Plenty of families are leaving the Southern California heat and traffic, and trading it in for a vacation in Oregon’s cooler temps and dense forests. If you’re a Golden State native like my family and me, you may audibly gasp when you cross the state line and find yourself in a lush, green paradise. Things to remember on your trip to Oregon—don’t try and pump your gas, there’s no sales tax, and a less than 50% chance of rain means a 100% chance of light rain. Oregon is beautiful year round, but no matter the season you decide to visit in, don’t forget your raincoat and sense of adventure.
Portland is well-known for being LGBTQ inclusive and also boasts an abundance of kid-friendly activities, making it the must-visit destination for all families.
Where to Stay
Portland offers some family-friendly hotels. Residence Inn in Downtown Portland is great for families who need spacious living quarters. They have more families book with them than solo travelers and couples combined. The Residence Inn has an indoor pool and jacuzzi, to keep little ones occupied during downtime. Each room has a kitchenette and microwave, which can help large families save money on meals and snacks during vacation. They also serve a buffet breakfast to help get your family gets ready for a busy day of exploration.
Another great option is the Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites in NW Downtown. This hotel is close to the hustle and bustle of 23rd Street and kid-friendly Washington Park. This hotel offers free breakfast and coffee each morning, great for sleepless nights. The rooms also come with a mini fridge and microwave, perfect for enjoying leftovers. Another perk of this hotel: heated indoor pool for those chilly Oregon days.
One of the family’s favorite neighborhoods in Portland is Nob Hill, home to 23rd Street. The street is an ideal place where parents and kids stroll, shop, and savor some delicious food. Great places to eat in the area include Salt and Straw, the famous Portland—born ice cream shop featuring flavors like Chocolate Gooey Brownie, Honey Lavender, and Cinnamon Snickerdoodle. Little Big Burger has a small but mighty menu, featuring a hamburger, cheeseburger, and veggie burger. Plan a family get together at Fireside, where you can reserve a whole dining room for your party of 14 or more and eat family style!
East of 23rd Street is the Northwest Children’s Theatre and School. It is one of the largest children’s theatre companies on the West Coast, and they put on five major shows a year. If you have a young, aspiring actor in your family, check out this theatre for some exciting and kid-friendly entertainment.
In Washington Park you’ll find, The Oregon Zoo is 64-acres of fun, and home to 215 animal and over 1,000 plant species. There are 23 exhibits throughout the zoo including Cougar Crossing, Elephant Lands, and Black Bear Ridge. Also, the best part about the zoo for young families is that children 2 and under are free.
Steps from the zoo is the Portland Children’s Museum, where using everyday materials and objects to build hands-on learning opportunities for children, is encouraged. Exhibits include a Theatre, Maker Studio, and Pet Hospital. Children under one are free.
Although this neighborhood’s name is a bit ironic for a town that only has 144 sunny days a year, it’s sure to bring some light into your life! Located in northeast Portland, this area has lots of fun activities and places to eat for all ages. Laurelhurst Park is the perfect place for an active family to spend an afternoon. You can have a picnic, play some horseshoe, kick a soccer ball, or take a hike on paved paths, which is perfect for little ones new to walking!
Escape the rain, head over to Electric Castle’s Wunderland Cinema and Nickel Games. This theatre and arcade have plenty of movies and games to keep children 5 and over occupied for hours.
Breweries for the Family
Just because you brought the kids along, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on Portland’s rich craft brewery scene. There are multiple family-friendly breweries throughout PDX that will keep your kids entertained while the adults enjoy a cold one.
Laurelwood Brewing Co. is proud to be “the place where friends and family meet” and they prove it by having a space designated for toddlers to play. Hopworks Urban Brewery has play areas, fantastic kids’ menu, and delicious pizza.
No matter what you choose to do in Portland with your kids, you are sure to learn, explore, and enjoy the outdoors as a family.