There are lots of things to do in Portland, Oregon with young kids. Including inside and outside activities. Here are a few of our favorite things to do when visiting Portland. If you have a place you like to go with younger kids in Portland be sure and tell us in the comment section!
33 Activities for preschoolers in Portland
Downtown Portland Activities
- Playdate PDX is an indoor playground. While your kids play you can surf the internet for free and enjoy a beer. It’s like a McDonalds playground on steroids.
- Portland’s Children’s Museum is a super cute indoor museum for younger kids. When I took my two-year-old niece here she had the best time. Combing fun and education, the Portland Children’s Museum encourages an interactive, hands-on approach to learning. Exhibits span subjects ranging from gravity to medicine and include favorites like the grocery store and cafe, which allows little ones to experience the world of adults, and the recycled arts studio, which offers them the chance to drill, glue and build earth-friendly construction projects. The museum also offers weekly classes like Paint & Play, Science Tots and Creative Ceramics. The Portland Children’s Museum also attracts rotating exhibits like Dinosaurs: Fire and Ice, where kids have the chance to explore dinosaurs and the environment they lived in hands-on.
- OMSI Known by the acronym OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a favorite family day trip for locals and tourists alike. Kids will find a wide range of interactive exhibits that both educate and fascinate. Younger children have an entire exhibit hall geared towards hand-on exploration called The Science Playground, built for kids 6 and under. Science labs throughout the museum encourage experimentation that deepens visitors’ understanding of life, the world and the universe. Aspiring astronomers will love the Kendall Planetarium, the largest and the most advanced planetarium in the Northwest. The Omnimax theater has a five-story high domed shaped screen, creating an incredibly impressive Imax movie experience. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to tour a vintage Navy submarine, moored in the Willamette River directly behind the museum.
- Jamison Square in the Pearl District – Kids love playing in the fountain here and it isn’t deep. It is zero entry so kids can walk into it at their own comfort level. They clean the water too, as they recycle it.
- Directors Park, pictured in the first image in this post. Director Park is a public piazza right in the heart of downtown Portland with is another fun splash area. This park sits on top of an underground parking garage. Here they have a large fountain feature that doubles as a splash pad for kids on hot days. Director Park offers free activities for all ages year-round like concerts, art events, trivia nights, chess, plays, cooking, and more. They have a super-sized chess game kids love to play. The parks and rec have an office here that has board games you can check out. It’s a great place to spend your lunch break. They have plenty of sitting with chairs and tables sprinkled throughout the piazza. There is also concrete benches to sit on. Elephants Café has a location here that serves lunch and dinner. They also sell drinks and ice cream.
- Oregon Zoo – The Oregon Zoo is phenomenal. It’s got to be one of the best zoos in the United States. You name it, they seem to have it. Plus, during the holidays they have a special event at night, Zoo Lights. Spanning 64 acres in Washington Park, the massive Oregon Zoo offers children the chance to see their favorite animals up close and is one of the largest attractions in Oregon. Here, more than 1,000 animals reside in natural, expertly designed habitats like Cascade Canyon Trail, home to black bears, bobcats, bald eagles, and river otters. Other exciting exhibits include the Pacific Shores, which features sea otters, polar bears, and sea lions. Also, on most days they have a live bird show on the main lawn. Kids especially love the Zoo Railway, a winding one-mile ride around the grounds’ perimeter. Kids will love seeing the elephants and lions.
- Washington Park is home to the International Test Rose Garden, but more importantly, for the kids there’s a massive playground.
- Oaks Park is a little amusement park and there is a dedicated section with more low key rides for smaller kids.
- Fields Park has a fun playground for kids and a sandy area where kids can dig and build. During the summer months, there are movies and concerts here.
- JJ Jump – JJ Jump is a bounce house place. They have a room for toddlers, one for kids, and one for older kids. Cost is $8 a kid.
- East Portland Community Center – Near Mall 205, this community center has an indoor park and a fantastic indoor swimming pool. This is just one of these types of facilities that are part of the Portland Parks and Rec system. Because it is a community center it is super cheap.
- Mt Scott Community Center and Pool – A community center near 70th on the east side of Portland. Mt. Scott Community Center & Pool is home to another one of Portland’s remarkable indoor pool facilities and it also has an indoor roller skating rink. Their pool offers an open swim time every day in addition to lessons. The pool has a lazy river, two slides, a hot tub, a zero-entry pool, and a 6 lane lap pool. Mt. Scott also has a nice size playground outside and a traversing bouldering wall inside. The community center also offers various classes for all ages, including young children. The best part of play here is that everything they offer is extremely affordable.
- Monkey King – Another fun indoor play park with slides and more. $8 weekdays and $10 on the weekends
- Chuck E. Cheese – I hear that the nicest Chuckee Cheese around is the one in Vancouver, but I haven’t been there so I cannot vouch for this.
- Munchkin Playland – a small indoor play place for young children. The play area is designed just for the little ones (42 inches and under only). The kiddos will be entertained, and you won’t have to chase them up big climbing structures!
- Kids Club in Hazel Dell has the largest indoor play space in the area if you don’t mind driving to Vancouver.
- Play Boutique has two locations, one in Beaverton and one in Lake Oswego. They have an indoor playground as well as art stations and kid’s classes. They even have a parent’s night out.
- Play Place at Jenni and Tommy’s offers an indoor play place with a variety of hands-on learning and gross motor opportunities that encourage self-initiated play and exploration. This is geared toward children between the ages of 1 and 6 years old. Open Monday – Friday 9am – 11:30 am and Monday – Wednesday 2pm – 5pm. $6 per kid.
- Blue Lake Park in Fairview, Oregon has a lot of offerings, including a sandy beach for kids to dig and play in, a spray park for kids to run and play in the water, a playground and trails.</li>
- North Clackamas Aquatic Center is an indoor swimming pool with slides, lap pool and more. They have a kiddie pool just for young kids.
- Chuck E. Cheese – I hear that the nicest Chuckee Cheese around is the one in Vancouver.
- Safari Sam’s – Blacklight 18 hole mini-golf, an arcade, a bounce room, and a large play structure. Their prices are all over the place, so chances are, you can work with your budget to do some of it or all of it.
- Wunderland Cinema & Nickel Games – All locations include a nickel arcade. Some locations include a movie theater and laser tag. Most games are a nickel and laser tag is $4. Sign up for their email list to have them email you the deals.
Out in Scenic Columbia Gorge Area
Both Bridal Veil Falls and Latourell Falls are easy enough for small kids. Just walk down to Latourell Falls, do not do, the more extensive hike here. Across the road from Latourell Falls are where there are picnic tables are located. The waterfall turns into a gentle stream and your kids can play in it. Just make sure they have water shoes. Multnomah Falls and Horsetail Falls are so close to the parking lots you can just park and walk up to them. If you want a more challenging hike for your family, try Punch Bowl Falls and Wahclella Falls.
If you decide to go further you can hit Hood River. There is a beach area there where kids can swim and play on a fairly new playground. Hood River has a handful of kid-friendly wineries.
Places to Eat in Portland with Young Kids
Laurelwood Brewery – Not only do they have great beer and happy hour it’s also extremely kid-friendly. There are several play areas for kids.
Hopworks Bike Bar – There’s a play section for kids. Their sister location is also kid-friendly with dedicated play areas for kids.
Jam on Hawthorne – They’ve got a fantastic little area for kids to play. Plus, the food is good.
Slappy Cakes – Kids make a huge mess making their own pancakes, but they do have a lot of fun. Attempt to guide them because many things do not make a good combination. My child made disgusting pancakes that we couldn’t eat. The wait times here are brutal, almost always one-hour minimum.
Mother’s Bistro – A wildly popular breakfast restaurant in Portland with a kid’s play area.
Santa Fe Taqueria – Wednesday night is super family-friendly when a local favorite kids’ music performer Mr. Ben performs and kids eat free. (One free kid’s meal free with a purchase of one adult meal.)
What is your favorite thing to do with toddlers in Portland?