written by Lindsay McWilliams featured photo by Trey Kenyon

For many families, Labor Day is often the last summer hoorah before returning to school or a long-weekend retreat from work life. It’s the last chance to celebrate everything that represents the summer season. Dive into Labor Day this year with one of these family-friendly ideas.


Close out the Oregon State Fair

Labor Day is the last day of the Oregon State Fair, held at the fairgrounds in Salem. Along with the usual thrill rides for all ages, events on this day include a hypnotist performance, a dog show, go-kart racing and a milk mustache contest. Plus, both kids and adults can’t deny how much they love a heaping brick of curly fries.


Throw your own backyard barbecue

With the summer winding down, Labor Day may be one of the last chances to host that barbecue you’ve been thinking about. So, get out that croquet set, load up the water guns, light the grill and invite over your friends and family. Rage against the ending of summer with loved ones and good food.


Visit one of Oregon’s state or national parks

Get outside and explore the state’s unmatched beauty by visiting one of Oregon’s state parks. Hike the rugged high desert of Smith Rock State Park. Raft through the Hells Canyon national recreation area. Stand beneath lush waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park or the Columbia River Gorge national scenic area. Pack a picnic and delve into the endless possibilities.


Bring out your inner child at an amusement park

Amusement parks are always a favorite for the young ones and a blast through time for the older crowds. Visit Oaks Amusement Park in Southeast Portland for carnival games, thrill rides and good old-fashioned roller skating. Dip into the woods of the Willamette Valley to find Enchanted Forest, a story-book themed park haunted by classic children’s literature. Or let the kids practice their premature driving skills on the go-kart track at the Family Fun Center in Wilsonville.


Expand your mind at a museum

Many of Oregon’s museums are open on Labor Day, and most have educational, interactive exhibits for the whole family. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has extensive hands-on opportunities for children and adults as well. Other honorable mentions are the High Desert Museum in Bend, Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem and the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria.