35 Free and Cheap Things to Do in Portland with Kids

What’s kid-friendly, free and fun in Portland, Oregon? Here’s a warm-weather list to get you started. What would you add?

  1. Play in Salmon Springs Fountain’s 137 jets at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
  2. Enjoy a $3 family movie at McMenamin’s Kennedy School.
  3. Watch ice skaters twirl at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink.
  4. Enjoy one of Portland’s kid-friendly museums on a free or cheap day.
  5. Try on glasses made from forks in Spoonman’s booth at Portland Saturday Market.
  6. Go for a bird-watching hike on Sauvie Island.
  7. Look for leprechauns in the tiniest park in America — Mill Ends Park.
  8. Enjoy the Preschool Skate and Play at Oaks Amusement Park.
  9. Get your thrills from the Portland Aerial Tram.
  10. Ride the vintage 1921 carousel at the Jantzen Beach SuperCenter.
  11. Seek Simpsons references in Portland’s Alphabet District (including Reverend Lovejoy, Mayor Quimby and Ned Flanders).
  12. Stop and smell Barbara Streisand at the International Rose Test Gardens. You won’t even get slapped with a restraining order; the rose is named after the singer.
  13. Listen to family tunes at Portland Farmers Market.
  14. Sit in the Jamison Square waterfall and disappearing pool.
  15. Find Ramona Quimby at Grant Park.

  16. Ride the MAX to the Washington Park stop, the deepest train station in North America.
  17. Play on an (extinct) volcano at Mt. Tabor Park.
  18. Drink from a Benson Bubbler.
  19. Speak out against early bedtimes from Pioneer Courthouse Square’s Echo Chamber.
  20. Browse the picture books at Powell’s City of Books.
  21. Make art from SCRAP‘s scraps.
  22. Head to a Portland Park — for movies or a concert.
  23. Get inches away from salmon and horror-movie eels at Bonneville Dam.
  24. Cool off with 620 feet of water at the second-largest waterfall in the U.S. — Multnomah Falls.
  25. Discuss American history at Kidd’s Toy Museum, where vintage toys reflect the values of their day.
  26. Try a Spanish, Mandarin or ASL storytime at Green Bean Books.
  27. Cycle along one of Portland’s kid-friendly bike paths.
  28. Let your mouth travel ’round the world — sample dishes from Portland’s food carts.
  29. Bop along to a family-friendly music show at Milagros Boutique.
  30. Play Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position and other retro games at Ground Kontrol with a pocketful of quarters.
  31. Ride the Portland Streetcar.
  32. Listen to a summer lunch concert at Noon Tunes at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  33. Get your fortune told at the wacky 24-Hour Church of Elvis.
  34. Party pretty at the Portland Rose Festival.
  35. Enjoy a cup of drinking chocolate at Cacao. Buzzing with caffeine, repeat 1-34.

About Lora

Lora Shinn writes about travel for regional and local publications, including AAA Journey, National Geographic Traveler, Bankrate.com, Natural Health and Whole Living.


  1. Vic Varis says

    36. Coffee Cupping (think wine tasting) at Portland’s signature coffee toaster, Stumptown Coffee. At the “Annex” on SE Belmont. It’s free every day 11AM & 3PM, features 6 or more coffee varieties.

    37. Go where the Food Network guys do for a Portland-weird treat at VooDoo donuts. The original hole-in-the-wall shop off West Burnside on 2nd Ave SW, or their more traditional Elvira-esque one off NE Sandy at about 15th.

  2. Yes, Vic, absolutely. Although I wish they offered hot chocolate cupping for the kids while I’m getting over-amped on the coffee.

    Voodoo Doughnut is awesome. However, as a heads-up, some doughnuts sport x-rated names. Just sayin’. It’s up to you whether you want to explain “triple chocolate penetration.”

  3. Visit the Central library’s Children’s Library and try to identify all the things that make the huge bronze tree, peek in the shadow boxes, attend a story time and climb the marble stairs up to peek thought the interior Georgian windows into the reading rooms below.

  4. Great list!

  5. So that little added info. about Voodoo Donuts is good to have 🙂 I was thinking about checking that out when we make it there, but may have to think about it.
    Great list!
    .-= Carolina´s last blog ..A Little Blog Post Can Go a Long Way =-.

  6. Yes, great list!
    .-= Brenna´s last blog ..The winner of a Barley & Birch tee… =-.

  7. Thanks for including us on your list!

    We have been adding more and more family-friendly music events at Milagros. Right now we host 3-5 different performers every week including Professor Banjo, Mr. Ben, Mo Phillips, and Dave Freleng’s Shadow Puppet Theatre! We look forward to seeing you!

    Jennifer and Tony
    Milagros Boutique

  8. This is a great list! Who knew there are so many fun things to do with kids in Portland. Here are a few more I have picked up along the way. Enjoy


  1. Wilson Writes » Blog Archive » Cheap and Free Weekend Activities (5/14) says:

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