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Eclectic Family Fun in Portland's Hawthorne District

The Hawthorne District begins at the Hawthorne Bridge and runs all the way up to Mount Tabor—some 60 blocks. (Most of the action is concentrated between 30th and 42nd.) It’s a jumping off point to several other neighborhoods, like Buckman, Ladd’s Addition and Richmond. But it has a character all on its own. Many people think of Hawthorne as a modern-day Haight Street. It’s definitely a laid-back place with a bohemian vibe—and a street that your family can have fun exploring again and again.

When to go: There’s not a bad time to visit, and there’s always something cool happening including the Hawthorne Street Fair on August 26, 2012 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Scavenger hunt: The Dollar Scholar has got to be the best $1 store anywhere. You’ll find useful things, like a spatula. But you’re here with the kids, so put down the tweezers and check out the great gag gifts: rubber chickens, and oddities like the ooze-filled sticky balls you can throw at walls. And, yes, you may regret that whoopee cushion or fake poo purchase tomorrow, but hey, it’s only $1. You’ll find more rubber chickens at The Monkey King, a Chinese import store that contains a mish-mash of Chinese knick-knacks, art, ceramics and decorations. Pick up a Lucky Cat and then head to The Gold Door to explore an amazing global art collection. You’ll need to supervise the kiddos here, as there are some very nice items, particularly jewelry. But there’s plenty of stuff they’ll love looking at—like Day of the Dead skeleton dolls.

Just for kids: In the heart of Hawthorne, Kids at Heart is a wonderful independent toy store with a wide variety of unique educational and developmental toys here—none of that plastic stuff you can find at the big-box stores. Step outside and a wonderful smell will lead you to the nearby Waffle Window. While this is not a just-for-kids venue, it will bring out the kid in anyone, old or young. Sweet or savory, these waffles are amazing. Try a Ham and Cheese or Peanut Butter Chocolate Dipped Waffle any time of day. They even have waffle sundaes with homemade ice cream.

Time to eat: There’s not a shortage of casual restaurants on this street. Get the best fish and chips in PDX at Hawthorne Fish House. It’s casual, and has great service. If you have a dog, the whole family, fur or no, can dine together at the Lucky Labrador Pub. Enjoy sandwiches or bento and handcrafted ale with your pooch on the back patio. Kids + dog + beer = perfect PDX family outing.

Visit a landmark: For generations, the Bagdad Theatre and Pub’s neon sign has made it a Hawthorne District icon. You can eat in the casual pub or kick back in the theater and enjoy a slice of pizza and handcrafted ale during the show. Admission is $3; $1 for 11 and under; free for 2 years and under. You’ll find lots of all-ages events on the calendar.

Run and play: Could there be a park more awesome than Mt. Tabor? It’s built on an extinct volcano. It has wonderful views of Portland. It’s filled with people playing and dogs running. A playground horseshoes, tennis courts, volleyball, and picnic tables—it’s a park lovers dream come true. You’ll find it way up at the tippy top of Hawthorne, around 60th street.

Dress the part: Come as you are, even if that means you’re wearing a superhero outfit. You’ll fit right in. Be sure to wear some comfy walking shoes, because there’s over 50 blocks of fun to explore.

Need to know: Free parking is plentiful on side streets.

Cost of trip: It depends on whether you go with the fake poo at The Dollar Scholar or the blue topaz pendant at The Gold Door. So, it’s really up to you, but you can have a day full of fun and a wonderful lunch for not a lot of cash.

Online: thinkhawthorne.com

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