By Bryan White
As we approach the end of October, the holiday season is once again just around the corner. Here at the Heathman Lodge, we go all out. We transform the lobby, banquet spaces and Hudson’s into a winter wonderland. If you’ve ever tried to imagine what it would be like to be in a luxurious Cowlitz longhouse on Christmas Eve, you don’t want to miss some time with us.
But before we enjoy all the ceremonies, activities, and family time around Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, or the New Year, it would be negligent to miss all the fantastic things there are to do surrounding Halloween. If you’re not familiar with Portland and the people who live here, you might be surprised to find out just how much Portlanders love Halloween. What can I say? It’s the ultimate day to enjoy being weird.
How should you choose the best Halloween options for you in Portland and Vancouver? Let’s take a look at a few of the options.
Spirit of Halloweentown
In 1998, the Disney Channel premiered a made-for-television movie, Halloweentown. Filmed in Scappoose and St. Helens, Oregon, the show became a cult classic that kicked off the Halloweentown television series. You might have seen St. Helens in other productions, but none inspired the town to return their sleepy whistle stop back into their setting as Halloweentown has.
With the events that take place throughout the year, fans of Halloween and all entertainment regarding things that go bump in the night might think of moving to St. Helens for the month of October and make it their own personal HalloweenCon as actors from shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer are known to show up. Also, they hold screenings of not-so-scary Disney movies, a pet costume contest, haunted tours, the lighting of the Great Pumpkin of St. Helens and more fun activities.
RATING: Family Friendly
You can find out more at their Facebook page.
Kruger’s Haunted Maze
You can get lost and wander around one of Sauvie Island’s corn mazes, which twist, turn, and loop through the stalks, for hours on end before finding the exit. But rest assured you’ll find nothing nefarious in the maze until the sun goes down. At night, you’ll traverse a field of freaks to the haunted maze.
You can also enjoy the Cabaret where fire dancers, hoopers, and musicians await. If you’re keen on the maze, make sure to check their website before heading out, as they do shut down for torrential rains.
RATING: Mostly Family Friendly
Trinkets and Treats
If you’re looking for a great, safe place to take your kids Trick-or-Treating on Halloween, look no further than the Belmont District. Over twenty of the unique shops found on Belmont Street participate in the annual Trinkets and Treats event. This area features some of Portland’s best idiosyncratic restaurants that you already want to try as well as devilishly delicious treats. Our suggestion? Finish with Saint Cupcake.
RATING: Very Family Friendly
Every year for the month of October, Chris Davis turns his house’s yard into a masterful haunt. Chris and his team then spend the rest of the year repairing and upgrading the equipment used to create the graveyard, including lighting, fog effects, and more. The spectacle is all viewable from the street. “From the moment we laid eyes on the yard,” writes Chris, “we knew its destiny was that of the ultimate Halloween cemetery.” And it has become just that.
RATING: Very Family Friendly
BeerQuest Haunted Pub Tour
What’s a better way for adults to celebrate Halloween than beer? And what’s a better way to celebrate and enjoy beer than to go on a beer crawl? Join BeerQuest Walking Tours for the Haunted Pub Tours.
RATING: NOT Family Friendly
Deep in the 40,000 square foot bowels of the Memorial Coliseum (the glorious home of the 1977 NBA World Champion Portland Trail Blazers) you’ll find Fright Town.
Here, you’re sure to scream as you experience three haunted houses taking up an entire city block. Every night hundreds of volunteers band together to give you the fright of your life as you pass through intricately detailed sets and scaracters with fantastic costumes and a passion for scaring you.
Having been through and worked at other haunted houses where I was disappointed that I could not touch patrons as a part of scaring them, I was excited to learn that at Fright Town the actors CAN touch you. Not full contact, mind you, but they can and will touch you.
As an added bonus, because it’s indoors, you’ll leave only scared, not scared and wet.
RATING: As Baron Von Goolo would say “You can pay for a babysitter tonight or a therapist tomorrow.” NOT Family Friendly.
The Clark County ScareGrounds
We finish our journey searching for the best Halloween activities in the area right here in Vancouver at the Clark County ScareGrounds.
Every year Clark County turns the Fairgrounds into a Scream Park with four haunted houses and a midway that will keep you busy and scared for hours every weekend. With various events including a Trick-or-Treat day, there is something for everyone here.
While we don’t suggest taking your kids to the haunted houses, at the same time we recognize that some children are great with stuff like this and are sure to love it, while some adults won’t be able to handle it (on the site, they have a “wet pants” counter). So if you’re a parent, it’s your call.
In addition to having a very good time, you can do something beneficial for the community and save a bit of money, as they are holding a food drive (with a counter for that as well). Just bring three canned food items, and they’ll take $5 off your visit.
RATING: Family Friendly (for the most part)
As you can see, it’s easy to find great things to do to enjoy Halloween in the Portland/Vancouver area, in any way you want to make merry scary. We hope you have a fantastic Halloween with all the elements you want to experience. If you get through this list, there is plenty more to do, but these are some of the experiences you do not want to miss.