With the holiday season in full swing, everyone could use some family activities that are 100% fun and free. Here are ideas to get outside, learn new skills, enjoy music or help others, all without opening your wallet.
Make some money!
First, how about making a little extra cash? Dentist offices across the Portland area (and Bricks & Minifigs in Beaverton) have Halloween candy buy-back programs going on now. It’s a fun and easy way to get rid of some leftover treats.
It’s the Week of Lights at Al’s Garden & Home centers. The four Al’s locations are festively festooned for your holiday home decor inspiration (November 2-5, 2023). The free event also features a visit with Santa, live music, discounts, and more.
Hear a story.
The beloved Portland Book Festival is happening on November 4. And guess what? Youth 17 & under get in FREE.
Salute our veterans.
The 35th Annual Lough Legacy Veterans Parade in Vancouver, and the Portland Veterans Day Parade will be held on November 11. These are great opportunities to honor our veterans, and they are free to attend.
Take a hike.
Bundle up and enjoy the crisp fall air during one of these family-friendly fall hikes.
Explore a different park.
Take advantage of the free Metro parking days this month by heading to one of our great parks. On November 11, 16 and 24, enjoy free parking at Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp and Chinook Landing Marine Park.
Read at Green Bean.
Green Bean Books has regular free storytimes at their darling book shop. Check the schedule to see when children’s book authors are making an appearance.
Listen to a musical storytime.
Symphony Storytime is a free digital series by the Oregon Symphony. Read alouds are accompanied by an Oregon Symphony musician or guest artist.
Use your My Discovery Pass.
Did you know you can visit local museums and cultural institutions for free with My Discover Pass? Take advantage of this awesome library perk and beat the rains with some indoor museum fun.
Kick off the holiday season.
For many Portlanders, the lighting of the 75-foot Douglas fir in Pioneer Courthouse Square heralds the official start of the holiday season. But if you can’t make it, don’t worry! There are many tree lightings happening all over the Portland metro area.
Go to a winter festival.
The Hillsboro Holly Days Celebration is back on November 18, and will feature kids activities, live entertainment, a holiday market and a tree lighting ceremony.
Meet Santa and Mrs. Claus at the rink.
Visit the Lloyd Center on November 18, for a holiday skating performances, tree lighting, and a visit from Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves. Free photos with any donation to the Salvation Army.
Do you have a train enthusiast in the family? Then a visit to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center is a must. Here you can check out restored historic trains and the locomotive machine shop — where volunteers work — in action. (Admission to the center is always free, but any donations are appreciated.)
What better way to spend some downtime than by helping others? Instill the value of volunteerism by giving back at one of these organizations that offer kid-friendly volunteer opportunities.
Get the kids’ creative juices flowing with these fun DIY Thanksgiving decorations. These craft projects are fun, festive and fool-proof. Even better, it’s likely you already have the materials needed.
Learn about fish.
Head to the Bonneville Fish Hatchery and Dam. There you can learn about sturgeon and see Herman the Sturgeon, a 75-year-old, 500-pound fish! There’s also the rainbow trout ponds (you can feed them for a quarter) and the adult salmon holding ponds.
Get a history lesson.
The Oregon Historical Society is a great place to learn about Oregon’s rich history. And it’s always free for Multnomah County residents (with proof of residency).
Or visit a mini gallery!
Thanks to @pdxflag and @pdxdinorama, you can follow a map of Portland’s delighful tiny installations, from little libraries to mini art museums.