PP&R Summer Free for All

I love summer, but I hate spending money. When I first moved to Portland, a new mom friend told me I should join her gym because my kids would love the pool. I laughed and said, “Oh, honey, we have student loans.” Luckily, thanks to Portland Parks & Recreation’s Summer FREE for All, I have been able to do fun things with my kids every year, all summer long, without spending a dime.

Credit: Portland Parks & Recreation

Read on to learn about all the free offerings, including free lunch and cultural performances.

Free Lunch + Play

I went to my first Free Lunch + Play when my kids were in preschool, and the energy was festive and inclusive. It felt like both a picnic and a parent meet-up, and I felt immediately at ease. Also, there’s something about school lunch (which is essentially what these are — meals are provided by local school districts) that’s especially exciting to my kids. When all public schoolchildren were offered free lunch after the pandemic, my kids talked about it literally every day, and I was reminded of how much kids in general love these Free Lunch + Play events. All this to say, don’t hesitate. These events are fun, and when you attend them, you ensure that they keep happening. Plus it’s “something to do” on those endlessly long summer days.

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The drop-in program will be held late-June through August, from 10:00 am-2:00 pm, Monday-Friday with on-site staff. Free lunch for children ages 18 and under will be served at mealtimes listed below (it must be eaten on site), plus games, activities and free performances will be offered (see who’s coming here). There will be no program on July 4-5. Sites will have a “no thank you table,” with parts of lunches that children inevitably reject, and kids may take what they want from that space during the mealtime for each site.

Summer Kick-Off Event for Free Lunch + Play

Watch Ballet Papalotl perform a folkloric dance, make crafts with Arts in the Park, roller skate with Rose City Rollers (bring tall socks), and enjoy lawn games at this Free Lunch + Play kick-off event at McCoy Park on Thursday, June 27, from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. There will also be free lunch, of course.

North Portland

LocationsProgram DatesMealtime
Columbia Park
N Woolsey Avenue and Winchell Street
June 24-August 1611:30 pm –
1:00 pm
Irving Park
875 NE Fremont Street
June 24-August 1611:30 pm –
1:00 pm
Kenton Park
N Delaware Avenue and Kilpatrick Street
June 24-August 1612 pm –
1:30 pm
McCoy Park
N Newman Avenue and Newark Street
June 24-August 1612 pm –
1:30 pm
Peninsula Park
700 N Rosa Parks Way
June 24-August 1612 pm –
1:30 pm
St. Johns Park
8427 N Central Street
June 24-August 1611:30 pm –
1:00 pm

Northeast Portland

LocationDay and TimeMealtime
Alberta Park
NE 19th Avenue and Jarrett Street
June 24-August 1611:30 am –
1:00 pm
K’hunamokwst Park
5200 NE Alberta Street
June 24-August 1612 pm –
1:30 pm
Montavilla Park
NE 82nd Avenue and Glisan Street
June 24-August 1612 pm –
1:30 pm

East Portland

LocationDay and TimeMealtime
Gateway Discovery Park
10520 NE Halsey Street
June 24-August 2311:00 am –
11:45 am
Lents Park
SE 92nd Avenue and Steele Street
June 24-August 1611:30 am –
1:00 pm
Lincoln Park
SE 135th and Mill Street
June 24-August 2312:30 pm –
1:00 pm
Luuwit View Park
NE 127th Avenue and Fremont Street
June 24-August 2312:15 pm –
1:00 pm
Raymond Park
SE 118th Avenue and Liebe Street
June 24-August 2312:00 pm –
12:30 pm
Ventura Park
460 SE 113th Avenue
June 24-August 2312:00 pm –
12:30 pm
Verdell B. Rutherford Park
1599 SE 167th Avenue
June 24-August 2311:30 am –
1:00 pm
Wilkes Park
NE 154th Avenue and NE Beech Street
June 24-August 2311:30 am –
1:00 pm

Southeast Portland

LocationDay and TimeMealtime
Creston Park
4454 SE Powell Blvd.
June 24-August 1611:30 am –
1:00 pm
Essex Park
SE 76th Avenue and Center Street
June 24-August 1611:30 pm –
1:00 pm
Mt. Scott Park
SE 72nd Avenue and Ramona Street
June 24-August 1612:00 pm –
1:30 pm

Southwest Portland

Location Day and TimeMealtime
Holly Farm Park
10819 SW Capital Highway
June 24-August 1611:30 am –
1:00 pm
Stephens Creek Crossing Apt.
6715-6816 SW 26th Avenue
June 24-August 1612:00 pm –
1:30 pm

Mobile Sites

Location Day and TimeMealtime
Mill Park School Covered Shelter
SE 117th Avenue and Mill Court
June 27-August 2312:00 pm –
1:30 pm
Arbor Glen Apartments
2609 SE 145th Avenue
June 25-August 2112:00 pm –
1:30 pm
Bellrose Station Apartments
7901 SE 92nd Avenue
June 24-August 2212:00 pm –
1:30 pm
East Gate Station Apartments
100 NE 120th Avenue
June 24-August 2312:00 pm –
1:30 pm
Vine Maple Apartments
177 SE 146th Avenue
June 25-August 2312:00 pm –
1:30 pm

Free Movies in the Park

Courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

All summer long, PP&R will be hosting outdoor movies in parks across the city. We add them to our popular Kids Calendar, or you can view the full list here. There plenty of family-friendly shows in the lineup, including Barbie, Wonka, Little Mermaid, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! These events are so fun, but get there early to claim a seat close to the screen. The only tricky part is they start pretty late — most don’t begin until after 7:30 pm, when it’s dark enough to see the screen. For kids with a later bedtime, it’s a blast!

Free Concerts and Cultural Events

Courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

In addition to outdoor movies, Portland Parks & Recreation also hosts free concerts, festivals, and cultural events. Families won’t want to miss the East Summer Arts Festival, The Kidz Outside hip-hop festival, and Washington Park Summer Festival. There are also a wide variety of live concerts, from country (Ashleigh Flynn and The Riveters!) to Opera in the Park Portland. These events will be added to our Kids Calendar, or see the full list here.

Free Open Play Swim

Credit: Portland Parks & Recreation

Learning to swim is an important summer ritual! PP&R pools open to the public on June 20, and there are special days when it’s free to swim at certain pools:

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  • Creston Pool – Free swim on Mondays, 6:30 pm-8 pm
  • Grant Pool – Free swim on Wednesdays, 1 pm-3 pm
  • Montavilla Pool – Free swim on Tuesdays, 6:30 pm-8 pm
  • Peninsula Pool – Free swim on Tuesdays, 1 pm-3:45 pm
  • Pier Pool – Free swim on Thursdays, 1:30 pm-3:30 pm
  • Sellwood Pool – Free swim on Wednesdays, 6:30 pm-8 pm

Pool capacities may be limited due to a nationwide lifeguard shortage. If your teen is interested in earning a little extra money this summer, lifeguarding is a fantastic summer job! Teens ages 16+ may apply here.

Gateway Discovery Park

There are so many special events at this park, that it needs its own category. Don’t miss Aaron Nigel Smith’s reggae and roots performance, Olive & Dingo’s rockin’ songs and silliness, storytime with Nikki Brown Clown, and more! See the full list of special events here.

All are welcome.

Now our student loans are (finally!) paid off, but we still participate in Summer FREE for All every year. What started as a necessity has now become a tradition. Whatever your current situation, the FREE for All is really for all.

Summer FREE for All’s Fitness in the Park is coming back for 2024, too! Learn more here.

Looking for more free things to do? We’ve got suggestions.

Meg Asby
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