The beautiful Pacific Northwest is ready to welcome visiting families! Known for its lush natural beauty, fine cuisine, and unique culture, Portland (and its surrounding areas) is also PACKED with family fun. Make the most of your trip with these recommendations!
*Tip: Portland’s rainy reputation may have you thinking about indoor activities—of which there are plenty. But Portland summers are generally dry. And don’t rule out the outdoor fun if the forecast calls for showers. Most of our rainy days are mainly just cloudy with light rain on and off and can still be enjoyed with a decent jacket and waterproof shoes or boots.
Featuring nearly 300 local artisans sharing their various skills and handmade goods, this is the largest open-air arts and crafts market in the country. Located in Portland’s North Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza, it’s open Saturdays and Sundays from March through December.
Tour the mansion for a fascinating history lesson, or simply walk the grounds (for free) on a clear day to catch stunning views of the cityscape, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens.
This amusement park on Portland’s southeast waterfront offers thrill rides, kiddie rides, family rides, midway games, roller skating, and mini golf.
There is plenty to do for kids and grown-ups at this museum, which includes exhibit halls, hands-on science labs, a submarine, planetarium, and theater.
You’re missing out if you don’t spend at least a day or two outside the city limits. Top day trips include:
Oregon Coast: Cannon Beach or Seaside are both an easy drive from Portland and are great for first time coastal visitors. *Tip: The Oregon Coast is generally cool and breezy – even in the summer. Be sure to dress appropriately.
Columbia River Gorge: Take in the stunning scenery and variety of outdoor recreation opportunities of the Columbia River Gorge. The most popular attraction in this region is Multnomah Falls, Oregon’s tallest waterfall.
Mt. Hood: While it is a fantastic winter ski destination, Mt. Hood offers family recreation year round. Adventure Park at Skibowl has more than 20 different attractions including a half mile long alpine slide, zip lines, and a 2,400 square foot kids play zone. Also, visit the legendary Timberline Lodge (a National Historic Landmark) and while you’re there, hop aboard the Magic Mile Sky Ride.
While a car will get you anywhere you want to go, you should definitely give Portland’s robust public transportation system a try. TriMet serves the entire metro area and includes the popular MAX Light Rail, which will take you to nearly every popular attraction. You can also hop aboard the Portland Streetcar or the Portland Aerial Tram. Tri-Met offers 2½-Hour Tickets, 1-Day Passes and 7-Day Passes.
Where to Stay
The majority of local attractions are near downtown or the waterfront. There are also family-friendly hotel options near PDX airport. Personally, I never book a hotel without reading reviews, so check out the Best Kid-Friendly Hotels in Portland for family-friendly reviews of area hotels.
Grabbing a meal from one of Portland’s 500+ Food Carts is a must. Other iconic Portland establishments include Salt & Straw Ice Cream and Blue Star Donuts (which I find to be more family-friendly than the more touristy VooDoo Doughnut). Also, brunch is a big deal in Portland, so be prepared for long waits at many Portland eateries during the mid-morning (particularly on Sundays). For an overall good family dining experience, try these:
- Hopworks Urban Brewery: A brewpub for the grownups with a play area for the kids!
- Old Town Pizza: Why? Because it’s haunted!
- Laughing Planet Café: (multiple locations) Fresh and healthy food in a fun and creative atmosphere that includes dinosaurs on the tables.
- Burgerville: (multiple locations) A regional fast-food chain that features sustainable, local ingredients, as well as vegetarian-fed and antibiotic-free beef.
- John’s Incredible Pizza: (Beaverton) Enjoy food, games and rides (located across from the Washington Square Mall).
- The Old Spaghetti Factory: Kids love the old trolley car inside, and grownups love the picturesque waterfront views.
- Or, check out our list of 20 Places Kids Eat Free (or Cheap) in Portland
Don’t leave Oregon without doing some shopping, especially because there is NO sales tax! Throughout the city you’ll find plenty of indie boutiques and mom and pop shops as well as big name brands. Check out Powell’s City of Books (located in the Pearl District) for a true Portland shopping attraction, or head to the largest shopping mall in the state, Lloyd Center, which includes an indoor ice rink.
Other shopping destinations within 30 min of Portland include:
- Washington Square Mall (Beaverton)
- Bridgeport Village (Tigard)
- Streets of Tanasbourne (Hillsboro)
- Woodburn Premium Outlets (Woodburn)
Portland truly is a great family destination with plenty of variety, culture, adventure, education, and fun. Come and experience it for yourself!
Do you have other recommendations for visiting Portland with kids? Want to add your review for any of the places mentioned above? Add your comment below!