8 MORE Dessert Places to Love in the Portland Burbs

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A while back I came up with 8 dessert places to love on Portland’s west side. Well since then, I’ve sampled—and fallen for—some new ones. So without further adieu, here are 8 more sweet stops I’m happy to take my kids to:

  1. Momo’s Hawaiian Ice: Hillsboro
    This place is the real deal—the ice is perfectly shaved, the flavors are extensive, and you can go big with ice cream and authentic Hawaiian toppings. Big portions, fair prices. It’s tropically delicious.
  2. Beaverton Bakery: Beaverton
    This bakery turns 90 this year, and through the years they’ve been perfecting sugar cookies, cakes, and other specialty bakery creations. We got our wedding cake here, and we love coming back and grabbing a treat with our kids.
  3. The Pie Guy: North Plains
    We first fell in love with his pies at the Hillsboro Farmers’ Market, but my sister just informed me you can now go to his stand. Daily. Stop delaying that gratification! My favorites are Razzleberry and Coconut Cream. Mmmmm boy.
  4. Alotto Gelato: Orenco
    This new-ish spot in Orenco Station (next to La Provence) offers rich, creamy, gelato and Italian sodas in various flavors. It ain’t cheap, but it’s a great sometimes treat.
  5. Donut Day: Beaverton, Tigard
    These are sweet, rich donuts. My husband raves about their coconut, I love their regular glazed. Also try the buttermilk bar and their fritters. Tip: It’s easier to access their Beaverton shop by the side street instead of TV Highway.
  6. Nothing Bundt Cakes: Beaverton, Tualatin, Clackamas
    These little darlings look adorable and taste amazing. The frosting is sweet, but the cake is rich, moist, and just right. They are a great place to order treats for parties or special occasions!
  7. Dutch Bros Coffee: Various locations
    Yes, it’s a drive-thru coffee chain, but it’s headquartered in Oregon and feeeeels local-ish. Also, a junior menu with delicious smoothies, shakes, and hot chocolate? It just hits the spot sometimes.
  8. Sesame Donuts: Beaverton, Hillsboro, Tigard
    We first tried these donuts (oddly enough) at the cafe in the Hillsboro Main Library. You can buy a ton of donut holes for cheap, and I found them to be a traditional yet tasty donut. Their other locations are open 24/7. Try their trademark Sesame Donut.



5 U-Pick Fruit Orchards in WA County

U-Pick Orchards in WA County

I’ve highlighted U-pick berry farms in our county before, but now it’s time to talk tree fruits: apples, pears, peaches, cherries, and more.

Late summer (or mid-summer if it’s been a hot one!), you can start bringing your family to local farms and orchards to gather some of the juiciest, sweetest fruits out there.

Always check their sites for hours and availability.

1. Jossy Farms: Hillsboro
Apples, peaches, and pears of many varieties. This orchard is large, easy to get to, and well-organized. The trees are short and don’t require a ladder, and the paths are clear and clean. They have boxes or you can bring your own containers. Use their wagons to carry your fruit.

2. Grossen Peaches: Hillsboro
Peaches galore. This is a family farm in the beautiful Helvetia area. They have wagons and boxes available, or you can bring your own containers. They also have a store and host events like weddings (for real!).

3. Bells Orchard: Beaverton
Peaches, apples, pears, and cherries. They’re proud to be a short orchard with trees short enough to not require a ladder (even your kids can pick!). This relatively new orchard (started in 2005) also offers honey from their own bees.

4. Sherwood Orchards: Sherwood
Cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums, prunes, apples, pears, quince, and persimmons (yes! I know! they have approximately 2000 trees!). This a strictly u-pick farm that’s been around for 150 years. They have some of the cheapest prices around, but bring your own containers. Cash or check only.

5. Bays Farm: Banks
Peaches, plums, nectarines, apples, pears, and kiwis. Fruit can be picked from the ground. Call for availability 503-324-0261.

A Good Gray: U-Pick Orchards in WA County

A Good Gray: U-Pick Orchards in WA County

Washington County Fair

What: Washington County Fair
Where: Washington County Fairgrounds,
Hillsboro, Oregon
Who: All ages
When: Usually last weekend of July, 10 am to 11 pm (2016 dates: July 28 to 31)
Why: It’s has Big Fair Fun for everyone in your family
Cost: Admission and many activities are FREE; prices vary for food and rides


About mid-winter my oldest daughter starts asking when the fair is coming to town. And since she’s still figuring out how times and dates and seasons work, she keeps asking. And asking. So let’s just say I’m pleased as punch that it’s fiiiinally fair time once again.

The Washington County Fair has become one of our annual traditions. One weekend each July the fairgrounds fill up with rides, concessions, livestock, performers, vendors, and games, creating a magical place with a little bit o’ something for everybody.

Admission is free, and many of the activities are free too. We always start in the Growing Grove, the free children’s area. They have crafts and activities that keep our kids well occupied. Then we wander around checking out all the animals, trying to act like we know stuff and we’re not city folk.

In the carnival area each coupon is $1, or you can get an Unlimited Ride Wristband for $25. There are a bunch of rides, but keep in mind small children will have limited options. Kids under 36″ can’t ride any of the attractions, and kids from 36″ to 48″ can only ride a few. Fortunately your kids can still go buck wild at the games.

The food is overpriced of course (that’s standard, right?), but at least they offer deep-fried everything—last year I tried deep-fried cookie dough. Conclusion? Not everything should be fried.

Parking is $7/car. Of course you can also come by foot, bike, or train (there’s a MAX station right at the fairgrounds). Strollers are welcome.

So check out the schedule of events and get yourself over to the fair. Your kids just might love it enough to bring it up all. year. long.

A Good Gray: Washington County FairIMG_3939IMG_3942A Good Gray: Washington County Fair

We always take pictures of animals with our family members' names. Last year we found this nice tribute to our niece.

We always take pictures of animals with our family members’ names. Last year we found this nice tribute to our niece.

Summer Movie Mania

Summer Movie Mania A Good GrayWe’re movie people at our house—our kids start quoting movies in casual conversation as toddlers. So join us in checking out these fun summer movie venues!

1. Pix on the Plaza (Hillsboro): Friday nights in June you’ll catch FREE outdoor movies in the civic center plaza.

2. Regal Summer Movie Express (Regal Cinemas throughout the area): $1 movies all Summer long on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.

3. Drive-In (Newberg): On highway 99 in Newberg you can take your kids to a classic drive-in theatre on the weekends. Adults $8, ages 6-11 $5, and 5 and under are FREE.

4. Flicks by the Fountain (Beaverton): Friday nights in August you can watch FREE outdoors movies in Beaverton City Park.

5. Flicks on the Bricks (Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland): On five Fridays throughout the summer you can see FREE outdoor movies in Pioneer square. (Movie ratings range from PG to R.)

A Good Gray: Summer MoviesAny I missed? Let me know!


Hillsboro Farmers’ Market

What: Hillsboro Farmers’ Market and Hillsboro Tuesday Market
Downtown Hillsboro
Who: All ages
When: Saturdays May to October, 8 am to 1:30 pm; Tuesdays June to August, 5 pm to 8:30 pm
Why: It’s more than a market! It’s a block party twice a week
Cost: FREE admission and street parking

A Good Gray: Hillsboro Farmers' Market
When I lived in Hillsboro for a few years as a child, I had fond memories of hitting up the farmers’ market. I hardly remember what I saw there, but I loved how great it felt to enjoy a slow-paced summer day with my family.

So I looove each time I can take my husband and kids to the farmers’ market. We went last Tuesday night, and it was a particularly perfect night with mild temperatures, great produce, and tasty treats. Ahh… it was delightful.

Each week you’ll find the downtown area packed with merchants selling the expected seasonal produce, baked goods, delicious dishes, and hand-made goods. I’m sure you’ll develop some favorites like we have (the Pie Guy makes pies so delectable he’s earned our eternal loyalty). This year there’s even a Teen Market where high schoolers sell their creations and learn about business.

Other perks are the weekly musicians and performers, and fun events like pet parades and chalk art contests. You can also send your kids to the fountains while you relax on the steps and people watch. It’s marvelous.

So take advantage of this summer ritual and make memories with your family.

A Good Gray: Hillsboro Farmers' Market

Pie Guy, we applaud thee


Independence Day 2015

A Good Gray: Independence Day 2015

July 4th is falls on one hot Saturday this year. Celebrate our independence with these fun family activities.

– Pancake breakfast (Hillsboro, 6:00 to 10:00 am): The Kiwanis 49th annual breakfast held at the First Congregational Church. $6 for adults, $3.50 for kid 12 and under.

– C.A.T. Walk & Fun Run (Hillsboro, 6:30 am to 10:00 am): 5k through downtown Hillsboro for Cancer Awareness and Treatment. Walk/run starts at 8:00 am. Register at

– 4th of July Parade (Hillsboro, 10:00 am): The Rotary’s annual parade winds through downtown Hillsboro and offers oodles of bands, floats, and small-town fun

– North Plains Fourth of July (North Plains, 9:00 am to 10:30 pm): Pancake breakfast, car show, parade, live music, and fireworks at 10:00 pm.

– Waterfront Fireworks and Blues Festival (Portland, all day)

– Oaks Park 4th of July Spectacular (Portland, dark): This beloved amusement park has extended its hours and offered first-come seating to all for their fireworks show.

– Lake Oswego Star Spangled Parade and Celebration (Lake Oswego, all day): Parade at 10 am, fireworks at 9:45 pm

The Outpost

What: The Outpost
Where: Shute Park and Shadywood Park in Hillsboro
When: Monday to Friday, 10:30 am to 1:30 pm (June 15 to August 14)
Who: Children and youth ages 1 to 18 (and their parents)
Why: It’s a fun, free way to spend a summer afternoon
Cost: FREE

A Good Gray: The OutpostAfter swim lessons at SHARC this past week we happened upon a field full of children—running, screaming, and simply having a ball. I assumed it was a summer camp at the park, but a cowgirl passing by let us know it was something better: the Outpost.

Yeee haw!

The Outpost is a FREE drop-in program put on by the Hillsboro Parks and Recreation. Nearly every weekday you’ll find them at both Shute Park and Shadywood Park. They provide children ages 1 to 18 free reign to tons of outdoor toys, books, activities, water play, and crafts.

Particularly helpful to many people is the free lunch provided by the USDA. You’ll get a nutritious lunch at Shadywood from 11:30 am to 12 pm, and at Shute from 12 to 12:30 pm.

Parents are expected to stay and supervise/play, but honestly that’s part of the fun. So git yourselves to the park one of these days. Your family will love it.

A Good Gray: The OutpostA Good Gray: The Outpost

Parks with Water Features on Portland’s West Side

When the scorching days of summer leave your family screaming for a relief, where can you turn???

A Good Gray: Parks with Water on Portland's West SideHow about trying one of these cool parks on Portland’s west side! Each has a refreshing splash pad or other water feature running all season long.

Magnolia Park (Hillsboro): small, simple fountains are perfect for young children; fountains are user activated

53rd Avenue Community Park (Hillsboro): a large paved space with a fun programmed spray sequence of fountains; terraced seating all around; in the peak weeks there is a snack bar open

Walnut Street Park (Hillsboro): this small spot features sprays and mists that are user activated

Civic Center Fountains (Hillsboro): these fountains in Hillsboro’s very own civic plaza are a treat for kids of all ages


City Park Fountain (Beaverton): these are the grand-daddy of fountains; located near the library and the farmers’ market, these fountains are tall and powerful

Conestoga Recreation & Aquatic Center (Beaverton): this splash pad for kids of all ages costs $3.50 per child (adults are free)

*Updated* Fountains at Progress Ridge (Beaverton): fountains and splash pad

Are there any I missed? Please let me know!

P.S. Most water features are on from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but it’s wise to double check online.

Hillsboro Hops

What: Hillsboro Hops
Where: Ron Tonkin Field, 4460 NW 229th Ave, Hillsboro
Who: All ages
When: Regular season June to August, playoffs in August
Why: Professional baseball plus summer fun for the Portland area
Cost: Ticket prices from $7 to $16 (season tickets available)
Parking: $5/car

A Good Gray: Hillsboro Hops

Baseball is America’s pastime, and now Portland has a piece of its own professional team… huzzah!

The team is the Hillsboro Hops, a short season Single A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. They’re close to wrapping up their second season in Hillsboro, playing at the Ron Tonkin field just off highway 26. The stadium is easy to get to with ample parking, and the facility still looks flashy and new. There are day and night games on both weekends and weekdays.

Hops games are very family-friendly. At the back of center field they have a free bouncy slide and other activities just for kids. General Admission tickets let you sit anywhere you’d like on the grass (no chairs allowed–just blankets), but it gives kids room to run and roll. Kids can also chase the Hops mascots and participate in the silly stuff the organization dreams up between innings. It’s pretty fun.

You can’t bring in outside food or drinks. Concessions are typical (delicious yet overpriced), but we you can bring in empty water bottles and fill them up at a water fountain. 

Throughout the season they have nights with fireworks and special giveaways. This is an especially fun place to spend July 4th, or really any summer day.

The regular season is wrapping up, but there’s still time to get playoff tickets. Buy some cotton candy and your kids might even last all 9 innings!

IMG_5751Hops SlideIMG_5758


Slide image borrowed from

8 U-Pick Berry Farms in WA County

It’s berry season and I couldn’t be happier! But consider yourself warned: once you try freshly picked Oregon berries, no other berry will do.

You really won’t regret bringing your family out berry picking this summer. They’ll love the fruits of their labors, and your child might finally understand that strawberries don’t grow in a plastic container in the store. (That was a big “aha” moment for my daughter.)

A Good Gray: Berry Picking

Here are 8 u-pick farms in Washington County that are worth visiting. Before you head out, it’s always recommended to call or check Facebook to see if berries are available.

1. West Union Gardens: Hillsboro
Raspberries, blackberries, tayberries, and loganberries. Pick berries June to September. The berries here are big and juicy, and West Union does a great job of keeping paths clear and minimizing thorns.

2. Smith Berry Barn: Hillsboro
Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, and more. This the Cadillac of berry picking—they have a cafe and gift shop too. Check out their berry festival on the 4th of July.

3. Groveland Acres is now Helvetia Strawberries: Hillsboro
Shuksan strawberries. Pick in June. This is a simple set-up, but the berries are priced well and de-li-cious. And they have great views!

4. Hoffman Farms: Beaverton
Strawberries and raspberries. Pick in June and July. They sell other produce and bakery items too.

5. Rowell Brothers: Hillsboro
Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, marionberries, boysenberries, and loganberries. Pick June to August. Great prices and another simple set-up (no store).

6. Unger Farm: Cornelius
Strawberries. Pick berries May to June. They have more than one variety (including the coveted Hoods). They have u-cut options if you’re interested too.

7. Callaghan’s Blueberry Field: Hillsboro
Blueberries. “Sweet little place and the kids aren’t a muddy mess afterwards.”

8. Baggenstos: Sherwood
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, marionberries.