Spring is my absolute favorite season. Growing up in Southern California I was always a summer lover, but since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I have a new appreciation for this transitional season. Down there, Spring doesn’t really exist. It never gets cold enough for winter to really take effect, so once March rolls around, it’s just some slightly warmer weather. When you actually experience winter, though, Spring is what pulls you out of the grey and gives you a new hope. I love the vibrant colors starting to pop up all over the city and the increase of people being outdoors and chasing the sunshine.
It seems like everyone in Oregon shares these sentiments. There’s never really a shortage of things to do here year-round, but Spring is the time that things really start to kick up. We’ll start seeing more events and festivals as we all warm up from the winter chill. I’ve put together a list of some upcoming events this Spring to get us out and moving!
1. Whale Watching Week–Oregon Coast, March 19-26
I LOVE Whale Watching Week. I try to get out to the Coast as much as I can (I AM a beach girl at heart, after all), and this biannual event is the perfect reason to head west. All up and down the Coast areas are manned with volunteers to help you spot whales as they head north. There’s nothing quite like it, and the best part is that it’s absolutely free (although in some spots you’ll have to pay the $5 parking fee)! Make a day of it, and head to one of Oregon’s amazing coastal towns for lunch or dinner. More than 20,000 whales are expected to pass by our shore, so check out Oregon State Parks’ website for more information and to find which of the 24 designated locations you want to watch from!
2. Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival–Woodburn, OR, March 18-May 1
Nothing says Spring quite like 40 acres of stunning tulips! Each year, Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm opens their tulip fields to the public to explore. It’s an amazing sight to behold, and they change the layout each year, so there’s always something new to see. It’s great for just taking in the natural beauty of the flowers and the backdrop of Mt. Hood, vineyards, and fresh country air, but there’s plenty more to do while you’re there! You can pack a picnic lunch or dine at the food court on site, buy or pre-order bulbs for your own garden, take a train ride through the fields, and even get some wine tasting done. Admission is $5/person, with a car limit of $20, so grab some friends and make a day of it! Visit their website for more information, and to plan your trip.
3. Annual Spring Beer and Wine Fest–Portland, OR, March 25-26
Okay, so this one’s inside, but I had to include it because it’s such a quintessential part of ringing in Spring in Portland–this year is it’s 22nd year! Located at the convention center (so you can enjoy rain or shine!), the festival is open 12-10 PM Friday and Saturday. You can sample beer, wine, chocolate, and cheese from the region all under one roof! Children are allowed in until 9 PM both days, and kids under 13 get in for free. General admission is $10 for those of us $13+, but there’s all sorts of packages that you can buy which include drink tokens. The value package is a great deal: $25 for admission, a standard tasting glass, and 10 tasting tokens. Their site has all the information you need, including vendors and a list of musical acts that will be performing.
4. Cinco de Maya Fiesta–Portland, OR, May 5-8
In it’s 32nd year, Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is the largest multicultural festival in the state of Oregon. It is located at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and is packed with food, fun, and cultural entertainment. You can get your thrills on carnival rides, cheer on luchadors at Lucha Libre Portland, or visit the 12 Artisans traveling all the way from Guadalajara to showcase their artwork at this year’s event. With tons of free things to do, and only $9 for admission, it’s not only a great time, but a wonderful learning experience for kids to learn about a different culture! For more info, visit their website.
5. Portland Rose Festival–Portland, OR, May 27-June 12
Getting a little farther ahead, the Rose Festival is how we in Portland usher in summer. Starting at the end of May, the CityFair opens up at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and begins the many events that take over Portland during the Festival. Fireworks will kick off the opening on May 27 and there’s tons to do over the following couple of weeks, culminating in the always popular Dragon Boat Races and the Grand Floral Parade June 11, where the newly crowned Rose Festival Queen will join the parade of all-floral floats. The parade starts at Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, crosses the Burnside Bridge, and will end in Downtown Portland. It’s a beautiful sight, and as we celebrate over 100 years, a true piece of Portland history! Get all the info on the official website.
Bonus: Portland Farmer’s Markets
Springtime means farmer’s markets! Starting in Mid-March, the markets open and will run through the summer and fall. The Portland Farmers Market is a non-profit that runs 8 different markets throughout the city, but there are many others that are independently run. If you want the freshest fruits and veggies, jams, honeys, and plenty of other handcrafted goodies, look no further! The various markets run on different days of the week, so you can always find one on your day off.
I hope that this gives you some motivation to get out and get moving after this exceptionally cold and wet winter! What other springtime activities do you love? Share them in the comments!