Tighten your belts this January while still having tons of fun! Here are some ideas for getting out and about with the kiddos — all for free.

As always, double-check the details before heading out!

Take a hike. State parks across Oregon are offering free guided hikes on January 1. Hikes will highlight multiple trails, topography and natural history. Washington state parks are doing the same. Can’t make it on January 1? Try out one of these kid-friendly hikes.


Kung Hei Fat Choi! Celebrate the year of the rabbit at the Washington Square Mall center court for its annual Lunar New Year celebration on Saturday, January 28 from 11 am to 3 pm. Visit the wishing tree — where you can make a wish on a red ribbon and toss it at the tree in hopes that it will stick and your wish will come true! — and enjoy traditional crafts, dancing, stories and more.

Pick up a free Discovery Pack at Hoyt Arboretum. Speaking of hikes, pick up a free discovery pack for your child and explore 200+ acres of forest at Hoyt Arboretum. Supplies suitable for K-5th grade students.

See a free lion dance at Lan Su Chinese Garden. On January 21, catch this annual free performance at the entrance to Lan Su. It’s the perfect way to kick off Lunar New Year celebrations.

Use a free cultural pass. Learn more about free cultural passes from Portland-area library systems. These passes are limited in number and go quickly, so be sure to mark your calendar to check regularly to reserve a spot.

Check out a museum. Kids 17 and under are always free at the Portland Art Museum, or take advantage of regular free admission to places like the Oregon Historical Society or Oregon Heritage Rail Center.

Take a free ballet class. The Portland Ballet is offering a free, three-class series for beginning ballet students, ages 6-9. These classes are a perfect way to see if ballet is a good fit for your child. January 15, 22, 29. Register here.

Celebrate Tolkien’s Birthday. For free, with your kids. The Kennedy School is hosting a party for J.R.R. Tolkien on Saturday, January 7, 2023. Gather your little Lord of the Rings fans and celebrate!

Try a new park. Enjoy free parking at Oxbow and Blue Lake regional parks, Broughton Beach, M. James Gleason Memorial Boat Ramp and Chinook Landing Marine Park on three days this month: January 1, 18 and 21.

Make a craft. Don’t feel like venturing out? Try one of these crafts at home.

Get cooking. Try one of our kid-friendly recipes.

Give back. Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering together as a family. Hands On is a great place to look for volunteer opportunities. You can also check out our compilation of ongoing volunteer opportunities appropriate for kids.

Make like Ramona. Head to Northeast Portland for a self-guided Ramona Quimby walking tour. Walk by her school, Beverly Cleary’s house, and even the spot where Ramona’s boots got stuck in the mud in Ramona the Pest.

Visit the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Whatever the season, this garden is the perfect wandering spot with young children. It’s not too big, there are all sorts of ducks, plenty of visual interest and spots to let loose. No admission fee on Mondays, and children 10 and under are always free.

Go to Portland’s Peak. Explore Portland’s highest point, Council Crest Park. On a clear day, you can see five mountains from the summit: Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Rainier.

Get organized. Kick off the new year with a clean play area with these tips. Getting rid of stuff? Try giving stuff away through your neighborhood Facebook Buy-Nothing group.

Visit a destination library. Explore interactive play areas, amazing architecture, family matinees, lovely grounds and more.

Have a fun, budget-friendly month!

PDX Parent Staff
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