Special Report

Best Weekend Trips on the West Coast This Fall

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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Portland and coastal Oregon get most of the love directed toward this state, but those in the know are familiar with treasures to be found by driving east, such as the pristine beauty of Crater Lake National Park. The lake’s blue waters go down almost 2,000 feet, making it the deepest in the U.S., and among the deepest in the world. Most of the park’s vegetation is old-growth forest, and there are deciduous trees adding bursts of fall color among the evergreens. Enjoy the sensational views on the scenic rim drive, by bike or on the extensive hiking trails, or just relax and take it all in from trolley tours offered through the end of September.

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Bend, Oregon

Vibrant fall foliage erupts along the rivers in Bend, Oregon, with the oft snow-capped Cascade Mountains forming a striking backdrop. Get to know the town at Bend’s Fall Festival, October 6. A Harvest Market offers a chance for some early holiday shopping; test your creativity at pumpkin painting to pique your Halloween spirit. And of course, taste regional specialties offered by a plethora of vendors.Learn to capture awe-inspiring images like these with your camera at a fall foliage photo workshop on October 19. A moderate hike yields photo-ops such as woods and waterfalls. Gear recommendations are provided in advance. The guides provide tips, along with snacks, beer and wine on the day of the workshop.

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Portland, Oregon

Portland is cat-lover central on September 28-29, at the Pop Cats Festival, focusing on pop culture, art and, of course, fabulous furry felines. More than 90 exhibitors are expected to flock into the Portland Convention Center, offering clothing, art, cat toys, accessories and all things kitty related. Cat playgrounds, cat adoptions, live music, workshops, face-painting and cat-tooes are among the activities at the family friendly event.

Take a short drive beyond the city limits for the West Coast Giant Pumpkin Regatta in Tualatin on October 19. Entrants paddle the waters of the Lake at Tualatin Commons, in hollowed-out pumpkins big enough to make Cinderella envious. Pumpkin bowling, pumpkin golf, pumpkin tic-tac-toe and pumpkin checkers, are on the lineup, as is a pumpkin-pie eating contest. Bet you can quaff a pumpkin beer at this event, too.

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Lithia Park, Oregon

The 93-acre Lithia Park, along the western edge of Ashland, Oregon, blazes with color in autumn, and a self-guided stroll will take you right into the heart of the impressive vegetation. The 100-plus-year-old park—about half of which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places—borders the site of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Don’t let the name fool you, the theater company offers productions of plays old and new, from “Macbeth” to “Hairspray,” in three venues—including the open-air Allen Elizabethan Theatre—through the end of October.

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Tillamook County, Oregon

Located due west of Portland, the Tillamook Bay area has bay, ocean, rivers, forests and farmland in its backyard. Experience the bounty of land and sea at Crave the Coast: Coast-to-Table Festival in Garibaldi on September 28. Sample the wares of more than 40 chefs, winemakers and growers, and learn tricks of the trade through demonstrations and games.

Tillamook also boasts numerous hiking trails where walkers can experience the autumnal splendor of the trees, as well as aquatic views. Or do your leaf peeping the easy way aboard the Oregon Coast Scenic Railroad’s Fall Splendor Excursion. The vintage trains make the two-hour round-trip on weekends through November 10.

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