What to do with your kids this summer in Portland

Published Dec 31, 2019 | Updated Feb 19, 2020

Ten fun ideas to try with the kids. From cool upcoming events, to simple ways to enjoy the city during the summer months.

If you're new in town or are considering visiting Portland during the summer, rest assured that there is no shortage of family-friendly activities in the City of Roses. Portland has numerous parks and festivals, and opportunities for outdoor recreation are abundant. Following is a list of just ten family-friendly venues that Portland has to offer—you and your family are bound to find many more fun things to do, but this will provide you with a good start.

1. The Portland Ariel Tram is a thrilling ride that offers kids and adults a bird's eye view of the city. Although it was built as a commuter tram, visitors to Portland, as well as many locals, can't resist taking a ride. It runs between Portland's South Waterfront District to Marquam Hill, where the Oregon Health & Science University is located. The three-minute ride covers one mile.

Photo Credit: Portland Aerial Tram

2. Jamison Square, tucked away in the Pearl District among high-rise condo buildings, is where parents take their kids when days are sunny and warm. Children love to splash in the fountains, and it's safe for them to do so because the water that flows through them is constantly recycled. Jamison Square features free evening concerts and has tables and chairs available for picnics.

3. The classic Oaks Amusement Park is tucked away in a corner of the southeastern part of the city, giving the feeling of a county fair in a semi-rural location. In fact, Oaks Amusement Park also hosts the Multnomah County Fair at the beginning of each summer. Besides the usual outdoor thrill rides, Oaks Amusement Park features a large roller rink that is open year round.

4. Covering over 5,000 acres, Portland's Forest Park is a true urban forest that features its own intact, vibrant ecosystem, making it possible for parents and children to spend the day interacting with nature without having to leave the city limits. Along with guided hikes and events, Forest Park offers miles of soft-surface trails for day hikes and biking. Forest Park is open every day from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. and is a designated city park.

Photo Credit: Forest Park Conservancy

5. Visit the Portland Saturday MarketThe quintessential Portland experience, the Portland Saturday market features tons of activities for kids, such as games, demonstrations, crafts, puppet shows, face painting, plays, and more. The market is open from March through December. It's possible to spend an entire day at the Saturday market without anyone in the family getting bored, and there are plenty of places to sit and relax while enjoying artisan street food and cold beverages.

6. Have a thrilling experience and see Portland from the Willamette River with Willamette Jetboat Excursions. You'll be taken on a one-, two-, or three-hour tour along the Willamette River to see amazing views of Portland, wildlife, and a waterfall, all while getting absolutely soaked. You'll also learn fascinating facts about Portland and its history. 

7. Visit Washington ParkCentrally located, Washington Park features one of the best playgrounds in the entire city of Portland. With over 130 acres of lawns, gardens, picnic areas, tennis courts, ball fields, and trails, this park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Children's Museum, and the World Forestry Center. Washington Park is the home of many festivals and events during the summer season.

Photo Credit: Explore Washington Park

8. Have some fun at the Division Clinton Street Fair. Held annually on the last Saturday in July, the Division Clinton Street Fair is a piece of Portland that no family should miss. Colorful, vibrant, and fun, the fair features children's activities and games, as well as delicious street food, art, and entertainment. Even though the fair is attended by people from all parts of the city, as well as visitors to Portland, it nonetheless retains an authentic neighborhood ambiance.

9. Splash in the poll or try roller skating at Mt. Scott Community CenterOne of the best-kept secrets of local families, the Mt. Scott community offers a variety of activities suitable for people of all ages. Swimming lessons and open swims are available in the indoor pool, and the facility also features a six-lane pool designated for laps. There is a large outdoor playground and an indoor rolling skating rink. Mt. Scott also offers a variety of classes.

10. Rainy days in Portland are somewhat common, even during the summer, but local families don't let that spoil their fun—they simply head over to PlayDate PDX. Slides, bounce houses, games, tubes, and an interactive light floor are just some of the features that PlayDate PDX provides. Boasting 7,500 square feet of indoor fun, Playdate PDX even features a cafe for parents to relax in while their children play.

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