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!
Here are 40 ideas for a totally awesome, totally Portland summer – inside and out.
Note for 2021: This summer offers more opportunities for fun than last summer. Although some of our favorite activities are still on hold, we’ve added some new activities for this year. If you head out, follow social distancing best practices.
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.
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.
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” (toddlers will need to be carried during some times because of steep drop offs.) Or sign up for a Ladybug Walk with Portland Parks & Rec or a guided nature walk at Tryon Creek.
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. You can find a detailed map online here.
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.
Drop in at Portland Parks and Recreation’s Free Lunch + Play. Drop in a Portland Parks and Recreation’s Free Lunch + Play. In addition to free lunch and activities, you may stumble upon a free concert or pop-up cultural event.
See the city. Portland’s street fairs were a great way to check out neighborhoods around the city. Although they are on hold this year, you can still explore different quadrants of the city with our City Guide.
Volunteer. Here are some kid-friendly ways to give back and some ways your family can volunteer safely during the pandemic.
Play mini golf at one of these kid-friendly places.
Get up close and personal with animals at farms, stores, and fields around the metro area.
Catch a show. The lunchtime Polka Dot Downtown concert series is an ultra-Portland mix of indie rockers, circus performers, jazz vocalists and even The Amazing Bubble Man giving free outdoor performances throughout the summer.
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 Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, or one of other other gardens around town.
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.
Discover something new at a local museum. Check out our Kids Love Museums guide for kid-friendly explorations at some of our favorite museums.
Go fish. At Rainbow Trout Farm in Sandy, you and the kids can fish 10 ponds filled with rainbow trout. At this scenic 30-acre spot, you don’t need a license or equipment, and they even clean the fish for you.
Treat yourself. Try one of the winners of our readers’ poll for sweet treats.
Watch a movie at a discount movie theatre or at Regal Theatres, which offer $1 movies on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through Regal Summer Movie Express. If you are feeling more adventurous, try the 99 W Drive-In in Newberg.
Watch the planes from IKEA. This is a surprisingly fun low-key way to enjoy a hot morning. Order an affordable kids’ meal or indulge in a cinnamon bun.
Roller skate. Relive the 80s with a spin around the rink at the Oaks Park skating rink.
Go bowling. Make your trip even more affordable by taking part in the Kids Bowl Free program.
Visit a food-cart pod. Try some new-to-you cart pods with outdoor seating like: Eastport Food Carts on SE 82nd Avenue, North Portland’s Park the Carts on MLK and the Hillsdale Food Cart Park in Southwest.
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.
Enjoy air conditioning at one of our readers’ favorite family fun centers.
Head for the ice. Who says ice skating is a winter sport! Stay cool. Fall down. Repeat. Check out the rinks at the Lloyd Center in Northeast Portland and Winterhawks Skating Center in Southwest Portland.