Portland really is the perfect family vacation destination because Portland isn’t just for Hipsters in flannel shirts with well-groomed beards. There are lots of fun family activities here that make Portland the perfect family vacation destination.
Ok, we talked you into it? Now let us show you all the fun you can have while you’re here.
We have lived in Portland, Oregon the majority of our time. We both grew up here before venturing off into adulthood and living in a few others places. We have found ourselves back in Portland, for now. We are having an amazing time showing our kids all the fun things we did when we were younger and a few more new things. We would love to show you that Portland and the surrounding areas are a great place to spend vacation time with your family. Whether you are stopping in Portland on your way to another destination or Portland is your destination, this city is a great place for family vacations. We have a large family so we are always trying to get the most for our money and you can do that in Portland and have a GREAT time! Here are some of our favorite things to do and places to eat in Portland.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the top science museums in the nation and offers brain powered fun for everyone. We have a Season Pass to Omsi and use it often. They have rotating exhibits like The Final Frontier and Legos. Our kids absolutely love going here and they don’t even realize how much they are learning while playing with all the things there. Everything is hands-on which makes interactive learning fun!
- Ground Kontrol
Ground Kontrol is the West Coast’s premier classic arcade. All ages are welcome at Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade from 12:00pm-4:50pm daily. The bar opens at 5pm for alcohol service and minors are no longer permitted at that time. Our kids love hanging out in here playing all the old games and what adult who grew up in the 80’s doesn’t love playing some Pac-Man?!?
There are 2 places to biplane near Portland. One is called Pumpkin Ridge Zip Tour. It is the closest zipline to Portland. The other is called Tree to Tree Aerial Adventure Park. This park offers many different adventure activities that accommodate all fear and skill levels so that everyone can feel comfortable on their adventure.
- Portland Art Museum
Our kids love going to the Portland Art Museum! The best part, kids under 17 are always free. On Sundays at 12:30, they host a Family Tour that gets up close and personal with works of art during their family-friendly tour.
- Director Park
Our kids love to play chess. Their grandpa has taught them how to play at an early age and it’s a special thing they always do with “papa” when he comes over. Directors Park has a giant chess board in it. “Big Chess” is the most popular program at Director Park. Played with 25” plastic pieces on a 16’ x 16’ chess board into the granite pavers in the Bosque, the drop-in program is first come, first served and it truly brings the community together!
The park also has a Café: Elephants in the Park, a public fountain surrounded by curved benches, European style tables & chairs that can be moved to where the sun is, Glass Canopy so you can relax and observe the urban scene, rain or shine and a Public Restroom.
- Powells Books
Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. Located in downtown Portland’s Pearl District, the City of Books has nine color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. I think their children’s section is larger than some libraries. They also have used books, so at least I can save a little money when I take the kids.
- Portland Saturday Market
If you want to quickly get the “Portland vibe”, head over to the Portland Saturday Market. It is the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. Stroll down row upon row of unique handcrafted items, chat with the artisans and choose from a plethora of exotic foods that will satisfy your appetite while listening to live music on the main stage. Open rain or shine from March through Christmas Eve on Saturdays AND Sundays. It’s called a Saturday market and it’s open on Sundays too. I know, confusing.
Portland is quirky, so in that theme, here are some really unique places to stay that you won’t find anywhere else. We personally haven’t stayed at these places (because we have a house here), but they come highly recommended.
– KENNEDY SCHOOL
The Kennedy School is literally an old schoolhouse converted into this amazing hotel, restaurant, movie theate & pool.
The rooms in the main school building include original chalkboards and cloakrooms. The English Wing is located in the courtyard of the original school and while the rooms are not old classrooms, the rooms have literature-inspired themes. All overnight guests receive complimentary use of the soaking pool and free admission to the movie theater.
Here you can have a pint in a classroom, enjoy an aged whiskey in detention, enjoy a movie in the old auditorium.
– THE COLONY
One of the most unique features of the Colony is the lodging. There are two fully furnished apartments and a full remodeled vintage trailer for rent on the property. Units can be rented separately or together.
– SHIFT RENTALS
Shift Vacation Rentals is in the Alberta Arts District. It is a beautifully renovated vintage duplex in the heart of one of Portland’s most unique and vibrant neighborhoods. Alberta Street is an incredibly popular and funky street that consists of 26 blocks of locally owned restaurants, bars, galleries, and cafes. You will love strolling the street to take in the abundant public art, and will quickly come to adore the people and businesses that exude creativity and a welcoming environment.
The beautiful duplex consists of two large luxury apartments. High Gear has 4 bedrooms & 2 bathrooms (sleeps up to 10 people) and Low Gear has 3 bedrooms and 1.5 bathrooms (sleeps up to 6 people). The whole house can also be rented for even larger groups.
Caravan calls themselves “The Tiny House Hotel”. It’s not ideal for families but a couples weekend-getaway would be fun! Located in the heart of the popular and vibrant Alberta Arts District, Caravan is a unique, one-of-a-kind hotel where travelers from around the world can experience what it’s like to stay in a custom-made tiny house on wheels. The charming tiny houses are all built by local builders and range in size from 120-170 sq.ft. Each tiny house features creative, funky, artistic design elements coupled with multi-functional, space-efficient furnishings. All of the tiny houses have flush toilets, hot showers, electric heat, a sitting area, a kitchen and lots of locally made art and sustainable, Fair Trade products.
The is so “Portland” right here.
Having a large family its always time to eat. Looking for a place to eat in a foodie town like Portland isn’t hard. We have found amazing spots all over the city, even with kids.
One of my must stops is Hopworks Urban Brewery, I know taking your kids to a brewery doesn’t seem like the most family friendly environment. HUB is a great mix of Portland beer culture plus great Portland comfort food and several places in the restaurant for the kids to play. We met the grandparents there for a birthday celebration and the food is outstanding!
– Slappy Cakes
DIY pancakes that you and the kids can make right at your table? What else is there to say? Choose from five pancake batters and over a dozen sweet and savory toppings. Everything is made from scratch with fresh, seasonal produce and hormone-free dairy products and meats. Slappy Cakes is all day breakfast, all day fun! You make pancakes right at your table on the built-in griddles.
– Voodoo Donuts
With names like Grape Ape, Captain My Captain, The Loop, and Double Bubble, you can’t go wrong. Whenever someone comes to visit, it’s the one place we always take them … and grab another Maple Bacon Bar.
Things to know: 1. They only take CASH 2. The line can get really long 3. The line is outside so be prepared.
– Mother’s Bistro & Bar
Like at mom’s, you and the kids will find a warm welcome and a comfortable vibe at this Portland institution, made famous for its brunches, high-quality comfort food, and special Mother of the Month dishes. Younger children will enjoy the small play area as well as a kids menu with things like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, and plain macaroni and cheese. Take the kids if you want something just a bit more fancy.
We hope this has helped you decide to come visit Portland some day. If you need any other suggestions or help, leave us a comment below.
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