Feeling a little uninspired on these gloomy mornings? Wishing for something a little different to do with the kiddos? Here you go: two superb itineraries to spend a rainy or dry morning, in either NE or SE Portland (don’t worry, we’ve got all you families covered no matter where you live), including where to feed the nuggets and how to burn all that calorie-induced energy away.

For the SE Fams…

A Short Stack for Your Short Stacks
Start your morning on SE Belmont and 42nd and the fantabulous Slappy Cakes. Serving up amazing do-it-yourself pancakes complete with a griddle on every table, they use nothing but the finest of ingredients including some grown in their very own backyard garden. Choose from several tasty batters like whole grain, gluten free, vegan, or classic buttermilk.  Next give a nod to the fixins: fresh and dried fruits, nuts, chocolate chips, granola or perhaps something savory like bacon, ‘shrooms or cheese. Last but not least get your toppings on with yogurt, applesauce, whipped cream, lemon curd or even chocolate sauce. Awesome!  All that’s left is to pour it on your griddle-in-the-middle and watch the magic unfold. Your perpetual wigglers have never sat so still!

If pancakes aren’t your bag – they have a full menu of scrambled eggs, benedicts and huevos. Other tasty breakfast delights (oatmeal, chicken fried bacon or biscuits and gravy) that you do not have to cook at your table are also available.  Slappy Cakes doesn’t forget your grownup bliss either – they serve Stumptown coffee, great juices, cocoa and even some local spirits. Prepare to be slap happy!

The Early Bird Gets The Table
It’s jammed on the weekends. The wait can be a grueling 90 minutes. Getting there as close as possible to the 8:00 am opening on Saturdays and Sundays can help that. If you do opt to wait, the Good Food Here food cart pod next door can definitely take the edge off or read on for places to carouse nearby.

Let the Games Begin
Now that your team’s bellies are full and you’re equally well-caffeinated, it’s time to go and work it all off. If it is dreary outside and you must find your amusements indoors, the nearby historic Belmont firehouse (35th and Belmont) is open every Wednesday and the second Saturday each month from 9:00am – 3:00 pm for tours, fire safety info and face time with firefighters. Or check out story time with Olive and Dingo, two super friendly clowns with a passion for balloon animals, at Sound Grounds (SE 37th and Belmont) Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Still another fantastic close-by indoor option is Sunnyside Swap Shop (SE 35th and Yamhill) and their open house, drop-in events for nonmembers.

Things To Know
The Belmont Firehouse has a strict no running policy. If it’s not a torrential downpour or time for recess, the Sunnyside Elementary School playground is across the street (SE 35th and Yamhill) from Sunnyside Swap Shop.

Let’s Go Outside!
Speaking of dry, and it’s not a Wednesday or second Saturday, get your munchkins over to the seriously excellent Laurelhurst Park (SE 39th and Stark) for their playground, duck pond (don’t feed ‘em) and many, many trails (paved and unpaved) poised for discovery. Alternatively you and your short people can always jump in the car and head east for a quick drive to Mt Tabor Park (SE 60th and Salmon) for a breathtaking stroll weaving your way around to the top of the mount. Better yet – race your kiddos via the direct route – the stairs. Either way your fam’s reward is one of the best views of the city and a glorious playground. Breakfast with a side of playdate – done!

For the NE Fams…

Come Rain or Come Shine: Try Out This NE PDX Morning
Start your wintry morning on NE Broadway and 27th at the newest outpost of Coco donuts. Maybe you’ve been to their downtown or uptown locations on SW 6th or SW 17th? If yes, then you know of the yum. If not, they have now migrated east and it’s a lovely, quiet spot to fill up on their small batches of jellies, old fashioneds, apple fritters and twists. Equal attention is paid to the beverage end of the party: outstanding coffee, espresso, and smoothies await. Getting out of bed is almost easy with the anticipation of this sugar high!

Hooray For Hollywood!
When you are all collectively fed and hyped up and the weather begs for inside time, head just a smidge east to Spark Arts Center (at NE Cesar Chavez/39th and Broadway). Opening this past September, this amazing den of imagination is still relatively unknown. Be the first of your pals to check it out!  With drop in art options for preschoolers in the mornings, and after school classes for the school aged set…any kiddo can get creative!

Run by two moms who know art and kids, Spark Arts Center tailors activities for all ages and stages and is delighted to be the launch pad for an inspiring and original, age-appropriate birthday bash complete with a Baskin Robbins ice cream cake (their neighbor two doors down). Spark Arts Center also sells art supplies, hosts art openings and plans Happy Hour Art events for adults. The parking lot right out front doesn’t stink either and neither do their hours – they are open six days a week!

If you need more action nearby, the Hollywood library (NE 40th and Tillamook) is three blocks away (and an easy walk) and offers story times and a kids reading area with big, bright windows right next to the front doors. They are closed Mondays but if you’re in the neighborhood on a Monday around 10 a.m. check out Tallulah’s Daddy (grooving the world of one to seven year olds) for some live music at Rain City Coffee – right next door to the library. Bravo!

Avoiding The Drizzle
Staying dry while getting active is delightfully easy with NEIP – Northeast Indoor Park (NE 21st and Schuyler). Bringing rainy-day exercise and play to babies through eight year olds, they are open Monday through Friday and are located in the basement of Central Lutheran Church. Climbing structures, slides, a play kitchen, puppets, and those ride-in cars every little cruiser loves can be yours for $5 per kiddo. It’s worth every penny.

Fields of Joy
Last but not least, if it is not raining buckets hit Grant Park (NE 33rd and Tillamook) for the playground, multiple sporting fields and the famous Ramona statues. Heck, put your mini-Olympians on the track and literally get them running in circles! It’s a perfect destination after chowing down on sweet treats.

Oh what beautiful mornings! How do you like to spend your rainy mornings with the kids in tow?

— Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of Slappy Cakes, Sunnyside Swap Shop, Spark Arts Center, and Abby Kindrick (Story time photo).