Once the sheet forts make it impossible to walk around your house, you may start looking for the front door. Luckily, Portland is like a wonderland of wintertime activities perfectly suited for kids who are hungrily eyeballing the sofas, ready to pounce. And, after the holidays, free is a good price, especially for cool events like cultural powwows and win-win trips to the Portland Children’s Museum. Read on for some of our favorite winter freebies you can add to your calendar now.
photo: K. Kendall via flickr
Experience Native American culture and move to the drum beats at the Winter Powwow. Check out drum groups and dancers from across the area, try some Native American food and bring home a Native American craft.
Noon – 9 p.m.
Portland Community College Sylvania Campus
Health Technology Bldg.
12000 SW 49th Ave.
MLK Day of Service
Do a little good while having a lot of fun by participating at the PJ Library MLK day of Service for Preschoolers. Bring diapers, wipes and pajamas to donate to Goose Hollow Family Shelter. Work on a tzedakah (charity) box, hear songs and stories and make blankets for Project Linus.
6680 SW Capitol Hwy.
photo: Lisa H. via Yelp
Let your kids try their skills as a veterinarian or a construction worker, and let them do the grocery shopping or act out their favorite play at the Portland Children’s Museum which is free every first Friday.
First Friday of the month
4015 SW Canyon Road
Become entranced through the magic of storytelling and browse the endless aisles of books on Saturday mornings with Kids’ Storytime at Powell’s City of Books. While the munchkins listen in, grab a cup of coffee and some free Wi-Fi from World Cup Coffee shop and check out Powell’s Warm up to Winter Sale.
1005 W. Burnside St.
Trip the Light Fantastic
For those of us who miss all those glorious holiday lights, have your kids bask in the glow of the Portland Winter Light Festival on the grounds outside of OMSI, continuing along the East Bank of the Willamette River. Go on a lighted bike ride, or sit back and watch a light puppet show. The kids will be sure to “ooh” and “aah” at the beautiful light creations of more than a dozen artists featuring huge light sculptures, projections and performances.
1945 SE Water Ave.
Take your little monkey to celebrate the bringing in of The Year of the Monkey at Lan Su Chinese Garden. Kick off the event on Feb. 8th with the “Rolling in the Wealth, “, think skee ball with oranges, lion dances and a free Hang Bao (traditional lucky red envelope).
Daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
239 NW Everett St.
Go on Tour
You may already know that First Thursday’s are free at the Portland Art Museum, but did you know kids under 17 can get a free tour on Sundays? With kid friendly docents, everyone is sure to have a great time. Each tour has a theme such as Short Days, Long Nights and Stories in Art.
First Thursdays, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Sundays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
1219 SW Park Ave.
photo credit tomatoes and friends via Flickr
Dunk Some Doughnuts
Happy winter birthday to you! At Pip’s Original Doughnuts & Chai you can get a free dozen doughnuts on your birthday. If you can’t get to their Fremont location, see if you can spot their mobile doughnut truck out and about.
4759 NE Fremont St.
Ride the Rails
Take the train to see the trains at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. At the base of the Tilikum crossing you’ll find larger than life train displays and small pint sized toy train tables. You can climb into the Portland Streetcar to get there then climb into a caboose. Poke your head into the inner workings of a working locomotive.
Thurs.-Sun., 1-5 p.m.
2250 SE Water Ave.
Touch the Artwork
Westside residents can head to Washington County Museum for hands on history and art activities during their Free Family Days. This is one time your kids will be allowed to touch the art!
Second Saturdays of the Month
10 a.m..-5 p.m.
120 E Main St.
Take a Pass
If you looking to check out some of Portland’s favorite activities such as the beautifully decorated Pittock Mansion; or enter into a place of serenity at the Japanese Garden; or make a dash to the indoor water park at Evergreen Aviation Museum, check your your local library’s cultural pass program for a free ticket.
Study Owl Pellets
Tryon Creek State Park’s Owl Fest will have kids discovering all about owls, their habitats and exactly what those owls have been eating. Make some owl themed crafts or take a hike. There is even a meet and greet with the Audubon Education Owls, Hazel and Julio.
Tryon Creek State Natural Area
11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd.
Get the Luck of the Irish
Don your kelly green duds then watch the Sellwood/Moreland St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Afterwards, try some corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie and Guiness beer while you listen to the traditional Irish music at the family-friendly festival that follows the parade.
St. Agatha School
7960 SW 15th Ave.
photo: eyeliam via flickr
Time your journey to the coast with the gray whales. Whale watching activities abound at many of Oregon’s State Parks. Park Rangers and volunteers will be on hand to help you spot these beautiful creatures as they pass by. At best you’ll spot a few whales, worse case you can just soak in the view of the coast!
What’s your favorite winter freebie? Let us know in the comments below!