Where to Go With Your Baby This Summer

Leaving the house with my 5-month-old often feels like more trouble than it’s worth. That is, until I actually get outside. Seeing other humans. Eating good food. Moving my body. These things have always been important to me but they’ve taken on new value with baby on board. 

Here are five go-to summer activities that minimize fuss and maximize fun.

Outing No. 1: Beaverton

Courtesy of BG’s Food Cartel

Hop on the Blue or Red Line MAX and head out to Beaverton. A few short stops from downtown Portland finds you at Beaverton Central station, a mere five-minute walk from BG’s Food Cartel. (There’s also plenty of street parking if four wheels is more your style.)

Billed as Beaverton’s biggest food cart pod, BG’s Food Cartel, this pod has plenty to offer in terms of food and, notable for any caregiver, lots of easy exits if baby decides it’s time to go. New walkers will love the lawn area, and for older older kids, and there’s also a dedicated play area. There’s also plenty of street parking.


While you won’t lack for dessert options at BG’s, make this outing even sweeter with a stop by the new location of Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai. This eastside staple recently opened a second location on SW Broadway, an eight-minute walk from BG’s. Pro tip: It’s roomier and quieter than the original NE Fremont location, while still retaining all of that Pip’s charm (including a free dozen on your birthday!).

Outing No. 2: RiverPlace Esplanade Stroll

Courtesy of TriMet

Late morning is often the best time for baby girl and I to have an adventure. One of our go-tos: a lap around the Willamette before picking up lunch. I highly recommend the RiverPlace Esplanade. It’s an often overlooked boardwalk that runs along the southwest side of the river and features such gems as Dough Zone Dumpling House, Little River Cafe, and Marina Marketplace (a.k.a. the only place I’ve ever seen single bags of Gushers for sale). Pro tip: If you’re driving, use the RiverPlace Kimpton Hotel as your destination; you’ll find a public parking garage in the same building.

It’s a flat, paved walk along the Esplanade to Tilikum Crossing. Your little one will love the steady motion and ambient noise; you’ll love the easy incline and no cars.


End your walk on the east end of the bridge at OMSI, keep going and loop back around over the Hawthorne Bridge. Or skip Hawthorne’s noisy traffic and take the other side of the Tilikum back over the river. 

For lunch on the westside, you’ll find an Elephants Delicatessen at the foot of the Tilikum. There’s ample outdoor options, a bevy of choices around Elizabeth Caruthers Park to the south (including a splash pad that’s small enough for baby to enjoy), or, a personal favorite, Break Bread by the Multnomah County Courthouse. Pro tip: Order online at Break Bread for access to the much shorter (and more baby friendly) “online order pick up” line — a must when you need a sandwich and baby needs a nap.

Outing No. 3: Ladd’s Addition

Courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation

As lovely as the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park is, there’s no denying that it’s a busy tourist spot during the summer (with hard to find parking). For something a bit quieter, try scenic Ladd’s Addition.

Ladd Circle is at the heart of the beautifully designed intersection of eight residential streets in this inner Eastside neighborhood. Pro tip: It’s small but there’s plenty of room to spread a blanket and chill out with your little one. Perhaps even stop by the Hawthorne Asylum Food Cart Pod beforehand to pick up a picnic; the popular pod is a 10-minute walk away.

If ordering a beverage seems doable, consider Floyd’s Coffee House & Wine Bar, which overlooks Ladd Circle. But the space is cozy so you may want to get your drink to go or find a quiet corner and sway while you sip.

Outing No. 4: Portland Art Museum

Courtesy Portland Art Museum

One of my smarter parenting moves of late is taking in the latest exhibit at Portland Art Museum (PAM) while my daughter snoozed in her carrier. She got some z’s; I got some culture. Pro tip: If you visit PAM on First Free Thursday, you can score a free adult ticket (kids under 17 are always free). If you prefer a museum that’s always free for Multnomah County residents, try the Oregon Historical Society, a short hop across the street from PAM.

It’s in the courtyard of the Historical Society that you’ll find another gem of downtown Portland: Piggins. The pandemic baby of iconic local restaurant Higgins, Piggins opens every summer to offer delicious fare in a semi-private and elevated courtyard overlooking the Park Blocks.
You’ll spot the Piggins food cart but the restaurant actually does tableside service. Sound intimidating with a baby in tow? The outdoor location has plenty of shaded space to bounce around with your tiny lunch date.

If sitting isn’t in the cards — and sometimes, it just isn’t! — try the other side of PAM. Behind the Museum Cafe’s menu features artisanal coffee and tea as well as pastries and savory snacks. I recommend an onigiri to go.

Outing No. 5: The Pearl

Courtesy of Mick Hangland

Taking a baby to a busy summer splash pad sounds risky unless we’re talking about Jamison Square Fountain in The Pearl. Designed to mimic a shallow tidal pool, the fountain ebbs and flows with only a few inches of treated water. It’s also spacious with bigger kids typically sticking to the steps and leaving ample room for babies to splash to their hearts’ content on the periphery.

Even if your baby isn’t eating solids, you are — and that makes the recently rebranded Miss Oz Ice Cream & Dessert all the more convenient. Previously known as Cool Moon Ice Cream, the shop is across the street from Jamison Square Fountain and offers the same classic frozen treats as Cool Moon.

If things are going well and you feel like a bit more adventure, Powell’s is an 11-minute walk south (or seven minutes via Portland Streetcar). My little one slept the whole time while I moseyed through the extensive kids’ section. Pro tip: Powell’s does a weekly storytime on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. 

For a pick-me-up, I recommend the new and nearby Stumptown location on SW Washington. Opened in April 2024, the spot includes a small outdoor alcove with bistro tables and chairs that give you space to enjoy a beverage with room for a stroller or carrier.

You’ve got this! Here are even more outings and adventures.

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