13 Things To Do In Portland With Kids
Best known for its artisans, eco-loving hipsters, and of course the coffee connoisseurs, Portland is an exciting place to go. Visiting this Oregon city with the kids is a definite must-do, with Portland fun on every corner. Pull into Union Station and get ready to start! You and your kids will love exploring all the amazing and interesting places – from science museums to the Pearl District to a sandy beach, there is plenty to do in Portland with kids.
Keep reading to find some fun things to do in Portland with kids. Meander the Portland Japanese Garden, play at the Washington Park Amphitheater, or take the kids to Pioneer Courthouse Square. You will find several wonderful places and fun-filled activities in this pretty locale that your kids are sure to love. When getting to know the streets of Portland with the family, drop extra backpacks and bags at a luggage storage locker. Have fun without worrying about your belongings or having the weight slow the kids down!
Oregon Zoo – Southwest Hills
Address: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
Covering 64 acres, the Oregon Zoo is one of the most popular places for families to spend the day. The zoo opened in 1888 and has evolved into a fantastic place where kids can learn about animals, conservation, and the environment. Your kids will love that they can get an up-close-and-personal look at some of their favorite animals.
With over 1,000 animals, many exotics, at the Oregon Zoo your family will spend hours exploring all the fantastic exhibits, watching animal shows, and enjoying animal encounters throughout the zoo. Covering 64 acres, you will want to hop on the Zoo Railway to make your way to the various habitats. Sign up for one of the educational workshops or sit down and watch some of the presentations.
Portland Children’s Museum – Southwest Hills
Address: 4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
Also located in Washington Park, the Portland Children’s Museum promotes learning through hands-on activities. You can easily spend a few hours with your kids watching them as they use their imaginations and discover the world around them.
You will see a passion for learning come alive in your children when you spend time exploring the Portland Children’s Museum. The museum is geared toward children under 13 years with several toddler enrichment programs. The museum even offers special programs for special needs children, offering wonderful hands-on and interactive activities.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Address: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214
Spend the day at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) where your kids will love the fascinating interactive exhibits that will make them put their thinking caps on. There is an entire section for children six years and younger. It's called The Science Playground and has several hands-on exhibits that help them learn about the world around them.
Visit several of the science labs located throughout OMSI that encourage children to take part in experimentations to help them understand the world and universe. Visit the Kendall Planetarium which is the biggest planetarium in the Pacific Northwest.
Stop by the IMAX theater with its five-story tall domed-shaped screen giving movie-goers one of the most incredible IMAX experiences. Be sure to take the time to go behind the OMSI and take a tour of the vintage Navy submarine that is secured in the Willamette River. Visit the OMSI on the first Sunday of each month to take advantage of cheap admission.
Portland Police Museum – Downtown Portland
Address: 1111 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97204
This free museum is located inside the Department of Justice building in downtown Portland and is home so several interesting and unique artifacts that are related to the history of Portland’s law enforcement. Your children will love exploring the jail cells that have been set-up as they would have been during different time periods.
Checking out the vintage uniforms, police cruisers, and photos will enthrall your kids and keep them occupied for a few hours. Your kids will learn a bit about police history without even realizing it. Make a stop at the gift shop for great souvenirs and to pick up some cool kid games they are sure to love.
World Forestry Center – Southwest Hills
Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
Located near the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center opened its doors in 1964 and is a great place for families to spend time together. Several interactive exhibits will keep the kids entertained and teach them more about the preservation and importance of trees. They will learn about why trees are important to our survival. Take what they learn here and put it to use on your next Portland hike!
Check out some of the amazing attractions including the virtual jeep and train rides that your kids will absolutely love. Take part in a workshop or two and take a small nature hike through the woods to learn how to identify different trees. The programs and exhibits are excellent for children over three years.
Mt. Scott Community Center – Mt. Scott-Arleta
Address: 5530 SE 72nd Ave, Portland, OR 97206
Visit the Mount Scott Community Center where there are a number of fun recreational family activities that your kids are sure to love. Bring along your bathing suit and enjoy floating down a lazy river or take a few laps in the six-lane pool. Slide down one of the fun water slides or enjoy the zero-entry pool.
Rent some roller skates and hit the rink or strap on a harness and climb the rock wall. If you have smaller children, turn them loose at the kiddie playground and relax on one of the benches to watch them play. Check their calendar of events to find special programs that will interest your kids.
Lloyd Center Mall – Laurelhurst
Address: 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR 97232
Rent some ice skates or bring your own and check out the ice rink where you can spend a few hours having a blast with the kids. The rink opened in 1960 and since then Lloyd Center has expanded to include shopping, restaurants, and even a great playground for younger children.
Watch a movie at the multiplex, take a trip around the world in the food court, and explore the many shops and kiosks of this 1.2-million square feet shopping center. People of all ages will find plenty to keep them occupied when they visit the Lloyd Center.
Oaks Amusement Park – Sellwood
Address: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202
The Oaks Amusement Park opened its doors in 1905 and has been one of the go-to places in Portland for making family memories. From mini golf to roller coasters, this amusement park is a wonderful place to spend a day with the entire family. Try your hand at some carnival games to see if you can win some fantastic prizes.
It is one of the oldest, continuously running amusement parks in the United States and is located next to the Willamette River with grassy picnic areas just outside the park so families can pack a picnic and enjoy lunch then go back and ride more rides or play more games. Rent some skates and enjoy the indoor roller rink.
Punch Bowl Social – Downtown Portland
Address: 340 SW Morrison St #4305, Portland, OR 97204
Head to the waterfront in downtown Portland and visit the Punch Bowl Social where you will find a wide range of family-friendly games and activities. Plan on spending an entire afternoon playing games and hanging out with your family. You will make memories with your family that last a lifetime.
Play a rousing game of ping pong, try your hand at darts, challenge your kids to a game of pool, or play some retro arcade games. You can even pick a song and embarrass your family while belting it out during karaoke. Head over to the bowling alley and watch your kids toss the ball down the lane.
Portland Saturday Market – Downtown Portland
Address: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204
The Portland Saturday Market is located in downtown Portland along the Columbia River and is the largest continuously-operated market in the United States. This outdoor market is open from March to Christmas Eve on Saturdays and some Sundays.
Vendors of every shape and size can be found here and with rows of interesting toys, wooden, crocheted, and handcrafted. Shopping is fun when looking for unique finds. There are plenty of fresh food items that may even entice the pickiest eater to expand their horizons and try some new foods. Listen to live music and watch interesting street performers as you browse through the market.
Bring the entire family on the first Sunday of each month for several amazing free kids activities offered at the Portland Saturday Market. Your kids will love the puppet shows and science fairs that are offered for free. People of all ages will love spending time at the market.
PlayDate PDX – Northwest
Address: 1434 NW 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
This monstrous indoor playground is 7,500-square-foot and covers three levels. It is one of the most exciting things to do in Portland with kids and should not be missed. Young children especially love the toddler area that has been specifically designed for their little hands and feet. The playground is open Thursday to Sunday.
Head over to the colorful castle and play several of the fun games that are inside. One of the favorite games of the younger kids is Dance Revolution. Then head over to the play space where your kids will love going down the slides, crawling through the tubes, swing from the rings, and throwing their mightiest punch at the punching bags.
Director Park – Downtown Portland
Address: 815 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205
Director Park is a relatively newer park, opening in 2009, but it is one of the top free things to do in Portland with kids. Located in the heart of downtown, this amazing park is free to visit and there are several cheap family-friendly activities and experiences.
The large fountain in the park is a great place to visit when it is warm out, it is turned into a splash pad where the kids can splash and play in the water to cool off. Special events are held at Director Park throughout the year, many are free and offer great family fun. Pack a picnic and relax with the whole family or enjoy a quick lunch at the café in the park.
Washington Park – Southwest Hills
Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221
The 458-acre park was first opened in 1909 and is one of the best places in Portland to visit when you have kids in tow. The park has been cultivated with families in mind and is a great place to relax and enjoy the great outdoors. Younger kids will love the large playground filled with toys designed specifically for their size and abilities.
Teens will love playing basketball, volleyball, and hiking through several of the trails. Check the calendar of events for special events and attractions that visit the park throughout the year. Be sure to bring refreshments for the kids, they will need water and snacks after playing hard at the park. Washington Park is home to the Hoyt Arboretum, Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, and Japanese Garden.
What are the best family activities in Portland?
For many people, finding the best family activities in Portland is as easy as heading to one of the urban parks. For others, it is spending the day at a large indoor playground or community center. Finding the best family activities for your family will depend on what your family loves to do. Nature lovers will want to get outdoors and hit the hiking trails while gamers will look for things that test their skills.
Visiting Portland, Oregon With Kids
Whether you are planning on visiting Forest Park or the International Rose Test Garden with your kids or maybe hitting up some of the cool spots for kids, there are plenty of awesome things to do with kids in Portland. Take the kids hiking at Columbia River Gorge or ride the exhilarating Portland Aerial Tram. Spend hours doing outdoor activities that are so much fun and then head indoors to the for some hands on fun and art events.
Fremont St. is the place to go for tasty sandwiches and baked yummies. Or check out some of the top tourist attractions such at Voodoo Doughnut and Blue Star Donuts. Your kids will love you for visiting these sugary havens. Head out on a Saturday morning to find food trucks for incredible bites or visit an outdoor farmers market and then grab some slappy cakes at a local restaurant. The possibilities for Portland fun are endless!