With summer fast approaching, you may be wondering how you’re going to entertain and engage the kids during those long sunny days. To help, we’ve gathered 100 of our favorite activities and adventures. Think of this as your ultimate to-do list, whether you prefer to make a splash at a natural swimming spot, tool around in a family gardening class, or sink your toes into a beach getaway. Read on to peruse the possibilities.
photo: Carrie Uffindell
1. Roughing it with little ones can be more of an ordeal than a relaxing getaway, so we rounded up six of our favorite sites for young campers, all located within an hour of Portland.
2. Calling all adventurers! Your child will come home with new memories – and skills such as archery, tracking, and horseback riding – after an overnight summer camp.
3. Check out one of these destination playgrounds and get the wiggles out.
4. and 5. Portland has some awesome places to burn off energy on a less-than-stellar day, including indoor playspaces for your rambunctious one or warm up – and splash around – in a soaking pool or hot spring.
6. Take the kids for a romp on the trails of the Portland Audubon Society.
7. Take the kids on a culinary adventure (and tempt their taste buds) at an under-the-radar food market on the city’s eastside.
8. Raise a glass (and bring the kids) to Portland’s kid-friendly breweries, where families of all ages are welcome.
9. If your kiddo isn’t quite up for wheelies but loves pedaling around, check out these excellent beginner bike paths around town.
10. Take care of all your tootsies with a kid-friendly nail salon experience. Think of it as non-toxic mani-pedis and bonding time all rolled into one.
11. Let your kids (literally) climb the walls with a trip to one of these super cool indoor rock climbing gyms.
12. If it’s pouring liquid sunshine or too hot to play outside, strategize some indoor fun at one of these local game store.
13. and 14. Prefer your camping experience to include a shower and walls? Here’s a list of Oregon campgrounds that offer yurts or cabins as well as some of the best lux camping spots for families we’ve found throughout the country.
15. Embrace flexibility and enroll your kiddo (and, at some studios, yourself) in a fun yoga class.
photo: Carrie Uffindell
16. Go on a locomotive adventure with one of these area train rides.
17. Will your little one celebrate a birthday this summer or fall? Take the party outside at one of these five local venues.
18. Looking for that perfect birthday gift? Portland’s 9 indy toy stores have got you covered.
19. Tour Portland’s amazing ice cream scene and stay cool at these local shops.
20. Put down the iPad and video game controllers. We’ve found four scenic places to fly a kite for some good old fashioned fun.
21. Strike kid-friendly bowling off your to-do list at one (or more) of our fave Portland bowling alleys.
22. Offering special show times and organized babysitting, there are plenty of local family-friendly movie theaters where you and the little ones are welcome to kick back and take in a flick.
23. Roll out the yoga mat or grease up the baby jogger wheels–we’ve gathered up the best Mommy & Me workouts in town where you can have fun and feel the burn.
24. Darling, it’s better down where it’s wetter. For fishy fun, take the kids to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport.
25. Embark on a fun-filled, fruit-picking adventure for the whole family. Do your kiddos love berries? Visit a u-pick berry farm this summer.
26. Is apple and pear season here? Celebrate at one of these farms or orchards.
27. Finding a trail that both you and your youngster will enjoy can be challenging, but these gentle nature trails, perfect for the under-five crowd, will keep everyone entertained.
28. No green thumb? No problem. Here’s 12 easy gardening projects for your aspiring gardener.
29. Share your love for Ramona and Ribsy with the kids by taking them on this Beverly Cleary-inspired adventure around town.
30. Propeller planes, jets, a giant wooden glider, and the original Spruce Goose – your airplane-crazy kid won’t be able to contain his excitement at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum. (Psst! Did we mention the museum also boasts its own massive indoor waterpark?)
photo: Clappstar via Flickr
31. Want to give your family a road tripping experience without all the long drive time? Pack up and head out to one of these small Oregon towns filled with sandy beaches, historic parks, nature walks, and more, all within an easy two hours of Portland.
32. Don’t miss these free summer-specific events.
33. School’s out? Sun’s out? Dive into one of these nearby natural swimming spots.
34. Looking for spray parks or fountains a little closer to your neck of the woods? Here’s our list of water play options around the metro area.
35. If you’re suffering from the summer blahs, you and the kids can check out these free off-the-beaten-path activities in Portland.
36. Give your child a healthy interest in growing this summer by getting involved with a family gardening activity or planting class.
37. Instead of puttering around the house, round up the kids for a game of miniature golf at one of these friendly courses.
38. Get outdoors and explore our favorite inclusive parks for all ages and abilities.
39. Get adventurous and take your family to California on a Kidifornia vacation.
40. Take your budding art lovers to the Portland Art Museum for a guided Family Tour or Baby Morning.
41. Explore textile arts like finger knitting, crocheting or knitting with needles. If your kids are ready, get started here.
45. From meteorites to glow-in-the-dark rocks, your kiddos will love this hidden gem of a museum.
photo: Carrie Uffindell
46. Skip the dusty exhibits at these hands-on historical sites and museums around town. From making your own candles to building a fort with life-sized Lincoln logs, you and the kids will have a blast learning about the past.
47. Make an outing to the Portland Farmers Market an educational and entertaining experience for your culinary-curious child.
48. Neaten up those hairdos with a painless haircut at one of these kid-friendly salons.
49. Located just across the Columbia River, the third floor kids area of the Vancouver Community Library is filled with learning and sensory delights.
50. Grab your tackle boxes and rods and cast your line at a kid-friendly fishing hole.
51. Saddle up and take your horse-crazy kid for a horseback ride.
52. Invite the grandparents and have a great time with these activities.
53. Play the day away at this transformed elementary school, where your family can enjoy live music, pub fare, a movie, a soaking pool, and more.
54. Love our fresh, local veggies? Check out these meat-free restaurants dishing out vegetarian and vegan treats for all ages.
55. Have pots of mealtime fun at these Portland fondue-eries.
56. Whether your child wants to perfect her backstroke or a tadpole ready to upgrade from the dog paddle, we’ve gathered up a list of Portland’s best swimming lessons.
57. Put a Celtic skip in your step at an Irish restaurant that welcomes leprechauns of all ages.
58. Visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and treat your youngsters to an outing that’s entertaining, educational, fun, and delicious.
59. Traveling via the Portland International Airport (PDX) this season? Scope out our guide to PDX’s top amenities for tiny travelers.
60. For a sweet afternoon, grab a tasty treat at one of Portland’s gluten-free bakeries.
photo: Carrie Uffindell
61. Did you know Portland is roughly 100 miles southeast of the world’s longest beach? On Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula, you’ll also find the perfect combo of touristy taffy towns, spectacular nature walks, dramatic lighthouses, and historical museums.
62. Gather up your little connoisseurs and sample some of our city’s best food carts for kids.
63. Visit the floating Oregon Maritime Museum to learn about maritime history and see the inner-workings of a real boat.
64. Fine dining and kids. Not two words you’d think go together. Luckily, this sophisticated new farm-to-table restaurant in downtown welcomes families of all ages.
67. Moms, it may no longer be Mother’s Day, but you can still grab your favorite friends for a wine-tasting mom-date.
68. Go on a hot air balloon ride!
69. If you’re traveling on Highway 6 toward the coast, make a perfect kid-friendly pit stop at the Tillamook Forest Center. Did we mention it’s also free?
70. Try these delicious homemade s’mores in the backyard or during your next camping trip.
71. Stuck in a play date rut? From a drop-in art studio to pizza and a show, these nine spots around town will have you thinking outside the house.
72. For old timey fun at America’s oldest amusement park (think roller skating, carousel rides, and carnival games) head to Oaks Amusement Park in the Sellwood neighborhood.
73. Dine al fresco with the wee ones at a family-friendly restaurant, rain or shine.
74. Children love waterfalls and exploring, so we’ve found six waterfall hikes in the Columbia River Gorge with level trails for little legs.
75. Let the kids get down and dirty and totally creative in their very own crafty outdoor art space.
photo: Carrie Uffindell
76. Ditch the city and spend a day cruising the Hood River Farm Loop to see working farms, meet farm animals, sample fresh cider, and/or pick your own fruit. Great stops include Draper Girls Country Farm, the Gorge White House, and Mt. View Orchards.
77. Have little foodie on your hands? These local restaurants serve up adventurous kids menus.
78. Take the kids to the Portland Japanese Garden and marvel at its newly opened 3.4 acres of expanded gardens and educational facilities.
79. Slow down for a morning (or afternoon) and read one of these new non-fiction books with your little bookworm.
83. This scenic recreation area in the Willamette National Forest is home to 800-year-old trees, a c. 1930s mining camp, and a crystal-clear swimming hole.
84. Cheer on your little athlete at one of these local soccer camps or clubs.
85. Wooden bridges, water play, climbing rocks, oh my. Make a date with nature-based play at Westmoreland Park.
86. For the best birds-eye view in town, climb through the trees and whiz through the air at a family-friendly ziplining park.
87. You and the kids can get your feline fix in a comfy setting at Portland’s first cat café and lounge.
88. Slurping your noodles is permitted (and even encouraged) at these Japanese-style ramen hotspots.
89. Catch an event or story time at one of Multnomah County Library’s branches.
90. Hip hop, tap, hula, ballet, and more – these Portland studios will keep little dancers on their toes.
photo: Virginia State Parks via Flickr
91. School young gamers in Pac Man, Super Mario Brothers, pinball, and more at this new retro-cool arcade in Hawthorne.
92. Looking for a fun new way to experience Oregon’s rivers and lakes? Take the kids SUPing (Stand Up Paddle Boarding) with our handy guide on how to get started, find rentals, book lessons, etc.
93. Is autumn approaching? Celebrate the coming season by exploring stunning fall colors.
94. Your little gymnasts can bounce, flip, jump, and tumble the day away at this new trampoline park in Vancouver.
95. There’s much more to Portland’s Montavilla neighborhood than meets the eye so we’ve rounded up our favorite things to see, do, and taste while you visit.
96. Nurture and grow your child’s imagination by helping her create a mini fairy garden.
97. Planning a family road trip this summer? Here are 16 clever ideas and hacks that can help smooth the road ahead.
98. Take the kids to one of these super-friendly waterfront restaurants in town for a fun, affordable meal with river views.
99. I-Spy… a Pileated woodpecker. Grab the kids (and binoculars) for some bird-watching fun at these local sanctuaries, nature parks, and wetlands.
100. Need more ideas? Here are 100 more activities for your 10 and under crowd.
What is on your family’s must-do summer adventure list? Tell us in the comments below!
—Carrie Uffindell (Edit and Update by Annette Benedetti)