The Ultimate Portland Weekend with Kids 2021

Get reacquainted with your old favorites and find some new spots to explore.

If your family is like my family, you probably haven’t been out much. But as the vaccines are rolling out and COVID-19 case counts drop, more and more places are opening back up, and people are cautiously venturing out. We know it’s not “back to normal” just yet, but these spots are open now with precautions in place and are ready for exploring. Whether you’re just visiting, new to Portland or have lived here all your life, you could probably use this refresher on what’s out there for families. Pick and choose what sounds fun for your family — or try to knock out a whole long weekend’s worth of fun!

Saturday: Westside Wonders

8:30 am The Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University is a cornucopia of locally grown goodness. Grab a breakfast burrito from Enchanted Sun or a pastry from Twisted Croissant for your first meal. Then walk around to gaze at gorgeous produce or pick up edible souvenirs such as hot sauce, honey and hazelnuts. The South Park Blocks at SW Park and Montgomery.


10 am  Walk over to the Portland Art Museum to see more than 100 images from acclaimed landscape photographer Ansel Adams. Pro tip: Reserve a specific entry time prior to your visit, at (Free admission for kids 17 and younger!) 1219 SW Park Ave.

Noon  Brunch on a breakfast sando or crush a Korean fried chicken sandwich from Toki (James Beard nominee Peter Cho and family’s new spot), 580 SW 12th Ave. Or the housemade pasta is always a hit at Grassa, 1205 SW Washington St. (Pro tip: They will do plain noodles with butter if that is as adventurous as your kid gets.)

Polar bear Nora explores her new Polar Passage habitat at the Oregon Zoo. ©Oregon Zoo/ photo by Shervin Hess

1 pm  The littles might need a nap, but families with bigger kids can head to the Oregon Zoo. Make sure to check out the polar bears’ brand-new home, Polar Passage, which recently opened to the public. Pro tip: Reserve a time slot well in advance. The limited, timed entry makes for a super-enjoyable experience! 4001 SW Canyon Rd.,

3 pm  While you’re in Washington Park, hike around the Hoyt Arboretum or stop to smell the blooms at the International Rose Test Garden.

4 pm  Browse the stacks at Powell’s City of Books. Stare in wonder at the size of the Rose Room that houses the kids’ books! 1005 W Burnside St. 


5 pm  Sample Verde Cocina’s gluten-free menu of fresh, healthy Mexican dishes under one of its outdoor cabanas. 1131 NW Hoyt St.

Bonus evening activity for the ultra-motivated or those with older kids: Drive out to Newberg’s 99W Drive-In for an old-school movie experience! Find shows and times at

Sunday: Inner-eastside Escape

8 am  The kids are hungry. Stop at Pine State Biscuits for over-the-top breakfast sandwiches (we’re looking at you, Reggie Deluxe) or just plain biscuits with honey. Pro tip: Order at to skip the wait in line. Also, its covered, heated outdoor seating is open. 1100 SE Division St.

9 am The neighborhood immediately around Pine State Biscuits is home to some truly fun public art. Take a stroll and see if you can find the geisha with “growing” hair, the giant banana and miniature bronze statues.

10 am  Reserve a spot for OMSI’s new exhibit, Dinosaurs Revealed, then explore other open parts of the museum. 1948 SE Water Ave.

Noon  If you’re not still stuffed from breakfast, sample the Asian fusion at Boke Bowl think steamed buns stuffed with fried chicken and duck confit ramen. Pro tip: Boke Bowl offers kid-specific options! (Do a car picnic if indoor dining is not available!) 1028 SE Water Ave.

1 pm  The recently reopened Oregon Rail Heritage Center is a train lover’s dream come true. Gawk at three steam locomotives — two are functioning and one is being restored. The center is run by volunteers and admission is free, but donations are appreciated. 2250 SE Water Ave.,

3 pm  Maybe it’s nap time. Or maybe your family is ready for a snack and more exploring. Find yummy pastries at Grand Central Bakery, 7987 SE 13th Ave., or bubble tea at Tea Chai Té, 7983 SE 13th Ave. Then explore the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood. Some ideas: Window shop along Southeast 13th Avenue — mixed in with the antique stores you’ll find family-favorite shops including Oodles toy store and Cloud Cap Games. Westmoreland nature playground is a destination park. Or reserve a time for roller-skating at Oaks Amusement Park,

5 pm  Stay in Sellwood for dinner. Outdoor dining options include: old-school Italian at Gino’s, 8051 SE 13th Ave., or crunchy fried chicken, salads, burgers and homemade ice cream at Holler, 7119 SE Milwaukie Ave. Or grab a pie from Sunny’s Pizza to go, 7738 SE 13th Ave.

Monday: Northeastern & Northwestern Notables

8 am  Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai is calling your name. Try each variety of these mini- doughnuts. (And if it’s your birthday, you get a free dozen!) 4759 NE Fremont St. 

9 am  Run off that sugar rush at Khunamokwst Park. The amazing playground and path through the park were designed so kids of all abilities could play to their hearts’ content. 5200 NE Alberta St.

10 am  Stroll down Northeast Alberta Street between 11th and 31st avenues. You’ll find everything from high-fashion boutiques to art-supply shops to yarn and fabric stores — not to mention restaurants galore. And you’ll want to fill your feed with photos in front of the prolific street art. (For a mural map, check out And don’t miss the Black Heritage Markers that share the important history of the Black community in the area.

Noon  For lunch, veggie options abound at The Bye and Bye, 1011 NE Alberta St. (Yes, it’s a bar, but kiddos are allowed in the outdoor seating area until 8 pm!) Or try the thin-crust slices at Bella Pizza for a quick bite, 2934 NE Alberta St.

1 pm  Did you save room for ice cream? There’s a Salt & Straw on Alberta. 2035 NE Alberta St. 

2:30 pm  Head over to the Lower Macleay trailhead (2960 NW Upshur St.) to explore Forest Park. A little less than a mile in, this hike rewards kids with a chance to play in an old stone house known as the Witch’s Castle. You can connect to other more challenging trails if your family is up for a true hike. 

5 pm  Explore Slabtown for dinner. Grab sandwiches or a light salad — and decadent French pastries — at St. Honoré Bakery, 2335 NW Thurman St. Or hit Breakside Brewery’s outdoor dining space for award-winning brews and highly rated pub fare, 1570 NW 22nd Ave.

6 pm  You started the day with doughnuts — end it the same way. Most Portlanders have their own niche shop they prefer, but hitting up the “Old Portland” Voodoo Doughnuts at 22 SW 3rd Ave. reminds you who started Portland’s love affair with doughnuts to begin with.

Denise Castañon
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