Top Ten Family Activities in Portland

Jamison Square in Portland: One of the top ten places for kids in the city.
Jamison Square in Portland: One of the top ten places for kids in the city.

Top Ten Fun Family Places in Portland, Oregon

As recomended by Portland natives!

by Stephanie DiCarlo

Discover Science at OMSI museum in Portland, Oregon.
Discover Science at OMSI museum in Portland, Oregon.

Portland is a great city, and as it turns out, a very family friendly one. Full of unique museums, entertainment, amazing food, and beautiful nature, Portland holds more for the family than one might expect. As recomended by Oregon natives with families themselves, these are our top ten family friendly places in Portland.

OMSI is the science museum of science museums in Portland. With unique exhibits, a planetarium, hands-on science labs, an empirical theater and more, this museum is fantastic for kids and adults alike- or “big kids” as one mother called herself. This museum is fantastic for families of all ages, especially those with a flair for science.

For children six and younger, there’s a ‘Science Playground,’ full of water stations, a ‘sandland,’ and even an area for infants. In adition to other hands-on exhibits and the planetarium, for older children there is a real U.S. Navy submarine, in operation in the Pacific ocean for 31 years and used in movies and television shows, available for tours. A day trip to OMSI is perfect for curious children– and parents!

If your family likes pancakes, Slappy Cakes is the place to eat. Slappy cakes is where you can make your very own pancakes- right at your table! The Slappy Cakes experience allows you cook your own meal without any of the prep that comes with it. The batter is taken right to your table, and all you have to do is add your favorite toppings and flip!

This place is perfect for children, who will have fun adding all sorts of toppings and not have to suffer the wait for food to be brought to the table. A family run business, Sloppy Cakes has a happy and fun family atmosphere, has been featured on The Cooking Channel, Rachel Ray and by Alton Brown. Find out more about Slappy Cakes. 

If your family enjoys outdoor activities,Tabor Park is the place to go, and the coolest thing about it is that it’s located right on a volcano! An inactive volcano, of course- in fact, it has been extinct for about 300,000 years. Portland is one of only four cities in the United States that hold an extinct volcano, and at its peak you can find basketball courts and an outdoor amphitheater which showcases events, shows, and concerts.

Make your own pancakes at Slappy Cakes.
Make your own pancakes at Slappy Cakes.

Tabor Park is also home to playgrounds and tennis courts, trails for hiking and biking, rest areas to have picnics, and is simply a beautiful area to explore nature with the family. Whether you want a day of relaxation under the trees or a day packed of activities, Tabor Park will be the perfect spot to go with your family.

Visit the scenic Tabor Park

Described as an “urban amusement park for any age,” Jamison Square is located in downtown Portland and is a great place for the kids to cool off on a warm day.

A fountain in the middle of the park that lets out into a pool creates a “mini water park” for children of any age to play and splash around in.

There are grassy areas for sitting and relaxing, and once the day at the park is over, the area is surrounded by restaurants that are very kid and family friendly. Jamison Square has also been known to host concerts, and is a lovely place to come out and enjoy in the summertime.

If your family likes rides, games, and lots of fun, take the to Oak’s Amusement Park, located just a few miles south of downtown Portland.

Oak’s Amusement Park is open March through September, and is a great place to go for a summertime trip with the kids. There are rides, carnival games, mini golf, and the United States’ largest roller skating rink! The rides accommodate young children, older kids, and adults alike. The small children can take a gentle train ride, while the bigger ones take on the roller coaster. Parents can accompany their kids on the rides, or take them on themselves! There is no age limit for this park, and families of all ages and sizes will have a lot of fun here.

Ride a roller coaster at Oak’s Amusement Park

If your family is looking for something a little more extreme, look no further than Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park. This park is great for adults, teens, kids, and children as young as four years old- anyone can bike at any level!You can bring your own bike or rent one there, learn the basics or simply go for it. If your family enjoys physical activity, this bike park will satisfy. Lumberyard Bike Park is a fun and friendly atmosphere, and is a great place for some dry bike riding in a rainy city! No one has to feel inexperienced to come ride here- it’s perfect for bikers of any level, whether you want to coast the ramps or get some air!

Do some biking at Lumberyard Bike Park!

The Portland Aerial Tram is a unique way to see the city, from above! “In addition to one of the nation’s only aerial commuter trams, you’ll see cars, buses, shuttles, a streetcar, a soaring pedestrian bridge, a shipyard, a cycle track, and the densest bike parking in America’s #1 biking city.”

Bikes are available for rent at the ground end of the terminal, and at the top of the tram terminal, you can lounge in an outdoor patio and enjoy views of the region below as well as Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens on a clear day.

This tram ride provides a relaxing trip for the whole family, especially those who enjoy heights. Also at the top of the terminal is a coffee shop, Summit Express, where you can grab a hot drink before heading back down. Find out more about the Portland Aerial Tram.

for those more inclined toward nature, the World Forestry Center is a perfect place to go. This museum is family-friendly and interactive, and will teach people about the sustainability of forests through fun and interaction.

This museum “is sure to delight anyone from ages 3 to 103,” and includes interactive exhibits that will entertain and amuse, including one exhibit in which you “travel” to different places and meet people with different problems about keeping their locations sustainable. There are also tree farms you can visit, to get out among the trees and enjoy nature face-to-face, and get to experience forestry for yourself. Lean more about the World Forestry Center.

Catch a great dinner at Mississppi Pizza!
Catch a great dinner at Mississppi Pizza!

Mississippi Pizza describes itself as a place that prides itself on, “great pizza, family friendly live music and entertainment, and above all, serving the local community.” This restaurant is a great place to take the family, and is friendly and accommodating to all.On Saturday afternoons they host ‘kids music shows’ in which little kids can play to their heart’s desire in the music room, while their parents watch, eat pizza, and enjoy. Mississipi Pizza has delicious food and caters to the needs of all its customers, including adults.

They have a kid friendly happy hour, live music, awesome pizza and is a great place for the family to come and enjoy a night of food and family atmosphere. Check out more about Mississippi Pizza.

Bring your family to Portland and find the perfect hotel from Trivago!


Stephanie DiCarlo is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts and has a Bachelor’s degree in English and History, as well as a specialization in creative writing. She also writes for the young adult literature magazine Ultimate YA and she likes to travel and eat good food. You can follow her on Twitter at @ccioSteph

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