While the City of Roses might be known as a haven for hipsters, there’s also a surprising number of attractions that will appeal to kids and young families. If you’re planning a family vacation and have an interest in visiting the Pacific Northwest, here are ten of the reasons why you might want to consider Portland a potential destination.
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (Portland, OR 97214) – The USS Blueback, Kendall Planetarium and OMNIMAX Theater are among just a few of the many attractions at Portland’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which offers programs and exhibits for kids of all ages. The paleo, weather and watershed exhibits are not to be missed, nor are the physics, chemistry and laser labs inside the Turbine Hall.
- Oregon Coast Aquarium (Newport, OR 97365) – Indoor and outdoor exhibits at the Oregon Coast Aquarium are home to more than 500 species, including the Oddwater exhibit, which showcases some of the more bizarre creatures that call the ocean home. The sea lions, seals and otters are perennial favorites, as is the seabird aviary.
- Laurelhurst Park (Portland, OR 97214) – For those moments on your vacation when your brood simply needs a bit of unstructured, outdoor play, Laurelhurst Park is one of the best choices in the city. In addition to the playground, soccer field and volleyball court, there’s also a disabled access play area and restroom on premises.
- Discovery Museum (Portland, OR 97221) – Boasting 20,000 square feet, the Discovery Museum is filled with plenty of interactive installations and hands-on activities designed to keep kids and adults engaged and entertained as they learn about sustainability and conservation of trees, both on a local and global scale.
- PLAY Boutique (Lake Oswego, OR 97034) – With more than 5,000 square feet of indoor play space, PLAY Boutique is an enriching and exciting opportunity for kids to engage in a variety of activities that encourage a sense of community and emphasize the importance of creative play. Parents can decompress in the parent lounge, or participate alongside their kids.
- Oregon Zoo (Portland, OR 97221) – Petting pygmy goats, feeding lorikeets and touring the insect zoo are only a small sampling of the activities available to your kids at the Oregon Zoo, but the real jewel is the African rainforest, which features a realistic thunderstorm every half hour. Don’t miss the elephant museum, or big cat and primate habitats.
- Tillamook Air Museum (Tallamook, OR 97141) – If there’s a flight-crazy kid in your family, you can’t skip the Tillamook Air Museum in nearby Tillamook, Oregon. Home to one of the nation’s best collections of War Birds, the exhibit all also features a collection of related aviation and wartime artifacts, and a jet simulator.
- Historic Belmont Firehouse (Portland, OR 97214) – There’s something about firefighters that excite even the most laid-back children, which is why the Historic Belmont Firehouse is sure to please. In addition to a collection of antique artifacts, fire alarms and an Amokeag Steam Pumper from 1879, the Belmont also offers programs on fire safety and education for youngsters.
- Museum of Contemporary Craft (Portland, OR 97209) – Budding visual artists and arts and crafts lovers will get a big kick out of touring the Museum of Contemporary Craft, which showcases the development of various crafts along the West Coast from the present back to the mid-twentieth century.
- Pittock Mansion (Portland, OR 97210) – While kids may not be overly enthusiastic about the idea of exploring the history of a family that contributed significantly to the city of Portland in the early twentieth century, they will be wowed by the eccentric architecture and lavish interiors of the Pittock Mansion. Picnicking in the outdoor gardens is also permitted, which offer stunning views of the city.
Known as a progressive, forward-thinking and eco-conscious city, Portland is a great choice for families that appreciate the outdoors and a culture of open-mindedness. While Portland is the largest city between San Francisco and Seattle, the vibe is much more relaxed and laid-back than other cities of comparable size. If you’re looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of living in a city with a more frenetic pace, Portland may fit the bill perfectly.
My son takes an art class every summer and last year they went to the Museum of Contemporary Craft. He loved it, and we’ve been back several times since. It’s a place worth checking out, for sure.
I live in Oregon and – like most people in the city they live in – haven’t been to all of these places. Gonna have to check a few of these off with the kiddos this summer!
I’m a nanny in Portland and will definitely be using this list this summer to take my charges on day trips. Thanks for sharing!
Me too! My mom employer loves for me to get her kids out of the house during the day and these will be perfect, especially because a lot of them are educational also and she loves stuff like that.
Laurelhurst Park is such an awesome park. I take my charges there all the time, we love it.