Best Things to Do with Kids in Portland

10 Things to Do with Kids in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon has been a growing city for years with many young people relocating here to start a career. These people have gone on to marry and have children and the city has continued to evolve to accommodate the needs of families. With this growth, Portland has truly become a fantastic destination for families.

Portland, Oregon was already home to one of the best zoos and best science museums in the nation, but now it is home to so many more things to do with kids.

Part of the planning for Portland's city parks has been making sure they are kid-friendly and fun. That is why Portland has so many unique parks for kids like Director Park, a park with a  fountain for the kids to play in.

Just like the city parks, many of Portland's community centers have been updated and remodeled within the last decade. We have included the Mt. Scott Community Center because it has been updated and has an awesome indoor pool now.

No matter what activity your kids like to do Portland is sure to not only offer that activity but likely to have multiple places that offer that activity to choose from. 


Blue Lake Park is a large recreational park located in Fairview less than twenty minutes from downtown Portland. There's a small admission fee of $5 per car to enter the park. Inside the park, there's an exciting splash pad for kids that's open any time it's over 70 degrees. Near the spray ground, is a sandy beach on the man-made lake, Blue Lake. A small section of the lake is marked off for swimming. This area is shallow, but only for those over the age of five. Sometimes there is a lifeguard on duty. Also found at Blue Lake Region park is a playground, picnic tables, a Frisbee golf course, archery ranch, and a nature area.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: An excellent park for letting your child's imagination roam free.

Meagan's expert tip: If you plan on visiting more than twice buy a seasonal pass. It's good for Oxbow Park as well.

Read more about Blue Lake Regional Park →

Pips & Bounce is a ping pong bar. That's right an entire bar dedicated to ping pong with 10 ping-pong tables and hundreds of paddles. You can reserve a table in 30-minute increments, or take your chances and just walk in. Families with kids can come in and play until 9 PM. You and your kids will have so much fun playing ping pong with each other. And do not worry about not being able to play, most people are not that good. Pips & Bounce serves typical bar food in addition to salads, pizzas and sandwiches. They have a kid's menu too. They have various specials running everyday including a happy hour Monday - Thursday.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids love playing ping pong at Pips & Bounce a truly unique Portland bar.

Meagan's expert tip: Call ahead of time to reserve a table. The last thing you want to do with kids is wait for a ping pong table to open.

Read more about Pips & Bounce →

Punch Bowl Social is a decked-out bowling alley inside Pioneer Place Mall. The bowling lanes are spread out through the facility to give you a more private experience. They also have private karaoke rooms where only you and your friends will be able to hear whether or not you can sing. There are three bars spread out around the restaurant. They have pool, darts, ping pong, shuffleboard, and there are vintage arcade games like ski ball. The restaurant is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They have tasty options like Chicken & Waffles, Cauliflower Nachos, and the Alabama Chicken Sandwich Happy hour is from 3 - 6 PM every day. Plus, they run seasonal specials all the time.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Punchbowl Social has bowling, karaoke, games, and more that kids will love.

Meagan's expert tip: Call ahead of time to reserve a bowling lane or karaoke room.

Read more about Punch Bowl Social →

Alphabet District

Playdate PDX is a 7,500 square foot indoor play place for children near the Pearl District in downtown Portland, Oregon. Upon entering children are greeted by a castle where once inside there are all kinds of fun including an interactive light floor where kids can play games like Dance Revolution and make musical sounds. There are also lots of slides, including slides with bumps for extra fun. In addition to all of that fun, there is a ball room, where they can shoot small plastic balls at each other and at the punching bags. They have rings for kids to play on, tubes to roam through. For parents, there is a cafe with adult beverages, wifi, and plenty of seating.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Playdate PDX is a massive indoor play place for children in downtown Portland.

Meagan's expert tip: Check out their website to see upcoming special events like face painting or jugglers and don't forget to take socks.

Read more about Playdate PDX →

Financial District

Washington Park is next to downtown Portland and home to one of the best playgrounds in the city. This park offers residents and visitors 130 acres of lawns and gardens, with trails that connect to Forest Park and the Pittock Mansion. The park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, International Rose Test Gardens, Japanese Garden, and World Forestry Center. Additional park amenities include ball fields, lighted tennis courts, picnic areas, historical public statuary and fountains, a large and fully accessible children's playground, and the Rose Garden Store. Public restrooms are located at the Rose garden and the playground.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Washington Park has a massive playground that is great for kids and fully accessible.

Meagan's expert tip: Visit the rose garden during the summer months to see the roses in full bloom.

Read more about Washington Park →

Oaks Amusement Park is one of the oldest, continuously operating amusement parks in the country. Built in the early 1900s, Oaks Park is a collection of classic entertainment, smaller thrill rides, and an indoor roller rink. Hidden away in Southeast Portland, the park is tucked in-between the Willamette River and the Sellwood neighborhood. Its location provides for a secluded, country feel. Surrounding the amusement park are large grassy picnic areas overlooking the river and Portland's Southwest river shore. While the outdoor rides close during the winter months, the famous roller rink is open year-round. Oaks Amusement Park is also home to the Multnomah County Fair held in early summer.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Oaks Park is a small amusement park near downtown Portland with rides for all ages.

Meagan's expert tip: Miniature golf fans will find what may be the best course in Portland.

Read more about Oaks Park →

Director Park is a public piazza right in the heart of downtown Portland. This park sits on top of an underground parking garage. Here they have a large fountain feature that doubles as a splash pad for kids on hot days. Director Park offers free activities for all ages year-round like concerts, art events, trivia nights, chess, plays, cooking, and more. They have a super-sized chess game kids love to play. The parks and rec department have an office here that has board games you can check out. It's a great place to spend your lunch break. They have plenty of sitting with chairs and tables sprinkled throughout the piazza. There are also concrete benches to sit on. Elephants Café has a location here that serves lunch and dinner. They also sell drinks and ice cream.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Director Park has a play fountain kids can play in and another area for playing oversized chess.

Meagan's expert tip: Pack a picnic and plan to hang out a few hours.

Read more about Director Park →

Mt. Scott Community Center & Pool is home to another one of Portland's remarkable indoor pool facilities and it also has an indoor roller skating rink. Their pool offers an open swim time every day in addition to lessons. The pool has a lazy river, two slides, a hot tub, a zero-entry pool, and a 6 lane lap pool. Mt. Scott also has a nice size playground outside and a traversing bouldering wall inside. The community center also offers various classes for all ages. The best part of play here is that everything they offer is extremely affordable, especially on family night.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Mt. Scott has a large indoor swimming pool and a roller skating rink.

Meagan's expert tip: Visit on a family fun night when they offer even more activities for free.

Read more about Mt Scott Community Center & Indoor Pool →

Financial District

Spanning 64 acres in Washington Park, the massive Oregon Zoo offers children the chance to see their favorite animals up close and is one of the largest attractions in Oregon. Here, more than 1,000 animals reside in natural, expertly designed habitats like Cascade Canyon Trail, home to black bears, bobcats, bald eagles, and river otters. Other exciting exhibits include the Pacific Shores, which features sea otters, polar bears, and sea lions. Also, on most days they have a live bird show on the main lawn. Kids especially love the Zoo Railway, a winding one-mile ride around the grounds' perimeter. Kids also love seeing the elephants and the lions.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: Kids always enjoy a visit to the zoo and the Oregon Zoo features over 1,000 different animals.

Meagan's expert tip: Pack a picnic lunch and eat during the bird show.

Read more about Oregon Zoo →

Known by the acronym OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a favorite family day trip for locals and tourists alike. Kid's will find a wide range of interactive exhibits that both educate and fascinate. Younger children have a whole exhibit hall geared towards hand-on exploration called The Science Playground, built for kids 6 and under. Science labs throughout the museum encourage experimentation that deepens visitors' understanding of life, the world, and the universe. Aspiring astronomers will love the Kendall Planetarium, the largest and most advanced planetarium in the Northwest. The Omnimax theater has a five-story high domed-shaped screen creating an incredibly immersive Imax movie experience. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to tour a vintage Navy submarine, mored in the Willamette River directly behind the museum.

Recommended for Things to Do with Kids because: OMSI is a great museum full of fun hands on activities for the whole family

Meagan's expert tip: Visit on the 1st Sunday of the month for $2 admission.

Read more about Oregon Museum of Science and Industry →


Meet Meagan Wristen

Meagan Wristen is an Oregon resident by choice and thinks Portland is a tremendous city that everyone should visit. Originally a Texas girl, she has lived all around the United States,...  More About Meagan