What’s kid-friendly, free and fun in Portland, Oregon? Here’s a list to get you started. What would you add?
Outdoor Portland with Kids (Free & Cheap)
These are activities that are mostly outside (you have to put on a coat or sunscreen, and plan to be outside for a while)
- Play in Salmon Springs Fountain’s 137 jets at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
- Try on glasses made from forks or buy a spoon-fork (spork!) with melded-together handles in Spoonman’s booth at Portland Saturday Market. Or listen to live music, pick up a treat from a food vendor, or buy a new hat.
- Go for a bird-watching hike on Sauvie Island.
- Look for leprechauns in the tiniest park in America—Mill Ends Park (although to whoever recently chopped down the tree: you’re a horrible person).
- Seek Simpsons references in Portland’s Alphabet District (including Reverend Lovejoy, Mayor Quimby and Ned Flanders).
- 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.
- Listen to family tunes at Portland Farmers Market.
- Sit in the Jamison Square waterfall and disappearing pool.
- Find Ramona Quimby at Grant Park.
- Climb on rocks at a”nature-based playground” at Westmoreland Park.
- Play on an (extinct) volcano at Mt. Tabor Park.
- Drink from a Benson Bubbler.
- Speak out against early bedtimes from Pioneer Courthouse Square’s Echo Chamber (next to the Starbucks). Standing on the circle in the center amplifies even tiny voices, in front of a small amphitheater.
- Head to a Portland Park — for movies or a concert.
- Cool off with 620 feet of water at the second-largest waterfall in the U.S. — Multnomah Falls.
- Cycle along one of Portland’s kid-friendly bike paths.
- Let your mouth travel ’round the world — sample dishes from Portland’s food carts.
- Listen to a summer lunch concert at Noon Tunes at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Party pretty at the Portland Rose Festival.
Indoor Portland with Kids (Free & Cheap)
What to do with kids on a rainy or way-too-hot day? Ride an air-conditioned MAX, shelter under the awnings at the Saturday Market, and more.
- Enjoy a $3 family movie at McMenamin’s Kennedy School.
- Watch ice skaters twirl at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink.
- Enjoy one of Portland’s kid-friendly museums on a free or cheap day.
- Ride the MAX to the Washington Park stop, the deepest train station in North America.
- Browse the picture books at Powell’s City of Books.
- Make art from SCRAP‘s bins of items that can be “creatively reused.”
- Get inches away from salmon and horror-movie eels at Bonneville Dam in the Columbia Gorge, about a half-hour to 45-minute drive away.
- Take your Matchbox-obsessed preschooler to World of Speed to drool over the life-sized versions of race cars. Kids 5 and under get in free, and kids 5-12 are only $5.
- Try a Spanish, Mandarin or ASL storytime at Green Bean Books.
- Bop along to a family-friendly music show at Milagros Boutique, or look for one of the bookstore’s craft-and-storytime events.
- Play Ms. Pac-Man, Pole Position and other retro games at Ground Kontrol with a pocketful of quarters.
- Ride the Portland Streetcar.
- Enjoy a cup of drinking chocolate at Cacao. Buzzing with caffeine, repeat 1-35.
- Enjoy the Preschool Skate and Play at Oaks Amusement Park.
- Get your thrills from the Portland Aerial Tram.
- Count the animals (or another fun art-museum game) at Portland Art Museum, where kids are admitted free until age 18.
Post Updated January 19, 2020 with fresh links and content.