Step back into the Ming Dynasty era with your family and explore the treasures of Chinatown. Portland’s Chinatown isn’t large but it is dense with rich experiences and hidden wonders—like a Guardian Lion Protector or a koi pond—just waiting to be discovered by curious children.

What to see: A highlight of Chinatown, The Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden is a great place to get outside with kids. Even in rainy weather, there are enough indoor spaces and partially covered walkways to explore without getting soaked.

Before you go: To get the kids excited for your visit to the garden, download the 20-page Family Guide PDF with activity sheets and traditional stories for children are also available to print and bring along on your visit to the Garden.

Photo op: Don’t miss the huge serpent-entwined Chinatown gate that looms over NW 4th and Burnside.

Go: Year-round, weather permitting. Chinatown really springs to life during Chinese New Year (Feb 3-17, 2011).

Possible lunch spots: Classic dim-sum halls Fong Chong or House of Louie. Not in the mood for Chinese? Old Town Pizza is always a hit. Ask about the resident ghost.

For kids of all ages: Teach the kids how to play Frogger at the Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade.

For older kids and teens: Skateboarders will adore Cal Skate and teens will love gawking at toys and shoes at Compound Gallery.

Souvenirs: Get inexpensive trinkets like jewelry, stickers and tiny statues at Dragon Art or Great Era next to the garden.

Great deals: Admission is free at the Chinese Garden for kids five and under.  You’ll also find a two-for-one Garden admission coupon in your Chinook Book.

Transportation: Bus lines run right through Chinatown. Metered parking is plentiful in this part of town during the weekend days. And it’s free on Sunday.

Cost of trip: Inexpensive

Online: Go here. Check out their guided tour, which highlights fun, games and history for kids of all ages. And download a walking tour map.

– Cheyenne Terbrueggen