Here are 40 ideas for a totally awesome, totally Portland summer, inside and out.
Summer! The popsicles! The sprinklers! The cries of “I’m so bored!” Well, at least the first two are fun.
While there is nothing wrong with a little (or a lot of) down time over the summer months, sometimes you all are just itching to do something. (Anything.) Well, luckily Portland does not disappoint with ways to get active, get inspired and best of all — get out!
- Have a scavenger hunt at your local farmers market. Look at the farmers market’s website to see what’s in season. Pick a few unusual things and let your kids find them. Reward them with a locally-grown treat.
- Visit a splash pad. With dozens of splash pads scattered throughout Portland and beyond, you’re sure to find a fun way to get a little break from the heat.
- Looking for even more water? Try out a local swimming hole or pool.
- Go for a nature walk. Hike to the top of Mount Tabor for great city views, and be sure to stop and check out the playground. Another fun hike is in Lower Macleay Park to check out the “Witch’s Castle.” Or sign up for a Ladybug Walk with Portland Parks & Recreation or a guided nature walk at Tryon Creek. Or visit a nature playground. Westmoreland Park is a Portland favorite, or you can try something new. Here’s a list of five parks for your nature lover.
- Grab your bike. Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities around. Join one of Pedalpalooza‘s family-friendly rides or check out our list of kid-friendly bike paths to venture our on your own.
- Pick some berries. Portland is ripe (wah wah wah) with berry picking spots. Grab a bucket, a sun hat, and be prepared for a delicious adventure. Here are some of our favorite spots.
- Do the 4T Adventure. Called 4T because it uses trails, trolley, tram, and train, grab your family for a fun adventure that includes Portland’s highest point (Council Crest Park), the zoo, and the South Waterfront District.
- Paddle. Check out these calm waters, perfect for kids just learning to kayak or SUP.
- See an outdoor concert. Take in some tunes ranging from Reggae to Honkey Tonk and everything in between with Portland Parks & Rec’s free outdoor concert series. Here’s the schedule.
- Explore a new neighborhood during a street fair. Many of Portland’s neighborhoods – including Alberta, Hawthorne and Mississippi – have street fairs. There you’ll find music, dancing, food and lots of kids activities. Check out our guide to street fairs and festivals here.
- Head to an Amusement Park. Rides, games and carnival food are all in our own backyard at Oaks Park. Or head a little further out to The Enchanted Forest.
- Check off a few items from our Summer of Fun Daily Event Calendar. There you’ll find something fun to do every day of the summer.
- Catch a movie in the park. Every summer, Portland Parks & Rec hosts a series of free movies in local parks around town. Here’s the schedule, or find them on our popular Kids Calendar.
- Soar through the trees. These aerial adventure parks are sure to make this a summer to remember.
- Take advantage of Sunday Parkways. A few Sundays every summer, the streets close to traffic and pedestrians and bikers get to rule the road. You’ll also find activities, vendors and lots more. Here’s the list of dates and locations.
- Play mini golf at one of these kid-friendly places.
- Take the family to see a baseball game with the Hillsboro Hops or the Portland Pickles.
- Get up close and personal with animals at farms, stores, and fields around the metro area.
- Bring a picnic. Here are 11 drool-worthy picnic spots to try.
- Smell the roses. Even when the flowers are out of season, Portland’s public gardens are worth visiting. Check out Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, or one of other other gardens around town.
Cool Indoor Fun
- Visit an indoor playground. When it’s just too hot to handle, but your kids still have the wiggles, check out one of the area’s many indoor parks and playgrounds.
- Sign up for the library’s summer reading program. A great motivator to get your kids to read over the summer. You get prizes along the way for minutes spent reading, and at the end, a t-shirt. Sign us up.
- Make art. Sure, you can do art at home, but the beauty of doing it outside the home is that you don’t have to clean up! Plus the messy art studios around here are brimming with great ideas on what to create and have tons of supplies to bring your child’s vision to light. From The Craft Studio to SCRAP to your local library, you’re bound to find the right studio for you.
- Catch some kindie music. Portland is teeming with kids’ musicians (in a really good way!). Check out Mr. Ben, Mr. Hoo, Mo Phillips, Olive & Dingo, Tallulah’s Daddy, Aaron Nigel Smith, Red Yarn and even more at one of their regular shows around town. Most shows are on a donation basis of $3-5 per kid. Check out our calendar for schedules.
- Discover something new at a local museum. Check out our Kids Love Museums guide for kid-friendly explorations at some of our favorite museums.
- Get a treat. It’s always a great day for ice cream.
- Find an indoor pool. Just because they want to swim, doesn’t mean you have to sit in the heat! Our list of pools includes indoor options.
- Watch a discount movie at Regal Cinemas, which offer $2 movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays all summer long.
- Go to a storytime. Either check out a storytime at your local library, or visit one at local bookstores around town.
- Escape! Portland has lots of not-scary escape rooms perfect for family puzzle solving. See our list here.
- Watch the planes from IKEA. A surprisingly fun low-key way to enjoy a hot morning. Order an affordable kids’ meal or indulge in a cinnamon bun. (p.s. they have free child care there, you know, just in case.)
- Get a bite. Check out these (truly!) kid-friendly restaurants, for a fun place to eat dinner without heating up your kitchen.
- Roller skate. Relive the 80s with a spin around the rink. Here are some options.
- Go bowling. Make your trip even more affordable by taking part in the Kids Bowl Free program.
- Climb the walls. Work those arms! Test that balance! Your kids are climbing the walls anyway, so may as well make it legit! Here’s our list of indoor rock climbing spots.
- Volunteer. Here are some kid-friendly ways to give back.
- Play Lego. Check out one of the library’s Lego play times, or head to a local LEGO shop, like Bricks & Minifigs.
- Bring the skateboard inside. If your kids are itching to get on their skateboards, but it’s just too hot to even contemplate being out on pavement, head to Stronger Skatepark in Milwaukie for indoor fun.
- Enjoy air conditioning at one of our readers’ favorite family fun centers or play Pickleball at indoor gym The People’s Courts (opening summer 2023).
- Head for the ice. Who says ice skating is a winter sport? Stay cool. Fall down. Repeat.
Need more ideas? Check out these posts, too:
- October 2023 Digital Issue - September 28, 2023
- Giveaway: Family Pass to the Hands On Children’s Museum (Three Available) - September 27, 2023
- How Doulas Support Parents and Partners - September 26, 2023