Oregon’s largest city is very family-oriented, making it the perfect place to travel with kids. Portland boasts countless tourist attractions, including parks and museums, and is known for its unique eateries.
Portland has a personality all its own, and Portlanders embrace living an eco-friendly lifestyle. The city is full of happy, friendly people, including artisans and eco-loving hipsters.
You’ll want to allow plenty of time to explore the city and all its natural attractions. Get your trip started with our list of 12 things to do with kids in Portland, plus must-stay hotels, and fun places to shop and eat.
- The MAX Light Rail is the best way to get from the airport to downtown. Kids will love riding the sleek train, taking in colorful views of the metro areas. With trains leaving about every 15 minutes, it makes travel a breeze. Simply buy your tickets at the airport station.
- Portland is home to their own bikeshare system, called Biketown. It’s a fun and affordable way to get around. You can’t miss the bright orange bikes stationed across the city. Visit their website to find out more info about rentals and pick up/drop off locations.
- Another great way to get around the city is the Portland Streetcar. You can easily grab tickets at any platform, across three lines and 16 miles of track.
- Oregon does not have any sales tax, which may be a surprise to visitors. It’s a great perk for those who love to shop.
- If you’re traveling to Portland via car or picking up a rental, you may be surprised when you get to the gas pump. Most gas stations don’t have self-serve gas. Instead, you’ll have a friendly gas-station employee who will come and pump your gas.
What to Pack
- While a lightweight travel stroller is always a must-pack item, don’t forget to pack a baby carrier for the little ones, as some facilities won’t allow strollers. You’ll also want to have a carrier that is hiking friendly if you plan to explore the nearby recreation areas.
- Be sure to pack a reusable or collapsible water bottle to keep hydrated while hiking, biking, or walking through the city.
- With the number of parks and outdoor trails, make sure to pack sturdy hiking or trail-running shoes.
- Since it rains about seven months of the year, a sturdy umbrella and raincoat are a must to be prepared for a downpour.
- Be sure to pack an extra suitcase or duffel bag. Since Oregon doesn’t have sales tax, you’re sure to come home with more than you brought with you.
4 Kid-Friendly Hotels
- McMenamins Kennedy School – This is by far Portland’s most unique hotel. Formerly the Kennedy Elementary School, it has been transformed into 57 guest rooms, some with fun touches like original chalkboards and cloakrooms. Everyone will enjoy the soaking pool, movie theater, and restaurant. Parents will love the small bars and onsite brewery.
- Kimpton RiverPlace – Parents and kids will love staying in the Bunkalow Suite, featuring a king-sized bed and bunk beds. Meals are made easy with the onsite restaurant and 24-hour room service. The hotel even loans out bicycles for a ride along the river.
- Inn at Northrup Station – The family-friendly suites are brightly decorated and have convenient features like mini-kitchens and pull-out beds. You’re also within walking distance of cute boutiques and world-class restaurants.
- Hotel Zags Portland – This hotel is stylish and fun, with a variety of rooms and suites to fit any family. The Gear Shed features everything you need to explore the city, including bikes, helmets, fishing rods, backpacks, cameras, and safety gear.
8 Kid-Approved Places to Shop & Eat
- Voodoo Donuts – This world-famous donut shop can’t be missed. With two colorful locations, you’ll find the most unique flavors, served up in quirky pink boxes. Be sure to try the Voodoo Bubble, Memphis Mafia, and the Bacon Maple Bar.
- Powell’s Books – A must-stop for book lovers, you can spend hours exploring more than 1 million books, new and old. Be sure to visit the flagship store in the Pearl District for the best experience and bring an extra bag with you to carry all of your treasures home!
- Slappy Cakes – Kids will be excited to create their own pancakes at this full-service breakfast spot. You can squeeze out pancake batter onto griddles located right on the table. Follow it up by adding your favorite fixings, including banana slices, strawberries, or chocolate chips.
- Blue Star – Another must-visit donut shop, grownups will love their gourmet flavors and high-end ingredients. Some of the most unique donuts include the Blueberry Basil Cake, Chocolate Almond Ganache, and the Cointreau Creme Brulee.
- Floating World Comics – Located downtown, this shop is a comic-lovers dream, the shelves packed with comic books new and old. If you’re lucky enough to be there on a Wednesday, you’ll get to check out a fresh batch of comics.
- Hopwork Urban Brewery – This family-owned brewery is known for its cold beer and hot food. It’s particularly family friendly, with funky decor and delicious, healthy kids’ meals.
- Portland Saturday Market – Visit this outdoor arts-and-crafts market each Saturday from mid-March through Christmas Eve. The largest continuously operating open-air market in the U.S., visitors can shop for colorful handicrafts, fresh flowers, and produce, as well as enjoy live entertainment.
- Portland Food Carts – Food cart culture is strong in Portland. You’ll find a variety of food cart pods dotting the city, including tacos, baked goods, vegetarian fare, and international cuisine.
12 Things To Do with Kids in Portland
- Oregon Zoo – Located in Washington Park, it is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River, opening back in 1888! Explore 64 acres of exhibits with more than 1,000 different animals. Parents and kids can enjoy shows, workshops, and presentations throughout the year.
- Forest Park – Enjoy the outdoors and the beautiful scenery while hiking through Forest Park. With over 80 miles of trails, it is the perfect escape with plenty to explore. Spot a variety of wildlife and follow the Wildwood trail to the “Witch’s House.”
- Keller Fountain Park – It’s all about the dazzling, eye-catching waterfalls at this downtown park. It’s the perfect place to cool off on a warm day. Kids will have a blast splashing in the pools and shallow basins.
- Portland Police Museum – Located in downtown Portland, this museum features artifacts from the city’s police history. Kids will love exploring the exhibits – especially the jail cells. Best of all, admission is free.
- OMSI Portland Kids Museum – Focused on science and technology, this museum is a great stop for kids of all ages. Learning is done through play and interactive exhibits. Don’t miss the water station, Science Playground, planetarium, and submarine tour!
- The Portland Aerial Tram – This aerial tram connects the South waterfront and the Marquam Hill neighborhood, providing unique views of the city and beyond. The best times to ride are sunrise and sunset, and at just over $5 round trip, it’s well worth it.
- Washington Park – This urban park is home to a wide variety of attractions and was designed by the same architects that created Central Park in New York. A green oasis, you can choose from miles of nature trails, the largest play structure in Portland, and more than 200 free events in the summer.
- Pittock Mansion – This French chateau, located in the West hills of Portland, was built in 1914. Enjoy views of the city while you learn about the history of the mansion, with more than 20 rooms to explore, complete with period furnishings and personal artifacts.
- World Forestry Center – This nonprofit institution, located near the Oregon Zoo, allows visitors to explore two floors of hands-on exhibits. Kids will learn about the importance of trees, as well as how to plant and preserve them.
- Oaks Amusement Park – This small amusement park has been in operation since 1905 and features a roller rink and mini golf course. The whole family will love the vintage rides, midway games, and thrill rides.
- Director Park – If you need a fun, free way for your kids to burn off some extra energy, this downtown park is the place to be. The large fountain is a great spot to relax and becomes a splash pad in the warmer months. Play a game of giant chess or enjoy free events year-round.
- Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – This year-round recreation area is breathtakingly beautiful. The gorge is bisected by the mighty Columbia River, creating natural pools and shimmering waterfalls. There’s plenty to do, including hiking, mountain biking, bird watching, and whitewater rafting. You can also enjoy museums, dining, and shopping experiences.
Lush, and awe-inspiring, Portland is a beautiful spot to take the whole family any time of year. Now it’s time to plan your perfect getaway with our list of 12 things to do with kids in Portland.