As the leaves started to change, I started itching to get to an apple orchard or a pumpkin patch. Being new to the area, I hit up Google to see what I could see about the best places to go. I was a bit overwhelmed, as it had taken us a few years back east to find our favorite place for pumpkins, for strawberries, for Christmas trees, etc. and here we were, starting all over. Plus, as it turns out, SW Washington, NW Oregon and the Columbia River Valley have about a gazillion farms. Shocking, I know…
Luckily, I recently reconnected with an a childhood friend who happens to live about 35 minutes away. She and her adorable family have lived here for 3 years now and know ALL kinds of awesome places to go! On a tip from her, we decided to venture about an hour east of Portland to a magical land called “The Fruit Loop” – a 35 mile loop of road that winds through the scenic Hood River Valley and is home to over 40 farms, orchards and wineries. I was assured we would find everything our hearts’ desired.
Boy, was I in for a treat!
Our trip began with a scenic drive through the Columbia River Valley, which in itself is stunning and worth the trip. I fell in love as we drove in from out East on our great road trip moving adventure and was very excited to revisit this route. I was disappointed that the weather seemed yucky, but as soon as we were about 15 minutes east the skies opened up and it was a perfect fall day. Had to stop at this scenic point :)
Then, we passed through some neat small towns that we’ll have to come back to, and went over this awesome bridge, called The Bridge of the Gods.
Our first official Fruit Loop stop was for pumpkins at Rasmussen Farms. They have a huge farm stand full of apples and pears, plus a pick your own pumpkin patch. There are also all kinds of fun things for the little ones (or big ones like us who just act like little ones!) including a Pumpkin Funland and corn maze. This year’s Funland theme was children’s literature and featured scenes from our childhood favorites, made out of pumpkins, corn, squash, etc. So fun to see! Check it out here, because I was so enthralled I didn’t take a single photo…
Although not very big, the corn maze was also really cool and featured scenes from The Wizard of Oz.
We moved on to the Draper Girls Country Farm, famous for their cider and u-pick, where we opted to pick our own corn. We ended up with about 35 ears of corn, which I later turned into freezer corn we can enjoy in the off-season. I’ll do it again next year and blog about it, as this season is already over, so me telling you about it now won’t do you any good! I did make a delicious corn chowder and come yummy corn cakes with avocado salsa that I WILL put up the recipes for, I promise :)
After Draper Girls we headed to lunch at a local brewpub, called Solera Brewery, where we were treated to this view of Mt. Hood from our picnic table,
and THIS view on our picnic table. The food was also really good, but you just can’t pass up local beer and hard cider!
Right down the road from Solera was our apple picking destination, Kiyokawa Family Orchards. From my research online, they seemed to have the biggest selection of pre-picked and u-pick apples, and we were not disappointed. We came away with a few Honeycrisp for eating, plus two huge bags of Mutsu that I plan to turn into apple sauce and then of course, apple butter. My mom sent me some in the mail about a week ago, and it’s already gone, so I better get cracking!
At the end of the day, we were so exhausted that we really didn’t get a chance to check out all the wineries in the area. We vowed to come back, and we did just a couple weeks later. More about that soon…
We really enjoyed ourselves and are excited to make this a regular destination since many of the farms have multi-seasonal or year-round options (not just apples and pumpkins). Although I doubt we will head out again this year, I am eager to check out the Fruit Loop again in the spring. Berries and u-pick flowers, here we come!