What’s the Word?In Washington County, Oregon

It’s the Giant Pumpkin Race

Posted on: October 12th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


Just outside of Portland, come watch a fleet of giant pumpkins be rowed along a lake!

Just outside of Portland, come watch a fleet of giant pumpkins be rowed along a lake!

The Halloween season undoubtedly brings an endless parade of pumpkin patches and and festivals, but the BIGGEST one is surely the 12th Annual West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta (Saturday, October 17, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Tualatin Commons) as gargantuan pumpkins are weighed, gutted, carved, decorated and then finally turned into water racing vessels for a truly kitsch event.

While a Giant Pumpkin Regatta may sound like a regal affair, this special day veers more to the wonderfully absurd. Pumpkin-lovers come to watch this annual race of 1,000-plus pound hallowed pumpkins—with people inside them—buoying across the water. Upon trucks hauling giant pumpkins to the race site, the enormous gourds are fork-lifted to sit alongside each other for the Annual Terminator Weigh-Off. Upon declaring a winner, the pumpkin owners engage in the most epic pumpkin carving session you have ever seen, scooping out seeds by the gallons.

Rather than filling the pumpkins with lights for a jack-o-lantern, the owners instead place themselves inside the hollowed out orange orbs. The regatta offers different races, with some focusing on speed while others are game-oriented. Giddy from the raucous of the Giant Pumpkin Regatta, the crowd moves on to a cornucopia of other activities, including a pie-eating contest, pumpkin decorating, and live music.

In addition to living out your own “The Great Pumpkin” fantasy, your time in the Tualatin Valley can also be filled with the North Willamette Crush wine tasting event, an artist itinerary or more Halloween events.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Halloween Events Near Portland

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

You don’t have to be a ghoul to play like one in the Tualatin Valley. Roll in like the hauntingly beautiful fall fog on the Vineyard and Valley Scenic Tour Route and haunt the pumpkin patches along your way. Even tax-free shopping in honing into the bewitching month with daily events at Bridgeport Village. With a climate that stirs up the Halloween spirit, it’s no surprise that Oregon’s Washington County is a cauldron of Halloween festivities. See below for a few spooky standouts.

Find pumpkin patches, haunted houses and other Halloween events in the Tualatin Valley (close to Portland!)
13th Door Haunted House of Oregon
Through November 7 | 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. | 3855 SW Murray Boulevard | $15
Nothing good ever comes from a visit to the boiler room, but we dare you to open the door to it anyways. Feel alive as you’re chased by the undead!

West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta
October 17 | 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Tualatin Lake of the Commons | free
Here’s an event of which Charles M. Shultz would be proud. A gaggle of ridiculously costumed folks jump into giant—truly giant!—pumpkins that they then row along the perimeter of a lake. The result one of the most original Halloween outings in the United States

Zombie Fest at Tree to Tree Adventure Park
October 24-25 | reservations required | Tree to Tree Adventure Park | $79
Oh no! The adventure park’s guides were bitten by zombies! The only way to escape their newly zombie-fied grasp is to complete the aerial obstacle course. Survivors are rewarded with s’mores and cider.

Night-Time Walkabout
October 29 | 6-8 p.m. | reservations requested | Jackson Bottom Wetlands | Free
How do the creatures of Jackson Bottom prepare for Halloween? Find out with a walk along the nature trails and learn how some animals adapt to the nighttime and what goes on in nature while we are fast asleep.

Haunted Theater
October 30 – November 1 | 7:30 p.m. | Theatre in the Grove | $14
The old theater provides the perfect backdrop for a good ol’ fashioned scarefest.

Halloween at the Grand Lodge
October 31 | 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. | McMenamins Grand Lodge | free
Scour the property for paranormal activity on the most haunted night of the year. Or just take the kids trick-or-treating throughout the Main Lodge before the Halloween dance party begins.

Halloween Silent Movie
October 31 | 7:30 p.m. | HART Theatre | $10
Get spooked without hearing even a squeak! Silent movies bring on the scare-factor at this fun event.

Find even more Halloween Events on our events calendar.

Add more spookiness to your Tualatin Valley Halloween with an overnight stay at the haunted McMenamins Grand Lodge. Legend has it that this former Masonic rest home houses ghostly spirits, and it made the list of “Spookiest Haunted Hotels” to visit.

Recipe: Sweet Potato and Apple Pizza

Posted on: October 7th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments
Butternut & apple pizza with a pesto drizzle.

Butternut and apple pizza with a pesto drizzle.

As a kid, my grandmother often fixed me a snack of apple slices and thin strips of cheddar. She’d say, “An apple without the cheese is like a hug without the squeeze.” Schmaltz aside, my grandmother was right. My tastebuds have evolved, but I still love apples with cheese.

October marks National Pizza Month. We just had to celebrate it! In honor of the holiday, apple season in Oregon’s Washington County, and my grandmother, we have a recipe that put a grown-up spin on a kid classic. Get the star ingredients from our farmers markets.

Sweet Potato and Apple Pizza

Pre-baking the dough keeps the crust crisp under the weight of fall’s hearty ingredients.
1 pre-made pizza dough
1 ½ cup tomato sauce
4 oz smoked mozzarella, sliced
1 small sweet potato
1 medium apple
3 tablespoons pesto

Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Spread pizza dough on a floured baking sheet or pizza stone
Bake pizza dough for 10 minutes
Slice sweet potato and apple very thin with a small paring knife or mandolin
In a glass bowl, microwave sweet potato slices with 3 tablespoons of water for 3 minutes
Remove pizza dough from the oven and spread tomato sauce on top
Layer smoked mozzarella, sweet potato, and apple on top of the pizza
Drizzle pesto over the pizza
Bake pizza for 10-12 minutes


Of course, you can always order a “pizzetta” from decarli’s amazing Italian menu, as well, to get your pizza fix!


Arts Month is the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: October 5th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Hillsboro Arts MonthWhen we talk about changing colors in the Tualatin Valley, we’re not just referencing fall foliage. October inspires swirls of paint, as well. Hillsboro Arts Month is in full-force, as are many other art events happening throughout the region. Spontaneity ignites creativity—so plan a weekend getaway to the Tualatin Valley October 16-18. We promise our itinerary, detailed below, will get the creative juices flowing.

Friday, October 16: Dinner, a Show & a Ghost
In the month of Halloween, get spooky! For dinner and a show, head to The Venetian Theater—which is haunted by a ghost “usher”—for Bag&Baggage’s production of ROPE. The play is a murder mystery that Hitchcock also made into one of his iconic masterpieces.

Saturday, October 17: Watch the Creative Process in Studios, on Stage…and inside a Giant Pumpkin!
While carving a jack-o-lantern takes a certain artistic determination, carving a 1,000 pound pumpkin into a boat is a craft all its own at the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta. Stay at the Century Hotel and the morning fun will be right outside your window.

The apple cider donuts at the regatta will give you fuel for your next round of artistic journeying, touring dozens of artists at the Washington County Artists Open Studios Tour. One such artist is Forest Grove’s Helvi Smith who uses recycled house paints to create vibrant paintings.

Grab a bite at Tree’s Restaurant. Here, the chef artfully blends flavors of the Pacific Northwest with Cajun spices. Enjoy the tasty bites surrounded by not only trees, but also gorgeous artwork.  

If you’re a fan of all thing noir, then you’re going to love the Broadway Rose Theatre Company’s production of Adrift in Macao. The cheeky musical is a parody of the noir genre’s most archetypal traits.

Sunday, October 18: Wine as Art and Supporting Tomorrow’s Voices
Hillsboro Arts Month coincides with the Willamette Valley’s crush season. Learn about the art of winemaking while sipping on the area’s best vinos at the North Willamette Crush Weekend.

Part of being a part of the artistic community is fostering emerging voices. To that effect, Page to Stage Playwrights Showcase is a stellar forum for up-and-coming playwrights to share staged readings of their works.

Show us how you get artsy during your stay with the #tualatinvalley hashtag!

North Willamette Crush Weekend

Posted on: October 2nd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey 2 Comments

With record amounts of grapes grown and picked this harvest, the crush scene for Oregon winemakers is shaping up to be downright legendary. To fully embrace the magical time that is autumn at our vineyards, wine lovers should make a getaway to attend the North Willamette Crush Weekend (October 17-18).

North Willamette Crush Weekend
Here is your chance to visit and taste from up to 14 vineyards and wineries for the cost of one wine tasting. Beyond the crazy good deal, the North Willamette Crush Weekend is simply one of the most arrestingly beautiful times to visit the Tualatin Valley and our slice of the north Willamette Valley. Picture this: Vineyard vines plucked of their grapes, but flushed with autumn yellows, oranges and reds; the thick, exhilarating aroma of grape fermentation; a happy buzz of Oregon crush and fellow wine tasters surrounding welcoming tasting rooms. It’s bliss, we tell you, pure bliss!

Here’s the skinny on what each $25 ticket will get you:

  • A ‘Crush! Flight’
  • Demos and tours of what is happening at the wineries right now
  • Logo glass
  • Small bag
  • Temporary tattoo
  • BINGO card that can get stamped with each winery visit. Get “BINGO” and you could win a fabulous prize!

Buy tickets from the North Willamette Vintners.

Participating Wineries:
A Blooming Hill Vineyard
Apolloni Vineyards
Blizzard Wines
David Hill Vineyard & Winery
Elk Cove Vineyards
Helvetia Vineyard
Kramer Vineyards
Montinore Estate
Oak Knoll Winery
Plum Hill Vineyards
Provincial Vineyards
Shafer Vineyard Cellars
Tualatin Estate Vineyards

With a whirlwind wine weekend, rest up at one of our fabulous hotels. You can even book a wine hotel deal for even more crush goodness.  

10 Can’t-Miss October Events in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: September 30th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Roloff Farms in the Tualatin Valley.
October is a great month, toting along a bevy of autumnal activities: Halloween fun, fall foliage and pumpkin patches (and the accompanying pumpkin spice lattes). Whether you’re extending a business trip, tacking a few days onto a pre-existing trip to Portland or just want to plan getaway with friends, find Tualatin Valley events to make October the best.

1. Hillsboro Arts Month

October is Hillsboro Arts Month, meaning that the area is chock-full of artsy-fartsy events. The month starts out with a bang as the Plein Air Festival (October 1-4) opens alongside Affordable Art for Everyone (October 3). Later in the month, view local art at Beaverton Arts Mix! (October 8-11) and the Washington County Open Studios Tour (October 17-18).

2. Fall Colors on the Tualatin River

See double the fall foliage as changing leaves are reflected in the waters of the Tualatin Valley at the annual Fall Colors Paddle (October 3). All levels welcome on this lazy river ride!

3. Spooky Events Near Portland

We don’t just have natural beauty, but supernatural fun, as well with the Zombies v.s. Survivors Run (October 3).

4. Oregon Pumpkin Patches

Whether you go for a classic orange one or a blue-green “Cinderella” gourd, head to our pumpkin patches for farm-time fun. The biggest pumpkins in all the land are carved into actual racing vessels at the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta (October 17).

5. Oregon Crush

Embrace the busy “crush” season for Oregon winemakers with the North Willamette Crush Weekend (October 17-18). Try special wines from over a dozen wineries.

6. Knitting, Quilting and Crocheting Events

The crisp weather will get you in the knitting mood. For supplies and ideas, hit up the Alpaca Harvest Festival (October 3-4) and the Color POWer! Quilt Show (October 3-4).

7. Oktoberfest Shenanigans

Cheers! Germany’s beer festival makes its way to the Tualatin Valley with the Oktoberfest at the McMenamins Grand Lodge (October 3) and OrenKoFest (October 10).

8. More Than an Apple a Day

Ready for a big, red, juicy apple? Bite into Applefest at Oregon Heritage Farms (October 10) and the Heirloom Apple Festival at Smith Berry Farm (October 10-11).

9. Moonlit Nature Walks

Jackson Bottom Wetlands hosts two evening naturalist-led walks around its beautiful refuge, the Fall Moonrise Watch (October 27) and Night-time Walkabout (October 29).

10. Trick-or-Treat

All ages are welcome to an all-day affair of food, music, costumes and more at Halloween at the McMenamins Grand Lodge (October 31).

How will you make the most of October? Your first step is booking a room in the Tualatin Valley!

What Others Are Saying About the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: September 28th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments


David Hill Turns 50

Oregon Wine Press shares musings on David Hill Vineyards’ 50th anniversary.

As is readily apparent, here in the Tualatin Valley we are not afraid to toot our own horn every now and again (Toot! Toot!). It’s hard not to when there is so much beauty here and so many ways to enjoy said beauty. But don’t just take our word for it! We’ve been happily overwhelmed with stories of others praising the Tualatin Valley. Below, check out a few of our favorite September writings about the area.

94-year-old Oregon winemaker looks forward, back as another harvest begins from The Oregonian
One of the founding winemakers of Oregon’s wine scene shares his history, best memories and expertise of growing grapes in his Banks vineyard.

A Shopper’s Guide to Portland’s Best International Markets from Portland Monthly
This ethnic food guide can’t deny the goodies to be found in the diverse Tualatin Valley, including the Indian megagrocery Apna Bazaar in Beaverton and the Korean kimchi aisle at H-Mart in Tigard.David Hill Turns 50 from Oregon Wine Press
With five decades of stellar winemaking at this gorgeous estate with a 19th century farmhouse and rich soils for Pinot grapes, there is much to celebrate at David Hill Vineyard & Winery—including the future.

Hiking and Biking in the Portland Metro Area from Portland Monthly
For outdoor adventure that’s easily accessible from Portland, head to Cooper Mountain Nature Park. The Little Prairie Loop provides an up-close view of frogs, birds and more.

Oregon’s 25 Best Wines Under $25 from Portland Monthly
Montinore Estate’s 2014 Borealis is a white blend of punchy tropical notes that pairs perfectly with winter’s spiciest meals.

For more of what others are saying about the Tualatin Valley, check out this Pinterest board.

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Dutch Treats in the Tualatin Valley

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Goededag!—That’s a warm Dutch welcome! As the most ethnically diverse region in the state of Oregon, the Tualatin Valley has a thriving global food scene. In addition to the delicious Korean barbeque, Indian buffets, ramen and tantalizing tacos, Beaverton also boasts a world of ethnic markets with treats that are hard to find in the states. The Dutch American Market & Import is one such market that carries delights from the Netherlands, including cheese, licorice, teas and the classic tea-time treat of stroopwafels.

Stroopwafels in the Tualatin Valley

Find the Dutch treat, stroopwafels, at Beaverton’s Dutch American Market & Import.

Okay, let’s have a lesson in stoopwafels! This delightful cookie originated in the city of Gouda in the Netherlands. As you might’ve guessed, this city is also the birthplace of one of the world’s most delicious cheeses. While the stroopwafel is not as well-known as its cheese cousin, it is just as much of a flavor powerhouse (though, in a very different way).

Now, let’s talk about what tea to pair with your stroopwafel. The Dutch tend to skip milk in their tea; instead, enjoying a wide array of flavored teas. Luckily, your trip to the Tualatin Valley will provide you with an epic selection of tea not only from the Dutch American Market & Import, but also from Uwajimaya’s truly expansive tea aisle and the Stash Tea Store’s collection of hundreds of specialty and seasonal tea flavors.

Dutch American Market & Import

The Dutch American Market & Import provides cheese, licorice and other treats from the Netherlands. Photo: Melissa Hay.

USA Today even featured the Dutch American Market & Import in the feature, six cultures’ favorite junk foods. They recommend scooping up the chocolate stroopwafel flavor. Come say Hallo! to the folks at Beaverton’s Dutch American Market & Import!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Pumpkin-Flavored Everything Near Portland

Posted on: September 23rd, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

Hello, fall! You know what that means…’Tis the season for pumpkin-flavored everything! With a smorgasbord of 10 pumpkin patches to choose from, it’s easy to see why pumpkin fanatics unite in the Tualatin Valley. The pilgrimage to the pumpkin promise land goes far beyond jack-o-lanterns. Get the scoop on where to find the best flavor of autumn.

Pumpkins near Portland

The Giant Pumpkin Regatta transforms huge gourds into racing vessels!

Pumpkin Latte
For the ever-popular PSL (Pumpkin Spice Latte), bypass the mega-chain varieties in favor of a Pumpkin Pie Latte Macchiato from Ava Roasteria of Timberland Town Center, Ava Roasteria of Beaverton and Ava Roasteria of Progress Ridge. Cozy notes of pumpkin spice compliment ribbons of velvety caramel in each sip. Others swear that Jim and Patty’s “Famous Ultimate Pumpkin Latte” cannot be beat.

Pumpkin Beer
With so many breweries trying a hand at pumpkin beer, Two Kilts Brewing Co. is ahead of the pack. Essentially, an entire pumpkin patch went into this year’s seasonal brew. With 500 pounds of fresh-cut pumpkin, you can count on the brew packing a punch.

Pumpkin Spicy
For those who crave savory over sweet, Thailand Restaurant’s pumpkin curry dish is a house favorite. Made from tender chunks of roasted Asian pumpkin simmered in spicy red curry, the dish is a welcome departure (or addition) to the typical order of chicken satay and pad thai.

Pumpkin Dessert
Bliss Bake Shop is filled with the intoxicating aroma of pumpkin cupcake and maple cream cheese buttercream frosting (on the menu every Friday in October). While you’re there, you might as well get a spiced chocolate chip pumpkin sandwich, too. Eat dessert for breakfast! Sweet Story Bakery’s pumpkin spice scones and pumpkin bread pairs perfectly with strong coffee.

Pumpkin Transportation
So maybe we don’t have a pumpkin carriage like Cinderella fame, but The West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta (October 17 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tualatin Commons) allows fellow gourd enthusiasts to travel in style—via a pumpkin kayak!

As pumpkin season is a fleeting one, your annual pumpkin binge shouldn’t be delayed until pigs fly. Instead, make pumpkins fly with the Plumper Pumpkin Patch’s pumpkin flinging machines (flung each weekend in October, every hour on the hour from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.). The machines include a trebuchet, slingshot, and cannon, which catapult pumpkins over 400 feet!

Find places to stay. | Create a personalized itinerary. | Find places to eat. | View the digital visitor guide.

Northern Willamette Valley Crush

Posted on: September 21st, 2015 by Jackie Luskey No Comments

There are many stages in the wine making process: harvest, crush, fermentation, clarification, aging and bottling. With such a warm summer in the Willamette Valley this year, viticulturists and winemakers are already in the throes of harvest and revving up for crush season.


Helvatia Winery

A look at crush from the Helvetia Winery.

Crush is that very special time where the freshly de-stemmed and sorted grapes are stomped and pressed into beautiful grape juice. Experience crush with a fall getaway to the northern Willamette Valley, enjoying the events below.

Apolloni’s Patio Grill Night
September 26 | 6 p.m. | Apolloni Vineyards | $45 per person
Get a sense of crush season by enjoying an al fresco dinner and wine tasting outside of the tasting room. Reservations required (contact tonetta@apolloni.com).

Montinore Estate’s Crush Party
September 26 | noon to 4 p.m. | Montinore Estate | Free admission
Montinore Estate deems crush as a reason to celebrate! Listen to live bluegrass music, watch a grape-stomping competition and try freshly-pressed juice before it’s turned into Oregon’s famous wines.

Harvest Century Bike Ride
September 27 | 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Hillsboro Civic Center | $70
This cycling events “celebrates the coming of a glorious fall.” Many of the ride’s routes include a rest stop at Montinore Estate where cyclist can experience crush before crushing the last of their ride.

The Art of…Wine, Beer, Cider & Spirits
October 6, 13 & 20 | 6 p.m. | Primrose & Tumbleweeds | Free admission
Experts share the art of brewing, blending and distilling at this weekly event. Come prepared with questions and an appetite to put to work at the Q&A and tasting.

Meet Your Vintner at the Orenco
October 8 | 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. | The Orenco Hotel | Free admission
This monthly wine tasting and educational series welcomes local winemakers to share what makes their wines extra special. Of course, expect wine pairings to go with the talk!

Date Night at Plum Hill Vineyards
October 9 | 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. | Plum Hill Vineyards | Tasting fee
Take your crush to a winery during crush season! Here, lovebirds can dance to music and try new wines paired with delicious bites.

Be sure to check our event listings and Facebook page for more wine events during the Oregon crush season.