Happy 4th of July!  Go buy that box of sparklers and celebrate our nation’s independence with the following holiday events, along with a few others that don’t involve loud things that go boom in the night. Want to get away? We also dish on two cool road trips, if you’re up for an adventure.

oaks park girls


Ride On! Oaks Park Independence Day
Fireworks begin at dusk at the Oaks Park 4th of July Celebration, but come early to take your little ones on some super-fun rides first. The carnival ride wristband is valid all day long. Bigger/taller kids have the most choices, but there are plenty of rides for even the smallest of thrill seekers. Rides like the bumpy boats, the honking cars, the fighter air planes, the nauseating tug boat (whoa, mama, it’ll make you sea sick), the Tilt-a-Whirl, the kid roller coaster and the little train ride. If they’re ready for a break, take them to the rink for a little roller skating. Fri., 10 a.m.-12 a.m. (rides start at noon), $2-$5/person admission (attractions are extra, see website for details), All Ages. Event details.

Big Boom at Ft. Vancouver Independence Day
The Fort Vancouver Fireworks Display is said to be the largest fireworks display west of the Mississippi. Located just on the other side of the bridge in Washington State, your family will be amazed with how huge, yet intimate, this show feels. Plus, they have family friendly activities to enjoy all day long, like kids painting themselves red, white and blue to march in the Kids’ Patriotic Parade at 4 p.m., so go early and spend the day hanging out. Buy food there, or bring your own picnic feast. Fri., 8 a.m. (gates), 12 p.m. (entertainment), 10 p.m. (fireworks), $5/person advance; $7/person at gate; kids 12 and under are free: $10 parking, All Ages. Event details.

The Sky is Falling! Chicken Little Hits the Stage
Once Upon a Time Family Theatre is a magical mix of theatrical simplicity and grand storytelling for kids and their families, but there’s always a slight variation to the classic tale that keeps these productions fresh. This month, it’s Chicken Little, the story about the tiny creature who believes the world is in imminent danger. Stay for “After Play,” an arts and crafts class for the whole family. Sat., 12-2 p.m., $1/child; $2/adult (After Play is an additional $1/child; $2/adult), All Ages. Event details.

Alex the Ant and Eric Wayne Dickey
Author Eric Wayne Dickey will read his book, Alex the Ant Goes to the Beach, followed by an educational interactive look into ants and their habitats, arts and crafts and a sing-along. Sat., 2-3 p.m., Free, All Ages. Event details.


Groove and Sparkle at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival
This is by far and away one of the biggest Independence Day events in Portland proper. Over the weekend, the festival features dozens of local and national live bands, delicious food and a fireworks show on the fourth. Fireworks begin at 10:05 p.m., but you’ll want to show up early to stake out a good spot on the grass inside the festival. You can also get a nice view of the show from across the river on the Eastbank Esplanade. Gregg Allman headlines the festival this year. Fri.-Sun., various start times, $10/person; free for kids 5 and under, All Ages. Event details.

Worth the Drive

Family Camp at Wallowa Lake
Portland Parks and Rec is hosting a beginners’ family camp for the weekend. They’ll provide a tent, sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, mattress pads and the use of a camp stove at no additional charge if you need to borrow them. There will be planned, ranger-led activities for kids and adults, as well as staff and trained volunteers on hand to help day and night. Advanced registration is required by phone, Mon.-Fri. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Good to know – One car per family. No pets, alcohol or electronic games. Fri.-Sun., arrive Fri. at 4 p.m. or Sat. by 9 a.m., $30/family, All Ages. Event details.

Play, Play, Play at Skamania
An action-packed weekend at Skamania Lodge includes patriotic flag pin-making, as well as lawn games, like bocce ball and croquet, followed by Lawn Olympics, Family Croquet Tournament and a geocaching Amazing Race. Next up, it’s lemonade and picnic baskets on the Grand Lawn, Beer Croquet Tournament for the adults, then a Falconry Program with eagles, hawks, falcons and owls for all.  Fairground fireworks 1.2 miles away can be viewed from the lawn to top off the fourth, but the fun continues Saturday and Sunday with more hilarious family games and a concert by Moe Dixon. Fri.-Sun., 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Free, All Ages, Event details.

How will you celebrate the fourth this year?  Tell us in the Comments below!

–Suzie Ridgway

Photo via Oaks Amusement Park’s Facebook Page