The nose of the famous White Stag on Portland’s Old Town sign has turned red, marking the beginning of the holiday season. We’re sure your family’s schedule is filling up faster than Santa’s belly on Christmas Eve, but there’s a certain something special about the plans you make on Christmas day. While many businesses, restaurants, and venues are closed for the holiday we’ve made our list (and checked it twice) of our top 10 things to do Christmas day with the whole family. Scroll down to find out more.

photo: Patrick M via flickr

Peacock Lane

After your festive feast bundle up and hop in the car to be taken to the magical world of Peacock Lane. Recently added to the National Register of Historic Places, this tour will take your family back in time to some good, old-fashioned holiday spirit. There are two ways to see the houses: on foot and in your car. If you’re staying in your car to view the lights, visit at non-peak times which are typically before 7 pm and after 10 pm. We have a list of great displays in the area if you’ve already visited Peacock Lane this season.

Pricing: Free

Hours: Starts December 15 6 – 11

Pedestrian only nights: Dec. 15 – 17

Peacock Lane is between SE Stark St. and SE Belmont St. and one block east of SE 39th




Lighting of Maddax Woods

An interactive wonderland the Lighting of Maddax Woods in West Linn is free, festive, and furry. This event combines holiday fun with forest animals. You and the kids can take walk down a lighted path through the woods to the viewing platform on the Willamette River. Learn about Maddax’s boat history and see Dorothy Maddax’s garden.The owners of the land chose for this to become a park so the animals could stay all snug in their beds while you enjoy, learn about, and protect them.

Pricing: Free

Hours: Nov. 18 – Dece. 31 lights on at 4 PM

5785 River St, West Linn



photo: Vic C. via Yelp

Winter Wonderland

Said to be Portland’s largest light show west of the Mississippi, this glowing display spans the Portland International Raceway track. In its 25th year the journey along the raceway is as enchanting as ever with over 250 colorful light set pieces and animated scenes. No need to bundle up for this Christmas light display as you view it all from your car.

Pricing: $22/car ($2 off for online purchases)

Hours: 5 PM – 9:30 PM

Portland International Raceway
1940 N Victory Blvd Portland, OR 97217



While A Christmas Story is probably on repeat on your TV how about you watch something new? Check out this list of movies that debut on or before Christmas Day (we searched November but check out December too!).

Sneak peek of some movies we’d love to catch:

  • Coco
  • The Star
  • Ferdinand


Give back by volunteering this Christmas day in your community. One great option is Potluck in the Park at the Portland Art Museum. Register through Hands On Portland, where there are details for volunteer opportunities that include all ages. Or check out our list of volunteer opportunities for families.

Photo: William Murphy via flickr


Grab your scarves, gloves and some cocoa then head out caroling for folks who might not have someone to spend the day with. Call your local nursing home, assisted living facility or community center to find out who might be in need of some Christmas cheer (we hear singing loud for all to hear, is the best way to bring Christmas cheer).

Head to Mt. Hood

Give your family a white Christmas by heading up to the mountains. Whether you enjoy your time in the warmth of the lodge or get on the slopes heading to Mt. Hood is a way to make this Christmas day magical. Check the weather conditions on Mt. Hood or call a ranger station for advice, then pack up boots and coats and head for the powder. If you head up a day early kids can have breakfast with Santa! If you’re planning ahead, create a scavenger hunt or BINGO game for the kids to do from their seats in the car. Include special front-yard decorations like reindeer, snowmen, the Minions (yes, we’ve seen them!) and Santa himself.

Timberline: 27500 E Timberline Road, Government Camp

Meadows: 14040 Oregon 35, Mt Hood


Pioneer Square Christmas Tree

Check out your favorite city holiday tree all lit up without the crowds. The 75-foot Douglas-fir tree provided by Stimson Lumber Company is list with over 14,000 colorful lights. Or we recommend some great ones here if you need some closer to home!

Pricing: Free

Hours: Starts November 24th 5:30 PM

Pioneer Courthouse Square
701 SW 6th Ave.

Photo: innis22mara via flickr

City Lights

If you’re already downtown for the tree-and the weather isn’t too frightful-delight in the displays, lights, and cheer in the window displays of Downtown Portland. Enjoy the peace and quiet on Christmas Day that replaces the usual hustle and bustle. Pop into the lobby of each hotel you walk by to check out the impressive holiday decorations and warm up before heading back out.



What are some of your family’s holiday traditions on Christmas day? Share your favorites to inspire other Portland families in the comments below. Merry Christmas!


—Kris Wilhelmy