Sure, we’re back at school, and the days are getting shorter. But there is still so much going on in September. We’ve rounded up some of our favorite things to do with kids around Portland—all for free this month.
We’ve made every effort to confirm this information, but always double-check with the organization before heading out!
All-aboard! Gather your little transportation enthusiasts for a weekend of fun at Train Fest at Molalla Train Park! FREE train rides, no entrance fee and no charge to ride the train. They will operate solely off donations this weekend. September 4-6, 11a-4p.
Listen by the river. Oregon Symphony announces the return of Portland’s favorite end of summer celebration, Oregon Symphony at the Waterfront Concert Series. The Oregon Symphony is thrilled to host the spectacular live concert that attracts visitors to downtown Portland for a free day full of music, dance and celebration for the whole family. Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative covid test to enter. September 4, 7-10p.
Check out a Free Garden Story-time. These beautiful outdoor storytime pop-ups are empowering and engaging for families transitioning back to the classroom. Join award-winning children’s author, Rose Collins, and gardening guide Anne, curator of Garden Rosies, for these special start of school celebrations. Milwaukie Floral & Garden, Sept 4th, 12p. Sellwood Community House Play Yard, Sept 5th at 2:30p. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, Sept 6th at noon.
Go on a guided hike. At Tryon Creek State Natural Area, you can join Friends of Tryon Creek staff for a free 1.5 mile walk focused on signs of seasonal change. Check their calendar for ongoing free nature programs for kids, too. September 15, 6:30-8p. Too late in the evening for your littles? Check out one of our kid-friendly fall hikes instead.
Get inspired by some art. Art in the Pearl runs Saturday, September 4th through Monday, September 6th, with artists showing their work, plus live music, hands-on art activities for kids and adults and food vendors.
Take a music class. Before a new session begins, Music Together of Portland offers free demonstration classes so families can experience their interactive, fun and nationally-renowned program. Registration is required for these classes held on September 9-11.
Paddle Around. Summer vacation may be over, but you still have time to kayak before the rains come. Check out these 10 great spots to kayak with kids.
Dine al fresco. Now that it’s not too hot, try one of our favorite picnic spots before the winter rains set in.
Visit the Bonneville Hatchery and Bonneville Dam. At the Bradford Island Visitor Center, don’t miss underwater windows that allow you to peer into the the fish ladder, educational displays about the dam, and the rooftop observation deck with its panoramic view. At the Bonneville Hatchery, feed rainbow trout, visit Herman the Sturgeon (he’s 10 ft. long and over 45 years old), and spend some time meandering the lovely grounds (bring a picnic and eat along the river). September and October are great months to see adult fall Chinook and coho salmon spawning. This is a fun and interesting day trip for both kids and adults.
Check out the Portland Art Museum or the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (among others). On Museum Day, sponsored by the Smithsonian, many of the Portland area’s best museums open their doors for free. Saturday, September 18. You must get your two free tickets (per email address) in advance here.
Get Festive. There are many street fairs and cultural fairs coming up in September, including Ridgefield’s Multicultural Festival on September 4th, Belmont Street Fair on September 11th, and the very popular Robin Hood Festival on September 24-25th.
Go for a bike ride. From classics to new favorites, check out these kid-friendly bike paths.
Meet some goats. A visit to The Belmont Goats, now in N. Portland, is a fun and charming way to experience Portland’s quirkiness and get some cute photos with the kids.
Visit the alpacas. National Alpaca Farm Days are the last weekend in September. Stop by Marquam Hill Ranch in Molalla (Sept 25-26, 10a-4p) or La Finca Alpacas in Yacolt, Washington (Sept 24, 11a-4p) for free entry and demonstrations.
Plan a fun outing with your library’s cultural passes. Local library systems offer free and discounted passes to popular museums and attractions. Find your library system here to see where you can go. (Check your library system for the most up-to-date information on where passes are accepted.)
Skip the parking fee. September 16th is one of Metro’s Free Parking Days. Enjoy free parking at Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp and Chinook Landing Marine Park. That day doesn’t work for you? You can always find your perfect park with Metro’s online park finder tool. Most other parks have free parking.
Have out-of-this world fun. The 21st annual UFOFest will bring flying-saucer enthusiasts, expert speakers and out-of-this-world fun to downtown McMinnville. Speaker events are ticketed, but admission to the costume contest, vendor fair and alien dance party is free. September 24-25, McMinnville.