And just like that, Labor Day is here again! As the unofficial close to the Summer Season, Labor Day is always a little bittersweet. Sure, the three-day weekend is great, but there’s always the unwelcome feeling that comes with knowing that the weather will soon change, kids will be back in school, and everyone will once again be dreaming of sunnier days.
That’s why you’ve got to do it up over Labor Day weekend. It’s Summer’s last hurrah – you’ve got to make sure you take full advantage of the weather, the activities, and the time off. If you’re in Portland, and you’re looking for what to do over Labor Day weekend, we’ve got just the list for you!
Every year during the latter part of Summer, one of Portland’s most amazing natural phenomena occurs – thousands of Vaux’s Swifts gather in the city as they prepare to migrate South. Since the 80’s the Vaux’s Swift have returned to the chimney at Chapman Elementary School in NW Portland, creating a gorgeous natural display that has attracted regular visitors for years. Head to Chapman Elementary and grab a seat on the school lawn or in Wallace Park to watch and listen as the birds gather overhead. For more information, visit the Audubon society of Portland’s Site.
The Swan Island Annual Dahlia Festival is a must see for fans of the Dahlia, or for those who enjoy flowers in general. Located at Swan Island’s Farm in Canby, the Annual Dahlia Festival is free for all visitors with free parking and features flower arranging demonstrations, talks on Dahlia culture, and live Dahlia tuber dividing demonstrations. Plus, you can stroll through 30 acres of cut dahlias in full bloom. There’s also food and refreshments, live music, and family-fun events! Find out more here.
The Oregon Garden is an 80-acre botanical garden with more than 20 specialty gardens that showcase the diverse wonder of plant life. At the end of every summer, the Garden features fantastic art installations. This year they will feature art from ten different artists, with four pieces being built specifically for the Oregon Garden. Featured Artists will give talks about their installations and inspirations, and there’s also live music and beer and wine tastings. There’s no better place in Portland to experience some art over Labor Day weekend. Go here to find out more about the artists and the event!
Mortified is a live show in which adults retell shameful and embarrassing stories from their youth. Hilarious, tragic, and moving all at once, Mortified has also become an extremely popular Podcast alongside the touring live performance. All of the stores are true and are contained in childhood artifacts like diaries, letters, poems, home movies, etc. Over Labor day, Mortified is coming to the Alberta Rose Theatre for two nights and three shows, one Thursday 9/1, and two Friday 9/2. If you’re up for a one-of-a-kind spoken word performance in Portland over Labor day, make sure you don’t miss Mortified! For more info, go here.
The Splash Pads in Portland Parks provide kids across the city with an updated version of the time-honored tradition of running through the sprinklers to cool off. Part fountain, part public pool, the Splash Pads blast water up into the air to create a refreshing mist that you can run through. If you need to cool off over Labor Day weekend, head to one of the public parks in Portland which feature one of these splash pads – there’s one at Elizabeth Caruthers Park right around the corner from Osprey. For a full list of parks that have them, go here.
Close out Summer over Labor Day Weekend with the classic summertime fair experience. Located in Salem, just an hour South of Portland, the Oregon State Fair is situated on the 185-acre Oregon State Fairgrounds and features live concerts and entertainment, 44 incredible carnival rides, petting zoos, reptile exhibits, a Fair Lift, a ton of fantastic food… you name it! This year, there will even be motorsports competitions. For a full list of attractions, food, events, and performers, check out the Oregon State Fair’s site.
If you’re looking for more of an ‘adult’ activity for Labor Day Weekend the Pirates of Tortuga Festival is a must! Located Cheadle Lake Park in Lebanon, OR – just 1.5 hours south of Portland – The Pirates of Tortuga Festival is an 18+ event featuring competitions, themed parties, vendors, and activities that let you celebrate your inner buccaneer. Pirates of Tortuga is an immersion style event much like a Renaissance Fair – you’re really transported to another time and place full of fun. For a full list of activities, vendors, and guidelines, check out their site.
8) Tour De Lab
Tour De Lab on 9/4 is an awesome dog-themed bike-ride/ pub-crawl that benefits DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital. There’s two rides: The Puppy (15mi.) – A mostly flat ride between 3 Lucky Lab Pubs – and the Big Dog (40mi.) – which adds a 4th pub and an extra hill to the puppy course. Registration opens at 8 am with a breakfast buffet; there’s a noontime lunch with all-you-can-eat hot dogs, and the day wraps up at 4 pm! For more details, visit Tour De Lab’s site!
9) Go Stand-Up Paddle Boarding on the Willamette
If you’re looking for a Labor Day Event in Portland to occupy your Weekend, why not SUP in the Willamette? There are a ton of excellent stand-up paddleboard and kayak rental spots on the river, like Gorge Performance, and there’s no better time to take advantage of them. Portland’s South Waterfront, Osprey’s neck of the woods, is a great spot for outdoor activities, so if you’re less interested in Labor day events.
10) Check Out the View from Tilikum Crossing
From Tilikum Crossing you can check out gorgeous views of the Willamette and Ross Island. This Labor Day the Tilikum Crossing will be a week shy of being one year old. Originally opened on 9/12/15, the Tilikum Bridge is an example of the sort of innovation happening in Portland’s South Waterfront. The crossing is open to public transportation, cyclists, and pedestrians, but not to cars. In fact, it is the first bridge in the United States to not allow privately owned cars or trucks. In the last decade, the South Waterfront and the Central Eastside district have been transforming into residential and commercial neighborhoods – by connecting these two burgeoning communities; the crossing aims to heighten Portland’s efficiency while reducing the commute of its citizens.
If you’re in Portland over Labor Day, there’s no reason you should be worried about an uneventful end to your Summer. It is sad that Summer is coming to a close, but at least you can send it off right by having a blast. Plus, if you live in SouthWest Portland, there’s fun to be had all year round!
If you’re looking for a new apartment in Portland, OR where you can have the most fun possible, check out Osprey Apartments in the South Waterfront. Osprey is a brand new apartment community that prides itself providing residents with the best possible slice of Portland Life.