This is a guest post by Catherine Ryan Gregory, writer for To & Fro Fam.
As a travel blogger based in Portland, I get so excited sharing family-friendly things to do in Portland with kids. As a parent of two young children, I also *totally get* that exploring a new place with children can be totally overwhelming. There’s so much to do, see, explore and taste. How to choose?
If you’re heading to Portland, Oregon, I got you! Below are the 7 best things to do in Portland with kids, which I recommend to my friends who travel to my gorgeous, green city. I put together a list that spans outdoor activities, children’s museums, family-friendly restaurants and things to try that you’ll only find in Portland.
If you’re looking for more family travel ideas, take a peek at my travel blog, To & Fro Fam. There, I share recommendations for family-friendly destinations as well as travel hack tips to make it all easier on you.
Take a peek, then, at my favorite things to do in Portland with kids. And please reach out—I’m on all the socials—to let me know which you loved the most.
Open your eyes and you’ll see Portland is a wealth of innovative street art. In fact, the annual Forest for the Trees festival makes it even more mural-rich every year, since it invites renowned street artists to leave their lasting creations on new walls. Walk the Alberta District for many murals within a few blocks of each other, and be prepared to make quick stops for street art photo opps as you drive throughout Portland.
Eat donuts—all the donuts
Portland is wild about donuts. You have so many options to choose from: The totally off-the-wall creations in landmark Voodoo Doughnuts, mini made-to-order donuts from Pip’s Original Doughnuts and gourmet foodie creations from Blue Star Donuts.
Take a hike
Even if you never leave Portland city limits, you can find amazing hikes. In fact, the country’s largest urban park, Forest Park, has roughly 30 miles of trails. My favorite kid-friendly hike is to one of Portland’s weirdest landmarks, a stone ruins in the middle of the forest. You and your kids can pretend to be long-ago kings and queens of a castle!
Play in out-of-the-ordinary parks
This city’s motto is “keep Portland weird,” and the city’s parks subscribe to the idea of weird fun! Westmoreland Park has enormous wooden logs to climb as well as a gigantic sand pit with a water pump. Gateway Discovery Park in Northeast Portland is an inclusive-designed area, which means it’s friendly to kiddos of all abilities and sensory needs. And Khunamokwst Park has STEM-like climbing structures as well as a splash pad designed to resemble a river.
Choose one (or many!) Washington Park destinations
Within a few square miles, you’ll find some of Portland’s most family-friendly attractions: The Oregon Zoo, The Portland Children’s Museum, the Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden and Hoyt Arboretum. Pick one (or a few) of these attractions and you won’t be disappointed. If you choose several, make sure to download the Parking Kitty app, which allows you to add time from your mobile phone, and take the free Washington Park shuttle between the attractions.
Hit up quirky cafes
Portland loves its coffee, and your kids don’t have to be caffeine-lovers to appreciate some of the city’s oddest places to get a cuppa. Head to Tov, a converted double-decker bus; Rimsky House, a dessert-centric café with the world’s weirdest bathroom; or Rose City Book Pub, where it feels like you’re having lunch in a library.
Tour a submarine
OMSI, Portland’s hands-on science museum, is fun in its own right: Kids can play in water, sand, engineering areas and much more. For something out of the ordinary, though, pay a little extra for the tour of the USS Blueback. The decommissioned submarine is permanently parked in the Willamette River, and kids can pretend to be sailors in a real seacraft!
Which of these things to do in Portland with kids are you most excited about?
Catherine Ryan Gregory shares family travel hacks and kid-friendly destinations on her blog To & Fro Fam to help overextended parents spend more time with their kids—with less stress. Follow along!