When you were up with your toddler at 6:00 am this morning, did you notice that it was still dark out? The last few weeks of summer in Portland are here – don’t let them pass you by. We’ve put together a list of 15 ways to end your summer with the kids on a high note. Check these out!

1. Take the bikes out for a long ride. Sadly, the end of summer also means the beginning of fall, which in the Northwest means that rain will soon be falling. Before you pack away the bikes and helmets in the garage, take them for a good long ride. For a family friendly ride, head to Greenway Park in Beaverton or the Marine Drive Path near the airport, which is part of Portland’s 40-Mile Loop.

2. Spend Labor Day relaxing at the fair. If the Oregon State Fair isn’t already part of your family’s summer traditions, it should be! Little ones will love the cute farm animals, and you’ll love sampling all of the delicious fair food. The 2012 Oregon State Fair runs August 24 through September 3.

3. Take summer to the water. Looking for a new way to cool off? Check out a water cruise! The Portland Spirit offers some fun ways to see the rivers of Portland. We love the Sternwheeler brunch tours (this boat has the big water wheel on the back!) and the high-speed jet boats (ages 4 and up).

Photo courtesy of Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler via Facebook

 4. Eat ice cream for every meal. Okay, not every meal – you should probably give your family a healthy breakfast at least! Summer is the perfect excuse to make an extra trip to your favorite ice cream shop. Try the interesting flavors at Cool Moon Ice Cream or devour an ice cream sandwich from Ruby Jewel.

5. Get out of the city one last time. The end of summer typically means the beginning of busy schedules. Before your calendar takes over your lives again, find time to take some trips. We suggest heading southeast to Bend, Oregon for a family friendly weekend in a cool resort town.

6. Stay up past bedtime. Isn’t it funny how kids just instinctively know that summertime means staying up later? Let them take advantage of late summer bedtimes with a trip to an outdoor movie! There are still over a dozen opportunities to catch an outdoor movie this summer at parks all over the city – most of them are friendly for little ones. Visit the Portland Parks website for detailed information.

Photo courtesy of Esther Harlow via Flickr.

7. Take a day trip. You don’t need an entire weekend to explore a beautiful state park, a fish hatchery or even a new area in the city, like Chinatown. For more information on these locations and more, check out our list of seven easy day trips from Portland.

8. Find amusement for the littlest ones. Until the end of September, Oaks Amusement Park has Preschool Rides Mornings every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:30 am – 11:30 am (until September 26) where kiddos ages six and under can check out the rides at their own pace. Admission is $6.50 for one child and one adult, and it also includes story and snack time with an Oregon Dairy Princess.

9. Abandon your kitchen table. Take dinner outside in these last days of summer! This can be as simple as just dining in your own backyard or packing a dinner (or picking one up) to eat at the park. For great places to spread out a picnic blanket, try Mount Tabor Park. The view is amazing and you can play at the playground after you eat.

10. Make summer memories. Multnomah Village Days is one of Portland’s most beloved summer festivals! Not only is it free, but there is also an excellent children’s parade, tons of great food and music and even a special Kid Zone where the little ones can play. This year, the festival takes place on August 18, check the website for more details. You can also read more about Multnomah Village in general on the Red Tricycle Explore!

Photo courtesy of wyldwest via Flickr

11. The season is ripe for cherries (patience, wait a little later for some apples). Head over to these 5 U-Pick farms to grab a sweet snack for your kiddos lunch at school. You’ll be able to visit all five farms on this fruit-loop, so make a day out of healthy snacking!

12. In a rush to get your kiddos some new clothes for school? Want to get more than a bang for your buck? These consignment stores around Portland are bargain hotspots for your kiddos new wear. If you’re one to spend a fair amount, at least you’ll leave overflowing with clothes, rather than a light-weight bag and empty wallet.

13. What an old school trip! Fishing spots are not only a great place for pops to bond with their kids, it’s also an awesome way to soak up the last of summer’s sun. These amazing spots are great opportunities for fams to spend a nice day out.

Photo courtesy of billnwmsu via Flickr

14. We can’t all afford ponies, but we can enjoy a family ride on horseback! Check out these 8 great places to hitch up and gallop down a coastal view. Be prepared to disappoint your little one when you say, “No, we can’t bring him home.”

15. With summer drawing to an end, and all the big vacations planned and gone, there are still some penny-pinching spots to hit up. In fact, these destinations are free certains days of the week! From movies to hikes, to museums and water parks, we’re sure you’ll find one more way to spend amazing family time together.

What are you planning on squeezing into the last days of summer? Does your family have any traditions for ending summer on a high note?

Need more summer fun around Portland? Check out more activities from this list of 50 Summer Activities in Portland or find another Portland summer festival to attend.

— Katie Kavulla

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