7 Reasons Why Portland Ranks a Top City for Fun

We all know Portland is a fun city — but now it’s official. According to WalletHub’s 2023 report on the Most Fun Cities in America, Portland ranked 13th in the country overall, and it’s no surprise given the abundance of attractions, festivals, restaurants, playgrounds and so much more our incredible city has to offer. WalletHub based their rankings on 65 different metrics. Here are our family-friendly picks for seven of their categories.   

Reason No. 1: Restaurants

Portland ranked 9th overall for restaurants per capita.

Courtesy of Oven and Shaker

It’s true that you can’t travel far in Portland without stumbling upon an excellent restaurant. And we can’t get enough of Oven and Shaker, where the wood-fired pizzas are enjoyed by the whole family, and their artisan cocktails hit the spot for grown-ups. They don’t have an official kids’ menu, but they say their “servers are happy to suggest child-friendly dishes (everybody loves pizza!).” Kids love the fried mozzarella and crispy chickpeas on the snack list. Pro tip: They also have plenty of high-chairs and a changing table available.

We also love Produce Row Cafe on the eastside for their relaxed vibe, and delicious burgers and bowls. Their kids’ menu is great and features plenty of choices like grilled cheese and fries, a quesadilla, mini corn dogs and fries, and more all for $9 each. Don’t miss their flourless chocolate torte or gelato sando for dessert. Their covered patio is a pleasant place to sit year-round.


Reason No. 2: Attractions

Portland ranked 15th overall for its number of attractions.

Courtesy of Hopscotch

With the number of fun attractions we have in Portland, the summer break cries of “Mom, I’m so bored!” are hopefully few and far between. From the well-known Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) to the newer interactive art exhibit Hopscotch, there are so many appealing options for family fun. Pro tip: Starting on June 17 and going through Labor Day, Hopscotch is extending its hours from 10 am-10 pm Wednesday through Monday so more families can explore this art experience!

In the summertime, Oaks Amusement Park can’t be beat. This park located in Sellwood features so many attractions your family will want to spend all day hopping from ride to ride. From the heart-pounding Adrenaline Peak rollercoaster to the classic “Big Pink Slide” and gentle carousel, there is something for everyone at the park. There’s also a fun, classic, indoor roller skating rink open year-round. The amusement park is open Saturdays and Sundays in the spring, then six days a week in the summer (closed Mondays). Pro tip: Reserve one of their picnic areas in advance for birthday parties or other summer gatherings.

Reason No. 3: Festivals

Portland ranked 22nd overall for its number of festivals.

Courtesy of Waterfront Blues Festival

There’s no better way to celebrate summer than at one of our many local festivals. (There are so many options to choose from that we’re surprised we didn’t place higher than 22nd!) For a true Nordic experience, check out the Oregon Midsummer Festival on June 28-29, where there will be plenty of fun activities, including rousing games of tug-of-war and adorable face painting. Don’t miss out on the raising of the Midsummer Pole, where kids and adults will delight in dancing and singing to celebrate the arrival of summer. There’s also live entertainment and delicious Nordic cuisine from local favorites like Broder Söder.


If you’ve got a kiddo who loves music, The Waterfront Blues Festival at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park on July 4-7 is sure to entertain. As Portland’s largest music festival, they’ve featured over 2,000 acts since 1988, so you can sing and dance along to your favorites while your kids enjoy all the festival has to offer. Food and beverages are available for purchase.

And our lively street fairs are perfect for families — we especially love the Mississippi Street Fair on July 13, which features live music and typically includes several kid-friendly performers. July 13.

Reason No. 4: Parks

Portland ranked 28th overall for its number of parkland acres.

Courtesy of Tim LaBarge

It’s no secret that Portlanders of all ages cherish our time outdoors. And when school lets out for the summer, there’s no better time to hit up one of our many parks and trails. We love Columbia Children’s Arboretum, where you can find peace among the trees as you search for wildlife, have a picnic, or use their shrub and flower guide for nature scavenger hunts. The 28-acre site used to be nothing more than blackberry brambles — until 1970, when local families and students planted over 8,000 trees. Now it’s a great place for family nature walks. And since it reopened last June after a major renovation, it’s even better. We love the ADA-accessible pathway, which is also great for strollers. There’s also portable, ADA restrooms and ADA parking. 10040 NE 6th Dr.

Next head over to the westside, where Tryon Creek State Natural Area is deemed the “oasis in the city” with its 8 miles of hiking trails, eight bridges and a boardwalk over a wetland. There’s no better place for exploring the forest and keeping an eye out for local wildlife. You may even spot a horse, as the park features 3.5 miles of equestrian trails. We love that Tryon also hosts tons of family-friendly programming, including the Tryon Forest Adventures Camp, a summer camp where kids can learn about science, explore the forest and more.

Reason No. 5: Playgrounds

Portland ranked 60th overall of its number of playgrounds per capita.

Courtesy of Portland Parks & Recreation

You could spend all summer attempting to explore all the playgrounds Portland has to offer and you still may not hit them all (though we have no doubt your kids will want to try!). From the popular inclusive playground at Gabriel Park to the nature-inspired Westmoreland Park, it’s clear our city is dedicated to unique, fun and accessible parks for everyone. And right now, we’re excited about the improvements coming soon to George Park in North Portland. Portland Parks & Recreation is partnering with both the advocacy group The Kidz Outside and the Portland Parks Foundation to develop a concept plan for the park’s redevelopment, which will include improving the play structure, adding better lighting and making the park more accessible. The work is expected to begin later this year once the plan is finalized. We’re also excited about the newly opened Errol Heights Park in Southeast Portland (pictured above), where families can explore 16-acres of restored natural areas, as well as enjoy the splash pad, skateboard area and brand-new playground with natural features and increased accessibility, including an ADA-accessible boardwalk. 

Reason No. 6: Bar Accessibility

Portland ranked 60th in bar accessibility per capita.

Courtesy of Pips & Bounce

In Portland, bars aren’t only for parents staying out past their bedtime. At Pips & Bounce, minors are permitted until 7 pm from Wednesday through Sunday. And that’s a good thing for kids who love ping pong. With plenty of ping pong tables and unlimited balls, the whole family will want to stay and play. Their drinks are good and their food menu is straightforward, with bar classics like nachos, sandwiches and pizza. Pro tip: They’re also available to rent for parties.

Next check out Level Beer, where kids will live their best life at the Level 2 Multnomah Village location. Not only do they have an outside area for gorgeous summer days, they also have a great selection of pinball. The beer is fantastic, but be advised they don’t serve food. However, you’re welcome to bring in food from any of the other Multnomah Village restaurants, so your family won’t go hungry as they crush new high scores.

Reason No. 7: Fitness Centers

Portland ranked 22nd overall for fitness centers per capita.

Courtesy of KidStrong Lake Oswego

That’s right, fitness really can be fun for the entire family. Enter Eastside Athletic Club, where your kiddos can play while you work out or even enjoy fun games and sports of their own. As Eastide Athletic says on their website, “We pride ourselves on being a family fitness facility and have various programs to encourage families to stay healthy together.” Their child care is excellent, but they also have fun programming for kids, such as KidFit, an hour of active games that encourage teamwork and sportsmanship. KidFit is for ages 5 to 10 and is held from 6-7 pm, Monday through Thursday. Eastside Athletic also offers karate, private swim lessons and even summer camps with fun programming like “Super Hero’’ or “Video Games Unplugged.”

And if your kid is seeking an outlet for their boundless energy, you can’t miss KidStrong in Lake Oswego (pictured above). With their fun, active 45-minute classes, kids will be healthy and more confident than ever. The coaches are friendly and encouraging, the equipment is top-notch, and their programs encourage physical, mental and social development. Pro tip: They also offer birthday parties and camps!

Bethany Marcel
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