The sign as you enter this southwest Portland neighborhood reads “Multnomah Village, The village in the heart of Portland”. It’s an accurate description of this charming neighborhood and business district just minutes from downtown Portland. The community developed in the 1910s when the Oregon Electric Railway built the Multnomah Station, a railroad stop on the way from Portland to Salem. A few of the shops and restaurants in the village are housed in historic buildings dating back to 1913. A visit to Multnomah Village is an easy, family friendly outing to play, eat, browse and maybe learn a bit of history.

Go: Year-round.

Approximate travel time: Multnomah Village is less than 5 miles from downtown Portland. Go south on I-5 to Multnomah Blvd. exit. Turn right on SW 31st to Capitol Hwy.

Where to go: The Multnomah Arts Center, run by the Portland Parks & Recreation, is located in the old Multnomah School. Stop in and grab a class catalog to check out the classes and summer camps for kids. They have high quality and affordable art, music, dance and theater classes for all ages. They also host birthday parties and special events.  There’s a playground outside and covered sport court area that is great for riding little bikes and scooters or playing ball.

Locally owned Thinker Toys is a favorite destination for kids and parents to browse or find the perfect birthday gift. There’s a great selection of quality toys and interesting games for children of all ages. The environment is hands-on, with a really cool playhouse, train table, marble run and more to keep kids engaged.

Around the corner, newly opened knack features modern, one-of-a kind objects from local artists and crafters. The tiny shop showcases interesting and beautifully crafted pieces in a gallery setting that are intriguing for kids and adults alike. The ceramic flower pod rattles by Denise Krueger are particularly eye catching and make a unique baby gift or art piece for a nursery.

Another favorite is independently owned Annie Bloom’s Books which has been operating since 1978. This cozy bookstore, with its resident cat and homey feel, is a natural draw. There’s a great children’s section in the back where kids can sit and read on a stuffed dragon rocking chair.

For a sweet treat, visit old fashioned candy store Sweets Etc. next door. Choose from 35 different varieties of licorice or pick up some handmade fudge to bring home.

Afterwards, pop into fun and funky Switch Shoes. They carry colorful and comfortable shoes for women. The store definitely has a kid friendly vibe and moms can find stylish, yet playground-appropriate footwear.

Possible lunch spots: If the sun is out, head to the Lucky Lab for pizza and sit outside at one of the picnic tables. Kids will get a kick out of the dog themed pizza names like “The Mutt,” “Hot Diggity Dog,” and “Dog Breath.” Long time favorites Marco’s Café and Fat City Cafe serve up tasty breakfasts all day and both feature kids’ menus. Fat City Cafe is the famous spot where in 1987, then-mayor Bud Clark fired Police Chief Jim Davis over breakfast by saying “read my lips, you’re fired.”  The diner’s quirky décor and chocolate malts will surely please the kiddos. For grab and go, there’s Grand Central Bakery. The sandwiches, tostis, and baked goods make a quick fix and are always crowd pleasers.

How to dress: Seasonally appropriate.

Need to know: Mark your calendar for the annual Multnomah Days celebration and parade on Saturday, August 20th.  Kids and fun galore!

Bonus: Multnomah Outdoor Cinema, a free event featuring live music, bottomless popcorn and a movie is hosted here in the summer. The dates are set for July 1and Sept. 9 this year.

Cost of trip: Inexpensive to moderate.


—Ali Livolsi