15 Free and Cheap Things to Do With Kids in Portland

Published Jan 17, 2020

Taking the kids to do fun things doesn't always have to break the bank. Here are 15 free and cheap things to do with kids in Portland. 

1. Spend a morning or afternoon at a craft or farmers market

Portland has tons of farmers markets that are taking place throughout the summer and into the fall. And of course, there's the infamous Portland Saturday Market, where you can browse through craft and art stalls, listen to local musicians, and munch on some delicious bites. 

Portland Saturday Market - Saturdays 10:00am-5:00pm & Sundays 11:00am-4:30pm, February 29 to December 20

Kenton Farmers Market - Every Wednesday from June 3 to September 30, 3:00-7:00pm

PSU Farmers Market - Open year round on Saturdays (November to March 9:00am-2:00pm, April to October 8:30am-2:00pm)

Lents International Farmers Market - Every Sunday from June 7 to November 29, 9:00am-2:00pm

King Farmers Market - Every Sunday from May 3 to November 29, 10:00am to 2:00pm

Shemanski Park Market - Every Wednesday from May 6 to October 28, 10:00am to 2:00pm


2. Visit Pioneer Courthouse Square 

Portland's urban park hosts 300 community events each year, many of which are FREE. Head over to the Square for summer concerts, outdoor movies, Bloomfest, and other great community events.


Photo Credit: Pioneer Courthouse Square


3. Take a walk through Hoyt Arboretum 

Hoyt Arboretum, Portland's museum of living trees, is home to over 6,000 trees and 12 miles of trails. The grounds are open 365 days a year from 5am to 10pm and are free to the public. Visit the Arboretum for one of their Family Bird Walks that take place every second Saturday of the month April through October at 10:00am. 


4. Walk around the grounds of Pittock Mansion

Explore the Pittock Mansion's beautiful property in the West Hills of Portland, and learn the history of  Henry and Georgina Pittock, the mansion's original owners. Admission for adults is $12, and kids under 6 are always free. 


5. Dive into a book at free story times around the city 

Many places around Portland host free kids' story times. Story times are a great way for kids to improve their literacy and concentration, get excited about reading, and interact with other kids their age. Here are some of the places that offer free story times:

Powell's City of Books 

Aloha Community Library 

Green Bean Books

Story Time with Olive and Dingo

Photo Credit: Green Bean Books


6. Drop into the Historic Belmont Firehouse 

Every Wednesday from 9:00am to 3:00pm, the Historic Belmont Lighthouse is open for families to tour at no charge. Learn about the firehouse's history and take a ride down the fire pole. You can also visit the firehouse every second Saturday of the month from 9:00am to 3:00pm for "Safety Saturday."


7. Get lost in Washington Park

There's a never-ending list of things to do in Washington Park. Spend a day walking through the park, take the kids to the playground at the Elephant house, or visit the International Rose Test Garden. 


8. Watch a free outdoor movie 

Throughout the summer, Portland Parks and Recreation and Pioneer Courthouse Square host free outdoor movies, and at some screenings there's free popcorn! Check out our Summer Outdoor Movie Guide for all of the upcoming outdoor movies.


9. Get techie at a free Apple workshop 

Apple stores across the country host free in-store workshops for people who (like me) have an Apple device (iPhone, iPad, Mac, etc.) but don't know how to use it to its full potential. They have workshops specifically geared to kids and ones for the entire family. Check out upcoming workshops at Apple at Pioneer Place.


10. Play with thousands of LEGOs

Visit Aloha Community library for Free Lego Play one Wednesday each month. They provide all of the LEGOs you could ever ask for and all you have to do is create!



11. Go on a family hike

One of the best things about living in Portland is our proximity to so many nature parks and great hikes. We've compiled a list of some of top kid-friendly hikes in and around Portland. Try your best to do all of them! 


12. Learn and explore at OMSI

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry houses some of the world's best state-of-the-art science exhibits. On the first Sunday of every month, admission is only $2 per person for all of the museum's permanent exhibits and only $5 for Submarine Tours, Theater, and Planetarium shows.  


13. Bowl a strike at Grand Central Bowling or KingPins

For the first time ever, select bowling centers around the country are participating in the Kids Bowl Free program, which is designed to give kids a safe, secure, and fun way to spend their summer. Kids ages 2-15 get up to two games free each day during the summer at Grand Central Bowling and KingPins. But don't let kids have all the fun! Take the entire family for a round or two of bowling. Who will bowl the first strike? 


Photo Credit: Grand Central Bowling 


14. Learn about Oregon's railroad history

Oregon has a fascinating railroad history. Visit the Oregon Rail Heritage Center on Thursdays and Fridays from 1:00 to 5:00pm and Saturday and Sunday from 12:00 to 5:00pm to explore an exhibit or get up close to their big locomotives on a guided tour. Admission is free but donations are greatly appreciated! 


15. Play for free on Mondays at PlayDate PDX

PlayDate PDX is an indoor playground with a three-story play structure, climbing wall, four slides, and lots of crawling activities for kids up to 12 years old. Every Monday after 5pm kids play for free! And parents always get in for free—there's a large space for parents to relax, drink beer and wine, and eat some snacks. 



Have fun trying out these budget-friendly activities! Still looking for more fun things to do with kids in Portland? No problem. Scroll through our Events page to see all of the upcoming happenings and activities for kids and families. 


Sarah Lindquist
By Sarah Lindquist
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