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.

The information was accurate when this post was published, but 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. Can’t make it on January 1? Try out one of these kid-friendly hikes.


Check out a museum. Come in from the cold and enjoy one of the regular free days at museums across town, like Portland Art Museum’s First Thursday, or regular free admission to places like the Oregon Historical Society or Oregon Heritage Rail Center. You can find a roundup of free and discounted museum days here.


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, 16 and 20.


Cuddle up with a book. Library storytimes are a great way to spend time with your child and other parents while reading great books, singing songs, and engaging in play. Many local bookstores also have storytimes, like Powell’s, Maggie Mae’s Kids Bookshop and Green Bean Books. Find storytime schedules here.


Try woodworking for kids.  At the Clackamas and Beaverton Home Depot locations on Saturday, January 4 from 9 am-12 pm, there will be a free workshop for kids to build their own mini hockey game. There are other local Home Depot locations participating; find one here.


See a robotics demonstration. Members of the Wilson High School robotics team will be at the Hillsdale Library to talk about robotics and show a demonstration of their robot. Wilson High School is competing in the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC), an international league with over 6,000 teams. Monday, January 6, 4 pm-5 pm. First come, first served.


Get excited about winter. Head to the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver on Saturday, January 11 to learn about natural phenomena occurring in winter. Practice animal tracking skills and discover winter adaptations. Enjoy fun, interactive activities related to winter from 1 pm-3 pm.


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


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.


Check out a new play space! NE Swap & Play is hosting a free grand opening of their new space. Music, light refreshments, and play. Geared to families with children age 0-6. Saturday, January 11.


Learn a little Spanish. Go to a Spanish Story and Play Time with Portland Early Learning Project. They’ll be at Green Bean Books on Tuesday, January 14 and the Milwaukie Ledding Library (new location at 10660 SE 21st Ave.) on Saturday, January 18.


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. Free October 1 through February 28.


Go high. 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 in the pilot’s seat. Every Saturday from 10 am-5 pm, the Pearson Education Center is open and free to explore. Check out the flight simulator lab, vertical wind table, historical airplanes and collections, and enjoy special kids activities.


Experience a powwow. This cultural event at the PCC Sylvania Campus features drum groups and dancers from across the region, crafts, food and kids’ activities. The event takes place on Saturday, January 18.


Get a sneak peek at Naked Mole Rats. Join Wilbur and the other Naked Mole Rats from Beaverton Civic Theatre for crafts and games and a sneak peek of the show “Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience”, based on Mo Willems’ book. Ages 2-12 with family at the Beaverton City Library. Sunday, January 19, 4 pm-5 pm.


Party at the Crystal Ballroom. For free, with your kids. To celebrate the 106th birthday of the Crystal Ballroom, all are invited to this free all-ages birthday wing-ding. The birthday fun covers two city blocks and includes kids activities. Sunday, January 26.


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.


Try one of these area destination libraries. Explore interactive play areas, amazing architecture, family matinees, lovely grounds and more.

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