Portland is a kid-friendly city with beautiful green parks, diverse attractions and fun activities, perfect for a weekend getaway filled with new adventures. Ride the Aerial Tram to get a unique view of the city from above, snack on fresh fruit at the farmers market, see rare animals at the zoo, and spend an afternoon at the world-renowned Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. On a sunny day, a picnic in Washington Park, followed by a mouthwatering dessert at a local café or bakery are some of the best things to do in Portland with kids.
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1. Oregon Zoo
© Oregon Zoo / Photo by Michael Durham
Formerly known as the Washington Park Zoo, the Oregon Zoo is home to over 2,000 animals that reside in a variety of habitats across 64 acres of land. Founded in 1888, the zoo is one of Portland’s greatest attractions and has millions of visitors every year.
The zoo is renowned for its excellent species survival plans, which include successful breeding programs for the endangered Californian condor, Asian elephant, and African lion. Regional exhibits allow visitors to explore different parts of the world -such as the rainforests of Africa and Amazonia, the Great Northwest, and the plains of the Serengeti - and learn about the animals that reside in them.
The zoo hosts a variety of summer shows, presentations and educational workshops for both adults and children; winter sees the production of ZooLights, a fantastic holiday light show.
4001 SW Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon 97221, Phone: 503-226-1561
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2. World Forestry Center
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Located in Portland’s Washington Park, the World Forestry Center is a 20,000-square-foot museum that focuses on the importance of trees and forests and on the vital role environmental sustainability plays in today’s society.
One of Portland’s icons since 1971, the outstanding Discovery Museum was built in a dramatic Cascadian architectural style and features a wealth of hands-on exhibits, interactive displays and educational presentations for all ages. Visitors can see the forest from a bird's-eye view and learn about various cultures and tribes who rely on the forest for their survival.
They can enjoy a “wet-free” raft ride through the woods, or “travel” to Brazil, China, South Africa or Russia to see how other regions manage their forestry systems and the challenges they face. Explore the importance of the Pacific Northwest’s forests and how these forests provide habitats, water and wood for the region.
4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, Oregon 97221, Phone: 503-228-1367
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3.Portland Aerial Tram
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Adventurous travelers can see Portland from the air with an unforgettable aerial tram experience. The Portland Aerial Tram operates 500 feet above the city, allowing passengers to soak up magnificent views.
The tram departs from the South Waterfront and travels 3,300 feet up to Marquam Hill, where an upper deck with an outdoor patio boasts unrivaled views of downtown Portland. The summit of Marquam Hill is a protected natural area and features several walking trails, so visitors can enjoy a hike through the forest.
There’s also the Summit Espresso coffee shop, which serves light meals, snacks, and drinks to enjoy against the backdrop of some of the city’s most spectacular surroundings. The tram consists of two cabins, has a seating capacity of 79 people, and operates on a “load and go” system. Departures are every few minutes.
3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Rd., Portland, Oregon 97239, Phone: 503-494-8283
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4. Portland Children's Museum
© Portland Children's Museum
The Portland Children’s Museum aims to transform children’s learning experiences through discovery and exploration of the arts and sciences. Featuring a variety of interactive, hands-on and tactile displays, exhibits and presentations, the museum encourages children to think, imagine, create, design, and invent as methods of learning.
Permanent exhibits at the museum include Building Bridgetown, Pet Hospital, Outdoor Adventure, and Water Works. Both adults and children can expect hours of fun-filled learning adventures. The museum offers special birthday packages, catering for special events, field trips, group excursions, educational programs and summer camps.
The Portland Children’s Museum also provides a variety of workshops for teachers and adults. The museum is one of the top Portland, Oregon attractions for families.
4015 SW Canyon Road, Portland, Oregon 97221, Phone: 503-223-6500
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The world-renowned Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the top science centers in the United States. OMSI’s aim is to inspire curiosity and encourage experimentation and the exchange of ideas through engaging scientific learning experiences.
With five vast exhibit halls housing hundreds of interactive displays, exhibits, presentations and educational programs, this science center sees more than a million visitors a year. OMSI is home to the the USS Blueback, the last non-nuclear-powered submarine built by the U.S. Navy. The Blueback is open for public tours.
The museum also features the Kendall Planetarium, where visitors can get an up-close look at the universe around us. If you are wondering what to see in Portland with kids who love science, this is a great place to visit. Eight fantastic hands-on science labs offer an array of earth science, engineering and nutrition activities, such as “Forest Puzzles,” “Everybody Eats,” and “Engineer It!,” and visitors can take in science- and discovery-themed films at the beautiful Empirical Theater.
1945 SE Water Ave., Portland, Oregon 97214, Phone: 503-797-4000
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6. Pine State Biscuits
© Pine State Biscuits
Take the freshest local ingredients straight from the farm, add a dash of old-fashioned Southern goodness and a splash of Portland foodie sensibility, and you have the unrivaled Pine State Biscuits.
After Pine State Biscuits made its first appearance at the Portland Farmers Market in 2006, founders Walt, Kevin, and Brian went on to open a small shop on Belmont Avenue and haven’t looked back since. Featuring breakfast, lunch and dinner every day of the week, the menu includes creamy buttermilk biscuits served with an array of delicious toppings, fried chicken, generous portions of bacon and eggs, sausage or mushroom gravy, and a variety of grits and preserves.
Pine State Biscuits can be found at the Portland Farmers Market as well as on NE Alberta and in Southeast.
2204 NE Alberta St, Portland, Oregon 97211, Phone: 503-477-6605
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7.Floating World Comics
© Floating World Comics
Floating World Comics is a delightful bookstore in downtown Portland that specializes in comic books of all kinds. You will always find a crowd of readers, artists, book lovers, and geeks browsing through their packed shelves and tables heaving with comic books for the kids in all of us – old and new, self-published and classic, rare and those sold by pound. If you come on Wednesday, you can go through a fresh batch of all genre comics – superhero, crime, drama, horror, humor, romance, sci-fi, action, fantasy, and adventure. Explore the literary section with new authors or the all ages section with contemporary and classic children’s books and graphic novels. Browse through the selection of self-published, small press, underground, and international comics. You can even bring your own comic and try to sell it there. It might be the only comic book store in downtown Portland, but it is considered one of the best in the country, and for good reason.
400 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209, Phone: 503-241-0227
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© Tiffin Asha
It was inevitable. What was once a popular Indian food cart now has a new home in Vernon, Portland, with an open kitchen, a small, bright dining room with wooden tables, an original Indian three-wheeled rickshaw taxi as decor, and an expanded menu of their famous kebabs, lentil dishes, and coconut and rice pancakes. You can still find their signature Hot Chick, a sweet-salty-sour chicken pakora-stuffed dosa with black cardamom honey and pickled kale. The best way to sample the menu is by ordering the Tiffin's Trilogy, another mainstay from the cart. It is made of crisp paper dosa, puffy snow-white idli cakes, and a short pyramid of vada holes. Vada holes are savory doughnut holes made from dal and dusted in coconut-chili fleur de sel. The dish is served with a lentil stew (sambar) and chutney.
1670 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211, Phone: 503-936-7663
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9.The Portland Farmers Market
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The Portland Farmers Market is an organization that runs seven different vibrant farmers markets and fresh produce markets in and around Portland. Established in 1992, the organization began with one small market in a parking lot in Albers Mill.
It has since grown into a group of seven markets, featuring over 200 vendors selling a variety of farm-fresh products and handcrafts. Innovation meets industry in all seven of the markets, which are located all over the city: Portland State University, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Shemanski Park, and in the Buckman, Northwest, Kenton, and King neighborhoods.
The flagship market is at Portland State University. The campus is an attractive setting for the market, which buzzes with over 140 stalls and vendors selling fresh produce, homemade and hot foods. Market-goers can also enjoy chef demonstrations, kids’ cooking classes, market music and a selection of food presentations and tastings.
240 N Broadway Suite 129, Portland, Oregon 97227, Phone: 503-241-0032
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Voodoo Doughnut is all about the super-sweet, sugar-coated treats the shop is named for. Founded by Kenneth "Cat Daddy" Pogson and Tres Shannon, who wanted to bring something different to Portland, Voodoo Doughnut has five stores around the city and serves a selection of delicious doughnuts with various toppings.
These toppings include berries, buttermilk, banana cream, sprinkles, chocolate and sugar. Voodoo also serves apple fritters and the famous Voodoo Doughnut Doll. Voodoo Doughnut caters for special occasions like birthdays, weddings and anniversaries.
22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, Oregon 97204, Phone: 503-241-4704
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One of the oldest and most enjoyed parks in Portland, Washington Park is visited every year by thousands of people who come for its beautiful green landscapes and gardens, myriad attractions and activities, and 15 miles of winding trails on which to walk, jog, run or bike.
The park features a variety of attractions and fun things to do for the whole family, from outdoor adventures to cultural explorations. Visit the Oregon Zoo, which is home to nearly 2,000 animals living in five major ecosystems, or spend a few hours learning about the arts and sciences with the kids at the Children’s Museum.
Hike one of the many forest trails that crisscross the park, or enjoy an outdoor summer at the Washington Park Amphitheater or the Oregon Zoo. Stroll through the Portland Japanese Garden or the Hoyt Arboretum and soak up the wonderful peace and tranquility that surrounds you.
4033 SW Canyon Rd., Portland, Oregon 97221, Phone: 503-319-0999
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12.Grand Central Baking Company
© Grand Central Baking Company
Grand Central Baking Company is an acclaimed American bakery chain offering locations throughout the Pacific Northwest, including a beautiful location in Portland's Beaumont Village neighborhood. The chain was founded in 1972 within the Grand Central Building in Seattle, opened by Gwyneth Bassetti and rebranded to its current name in 1989. Today, its rustic artisan loaves have been recognized by international publications like Travel and Leisure, Saveur, and The Seattle Times, regularly named as one of America's greatest bakeries. Classic and seasonal sandwiches are served up throughout the week, crafted with the bakery's signature slow-fermented, hearth-baked breads. Sandwich options range from traditional favorites like tuna melts and vegetarian grinders to decadent specialties like the Green Goat, crafted with local chevre, roasted beets, and hazelnut-parsley pesto.
1154, 4440 NE Fremont St, Portland, OR 97213, Phone: 503-808-9877
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© Virtuous Pie
What can be better a lunch combo than pizza and ice cream? How about vegan and non-dairy pizza and ice cream? Virtuous Pie is a lovely, spacious, bright place on Portland’s trendy Division Street that sells interesting plant-based pizzas and ice cream that has no cream in it but still tastes great. They are doing a great job of convincing their non-vegan customers that plant-based is not only good for you and supports a healthy planet but can be delicious as well. Virtuous Pie is a fun place to hang out, with giant green monsteras, long communal tables, and a long café counter made from reclaimed ancient Douglas fir. The thin-crust, piping hot pizza crust comes topped with such interesting ingredients as truffle almond ricotta, sauce arrabbiata, or cashew mozzarella. Most ingredients are made fresh, in-house. Their meatballs are made from soyrizo, gluten-free flour, red wine, and nutritional yeast.
1126 SE Division St #200, Portland, OR 97202, USA, Phone: 503-334-2073
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Cartlandia is a bike-centric food cart court in Portland, located near the junction of SE 82nd Street and the Springwater Corridor Bike Trail. More than 30 delicious food carts serve up international delicacies seven days a week, with individual carts offering individual schedules throughout the day. Carts range from El Salvadorean pupuseria La Miguelena and Hidalgo-style Mexican joint Mis Abuelos, which serves up unique dishes such as corn-masa tlacoyos, to Laotian-Thai fusion cart Kesone Asian Fusion and Middle Eastern-style cart Al Mustafah. Airstream coffee shops are also featured, including Bee's Cakes and Coffee, which serves up espresso-based beverages and a variety of baked goods. Cartlandia diners can also enjoy full bar service at the Blue Room Bar, which offers indoor restrooms and 12 taps of local craft beers.
8145 SE 82nd Ave, Portland, OR 97266, Phone: 310-704-9796
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15.Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
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The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a breathtakingly beautiful site that offers year-round recreation and outdoor activities. The spectacular geological wonder of the Columbia River Gorge lies at the heart of this area and is bisected by the mighty Columbia River, the second largest river in North America, and dotted with beautiful waterfalls and natural pools.
This magnificent area offers an array of outdoor activities, including hiking and mountain biking on the many trails around the area, camping, bird watching, and stunning photography opportunities. The Colombia River is perfect for whitewater rafting, windsurfing, kayaking, and kiteboarding, while clear winter days provide ideal opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing.
There are also plenty of fun things to see and do indoors, from world-class museums and wine tasting to excellent shopping and dining experiences.
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16.Oaks Amusement Park
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Oaks Park offers over 20 rides, including toddler-friendly options, as well as America's largest roller skating rink.
Kids can brave the three-track Big Pink Slide, ride the historic Carousel which dates back to 1911, go on a classic bumper car ride, ride the Ferris Wheel, drive Go Carts, brave a 360-degree loop roller coaster, enjoy the view from a hot air balloon that spins, or go on an easy, scenic train ride through the park.
Play a round of mini golf, test your skills in the roller rink, and have a picnic with a view of the water. Read more
7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, Oregon 97202, Phone: 503-233-5777
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Portland’s 5,000-acre Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the United States and a favorite place for Portlanders to escape the city and enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities. Protected by the Forest Park Conservancy, the park stretches along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains with magnificent views of the convergence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Forest Park boasts more than 80 miles of soft, easy walking and hiking trails, forest roads and fire lanes. Forest Park is open every day and offers a variety of trails ideal for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. While fishing and hunting are prohibited, there are wonderful opportunities for bird and wildlife watching. Forest Park also hosts organized runs, hikes, and other outdoor events throughout the year.
210 NW 17th Ave. Suite 201, Portland, Oregon 97209, Phone: 503-223-5449
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17 Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon with Kids
- Oregon Zoo, Photo: Oregon Zoo / Photo by Michael Durham
- World Forestry Center, Photo: Courtesy of www.travelportland com
- Portland Aerial Tram, Photo: Courtesy of jpldesigns - Fotolia.com
- Portland Children's Museum, Photo: Portland Children's Museum
- OMSI, Photo: Courtesy of www.travelportland.com
- Pine State Biscuits, Photo: Pine State Biscuits
- Floating World Comics, Photo: Floating World Comics
- Tiffin Asha, Photo: Tiffin Asha
- The Portland Farmers Market, Photo: Courtesy of desros - Fotolia.com
- Voodoo Doughnut, Photo: Courtesy of Melpomene - Fotolia.com
- Washington Park, Photo: Courtesy of pngstudio - Fotolia.com
- Grand Central Baking Company, Photo: Grand Central Baking Company
- Virtuous Pie, Photo: Virtuous Pie
- Cartlandia, Photo: Cartlandia
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Photo: Courtesy of sara_winter - Fotolia.com
- Oaks Amusement Park, Photo: Courtesy bravissimos - Fotolia.com
- Forest Park , Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Josemaria Toscano - Fotolia.co
More About Portland
One of the most well-known cities in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is the largest city in the state of Oregon and the 26th most populous city in the United States. It’s well-known as a major transport and commercial hub for the area and is regarded as one of the most progressive and friendly cities to live and visit in America. Portland is a huge city, covering an area of approximately 145 square miles in total and housing an estimated 650,000 people. Over 2.5 million people live in the surrounding Portland metropolitan area.
Situated at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland is located in the Willamette Valley and has a rich history. It was named after Portland, Maine, which was named after a small isle called Portland in Great Britain. The city was founded in 1845 and incorporated in 1851. It began as a small settlement but grew with incredible speed due to its key location on the Oregon Trail. Portland was, and still is, regarded as a prime transportation center for the United States and has always been one of the most active port cities in North America.
In the past, crime was rife in Portland and the city was seen as quite a dangerous place, but its reputation has greatly softened over the years. In the modern era, Portland is actually seen as one of the most welcoming and socially progressive major cities of the United States, making huge efforts to protect the environment while also providing a safe and welcoming atmosphere for residents and visitors of all backgrounds. The city is also a key tourist destination for the Pacific Northwest region.
Elevation of Portland
When looking at the geographical data and statistics of any town or city, elevation is a key term that can be very important. Elevation tells us how high an area is in relation to sea level. Most major cities around the United States are situated at quite low elevations below 500 feet (152 m) due to their coastal locations and Portland is a prime example. The elevation of Portland is just 50 feet (15 m) above sea level. Other major port cities around the United States, like New York City, have similarly low elevations.
When compared to the rest of its home state, Portland’s elevation is very low. Statistically speaking, Oregon is the ninth highest state in all of America, with a mean elevation of 3,300 feet (1,010 m) above sea level. Terrain varies greatly around Oregon, with some mountainous regions and some areas that are a lot flatter and lower in elevation. Even in Portland, this variation can be seen; the city’s highest point is situated at 9936 NW Wind Ridge Drive, which has an elevation of 1,188 feet (362 m), while Portland’s lowest point is part of the Columbia River that has an elevation of just 0.6 feet (0.19 m).
The highest point in all of Oregon is Mount Hood, which is found in the Cascade Volcanic range in and has an elevation of 11,249 feet (3429 m), while the lowest point of Oregon is the Pacific Ocean, which is at sea level. Other major cities in Oregon include the state capital of Salem, which has a relatively low elevation of 154 feet (47 m) and Bend, which has an elevation of 3,623 feet (1,104.3 m).
Climate and Things to Do in Portland, Oregon
The city of Portland, Oregon has a temperate climate with average temperatures that are relatively warm, especially when compared to other locations around the Pacific Northwest. Portland residents enjoy quite warm and dry summers with average highs of 81°F (27°C) through the hottest months of July and August, with cool and rainy winters in which the temperatures can drop as low 35°F (2°C) in December and January. The city sees a reasonable amount of rain and can witness some light snowfall during the coldest months.
As it’s such a major city, Portland offers a lot of different activities and attractions for residents and visitors of all kinds. Whether you’re looking to catch a live show, visit a museum, participate in a sporting activity, or something else altogether, you’ll find a lot of options in Portland. The town is home to various live entertainment and sporting venues, along with many unique attractions like a zoo and planetarium. A lot of green spaces and cycling trails can also be found all around Portland, allowing residents and tourists to move around without the need for cars or public transportation.