Free (and Cheap) Summer Family Activities Around Portland

Summer is here and lucky for those of us in the Portland Metro area, that means access to an incredible amount of free, family-friendly festivals, farms, parks, splash pads, and more. We’ve done the legwork for you, the only thing left to do is choose where you’ll go!

freeMusic, Art and Festival Events

Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is the lesser known, red-headed step-child of Portland’s Waterfront Blues Festival. This three-day celebration of soul, R&B, blues, and multiple styles of jazz is in its 36th year. Bring a picnic or buy dinner from the food vendors, listen to great music, and enjoy beautiful views of the St. John’s Bridge. The festival is also a benefit to area food banks so bring your non-perishable food donations, and help feed those in need.

Portland Street Fairs are offered throughout the summer in almost every major neighborhood in the city. Main street closes to cars and transforms into a neighborhood festival of food, entertainment, parades, and fun.

The Smith Berry Barn Berry Festival is a daytime, 4th of July extravaganza. Enjoy desserts made with the farm’s berries, German sausage, live music, berry picking, a treasure hunt, and petting farm for kids, and wine tasting for grown ups. A percentage of the day’s proceeds donated to the American Cancer Society.

Love Shakespeare but can’t make the trip to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon? The Portland Actors Ensemble offers free plays at various parks in Portland and the surrounding area throughout the summer.

Summer Arts on Main in downtown Portland offers a weekly free performance every Wednesday, July through the first week of September from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Enjoy the performance, shop at the outdoor artisan booths, take your kids to the children’s art area, and rub elbows with hundreds of locals and tourists.

Park Activities

The city of Portland offers a staggering amount of concerts and movies throughout the summer. Other city offerings include the free lunch program and moving rock wall for kids, which travel to parks across the city all through the summer. Oh and don’t forget splash pads (aka interactive fountains) and pools!

Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District also offers a range of movies, concerts, and events. Highlights include a family-friendly Pride dance and the annual Party in the Park. While you’re at it, check out events in the cities of Hillsboro, Tigard, Lake Oswego, Vancouver, and Tualatin too.

Gardens and Farms

Fraga Farmstead Creamery in Gales Creek offers a monthly open-farm experience. Visit with the goats and chickens, try some delicious goat cheese, and explore the beautiful grounds.

Lee Farms is a popular year-round destination in Tualatin. The farm has many different farm animals to visit with, U-Pick berries, and a variety of activities on the weekends. Their farm store sells produce, crafts, and house-made treats.

Located in deep SE Portland, Leach Botanical Garden is a hidden wonderland. The garden is filled with hummingbirds, flowers, a bridge crossing Johnson creek, bees, a children’s garden, the occasional beaver sighting, a stone cabin, and the mysterious blue dinosaur.

Luscher Farm in Lake Oswego offers camps, tours, story times, and community gardening. The farm allows for open-exploration activities like feeding the chickens, picking in the vegetable gardens, playing in the kid-friendly dirt beds, or climbing on the antique tractors.

At Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden admission is free on Tuesdays (12 and under always free). The park spans almost ten acres and offers creeks, ducks, flowers, trees, and walking paths.

Summer Reading

Help your kids hold on to all the knowledge they worked hard to learn during the school year by signing them up for summer reading. Both Multnomah and Washington counties offer library programs and host a range of accompanying fun activities and prizes (books, museum passes, therapy llama visits, oh my!)

Beaverton City Library hosts weekly activities for kids of all ages. From jump rope and computer coding to summer crafts, dancing, and hands-on nature experiments, there is something for almost every interest.

Powell’s Books hosts weekly children’s story time most Saturdays at its West Burnside location.

Berry Picking

Lolich’s Family Farm in Beaverton offers no-spray, U-Pick blueberries, local produce and fruit, and two play structures for the kiddos.

The Pumpkin Patch on Sauvie Island is known for their big red animal barn. Over fifty kinds fruits and veggies are sustainably grown on the farm with Food Alliance and USDA G.A.P. certifications, and sold in their market. They also offer U-Pick berries, tomatoes, flowers, and have a cafe with indoor bathrooms.

If you want to know more about U-Pick options in our area check out this massive U-Pick list to find the farm you are looking for!

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