Family is at the top of the list of things we are thankful for. And closely following that is the fact that we live in this incredible city. Even though there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 101 reasons to be thankful that we’re Portland parents, here are our top 16. Feel free to add yours to the list in our Comments below.

Laurelhurst Park

photo: Laurelhurst Park by Scott T. via Yelp

1. Portland Parks
We have miles and miles of beautiful natural beauty and a wide range of outdoor activities – all within the city limits, including roller skating along Tom McCall Waterfront Park, hiking and biking miles of forest at Forest Park, skateboarding at Pier Park and playtime on the inner city volcano, aka Mt. Tabor.

Seven Virtues

photo: Seven Virtues Coffee by Betty F. via Yelp

2. Coffee Shops with Kids’ Areas
Many of us busy parents are thankful for coffee. Portland has plenty of delectable coffee shops, and some of them even have kids’ play areas to give us a few minutes of peaceful with our sweet, sweet caffeine. Here’s a link to our favorite coffee shops with kids’ areas around town.

Hopworksphoto: HUB play area by Dayana J. via Yelp

3. Kid-friendly brew pubs
We love breweries with play areas for kids, like Hopworks Urban Brewery and Laurelwood Brewing Company. It’s the best of both worlds when you can order a kid-friendly meal, along with great adult food, then sip a brew while the kids play and you wait for food. These folks get us. They really get us.

Kennedy School movies

photo: McMenamins Kennedy School movie theater via Yelp

4. Mommy Matinees at Kennedy School
Ah, those McMenamin brothers and their genius ideas. You can take your baby to the movies without worrying about your little angel waking up from their nap and yowling at the top of his lungs. You can even order beer and have food delivered to your seat.

Cotton Babies

photo: Cotton Babies by Lily M. via Yelp

5. Cotton Babies
If you’ve ever tried to figure out cloth diapers, surely you’ve given up and thrown your hands over your head at least once, exasperated at all the options. Portland parents have experts just across the river in Vancouver, who will gently guide you in choosing the best pocket diapers, all-in-ones and brands that suit your family. (Whew.)

Sauvie Island

 photo: Sauvie Island berry picking by Katrina Br*?#*!@nd via flickr

6. Sauvie Island
This rural getaway to farm country is close enough for a morning excursion, and families love going berry picking, checking out fall activities at the pumpkin patches, bird-watching, and exploring the beaches. (Just steer clear of the nude beach unless you’re up for a bracing lesson in anatomy.)

Slappy Cakes

photo: Slappy Cakes by Claire and Amy A. via Yelp

7. Brunch Options
We love our brunch in this town and there’s a hot spot in just about every neighborhood. One of the gems in southeast, is Slappy Cakes, where everyone, including kids can get involved cooking their cakes right at the table. Squeeze shapes from batter bottles and add your own items, like chocolate chips or blueberries, without any of the grocery shopping or cleanup. The younger set is a lot less likely to get fidgety and fussy when they’re participating in making their own meals. Another one is Helser’s on Alberta with their uber kid-friendly atmosphere and giant, fluffy German pancakes – breakfast is served all day.

Farmers Market

photo: Farmers Market by Matt Kowel via flickr

8. Farmers Markets
We have bountiful farmers’ markets in nearly every neighborhood, and they offer so much more than just-picked, seasonal produce. They also have oodles of fresh-baked breads, sweet jams, creamy chocolate and more from local artisans, as well as live music and cooking demonstrations.

Green Bean Books

photo: Green Bean Books by Jennifer G. via Yelp

9. Independent bookstores
What better way to spend a gray and drizzly afternoon than surrounded by dozens of enticing books? Many of these bookstores, like Green Bean Books, create community hubs for their neighborhoods by featuring cool craft and story times for tots.

Multnomah County Library

photo: Multnomah County Central Library by Padraic via flickr

10. Libraries
All of the libraries around town play host to story times, crafts and cultural events for all ages, every week, all over the city – all for free!

Cannon Beach

photo: Oregon Coast by Loren Kerns via flickr

11. Day trips to the beach
Packing light and heading off for a carefree day at the beach is a simple and attainable joy for most Portlanders. Head west for about 2 hours, park it and you’re set for a relaxed day filled with crashing waves, sea breezes, shell-collecting and sand-digging.

Mt Hood sledding

photo: Mt. Hood Territory via flickr

12. Day trips to Mt. Hood
Usually, it’s pretty safe to assume that when it’s raining in Portland, it’s snowing on Mt. Hood. Head east for about an hour and a half to do a little – or a lot – of sledding in Government Camp. Don’t forget to stop at Joe’s Donut Shop in Sandy for coffee and treats on the way.

Multnomah Falls

photo: Columbia Gorge by Chris Murphy via flickr

13. Columbia Gorge
The Gorge is filled with spectacular waterfalls only about 30 miles away. Multnomah Falls is the biggest and most popular, of course, but there are plenty more waterfalls and hikes in the area. Stop at Tad’s Chicken ‘n Dumplins on the way home for gigantic dumplings to warm your little ones up after a drizzly hike.

Sunday Parkways

photo: Sunday Parkways by Sam Beebe via flickr

14. Sunday Parkways
Portland is a great place to ride bikes with your kids. No time is better than over the summer at Sunday Parkways. These monthly events, in a different section of town each time, close off 7-8 miles of roads to car traffic to let mountain bikes, trailers, tall bikes, Xtracycles, unicycles and cargo bikes through.

Oaks Park

photo: Oaks Amusement Park by Mark S. via Yelp

15. Oaks Amusement Park
So much good old-fashioned fun, you won’t know where to start! This park’s been around since 1905 and offers up kiddie rides, thrill rides and mini golf in the summer, and roller skating year-round.

Jamison Square Fountain

photo: Jamison Square Fountain by Sam Beebe via flickr

16. Other Portland parents
With baby groups, mompreneurs, thoughtful guidance at the playground and volunteers to make cool events happen, we’re thankful to have each other.

What are you thankful for as a Portland parent? Let us know in the comments!

—Kelley Gardiner