/ Traveling the Green Way

10 Green Activities to Experience in Portland Oregon in the Fall

Being that I’m an Oregon local and being that Autumn is my favorite season, I thought we’d take an insiders look at what’s green and fun in my neck of the woods during the fall. Portland Oregon is an amazing place to visit anytime of the year, but in the Fall it’s spectacular; trees galore and they’re all on fire with colors. Not only that but we’ve got it all – urban space, rural places, and we’ve been named one of the greenest cities in America again and again. You’ve got nothing to lose, and only awesome eco-experiences to gain by traveling to Portland.


On November 14, 2009 the Junk To Funk Recycled Fashion Show is happening. This is a super cool showcase for wearable art made by artists who creatively use ‘trash’ in an eclectic, inspiring and humorous production. PLUS this event is at the Crystal Ballroom – a must see historic registry music and arts venue in Portland.


Travel Portland put together an amazing eco-pub crawl for visitors that will introduce you to local eco-brew and local and fresh minded pub grub. This pub crawl winds through two southeast Portland neighborhoods and ends just across the Hawthorne Bridge from downtown. It’s totally manageable by bus too – and no worries, buses here run late.

START at Hopworks Urban Brewery (one of my absolute favorite pdx eco-brew pubs) and have some amazing food to kick off the night like locally harvested salads, cage free chicken wings and organic celery, pizza with homemade organic roma tomato sauce, and more! Of course have some organic beer to accompany your dinner.

Then make your way round to the Night Light Lounge, Imbibe, Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, and end the night at Roots Organic Brewing. For a full rundown of this eco-friendly pub crawl see the latest Portland Travel Magazine.


Sign on for a “Car-less Vacation” package at the eco-friendly Hotel Monaco. Why bring the car? The “Car-less Vacation” package offers you discounts and special perks just for leaving your car at home, and honestly, you won’t need it. You can save gas and money because Portland Oregon has some of the best public transportation around. We’ve got buses a plenty, the MAX which goes all over the place now, and plenty of places that rent bikes. Plus PDX is a totally walking friendly city.


Portland is known for its amazing public transportation system and for being a walkable city. The new guide book; Walk There! 50 treks in and around Portland and Vancouver, helps you take advantage of these facts. Save money, save gas, save your waistline. Every Walk There! route begins and ends near a bus or MAX stop and will lead you on 50 explorations of newly acquired urban natural areas, scenic parks, historic neighborhoods and fascinating main streets. The pocket sized book contains detailed maps and route descriptions too. This is the real way to see Portland.

NOTE: Fall weather in pdx is temperamental – it may be beautiful and clear, it may be raining. Real locals rarely carry umbrellas, so bring a rain jacket and water proof shoes if you want to walk the city like a local.


Portland has many outdoor nature adventures to experience, right in the city. Such as…

  • Washington Park (shown above) which comes complete with breathtaking views of the city, a play area for the kids, the famous International Rose Test Garden, home to 10,000 rosebushes, and nearby is the Portland Japanese Garden and the Hoyt Arboretum, a diverse collection of trees and other plants from around the world.
  • Forest Park, a 5,100-acre urban forest that includes 70 miles of tree lined trails.

For more ideas visit Portland public parks.


You can’t come to Portland and not experience coffee – we consider that a crime here. Make sure to get some sustainable brew, in a reusable mug from…

Organic and Fair Trade coffee is served up all over pdx in all sorts of places though – trust me, even without a long list you’ll find some brew.


Portland is within a day’s reach (or less) of tons of amazing nature spots to explore. Rent an eco-friendly car or check out Zipcar – in pdx they offer free state park passes with some cars. Some day trip ideas…

  • Multnomah Falls – just a half hour outside of pdx, this 611 foot waterfall is a must see and a beautiful drive too.
  • Columbia River Gorge & Mount Hood drive – Amazing scenery and awesome places to get out and explore.
  • Take a fun and delicious eco-wine tour of the Willamette Valley.
  • Visit the Oregon Coast – the coast residing along Highway 101, depending on where you’d like to go (there are 363 miles of rugged Oregon coastlines) is about 1.5 hours away, but a beautiful drive and well worth it especially in the Fall.

For other amazing Portland day (and some longer trips) check out the Oregon American Byways site.


Portland is a green shopping mecca, and while it’s not very green to shop til you drop, a little window shopping and a few key green purchases won’t kill you (or the planet). Some ideas…

  • Portland is home to the famed Greenloop – everyone’s fave green fashion place. There are also plenty of smaller shops carrying green clothing (think hemp and organics) that can be found in the general Hawthorn and Belmont neighborhood areas.
  • Powell’s Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Right downtown and within easy walking distance of everything cool, this book store takes up an entire city block and houses over 3,500 different sections and the largest array of used books you’ve ever seen. A must see for folks looking to keep books out of landfills by buying used.
  • Other notable green or used shops include Jackpot Records, Red Light Clothing Exchange, Lizard Lounge, Ecohaus, Global Exchange, Mirador Community Store, and so much more – see the pdx ReDirect Guide for more green shops.


Heathman Hotel’s Volunteer-Vacation, is a hotel stay and preservation experience in one. The Heathman’s Volunteer-Vacation connects you with the Forest Park Conservancy, a group dedicated to maintaining the trails and natural habitat of Forest Park. Volunteers do things like remove invasive species, clean-up, National Trails Day events, “Discovery Hikes” and more. You’ll get hands-on volunteer experience that focuses on the environment, educational forest tours, and get to help green up an important Portland area. They also offer a Go Green hotel package.

How to book

  1. Book any rate at the Heathman Hotel
  2. After you have reserved your room, call the Heathman at 503.241.4100, provide your confirmation number and ask to add on the Forest Park Volunteer-Vacation. The cost of the volunteer experience is $100/reservation, 100 percent of which will be donated to the Forest Park Conservancy.


Fall is great for kiddos in Oregon – there’s plenty to do and see that combines eco-friendly and / or nature activities, but in a package kids will enjoy. Such as…

The Oregon Zoo – different than many zoos with tons of walking trails, a conservation focus, an immense amount of trees, and of course animals. Plus if you’re here for Halloween, the zoo offers spooky kid fun galore. That’s my son at the zoo above – I assure you he was having a good time; no matter how “thrilled” he looks (not a camera fan).

The MAiZE at the Pumpkin Patch -kids will enjoy the huge mazes plus…

IF you’ll be here asap check out the Green Sprouts festival happening on September 26th! It’ll be totally fun and green for your kids.

Of course we’ve got toys a plenty, but two of the coolest green toy shops are…

  • Spielwerk Toys
  • Polliwog – I LOVE this shop – everything green for the younger set; clothing, toys, books, carriers, and more.

[images via Travel Portland, stock.xchng, The MAiZE, & Jennifer Chait]

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