From Olives & Grapes to Oil & Wine
As you have seen in my Instagram posts before, one of my absolute favorite places in the Yamhill County area to bring guests (and to shop for myself) is Red Ridge Farms which is home to Durant Vineyards and Oregon Olive Mill. I have become an olive oil snob since coming to RRF for the past several years. They continually surprise me with newer varieties and pairings of oils and vinegars. Their olive oils are made on-site at their mill, which you can tour. And to top that off, their shoppe is one of the best designed and well stocked out there. This is a cook's, or even just any food lover's, dream shoppe. I always stock up on Arbequina olive oil (my fav), as well as the new garlic infused oil, along with a bag of sea salt, a delicious new seasonal loose tea blend, the latest unique kitchen gadget, locally made hand lotions and any other little gems that call out to me. Just a few feet from the shoppe is their nursery where you can find stunning pottery and lush plants. And then just a few feet from there you can visit Durant Vineyards for some small batch wines to taste - plus the view from that side looking over the valley is something you should never miss when visiting. Always spare an extra 10-15 minutes on your visit to just sit back and enjoy that view.
I particularly love coming up to RRF during the fall to stock up on some of my favorite items as I tend to do more home cooking this time of year. And, it is a bit quieter from all of the summer crowds so it helps to gain a bit more space and take my time strolling through all the sights.
If you find yourself somewhere between Beaverton and Dundee here in Oregon during the fall season, I hope you stop by some of my favorite gems in the area. Stay tuned for more posts on some of my favorite places to go and things to do during the season!