Looking for some new activities to entertain the family? Check out these inexpensive ideas around town. Before you visit one of these venues, please double check their website or call ahead for up-to-date details, incase their hours, rates or programming has changed.
Offers a kids workshop the 1st Saturday of every Month
Michaels Craft Stores
Visit their classes page and select “Kids’ Programs” to view their upcoming activities at a store near you. Most kid crafts, like the are $2-5! Check out the “Spring Make courses offered over during spring break.
Nature and Wildlife
Audubon Society of Portland Sanctuary
Trails open dawn to dusk (See website for the store’s business hours)
5151 NW Cornell Rd.
The Audubon’s sanctuary is an excellent way to spend some time with your little ones. They have 4 miles of trails, birds, a wildlife center and nature store. Visit website
Bonneville Lock and Dam
(Pictured in the article’s banner photo and the observation window picture below)
Bonneville Lock and Dam has three recreation areas, a fishing area, fish hatchery, trails and a visitor center. It’s a fun and educational visit for the whole family! Feed rainbow trout, see large sturgeon and peer throw observation windows to spot fish making their way up the ladder. Check visitor information when planning a trip. Some features are open seasonally.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Tues through Sunday: $5 admission fee (Mar-Sept); Free admission on Mondays
Children under 12: Free admission
Take a beautiful stroll through the garden with your kids. You’ll see creeks, ducks, roses, trees and many birds. More about the garden.
Free (pay to park)
A peaceful stroll, a good hike or a run are all possible at Hoyt Arboretum. The arboretum offers 12 miles of trails amongst a collection of 6,000 trees (more than 2,000 species). There is a children’s playground right down the street from the International Rose Test Garden. Visit the Family and children page to view stroller and wheelchair friendly paths. Be sure to plan your trip ahead of time – visitor center information. Note: parking can be hard to find during busy park days (there is a parking fee). The arboretum is easily accessible by Max.
Leach Botanical Garden
(Pictured in the article’s banner photo and the trail photo above)
Free during regular garden hours
A gem right in our DDSD backyard! Explore more than a mile of paths, wandering through lush landscapes and flowers. You may even spot a few animals living in the garden. Take a self-guided hike through the garden or visit for a guided hike or a class. Come explore the garden for beautiful flowers and local wildlife.
Portland Parks and Recreation
With community centers, pools, parks and day camps Portland Parks has a lot to offer families.
-Go for a swim in EPCC’s indoor pool (schedule)
With more than a 200 parks in Portland there’s bound to be one you haven’t been to before. Pick out a new park to visit with PP&R’s Park Finder
Tryon Creek Nature Center
11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd
The park has 8 miles of hiking trails, 3.5 miles of horse trail and a 3-mile paved bicycle trail. Visit their website for more details
Story and Stroll
Nature exploration, art, literature, movement, and outdoor play. It is designed for families with kids ages 2-6 but all are welcome. Space is limited. Registration starts 30 minutes before the event (in person). Visit their site for more details. Visit the Tyron website to view their activities calendar
Join a park guide for a free nature hike to explore the forest at Tryon Creek State Park. Topics vary from week to week. For ages five through adult, but all ages are welcome. No registration required. Space is on a first come, first served basis; register in the Nature Center 30 minutes before the program starts. Visit the Tyron website to view their activities calendar
Our neighborhood urban farm offers a variety of events, camps and volunteer opportunities throughout the year. Learn more and access camp registration on their website.
Belmont Learning Center (Historic Belmont Firehouse)
Learn all about Portland Fire Department’s history during a fun and interactive visit. Explore the firehouse, slide down a pole and sit in fire truck. Hours are limited. Visit their website for more details.
A free admission day is offered once a month. It’s currently 4-8pm on the first Friday of the month but check their website to confirm. The free day is subject to change. Museum is ideal for ages 0-8 years.
Oregon Maritime Museum
Explore the Sternwheeler Portland, the last operating steam-powered sternwheel tug in the U.S. The tour includes ship models, maritime artifacts and memorabilia. Visit their site for visitor information, prices and hours (The museum is not open daily). Receive a dollar off with AAA membership!
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The first Sunday of every month is discount day at OMSI. Explore the museum and all exhibits for just $2 per person. Submarine Tours, Theater and Planetarium shows are also reduced to $5 per person. Please check their website to make sure these prices and discount days are accurate.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center
Regular business hours: Open Thurs-Sunday: Opens 1-5pm (opens at noon on Saturdays and Sundays)
Spring Break: Open additional hours the week of spring break! The center will also be open Monday 26th-Wednesday 28th (1-5pm)
Tour exhibits and locomotives! Rides are available on Saturdays. Please check ORHF website for ride cost and departure times (There is a cost for rides. They are not part of the free admission).
Portland Art Museum
A free admission day is offered once a month. Currently it’s from 5–8pm every first Thursday of every month but check their website to
The World Forestry Center
(Pictured in the above and below photos)
A hands on museum for all ages! Kids and adults love the interactive exhibits about trees and forestry. Visit their website for more details
Spring Break – open all week March 26th – 30th
Interactive activities include: Tree ID station, games, crafts and more!
Columbia Bank presents Community Free Day – March 31st
Free admission for all!
TREEmendous Second Saturday
Each month the museum holds TREEmendous Second Saturday, with special activities and speakers on different forest topics.
Be a tourist for a day and spend some time wandering the city.
Closed Sundays. Children under 6 free. Hours and Fare
Plot a path around town to view Portland public art. You’ll find it incorporated into architecture, along sidewalks and in parks. Make a scavenger hunt out of it with the kids! View Travel Portland’s Public Art Guide. If you’re looking for an indoor stop while downtown, visit the Public Art Gallery. It’s normally housed on the second floor of the Portland Building (closed weekends). But renovation of the Portland Building started in the fall of 2017. A partial gallery has been set up directly across the street on the second floor of the Standard’s Plaza Building. Read details about the about the temporary art display.
Stroll (or roll) down the 1.5 mile pedestrian and bicycle path located along the east shore of the Willamette River. Stretching between the Hawthorne and Steel bridges, the esplanade offers a striking view of the downtown cityscape. More info
Food Cart Pods
While exploring the city grab a meal from the city’s abundance of food carts. Check out this website to view a list of food carts all over Portland!
Pioneer Courthouse Square Echo Chamber
Stand on the round marble stone in the center of the small amphitheater, face the steps and speak.
Ignite your child’s imagination and passion for reading with a visit to Powell’s. Wander the aisles and pick out a treasure together. There’s something for everyone! See locations
Stroll across Portland’s newest bridge. It’s the only bridge in the country dedicated to light rail, buses, bicycles and pedestrians. No cars! Passing by the bridge after dark? The bridge lights’ color and pattern change based on the Williamette’s temperature, current and height.