Our Ultimate Guide to Free Fun in PDX

As someone who spent many years living on student loans, I firmly believe that the best things in life are free — and that includes fun things to do in Portland, OR. Read on for all the ways to enjoy free and *almost* free fun in the best city on earth.

Free Things to Do Each Month in Portland

Each month we update our recommendations for free things to do, including festivals, seasonal events, outdoor fun, and more. Find the links to each month’s free activities here or choose a month below.

Courtesy of Portland Winter Light Festival

Free Indoor Fun in Portland

In case you missed the memo, it rains a lot in Portland. Luckily, there are plenty of free (and almost-free!) family activities indoors.

Free birthday dozen at Pip’s, credit: Meg Asby

Restaurants Where Kids Eat Free

Check out these local restaurants where kids eat free (usually with the purchase of an adult entree). Bon appétit!

Free Cultural Passes from the Library

If you think going to the theater, visiting gardens, and exploring museums are beyond your budget, they’re not! Our local libraries offer all sorts of free cultural passes with your library card. Plus don’t forget to cash in those Summer Reading coupons.

Pay What You Will Days at Local Theaters

Many local theater companies offer pay-what-you-will-days, including Portland Playhouse and Portland Center Stage. Check with your favorite venue, and book early — seats on these performances go quickly.

Free Museum Days

Thanks to free and discounted museum days, everyone can learn about local history and see incredible art.

Birthday Freebies

Free stuff on your birthday is a given if you’re a kid, but people of all ages can enjoy birthday freebies from local businesses.

Destination Libraries

We have some of the best libraries around! Curl up with a good book, board game, or craft at one of these local destination libraries. Local libraries also offer a variety of programming, including cultural events and game groups.


Speaking of books, there are many storytime experiences offered for free at bookshops and libraries across the city. Get started with our recommendations here.

Kids Bowl Free

Did you know your child can bowl for free all summer long?

Free Classes

Lessons can be expensive. Check out some of the free classes offered around Portland, including Apple Camps, Home Depot Kids Workshops, and free art classes for families at The Lobby.

Free Outdoor Fun in Portland

In Portland, we live for the idyllic summer weather. Here’s how to make the most of it, without spending a dime.

Courtesy of Portland Parks & Rec

Our Favorite Hikes

Every time we go hiking in the Pacific Northwest, we’re reminded that we basically live in paradise. Check out some of our favorite hikes here, including Wahclella Falls.

Summer FREE for All

What if we told you you could go to outdoor concerts, movies in the park, live performances and cultural events, get free admission to local pools, and feed your kids a healthy lunch for zero dollars, all summer long? Thanks to Portland Parks & Rec’s Summer FREE for All, you can.

The Best Playgrounds

Portland parents love a good playground. Check out our Top Ten Destination Playgrounds, or see which parks locals chose in our Reader Favorites poll. If you haven’t heard the news, Hidden Creek Park West’s fantasy-themed playground is trending on Instagram with over one million plays (definitely check it out!), and you can find our full list of playground articles here. Have fun out there!

Parks with a View

Enjoy the scenery while your kids climb a jungle gym at these local playgrounds with a view, or pack a lunch and blanket and head to these drool-worthy picnic spots.

Splash Pads

Splash Pads > Pools. Change our minds. They’re safe, free, and kids love them. Find our full list of places to splash here.

Street Fairs and Festivals

You can attend a street fair or festival almost every weekend in the summer, and many are free to attend, including the Portland Pride Festival and Parade, Multnomah County Fair, and — of course — the PDX Parent Family Festival. Find our full list of street fairs and festivals (including both ticketed and free) here.

Water Fun

This area is full of beautiful places to splash, from the Willamette to the Pacific. Here are a few local favorites to try, or borrow a kayak or SUP from a friend and check out these kid-friendly places to paddle.

Fantastical Beasts

We love a scavenger hunt here at PDX Parent, and when the hunt involves dragons, mermaids, trolls, and forest giants, it pretty much can’t be beat.


If you’re a fan of Little Free Libraries, get excited because Portland is also full of free mini-galleries, from the PDX Dinorama to the PDX Minifig Exchange. There are enough to keep you exploring all summer long.

Free Art

Whether you go on a mural walk in the Alberta Arts District or visit a free indoor exhibit, you can experience Portland’s art scene without spending any money.

Local Wildlife

If your kid loves animals but a zoo membership is out of reach, check out these free places to see local wildlife. Plus, don’t miss the free weekly Animal Walks with Farmer Kat in the summer at Topaz Farm!


If you live with a budding geologist, you’re in luck. There are plenty of places to take young rockhounds. Here are our top five spots for rockhounding.

Fun for Every Budget

Portland is expensive, but your fun doesn’t have to be. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, Portland has plenty to offer, free of charge.

Did we miss your favorite free activity? Send us a DM on Instagram to let us know.

Love this? Check out our popular Kids Calendar, full of family-friendly things to do, every day of the week.

Meg Asby
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