Family Friendly Portland Fun

Hiking, paddling, pedaling and rainy day options too in Portland

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Within Portland city limits, you and your family can hike on a forest trail, paddle in a kayak under Portland’s famous bridges or pedal along a floating walkway. The rain? Our winter and early-spring showers are the dues we Portlanders pay to have the most gorgeous greens, most fragrant rose gardens and sunniest summer dispositions. But even when it’s wet, the city offers plenty to do.

Take a ride in Portland

Take the family for a walk or bike ride along the Eastbank Esplanade and Waterfront Park. It provides the best view of the city skyline and incorporates the best qualities of the city: art, beauty and recreation. People ride bikes, jog with their pets or just take a pleasant stroll around the loop. You can rent bikes at Waterfront Bike Rentals conveniently located on SE Ash on the Waterfront. It has hybrid, road, and children’s bikes and trailers. Rental prices include a helmet, lock and bicycle bag. Reservations are helpful.

Talk to the animals

No two ways about it: Portland has a terrific zoo. Located in Washington Park and easily accessible by MAX Light Rail, the Oregon Zoo allows you to get up close and personal with the zoo’s birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates. The Oregon Zoo is known for its efforts to help breed and rear endangered condors; and it is one of the world’s foremost elephant-breeding facilities. The zoo also hosts summer evening concerts and a seasonal Christmas Zoolights celebration.


Next door to the zoo, the Portland Children’s Museum will have your kids’ heads spinning with a collection of hands-on fun.

What will your kids do when the battery wears out on their smart phones? Take them to Powell’s City of Books for the answer. Taking up a large city block, Powell’s has a great children’s and young people’s book section just perfect for keeping the whole family browsing for awhile. It also has plenty of fun souvenirs and gifts.

Teach your kids some of your favorite video and pinball games at the Ground Kontrol arcade. Here you’ll find the classics: Donkey Kong, Ms. Pac Man, Mario Karts and more than 60 others. It welcomes folks under 21 until 4:30 p.m.

Downtown on the east side of the river, OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) offers five huge halls of interactive, science-based fun. Exhibits are always changing and are usually top-notch. There are views of space, undersea exploration, how our bodies are put together and how we figure into our planet’s ecosystem.

Put your paddle in a river

Rent kayaks in downtown Portland and take a guided, calm-water paddle under the city’s famous bridges. The adventure along the Willamette River provides a terrific view of the city skyline and wildlife. First-time kayakers and experienced paddlers will enjoy a tour that takes paddlers around a wildlife refuge and past a blue heron rookery. Kayakers might spot bald eagles and osprey. Kids as young as six are fine, often accompanied by parents in a double-sized kayak. Contact Portland Kayak for your specific situation; reservations are required.

Cheer on the Blazers

No NBA venue is as alive and as kid friendly as the Moda Center, home of the Portland Trailblazers. Portland is the nation’s top NBA town when it comes to fan loyalty and thunderous enthusiasm. Trust me: It will be the most memorable outing you and your kids will share. For years, the Portland Trailblazers have fielded a competitive and likable group of players and the staff puts on a great show for the family. The season lasts between October and April — longer if the Blazers are in the playoffs, which they are, more often than not. 


We all know the urgent cry and nothing will be tranquil until the stomachs are filled. So where’s a great place to go that isn’t a chain or in a strip mall? Here are four tried-and-true suggestions:

  • Mother’s Bistro – chicken and dumplings, mac and cheese, and other home-cooked favorites made from scratch.
  • Mama Mia – If everyone wants spaghetti or other delights, you only have to go a block to enjoy Northern Italian cooking, again made from scratch.
  • Slappy Cakes – Invent your own pancakes and whip ‘em up at the table, or choose from a delicious selection of eggs benedicts and other breakfast fare.
  • Screen Door – The best fried chicken and waffles, and other Southern delights, this side of the Rocky Mountains.


Need a hotel? The Inn at Northrup Station is a colorful, fun place to stay. All the suite-configured rooms have kitchenettes so you don’t have to order room service and it’s located in the fun and funky Northwest District. A short, free streetcar ride whisks you to all the sites listed.

More Portland Itineraries

Discover Iconic and Stylish Northeast Portland … Street festivals, pub crawls, stylish shopping – and golf
Exploring Southeast Portland … Where the Portland in your mind comes alive
Hanging Out in Portland’s Living Room … Where Portlanders get together
Northwest Portland: Stroll, shop, dine, hike … Nature, shopping and sophistication
Portland Travel Hacks … Create a stress-free, fun-filled Rose City vacation
Portland’s Best in 24 Hours … Highlights of what to see and do, where to stay and eat in Rose City
Portland’s Fun, Funky and Fancy Lodging … Don’t stay in a cookie-cutter hotel room
Slacker’s Charm in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown … Take a walk on the wild side

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