Whether you are new to Portland, or living in Portland a new to parenting, you are likely looking for all of the family-friendly things our city has to offer. You can spend hours searching the internet for eateries and activities that welcome your crew. Or, you can scroll through and bookmark our Family Guide to Portland. Read on to find out where to eat, play, learn and grow together.
Where to Eat
Portland is a foodie’s paradise. And fortunately for families, little foodies are welcome at many, many of the most popular restaurants. The following are some of our favorites:
Kick things off with the breakfast spot that’s at the top of every Portland parent’s list for good reason. There’s a big play area in the main dining room, and the friendly staff make an effort to seat families with young children nearby. The menu appeases picky palates while still offering something for the grown-ups—Ricotta Pancakes and Bloody Marys, anyone? Kids will love the sippy cups with crazy straws, and you’ll appreciate the option of child-size silverware for littles just learning their manners.
2239 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
You knew this was coming, right? Spend just a few days in Portland as a family, and you’re bound to hear about this breakfast staple: pour-your-own pancakes with griddles built right into the tables. Yep. Unsurprisingly, this place is packed on weekends, so venture out on a weekday if you can, or pack some activities to keep your little ones busy in line. (They also have a text-message system for their wait list, so you can stroll around the neighborhood while you wait.) Once it’s your turn, choose from a range of batters (including vegan/gluten-free), “fixins’” and toppings to personalize your breakfast.
4246 SE Belmont St
Baker & Spice
This popular destination in the Hillsdale neighborhood serves up a wide assortment of comforting baked goods in a casual, cafeteria-style environment that welcomes families with little ones. Counter service makes it easy to choose your food and find a table quickly, though you should be prepared for crowds on weekends. Rumor has it they offer the best challah and croissants in town, but you should also try out the Katie Bun, a cross between a croissant and a cinnamon roll. When the kids get antsy, they can a little coloring at the kids’ table.
6330 SW Capitol Hwy
Check out more of our favorite breakfast spots here.
Mississippi Pizza Pub
You can’t go wrong with Mississippi Pizza Pub. Great neighborhood, fantastic pizza, the perfect atmosphere and kid-friendly music. Be sure to check the event calendar on their website and arrive early for the kids’ bands on Friday nights. It always turns into a dance party for the kiddos! And don’t forget to ask for their new, gluten-free pizza!
3552 North Mississippi Ave.
The Fried Onion
This hot dog joint makes you feel like you are in New York. With a friendly atmosphere and creative concoctions that keep families coming back for more, it is sure to become a family favorite. The toppings range from Muenster cheese and Mama Lil’s on the Spicy Russian Rover to pastrami, Swiss and sauerkraut on the savory Pastrami Dog. Even the simple New York Dog with sauerkraut and fried onions is a work of art—made all the more appealing by the $1.25 surcharge for Red Sox fans.
SE 3rd Avenue & Alder
Laughing Planet Cafe
It’s quick service, but not fast food. Serving nutritious comestibles in the form of “PNDs” (portable nutrition devices), mainly burritos, bowls, salads, baked goods, and smoothies, this local chain is a great destination for dinner or lunch, with tons of vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, paleo and kid-friendly goodies at a decent price. Plus, Laughing Planet was given the BEST award for sustainable business practices. We like that and the large dinosaurs.
Multiple locations throughout Portland
Find more of our favorite lunch spots here.
photo: Würst Ghent via flickr
If you want one of the most Portlandy dining experiences there is, then you have to dine at a food cart. There are so many to choose from in Portland, that it can be overwhelming when trying to figure out where to start. Check out this list of our favorites, and then read on for
The offshoot of Portland’s classic Caffe Mingo, the Beaverton location in the Round provides a wonderful venue for all ages. On summer evenings or afternoons, sit al fresco and enjoy the fountain. It’s close enough that the kiddos can splash and run around while you sip wine, soak in the sun and enjoy some classic fancy fare.
12600 SW Crescent Suite 120
¿Por Qué No? Taqueria
When it comes to Mexican food, this Portland standby is a no-brainer. Crisp house-made chips with fresh salsa, a variety of delicious tacos, and the perfect margarita make this a mouth-watering choice for grown-ups. But the kids’ menu, casual atmosphere, and festive back patio at the Southeast location make it a winner for summer dining as a family.
Insider tip: The long lines say a lot about quality and popularity, and they move faster than you’d think. Bring some sidewalk chalk and let the kids draw while you wait.
4635 SE Hawthorne Blvd.
Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)
Hopworks Urban Brewery (aka HUB) goes the extra mile to accommodate beer lovers with kids. It’s got a fully stocked play areas where kids can entertain themselves with toys while you enjoy your brew. The kid’s menu is stocked standard favorites like like pizza strips and the Little Brewer’s Burger both of which are guaranteed to please. There’s even organic baby food available for $2 a jar. If your family is looking for a fun trek, take your tikes on their trikes to the Hopworks Bike Bar located on Williams.
2944 SE Powell Blvd.
17707 SE Mill Plain Blvd., Vancouver
Hopworks Bike Bar
3947 N. Williams Ave.
photo: Tom Woodward via flickr
If you want to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the city head over to Pier Park. It’s enormous! They have everything from a skate park, to a Frisbee golf course, picnic areas, a splash pad, a playground, and an attached dog park. Pier Park doesn’t attract huge crowds and is tucked away in far North Portland. You’ll find accessible bathrooms and easy street parking here. There’s a ramp going into the play area, sensory play elements, rope climbing structures, swings, spinning toys, and a slide for kids to enjoy.
N Lombard Street and Bruce Avenue
Washington Park Playground
Tucked away just south of the Rose Gardens lies one of Portland’s largest playgrounds! The Washington Park Playground hosts all of your kids’ favorites! There are swings for tots and bigger kids, a sandbox, and slides galore. The park has lots of space so if you have high energy kids who love to run this is a great spot! You might want to be prepared to stay on your feet during this visit to make sure you can keep kids properly supervised. On those super steamy days there are some shady areas for kids to take a break from the sun. This spot is great for kids ages 2-5 and comes equipped with public restrooms.
1546-1666 SW Sherwood Blvd
If you are looking for a land of adventure we found the perfect spot! Go pack up the kids and head to Pirate Park. Formerly known as Bethany Meadows Parks this destination park is nestled in the Bethany neighborhood of Beaverton. You may have already guessed that this park has a special pirate theme. On top of a steep hill there’s an island lookout where your adventures can slide down and find themselves in a larger ship play structure. There are multiple slides, walkway bridges, swing sets, a sand-pit, and turf that resembles the ocean. Imaginations will go wild! While there’s not a public restroom there is a portable potty available. Keep in mind that this park has a reputation for being hard to find which is perfectly fitting with the pirate theme. Treat the whole experience like a grand adventure. You can’t park right outside the park so make sure you come prepared with everything you’ll need. You can access it by walking down the trail that meets NW Kaiser Road just past NW Wismer Street. Click the link below to take you a map of the area!
Check out our full list of the perfect parks for your family.
Photo: Warren County CVB via flickr
Pools, Pools & More Pools
Mt. Scott Community Center
The biggest attraction at Mt. Scott Community Center in the fall and winter months is the fabulous pool which far surpasses the usual lap pool! It’s full of colorful water features, a kiddie “fun” pool, a swirly twirly water slide, a hot tub for the adults, a lazy river for babes, and a whirlpool with gentle currents. Get there on the right day and they might even put out a rope for swinging out over the water Tarzan-style. Sign up for Kids’ swim lessons or bring the whole family for hours of happy wet squeals!
5530 SW 72nd Ave.
Evergreen Wings and Waves Water Park
This indoor waterpark is an all season experience! It has ten waterslides—each designed for adventurers of varying age, ability, and courage. Daredevils might enjoy the Nose Dive that spits you into a pool and shoots you out backwards! When you’re over sliding and gliding explore the wave pool, whirlpool, or revolver pool! For an extra perk the whole park is ADA accessible. Come on Fridays for their buy one get one free special!
500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way
Firstenburg Aquatic Center
Make a big splash in the Firstenburg Aquatic Playground! The leisure pool has the longest water slide in Clark County measuring in at 17 feet high. Not feeling that adventurous? No worries! Grab an inner tube and float the lazy river instead. In addition they have a spa, 3 lane therapeutic lap pool, and a kid friendly zero depth entry. Check out the special preschool specific aqua playtime Mon.- Thurs.
700 NE 136th Ave.
Portland is packed with pools. Here are some other options.
photo: keri logan via flickr
Nearby Hiking Trails
Hike around a giant extinct volcano at this park in the city limits! Powell Butte is a beautiful place for a hike, with wooded paths, meadows, and perfect views of surrounding peaks on clear days. Starting at the small visitor center kiosk it’s an easy trek to the top on the paved path. There you’ll find a viewing platform pointing out the nine different mountains encircling you, including Mount Jefferson, Adams, St. Helens, and even Rainier. From there, you can follow the hiking trails around the back of the park into the forests or turn around and wind through the grassy meadows instead. The summit is a 0.7 mile hike, and the whole loop is about 2.9 miles. Spring sees wildflowers galore on the hills, and with them comes the buzz of bees and flutter of butterflies.
Powell Butte Nature Park
16160 Powell Blvd.
Try to count how many different trees you can find in Hoyt Arboretum, we dare you! With 2300 species and over 12 miles of trails, it’s quite the challenge. Whether you can count that high or not, you’ll find plenty of easy hikes on the hills near the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum. There’s something for every time of year– in spring, find the 0.3 mile Magnolia Trail between Wildwood and Oak Trails for a great view of the flowering trees. There’s also cherry blossoms, dogwood flowers, and Japanese snow-bells. Don’t forget to look down for early trilliums!
Start your visit in the parking lot (it’s a pay lot, avoid the hunt and cost by taking the Max or even biking), then head to the Visitor’s Center for a kid’s map and scavenger hunt flyer with fun activities.
Hoyt Arboretum Visitor’s Center
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
One of Portland’s favorite playgrounds is Sauvie’s Island, full of berry picking and beach-going in summer and pumpkin patches in fall. Early spring might be too soon for berries, but you’ll find a great hike at Wapato Greenway, which features a wetland lake, meadows, grassland, and oak trees. Kids will love hunting for snakes (harmless garter varieties!), frogs, ducks, and more on the trails. The loop around the pond is 2.2 miles total and is great for kids.
18846 N.W. Sauvie Island Road
Here are some more great trails!
Photo: Indoor Park at MJCC
Museums, Play Spaces & Other Hot Spots
At OMSI everyone gets to be a scientist! With over 200 interactive exhibits there are activities for all age groups. Concoct chemical creations, shoot off rockets, control robots, crawl through the roots of a giant tree, or watch butterflies hatch from cocoons. Future astronauts might appreciate a visit to the planetarium while the 6 and under crew head to the Science Playground for waterworks, puppets, building blocks, sand exploration, and puzzles. The littlest of learners may enjoy exploring in the infant area where the soft carpet and engaging toys encourage both fine and gross motor skills.
1945 SE Water Ave.
African Pygmy Hedgehogs, Bald Eagles, and Mandrills, oh my! Members of the Oregon Zoo receive amazing benefits while supporting conservation education and animal welfare initiatives. Plus you can expect to find something wild and exotic or cute and cuddly around every corner. Check out this family guide for tips on how to make the best of your Zoo trips!.
Seeing everything in one day can be tricky which is yet another fabulous reason to become a member. With free admission for a year you can make this a recurring family date. Members receive free admission with one guest admission and free entry to Zoolights, Howloween, Rabbit Romp, Twilight Tuesday, and other zoo events. You also get discounts on zoo trains, carousel rides, food, gift shop merchandise, Discovery Tours, camps, classes, and other educational experience.
4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland Children’s Museum
Calling all climbers, builders, diggers, and explorers! The Portland Children’s Museum has what you want! After one visit you’ll be ready to upgrade to an annual membership. They have a busy calendar of events including storytimes, pottery glazing, sensory play, and so much more. With rotating monthly exhibits, a full art studio, and outdoor adventure zone the Children’s Museum will quickly become a family favorite. Let your child’s imagination run wild in the water room, theater, grocery store, dig pit, train room, tree house, or clay studio. Parents, don’t forget a change of clothes for the youngsters. Kids have been known to get wet or leave covered in dirt, clay, or paint!
4015 SW Canyon Road
St John’s Swap n Play
This award-winning membership-based swap-n-play features several distinct play areas, including use of the popular Imagination Playground, a mobile play system of blue blocks in different shapes and sizes. Members have access to both indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as classes and events, while non-members can drop in on Monday mornings during open play to see what membership is all about.
7535 N. Chicago Ave.
Here are some additional great play spots to check out!