We all know that Southern Oregon is a beautiful place, but there is something about fall that adds to its charm. As a family, it is our favorite time of year; throughout October we make our way around to as many pumpkin patches and festivals as we can. The temperate weather also makes it one of our favorite times of the year to hike and take in the fall foliage. Here are some of the highlights of our beautiful valley that enhance the celebration of fall in Southern Oregon.
Kicking off fall with a good ol’ fashioned harvest festival is a perfect way to enjoy the start of cooling weather. Every weekend is a new one! Since Whites Country Farm is right in our hometown of Medford, it is usually the first one we go to. Our five-year-old enjoys it because they have a small corn maze that is just the right size for her to explore all by herself; our 11-year-old finds their large corn maze more of a challenge. We also have a great time on the hayride. Of course we have to visit the pumpkin patch, where we can paint our pumpkins — they provide all of the painting supplies for free! We always top off our visit with some homemade apple cider and kettle corn as we listen to the live music.
When it comes to hiking in Medford, there is only one peak that is actually right in Medford: Roxy Ann Peak. Just my opinion, but it is one of the best spots in the valley to take in the fall colors with the kids, and when we want something more challenging there are multiple trails to choose from. My husband and I head up there for a quick hike before work or for a day date, taking on the longer hike to the peak; the view is amazing!
Another fall tradition for us is apple picking at Leonard Orchard right on the outskirts of Medford. Clover, the owner, is the sweetest lady for taking the kids to the orchard in her UTV, going over all of the bumps just so we can hear the giggles and laughter. When we get to the orchard the kids love to wander looking for the biggest apples they can find and sampling the “fruits” of their labors (with permission of course). Afterwards we weigh our apples on a big antique scale, adding to the whole experience.
For dining with the kids, Common Block Brewing is always a favorite; our son loves the chef-slayer burger. I love the pork nachos just because of their amazing cheese sauce — and it goes perfectly with their beers.
Of course, we have to mention our food trucks. We have some pretty awesome choices. For smoothie bowls we have NorthWest Pine Apple. Looking for a waffle sandwich? There’s Ooblies. Look to Curbside King for Asian and Mediterranean fusion food. At Peruvian Point, (their name says it all) get the Don Caesar sandwich. If you are lucky enough to be here on a Thursday, stop into the Rogue Valley Grower’s Market to try Sultan’s Delight for a gyro or falafel. Not to mention, there are many other great food choices at the market. I could go on and on about food trucks in Medford.
On any given weekend you can catch us at one of the many pumpkin patches in the area, that each has their own unique qualities. As our annual family tradition, that includes my parents and siblings, we head to Pheasant Fields Farm, whose address is actually in Medford, but is closer to the heart of Phoenix.
But first, coffee! Warm drinks are always a must on any fall adventure, so we have to stop into the charming coffee shop Jam Coffeehouse. They serve traditional coffee drinks brewed with Case Coffee Roasters beans and hot cocoa for the kiddos. We grab our drinks and then off to Pheasant Fields Farm we go.
Pheasant Fields Farm grows over 50 traditional and heirloom varieties of pumpkins. The kids always go for the classic pumpkins, but my sister and I like the fairy tale and Cinderella heirloom varieties. There is something for everyone! We also love the hayride, corn maze, pear-shooting gallery and bounce house for the little ones. We do enjoy going on the weekends because they have live music playing under their over 50-year-old black walnut tree.
After we’re done playing at Pheasant Fields, we are ready for lunch, so we head over to our favorite taco spot in Southern Oregon, La Tapatia. Don’t let the hole-in-the-wall appearance fool you. When you walk in the shop there is a small market and meat counter, but if you keep walking towards the back you will find some of the best Mexican food in Southern Oregon. Their tacos al pastor and carnitas are out of this world, along with their huge burritos and chile rellenos that compete with my aunt’s! La Tapatia is one of our go-to spots!
Fort Vannoy Farms is the amusement park of pumpkin patches in the Rogue Valley. Of course, it has the u-pick pumpkins and corn maze, but it has some crazy cool things that make it a standout like the zip line and pumpkin chunker. My husband, our 11-year-old and I had our very first zip lining experience last year when we visited. The exhilaration I felt zooming down into the valley, with views of the mountains and blue sky and the breeze blowing in my face, was so awesome I can’t wait to do it again. The pumpkin chunker was our 10-year-old’s favorite activity of the day. He picked out a pumpkin, then they shoved it into a huge cannon and shot it at an old school bus. We actually loved that so much, we did it multiple times!
After our visit to Fort Vannoy Farms, we headed to one of our favorite dining spots in Grants Pass, The Haul. The Haul serves locally sourced and scratch-made food that more than satisfies us and the kids. The pot stickers are a must-have (I could drink the dipping sauce) and the wood-fired pizza never disappoints. Bonus, it is also the tasting room for Conner Fields Brewing. I crave their seasonal Saison. They also serve handcrafted cocktails, have live music on the weekends and, on occasion, host specially themed chef dinners. The pleasant atmosphere makes it a great place to just hang out!
Another great spot that we enjoy as a family is the Oregon POUR Authority & Pizza Studio. Their wood-fired pizza crust is out of this world, plus they have a great selection of local beers. There is a constant buzz of conversation, making it a perfect place for the entire family.
When it comes down to it, fall in Southern Oregon is pretty darn special. It is the time of year that makes me fall head over heels in love with Oregon all over again. The experiences remind me why we love raising our kids in the Rogue Valley, our little corner of the state. When you visit, I think you will be just as enchanted as we are by all that the valley has to offer.