There are many fun things to do for families in Portland, ranging from kid-friendly museums to theme parks. The urban city centre has plenty of spaces for kids to run around in and let off some steam. It's very easy to plan a day out for different ages, and there are also indoor attractions to be enjoyed if the weather is less than favourable in Portland.

    Portland is also surrounded by national forests and parkland, excellent for a family hike and exploring the natural world. Kids are bound to learn something new and exciting when visiting the city. Check out our guide to fun places in Portland to take your kids.

    1

    Oaks Amusement Park

    Entertaining families since 1905

    • Families

    Oaks Amusement Park spans 44 acres on Willamette River, just over 5 miles south of Downtown Portland. It dates back to 1905, making it one of the oldest theme parks in the USA. You can find more than 20 carnival rides, including a Ferris wheel, carousel, roller coasters, and go-karts.

    Families can enjoy a leisurely ride on the Oaks Park Train or tee off at the park’s 18-hole miniature golf course. Oaks Amusement Park also has a roller-skating rink that opens year-round. Outdoor rides are only open between March and September.

    Location: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202, USA

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +1 503-233-5777

    Map

    photo by Tedder (CC BY 3.0) modified

    2

    Portland Children's Museum

    Hands-on, playful learning for kids below 12

    • Families

    The Portland Children's Museum offers over a dozen permanent exhibits for children under 12 to enjoy, along with hands-on workshops and classes. Located in Washington Park, the centre focuses on inquiry-based learning, so kids get to learn about the world through fun yet realistic activities.

    The Maker Studio encourages kids to be creative with recycled materials, while Pet Hospital is excellent for kids to learn about animals. There’s also a live theatre and a 1.3-acre outdoor play area (complete with a child-sized hedge maze). The Portland Children's Museum hosts regular workshops and seasonal camps for those who want to enhance their learning experience in Portland.

    Location: 4015 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, USA

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 503-223-6500

    Map

    photo by Nicholas Wang (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    3

    Forest Park

    Spend a day exploring one of the nation’s great urban parks

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo
    • Budget

    Forest Park is an excellent escape from the bustling city life, situated 20-minutes west of downtown St. Louis. The 1,300-acre park is the beating heart of the city, housing a multitude of museums, a zoo, a golf course, an outdoor amphitheatre, and miles of walking paths.

    Take a stroll through the park to admire the art-deco designed Jewel Box and the scenic Pagoda Lake. It’s a good idea to pack a picnic, as you can lounge on Art Hill before making your way to the St. Louis Art Museum, where you can check out a constant rotation of internationally recognised exhibits. For some family fun, you can check out life on the African savannah with lions and zebras at the St Louis Zoo, which is home to over 19,000 wild animals. The park is open year-round – sledging is a popular pastime during winter.

    Location: 5595 Grand Dr, St. Louis, MO 63112, USA

    Open: Daily from 6 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 314-367-7275

    Map
    4

    PlayDate PDX

    An indoor playground in Pearl Courts

    • Families

    PlayDate PDX is a 7,500-sq-ft centre with interactive activities for kids to enjoy in Portland. It’s fully indoors, housing a 3-storey castle, dance floor with lights, climbing walls, and slides. There's also a separate area for younger kids below 12 years old.

    Free puppet shows take place at Playdate PDX on Fridays at 6.30 pm. Parents can relax at the onsite café, which offers free Wi-Fi, adult beverages and western dishes. You can enjoy free admission if you visit on Mondays after 5 pm.

    Location: 1434 NW 17th Ave, Portland, OR 97209, USA

    Open: Sunday–Thursday from 9 am to 8 pm, Friday–Saturday from 9 am to 9 pm

    Phone: +1 503-227-7529

    Map
    5

    Portland Saturday Market

    Enjoy creative kids' workshops every 1st Sunday of the month

    • Families
    • Shoppers

    The Portland Saturday Market takes place in Tom McCall Waterfront Park every weekend from March to December. This outdoor market is an excellent place to shop for handmade clothes, toys and jewellery, as well as local food products.

    There are also vendors offering henna and face-painting services, as well as live music at the Portland Saturday Market. Families should visit on the 1st Sunday of the month to enjoy free kids' activities, including creative workshops, puppet shows, and science fairs.

    Location: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204, USA

    Open: Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 11 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 503-222-6072

    Map

    photo by Buzzlovestravel (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    International Rose Test Garden

    See 10,000 roses in bloom from May to October

    • Families
    • Couples
    • Photo

    The International Rose Test Garden dates back to 1917, making it one of the oldest gardens in the USA. Portland is nicknamed the ‘City of Roses’, with sunny days and plentiful rainfall creating ideal conditions for these flowers to grow.

    Located in Washington Park, the 4.5-acre garden has over 10,000 roses of 650 species. You can stroll past colourful rose bushes and even rose-covered archways – it’s also a popular photo and date spot in Portland. Entry to the International Rose Test Garden is free year-round, though the best time to see the roses in full bloom is between May and September.

    Location: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA

    Open: Daily from 5 am to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 503-823-3636

    Map
    7

    World Forestry Center

    Learn about various forests around the world

    • Families
    • History

    The World Forestry Center spans 20,000 sq ft of forest-themed exhibits in Portland’s Washington Park, next to Oregon Zoo. You get to learn about the importance of preserving forests around the world through virtual tours, full-scale models, and interactive experiences.

    The first floor focuses on the Pacific Northwest’s forests, with displays ranging from a Timberjack harvester to stuffed wild animals. The People & Forests on the 2nd floor offers a virtual tour of forest types in Siberia, China, South Africa, and the Amazon. Outside, you can climb aboard and take photos of Peggy, a 42-tonne steam locomotive from 1909.

    Location: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, USA

    Phone: +1 503-228-1367

    Map

    photo by EncMstr (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    8

    Quarterworld Arcade

    Enjoy classic and modern arcade games

    • Families

    Quarterworld is a retro-style arcade that specialises in pinball, along with over 60 classic and modern games. Parents can get a sense of nostalgia by playing old-school favourites such as Donkey Kong and Asteroids.

    A highlight of Quarterworld is its musical Tesla Coil, which plays songs using electrical bolts. Shows take place on Sundays and Tuesdays, at 4 pm and 9 pm. The arcade also has an onsite lounge where you can relax with a drink and/or light snacks. You can find Quarterworld in Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard, around 1.8 miles east of Mount Tabor Park.

    Location: 4811 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97215, USA

    Phone: +1 503-548-2923

    Map

    photo by Tedder (CC BY 4.0) modified

    9

    Oregon Zoo

    Visit over 2,600 animals from around the world

    • Families

    Oregon Zoo is home to over 2,600 animals from almost every continent, making it a great place to learn about wildlife. Established in 1888, the 64-acre zoo is in Washington Park, close to notable Portland landmarks like Hoyt Arboretum and Portland Children’s Museum.

    Must-sees include Asian elephants, Siberian tigers, and Humboldt penguins. The zoo also hosts seasonal activities throughout the year, such as Rabbit Romp in spring and Howloween in October. One of its most popular events is the wintertime ZooLights, which sees 1.5 million LED lights decorating the zoo’s trees, sculptures, train and carousel.

    Location: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, USA

    Phone: +1 503-226-1561

    Map
    10

    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

    A hands-on approach to science

    • Families

    The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a super cool place to explore, whether you’re travelling with or without kids. Otherwise known as the OMSI, the interactive museum has 5 halls and 8 different labs where you can get hands-on with the exhibits. You’ll have fun learning new and exciting elements of chemistry, physics, palaeontology and more.

    The OMSI aims to promote a sustainable society and uses its exhibitions to educate people on how to use modern day skills such as critical thinking and problem solving. While you’re there, visit the on-site IMAX theatre and planetarium, or head back in the evening for one of the OMSI After Dark events.

    Location: OMSI, 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214, USA

    Open: Tuesday–Sunday from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm (closed on Mondays)

    Phone: +1 503-797-4000

    Map

    photo by M.O. Stevens (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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