Fall Foliage: Places to View in Seattle, Portland & More!
Fall in the Northwest is such a beautiful time of the year, and we are fortunate to have so many beautiful areas to view fall foliage at. We share some of our favorite places to enjoy the autumn season with our families including pumpkin patches, trips to view the fall foliage & more on the blog. However, one of my favorite parts about autumn is heading out to check out all the beautiful, changing colors of the leaves. I spent half of my life on the East Coast & we used to head to Skyline Drive in Virginia for some incredible views of the changing colors. So, I’ve been on the hunt for locations around the Northwest where we can enjoy the same type of views.
We also shared the question with all of the Facebook readers & got some awesome answers & I thought I’d compile a few of them in this list.
But before you head out to see the leaves, you will want to know when to go. Generally in Washington that is from late September into October. You can check out this fall foliage map here to give you a better idea of when you might want to go (just move the little dial under the map to the dates you are interested in, to see what things should be looking like).
Places to View the Autumn Leaves in the Northwest:
Where to See Fall Foliage in Washington:
Often times you will find beautiful scenery right in your own neighborhood, or parks areas. There are a handful of streets lined with gorgeous trees, I can enjoy just on my daily commute in my own neighborhood.
Beyond that though, there are many areas that are well known in the Northwest as great spots to head to, to view autumn leaves. Here are some of our favorites, as well as others that have been recommended by Thrifty NW Mom readers throughout the years.
- Kubata Gardens – Seattle, Wa.
This spot is beautiful in the fall as you find vibrant colors in both the Japanese Maples, as well as the Burning Bush “Euonymus alatus” in the Fall. Definitely worth a visit and its free!
- Washington Parks Arboretum, Seattle WA (see below for more detail on this favorite spot in the Seattle area)!
- Volunteer Park – Seattle, WA
- Wright Park – Tacoma, WA (this is an incredibly popular spot for photographers because of the abundance of gorgeous colors on the huge trees)
- The lookout at Cape Horn up the Columbia River
- Northwest Trek – a fun place to see the animals on a tram ride – and the beautiful fall colors
- Mt. Rainiers – and the Route from Ashwood to Packwood, WA near Mt Rainier. Find lots more great info on seeing Fall Colors at Mt. Rainier here too.
- Marymoor Park – Redmond, WA
- Nisqually Wildlife Refuge – Lacey, WA
- Chuckanut Drive – from Bow, WA to Bellingham, WA. This drive is beautiful anytime of the year, but makes a really fun fall day trip too. We share more tips on where to stop and explore, eat and more on this drive here too.
- Leavenworth, WA – take Highway 2 over the pass for a beautiful drive along the way to Leavenworth, too!
Octoberfest is also happening in October in Leavenworth, and it is a fun time to visit for both the fall foliage and festivities.
- Wenatchee Riverfront Park – Wenatchee, WA – Not far from Leavenworth, this is a an area where you can walk around the river and enjoy the changing colors of the fall foliage, and usually without large crowds. Stop for lunch at the Pybus Market to make it a perfect day.
- Whatcom Falls Park – Bellingham, WA
- 5 Mile Drive at Point Defiance Park – Tacoma, WA
- Kobayashi Park – University Place/Tacoma, WA
- Tumwater Falls Park – Olympia/Tumwater, WA – check out our review of this beautiful park just right off I-5 – great stopping off point if you’ve got a long drive
- Snoqualmie Valley – Snoqualmie WA – this site shares a wonderful wealth of information about the Snoqualmie Valley, events, farms, best places to visit & eat & more
More Tips On Visiting the Washington Park Arboretum & Japanese Garden:
Since the Arboretum is such a popular spot to see fall colors in the Northwest, we provided a more detailed review of what you can expect to find there here.
Our favorite place to view the fall colors in the Puget Sound area is to head up to the Washington Park Arboretum near the University of Washington campus in Seattle. It is 230 acres located just south of the campus across the Mountlake Bridge. I love that it’s so close off the freeway in the middle of Seattle (literally 5 minutes off I-5 or the 520 bridge). Once you’re there, you’ll find an amazing assortment of plants & trees within this park.
I love that the Arboretum is so family-friendly – they have large paved pedestrian paths that run throughout the park which are great for bike rides, stroller walking, jogging & more. These paths can get pretty busy on beautiful fall weekends, so we mainly use them to get to certain areas of the park & then head into the smaller trails that wind thru the woods. Even with the smaller paths, we have taken our girls even as toddlers & they have been able to walk on the trails easily & we’ve been able to take a jogging stroller thru the trails.
You’ll find plenty of opportunities for jumping in the leaves & rolling down the hills – my girls’ favorite pastime in the fall!
As I mentioned, this park is very popular on the beautiful, sunny weekends in the fall, so if you’re wanting to take a lot of fall photos, you may want to wait until the weekdays or just head there in the mornings or the evenings on the weekends for more opportunities to get your photos without people. However, there are plenty of trails throughout the park, so just look for those paths that are less traveled.
Washington Park Arboretum offers free admission; however, the Japanese Garden is also included within this park & you do have to pay admission prices for the park – adults are $8, seniors/youth 6-17/college students with ID/disabled is $4; & children ages 0-5 are free.
Where to See Fall Foliage in Oregon:
*While doing some searching on fall colors in Oregon, I found a great resource, the Guide to Oregon’s Beautiful Fall Colors, which is run by Travel Lane County & they have partnered with forest rangers, biologists & others who share the best places to view the fall colors in Oregon. Looks like a great resource!
Here are some more ideas:
- Driving up to Mt Hood on Highway 26
- Hood River Fruit Loop
- 3 locations in Oregon: McKenzie/Santiam Pass, Aufderheide National Forest Scenic Byway, and the Columbia River Gorge
- Portland’s Japanese Garden
Other posts you might be interested in for more Fall Fun:
Make sure to check out all of our fall-related posts – everything from pumpkin patch reviews, favorite places to view the fall colors, fall recipes & more!
Here are a few of our favorites:
- Frugal and Fun things for families to do in the Fall
- Round Up of Fall Festivals and Pumpkin Patches in the NW!