When kids have time off from school, it adds an extra stick-in-the-spokes of the usual daily routine. Suddenly thereís more running around and less time to do more things. Sometimes it works best to find someone to (or DIY) take the kids out of the house. If that’s possible, here are some great ideas for things to do in Portland. There is so much to do in Portland, Oregon! Families who live in another city can look at the ideas and apply them to whatís around their area, like local museums, to start.
We were lucky enough to live here for a while and I think Portland is a great city for a family vacation. It is one of those places that it never would have occurred to me to go until I lived here.
Table of Contents
12 Things to do in Portland for Families
Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade
The first idea is to take them to Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade at 511 NW Couch St., 503.796.9364. Easily the Pacific Northwest’s largest collection of arcade and pinball games, there are over 90 to choose from. This place entertains the young and old alike because there are all the old video games with the old “new” technologies. Atari, Coleco and Nintendo are just some of the old systems and some of the old games are PacMan, Mrs. PacMan, Defender, Space Invaders and Asteroids. Not to mention the newer games out on the west coast. (If I’m honest this is more for parents that grew up in the 90’s like me!)
The Oregon Zoo is large and will take up the whole day if you like. It is a beautiful zoo and plenty of places for a picnic so pack a lunch.
The Oregon Zoo, at 4001 SW Canyon Road, started in 1887 by Richard Knight. He was a collector of animals from around the world while being a pharmacist during the day. He opened his grounds to the public so they could share his affection for the unusual animals, and the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River was born. Now it’s home to award winning educational programs, free concerts and moments of discovery and fun.
This has an awesome area for younger kids as well as lots of displays for older kids. We really enjoy the kids areas and the science experiment areas! The ballroom is also lots of fun with balls you can feed through tubes with air pushing through them. You can take a picnic here as well.
OMSI is also a good place to send your kids to summer camp, because they offer all kinds of learning camps, especially science camps. They have half a day, full day and overnight camps for children K – 18 years old. They also have camps for the whole family or just adults.
OMSI’s Omnimax Theater, 1945 SE Water Ave., is an enormous tool for learning and education. Inside the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, extra time should be allowed for looking at amazing and interesting things before hitting the movie. A domed screen that is five stories high covers 6,532 square feet of movie surface. It’s a 2D IMAX system that uses the largest frame in motion picture history with a custom-designed 15,000 watt digital surround sound system.
I would suggest getting on the Historical Columbia Highway in Troutdale, OR and taking that up to Crown Point and then hitting one waterfall after another. I believe they start with Latourell Falls, which is extremely easy to get to. Just a short walk. The next it Bridal Veil which is a short hike, but is steep. There are about five waterfalls that are very easy to get to if you just keeping going down the road. The last one is Horsetail falls. For more info, check out the 11 Best Hikes in the Columbia Gorge with kids.
Visit a Local Market
Portland Saturday Market – Vendors sell all kinds of things here. We always had fun just walking around and looking at stuff.
Farmers Markets – There are farmer’s markets all over the place. The biggest market is the one in downtown Portland on Saturdays. Click here for info on that one. They also have them in every little suburb around Portland as well. Click here to find some of the others ones around the area.
The Portland Rose Garden is breath taking.
Blue Lake Park
This easily became one of my favorite places. You have to pay around $4 a car to get in. There is a beach area with a roped off area for the kids to swim in. There is a splash park, biking trails and more. For more info click here
Jamison Square Park
Such a great spot when it is warm. There is a water area where kids can play. The water builds up and then drains before it gets too deep. Which means as a parent, you can actually relax and worry less!
See a Movie
The Laurelhurst Theater is a good choice, located at 2735 E Burnside St., it was built in 1923 with beautiful old architecture design and fine details. It was very popular in its heyday but was almost run out of business with the sweeping wave of multi-plex cinemas that sprang up everywhere. In 2000 it was remodeled inside and is once again a great place to take a family. Now it sells local microbrews and wines, and serves pizza and soft drinks at tables to watch the movie from, if so desired.
Go Ice Skating
The Lloyd Center Ice Rink at 953 Lloyd Center Blvd, is a place to spend some energy. The updated old ice rink is on the 1st level, across from Macy’s Department Store. It offers a fully stocked all-pro skate shop, group skate lessons, broom ball games, parties, freestyle sessions, dances, private parties and public all skate sessions.
Portland’s Aerial Tram is its newest attraction, at 3303 SW Bond Ave. It travels 3300 linear feet between the terminal at the south waterfront and OHSU’s Kohler Pavilion on the main campus. Traveling 22 miles per hour, it rises 500 feet in a three minute trip over Interstate 5, the Lair Hill neighborhood and SW Terwilliger Parkway. Entrance for children under six is free, while the standard fee is $4.
Museum of Contemporary Craft
The Museum of Contemporary Craft is one of Portlandís oldest institutions, at 724 NW Davis St. Founded in 1937 by a group of extraordinary women dedicated to the cultivation of craft, the Oregon Ceramic Institute was born and later in 1965 became the Contemporary Crafts Gallery, and then in 2002 the Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery, and finally in 2007 it became the Museum of Contemporary Craft as it is today. The building was built with 100% donated materials, time and craftsmanship. Inside holds crafts and art from every available medium and source.
This should be enough to do for a couple, or even a few days in Portland, Oregon. Have fun and discover alongside the children for a great, memorable day for the family and the kids.