Are you the parent of a sweet baby and a tireless toddler pondering where to get out and about now that you are three? Are you the proud protector of mighty multiples? Swapping playdate days with a girlfriend so you each get a chance to hit the grocery store in peace? Wondering what your nanny can do with your kiddo and the other in your nanny share? Whatever your story, if you have two nuggets under two in your care regularly or occasionally, there is much out-of-the-house amusement to be had.
You really, really can frequent many of Portland’s most fab kiddo outlets with two little ones in tow. Some things are easier than others, and some places are more double-wide stroller friendly for sure, and certainly the mobility of your two charges is going to vary. Consider this a round up of options and proceed with joy!
Bigger is Not Always Better
Smaller and self-contained is the name of the game here. Avoid the bigger, multi-roomed, multi-leveled museums and indoor play palaces. Go for the smaller, quieter, one big room – or easy line of sight options. OMSI’s Science Playground is a frontrunner…a babies only corner with soft mats and easy to reach sensory objects, plus all the water play, balls, sand, blocks and art any toddler or preschooler can handle. This room is for the five and under budding scientists only.
Go local: check out your neighborhood community center’s baby and toddler gyms (which are often a mere $1- $2 per kid), and the nearest public library story times. Some library buildings here in Multnomah County contain separate story time rooms with doors that close (Hollywood, Belmont and NW Thurman), helping aplenty.
Things to Know
You may have to leave the stroller by the front door and carry/escort your little tykes to the story time room at the back of the public library. That trek can mean hand holding or maintaining a visual through a busy, crowded and adult space. Make like a boy scout, and be prepared.
Mobile monkeys have been known to scurry out the doors of the Science Playground at OMSI while other parents hold the doors open for their own kids to come in. Making a playdate/meet up never hurts. Two or more adults tracking a few kiddos is always better than one. Stroller parking is right outside the doors, and it’s a hike to the parking lots so bring it! There is an approved corner for snacking inside this play area with paper towels to wipe down after water play or munching.
The community centers often have stairs and narrow hallways – so you can likely get your stroller pretty close, but you may have to watch the gym’s exits constantly as stairs are so enticing to climb and most of the gyms don’t have doors. It can also be a bit of a walk from the car to the front door at some locations.
Some of the Best x2 Are…
Lake Oswego and Beaverton’s Play Boutiques were practically invented for these exact scenarios – one parent/caregiver + two morning glories – so always keep them in mind for their Play and Stay sessions. They also serve up tasty lunch and dinner options for the minis and their mamas. Ample parking right out front and large windows letting in plenty of light make the drive well worth the effort. They are open Wednesday – Saturdays 10:30 am – 12:30 pm and 3:30 pm – 6:30 pm for Stay and Play and it costs $7/kid.
Kidopolis in SE Portland and Munchkin Playland in Hillsboro were started with littler kiddos in mind. They have open play for the younger set every single glorious day they are open. Kidopolis is closed on Wednesdays, otherwise open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm and Munchkin Playland, with a strictly enforced height limit (!), is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and weekends 9:00 am – 3:00 pm. These cities for kids really rule!
Pump It Up, Junior in Beaverton dedicates playtimes for three and unders most Thursday and Friday mornings. A word of warning: it can be hard to keep track of two here as they do have two different rooms full of slides, tunnels and an indoor bouncy house. If you have a pair you can corral easily, or you are wearing one and trust the other to climb easily solo, your toddler(s) will be bouncing bundles of bliss.
Yet another dynamite consideration is joining one of the four fabulous swap and plays around town for an easy drop-in-anytime option. They truly rock the most accommodating hours, are fair priced for members, trend towards less crowded and more clean, and as co-members your fellow moms and dads may even help you out a bit if you get in a pickle rallying the troops. Future friends and support network await!
Options, Options and More Options
Some places that have a lot of ground to cover but aren’t usually that crowded, make them fair game as well. The World Forestry Center, Vancouver’s City Library, even the zoo on a rainy day (read: way less crowded) can be wonderful ways to while away a few hours avec deux. The baby to twenty four month old room at the Children’s Museum has much to offer and plenty of room to crawl and explore. It feels like an oasis of serenity in a sea of toddler-mania. If both your charges are happy in there, you are one golden parental.
If your little ones can sit still enough to create a masterpiece check out Spark Arts Center, 100th Monkey Studio, or Art ala Carte (and their new NE Wygant location) for casual art time for the wee ones.
Dropping in for some live kindie music is also a ready option when toting two. Milagros, Eco Baby Gear, Café Au Play, and TreeHouse Boutique (using the space formerly known as Soundroots) have easily accessible entertainment spaces. That is, if getting two kids anywhere is ever easy!
The Village Ballroom, however, has two sets of stairs and can feel like a 10k when carrying two heavy or wiggly little rockers. But once you are in, you’re psyched. It’s a big space affording abundant freedoms for new walkers to meander and wigglers of all ages to get some gross motor play.
Last but far from least, weekly classes abound. Music, gymnastics and soccer are all available to budding musicians and athletes starting at the ages of four to eighteen months! Music Together and Kindermusik have multiple days, locations and times from which to choose. Lil Kickers has two Portland indoor sites to get the balls rolling (but beware of the steep stairs at the SE Main location if you’re carrying two amigos) and both The Playground Gym and The Children’s Gym have tumbling, dance and gymnastics classes to guide those little toddler bodies into constructive motions. During the week, the sports-oriented options are more likely to accept two even if only one parent can attend alongside, as the class sizes are smaller.
How do you juggle your two little bundles of joy when it comes time to leave the ouse? Know any spots that aren’t on our list? Share them with us in a comment below.
— Liz Overson
Thanks for the photos Kidopolis, Café Au Play, OMSI and the Portland Children’s Museum!