As the weeks of summer speed along towards the back-to-school finish line, we all want to scoop up a few more memories that really shine. Whether you want to be indoors or outdoors, relaxed or rowdy, we’ve flagged 10 inspiring end-of-summer activities around Portland your kiddos won’t soon forget.
photo: Woodleywonderworks via flickr creative commons
1. Dig the Fossils at the 10th Annual Northwest Fossil Fest
Grab your budding paleontologist and head on over to the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals to explore The Pleistocene Epoch. Families can learn all about care, collecting, identification and display of fossils. There will be lots of hands on activities for little explorers, including a fossil hunt, screening for shark teeth and learning to make an acetate peel from an ancient piece of wood. All little investigators will go home with free fossils.
Travel Alert: Heavy construction in the area sends you on a creative route to get to the museum. See their website for current route suggestions.
Sat., Aug. 8, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
26385 NW Groveland Dr.
2. Get Stinky at the Elephant Garlic Festival
The 18th annual Elephant Garlic Festival will be held in North Plains on August 7th – 9th. There will be a 5K and 10K run, a parade, and a car show all on Saturday, along with a wide variety music, food, crafts, garlic festivities, a kids pay area and lots of garlicky stinky fun for the whole family all weekend long.
Big Fun Bonus: Get there between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. before the 5K begins and join in the pancake breakfast at the community hall.
Fri. Aug. 7th noon-11 p.m., Sat. Aug. 8th 7 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. Aug. 9th 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
30975 NW Hillcrest St.
photo: Stacy Coplin
3. Check Out Big Truck Day
Whether your little navigators want to grow up to be construction workers, firefighters, bus drivers, tow truck drivers or handle any other big rig, this is the day for them. Check out a parking lot filled with some of the biggest specialty vehicles around, where they can climb aboard and take a turn behind the wheel of their dream monster machine.
Big Fun Bonus: Send them on a scavenger hunt to find which vehicle has the most wheels and which one has the tallest tires.
Sat., Aug. 8, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Conestoga Rec Center
9985 SW 125th Ave.
4. Eat Your Weight in Cotton Candy at Oaks Park
Grab your favorite friend or sibling and head over to Oaks Park for two-for-one Tuesdays! Buy a ride bracelet, cotton candy, hot dog, and/or corn dog, and get one free! Ride and spin to your heart’s content, then pick up lunch and as much two-for-one cotton candy as you can eat.
For the younger amusement park fans, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they offer Chipper’s preschool rides from 9:30-11:30 a.m. with limited ride access and parents get in free with paid child admission. After the preschool session, they provide milk and cookies and a story time featuring the dairy princess!
Big Fun Bonus: Piggy back your Amusement trip with a turn around the Oaks Park skating rink for a day that will wear out your feet and send everyone to bed tired and happy.
Tues.-Thurs. noon-9 p.m., Fri. & Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m.
7805 SW Oaks Park Wy.
photo: Brian Cribb via flickr creative commons
5. Make a Run for It at the Cruisin’ Fairview 5K and Kids 1K
Start your morning with a 5K run or just come an hour later and let the kids get their race on! The course travels around the lovely Salish ponds and through adorable downtown Fairview. After you’ve crossed the finish line the whole family can join in the fun at the Fairview on the Green Festival. Merriment includes a Cruise-in car show, live music, vendor booths, kid activities, and island themed food. You won’t want to miss this trifecta of Fitness, Food and Fun!
Big Fun Bonus: They will host their first annual Buffalo Wild Wings Blazin’ Wings Challenge. Contestants will attempt to eat 12 super spicy Blazin’ wings in 6 minutes or less. Whether you want to participate or spectate, should be a flaming good time for everyone.
Sat. Aug. 22 10:15 a.m. for 5K/ 11:15 a.m. kids 1K
Fairview Community Park
21600 NE Park Ln.
6. Cruise Out to a Drive-in Theater
For a slice of history, head south to Newberg and experience the thrill of a drive in movie. Opened in August 1953, The 99W has weathered many storms over the years and now just gets more popular as the years go on. The evening starts at dusk and the first film is generally geared toward little movie fans, but be sure to check the website first. A 15 minute intermission is followed by a second feature, so if you are lucky enough to have tuckered out movie fans who will crash in the car, you might get a family night and date night in one!
Big Fun Bonus: Pack a dinner to bring along or hit up their concession stand for some after dinner treats to sweeten up the night.
Ages 6-11 $5, Adults $8, 5 & Under Free
Hwy 99W, W of Springbrook Rd.
photo: Stacy Coplin
7. Take a Tram Ride or Complete All 4Ts
Take in the sky-high views of Portland from a unique ride on the aerial tram. A four-minute ride each way, it’s a fun addition to any summer day spent exploring downtown. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can tackle the 4T Hike. The Ts stand for Trail, Tram, Trolley and Train. Starting at the Oregon Zoo, you’ll stretch your legs along a 4 mile trail from the Zoo up to OHSU along the 4T trail, which boasts an approximate 800-foot elevation gain. The trail is scenic, tree-covered woodsy hike. It will be a bit challenging for younger hikers all on their own, so they may need a lift for part of it. More seasoned hikers ages 5 and up should be able to make the trip on their own, with some slow going on the steeper sections and towards the end. You are then rewarded with a beautiful vista view as you float down in the tram to Front street. From there, hop on the Trolley (Portland Street Car), and take it to the Max Station. The last T of your journey is the Train (or Max) from downtown back to the Zoo where you began.
Big Fun Bonus: Make an afternoon of it and stop at the Street Carts for lunch before the final leg on the train back to your car.
Tram Cost: $4.50/person, downhill only is free.
3303 SW Bond Ave.
Portland 4T Trail Hike
Cost will vary, but may include: Tram ride, Trolley ticket, Max Ticket, and parking at the Zoo
photo: Barney Moss via flickr creative commons
8. Get Lost in Powell’s City of Books
An experience that will wow even the smallest bookworm, spend the day wandering the rooms and aisles of Powell’s. There’s nothing quite like plopping down right in the middle of the rows just to find out exactly what that alligator on the cover of the book is doing with a toothbrush! Whatever books stop you or your little librarians in their tracks, you’ll find it and so much more on the shelves.
Big Fun Bonus: If you venture there on a Wednesday afternoon or Saturday morning, you can join in for Kids’ Storytime and your book finding adventure will be complete.
Wed. story time: 3 p.m., Sat. story time: 11 a.m.
Store hours: 9 a.m.-11 p.m.
1005 W Burnside
9. Dedicate a Day For Ice Cream
We all know that summer and ice cream are best friends. Sprinkles, Hot Fudge, Strawberry, Salted Caramel, Concoctions made with Mint or fresh local berries. Whatever your favorite indulgence, there’s no better way to create a true summer memory than to have a day dedicated to ice cream. Adventure to several shops for small scoops to conduct your own taste test. From Baskin Robbins to Coldstone to Salt and Straw, pick your favorite shop and let your little ice cream lovers order whatever they want. Or, up the celebration to a full-scale ice cream party at home with all the toppings and your favorite fellow scoopers.
Ice Cream Scoop: When in doubt, try Salt & Straw’s Freckled Woodblock Chocolate.
10 a.m. – 11 p.m. Daily
838 NW 23rd.
photo: Stacy Coplin
10. Hike Latourell Falls
Less trafficked than its big sister Multnomah Falls, the Latourell Falls hike is the perfect adventure to get the family out in nature and exploring a beautiful waterfall trail. This loop hike is only 2.4 miles long with a 520 foot elevation gain, so it’s just right for helping even the smallest hiking legs get some miles of practice in. With two different waterfalls to see and several creek crossings, there will be adventure for everyone from the first step to the last.
Big Fun Bonus: Pack a lunch and make a day of Latourell Falls, or up the adventure ante and take the family up the highway to Multnomah Falls to get your fill of waterfall hiking fun.
2.8 miles off Exit 28 from I-84
Columbia River Gorge
Online Guide: oregonhikers.org
What are your big plans to send summer off with a bang? Tell us below!