When the sun shines here, it shines bright and hot. But don’t let that stop you and your family from spending a day outside. These local playgrounds offer lots of opportunity to run and climb, while staying cool in the shade.
Sellwood Park. Thanks to some towering evergreens, the majority of this playground remains in perpetual shade. This is a great spot for kids of all ages thanks to two play structures of varying difficulty. The light green one at the center of the park is great for smaller kids, while the colorful one at the north end is great for kids with surer footing. On really hot days, feel free to zip over to the outdoor Sellwood Pool, located at the south end of the park, or head down the hill for a dip in the Willamette off of Sellwood Riverfront Park.
Sellwood Park: SE 7th Ave and Miller St.
Sewallcrest Park. This shady school park is also pesticide free! Sewallcrest Park used to boast one of the coolest (and most dangerous) slides in town—an impressive corkscrew shaped relic. That’s now been replaced with a more kid-safe alternative, but the new slide still preserves the general shape. The equipment in general here is geared toward younger kids, but if that’s the age range you’ve got, this is a great space for shady active fun. Note: no public bathrooms at this one, so go before you go.
Sewallcrest Park, SE 31st Ave and Market St.
Grant Park. A must-see for any Ramona Quimby fan. Grant Park features prominently in Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books. The Ramona connection has been memorialized by several statues of the most beloved characters. These statues are in the shade, as are the play structures. There’s also a seasonal splash pad to help you cool down even more.
Grant Park: NE 33rd Ave. and US Grant Pl.
Irving Park. This large Northeast park has just anything you could want on a sunny afternoon. Large fields, picnic areas, a cool playground with out-of-the-box designs—even water features! Though not all the park is in shade, it is quite shady around the water fountains and splash pad, plus there are plenty of shady spots to hang out in the fields.
Irving Park, NE 7th Ave. and Fremont St.
A Park. Formerly named Custer Park, “A Park” is awaiting its new name. This Southwest playground is under trees so dense that at first I didn’t event see it. There is also a large, green field for frolicking in the sun if you need to warm up. This is a solid find in the Capitol-Hill area with easy street parking and a restroom.
Custer Park, SW 21st Ave. and Capitol Hill Rd.
Laurelhurst Park. The playground here is not shady, but if you cross the street to the duck pond you’ll find all sorts of protected spots. The duck pond is surrounded by tall trees, making your duck- and frog-spotting adventures nice and cool. Away from the duck pond, you’ll find lots of pockets of tall trees to climb and explore, especially along the edges of the park.
Laurelhurst Park, SE Cesar Chavez Blvd. and Stark St.
Peninsula Park. It’s hard to find a drop of sun in this super-shady playground. This one made our top ten playground list for good reason—the structure is a relic—lots of wood and metal, tricky climbs and steep drops. That can also make this one a less than ideal choice for super young kids. If you want to take a break from the shade, head over to the lovely rose garden, or take a splash in the splash pad.
Peninsula Park, 700 N. Rosa Parks Way
Wallace Park. This sweet neighborhood park has all the basics—slides, ladders, space to run—all under the forgiving shade of numerous large evergreens. If you want to get a bit adventurous, go on a scavenger hunt for a curious collection of tiny bronze objects. It’s part of an art installation created by artist Bill Will. If you come in late summer, be sure to stick around for the Swifts at nearby Chapman elementary.
Wallace Park, NW 25th Ave. and Raleigh St.
Washington Park. This epic playground—Portland’s largest—is covered in shade. The sprawling playground has swings, a sandpit, and more ramps and slides than your kids will know what to do it. It’s definitely worth a visit and it’s sure to get a wow out of even the most stoic kids.
Washington Park Children’s Playground, 1715 SW Sherwood Blvd.
Mt. Tabor. Where else to go but a volcano if you want to cool down? But seriously folks. Mt. Tabor’s playground is a great place to go for cool, active play. The structure has a few slides and places to climb, along with one of those bouncy bridges. Little kids will love to “take a ride” on the metal tractor/truck on the premises. For a real adventure, head up the steeeep hill to the top of the caldera for some of the best views of Portland in town.
Mt. Tabor Playground, SE 60th and Salmon (playground is located near the visitor center)