Not Just for Hipsters: Portland, Oregon, With Kids

Nov 17, 2018

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Famous for its eco-loving hipsters, artisans and third-wave coffee obsessives, Portland, Oregon, has been a tad pigeon-holed as a destination for hip young people. And while it is a rather cool place, that doesn’t mean kids and families aren’t welcome. In fact, the Pacific Northwest city makes for an excellent family vacation.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.
Portland has a personality all its own. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.)

The outdoors-focused hub is full of kid-friendly activities and attractions — from the beautifully landscaped Portland Japanese Garden to the tree-focused World Forestry Center Discovery Museum — while the city’s reputation for makers of all stripes means funky toy stores and one-of-a-kind souvenirs. And Portland’s overall casual vibe means it’s easy to bring kids to many of the city’s renowned restaurants and even breweries. Here are some of our favorite ways to do Portland with kids.

Take the MAX Light Rail from the Airport

Your visit to Portland can begin with a cool train ride. In fact, the easiest, cheapest and most fun way to get from the airport to downtown is via the MAX Light Rail. Kids will love the sleek train that glides through the streets, giving everyone a great tour of the Portland metro area along the way. Trains run about every 15 minutes. Buy tickets before you board at one of the machines at the airport station. You’ll be on the MAX’s Red Line but you can ride and transfer to any of the other lines as well. Tickets valid for 2.5 hours of transit are $2.50 for adults 18+ and $1.25 for kids 7–17. Day passes are $5 for adults and $2.50 for children.

Explore Washington Park and Everything In It

Portland is bursting with outdoorsy activities, and the epicenter of the family friendly ones is the massive Washington Park, home to the impressive Portland Japanese Garden, where kids and grown-ups alike can explore the winding paths, water features and zen gardens. There is also the animal-packed Oregon Zoo; the 20,000 square-foot World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, which features a range of interactive, forest-focused exhibits; the Portland Children’s Museum, which is one of the oldest in the world; and the International Rose Test Gardens, which have hundreds of rose species on colorful display. (A terrific spot for a family photo.) The park also has ballfields, tennis courts, picnic areas and a large playground.

World Forestry Center
Photo courtesy of World Forestry Center

Take a Hike

Hiking is especially accessible in Portland, and there are plenty of trails that children can handle — we like Tryon Creek and Forest Park for older kids, while Laurelhurst Park has a cute duck pond that is perfect for younger tykes to walk around.

Fall foliage colors at Laurelhurst Park by the lake in Portland Oregon City in Autumn Season Image by Getty Images /
Fall foliage colors at Laurelhurst Park by the lake. (Photo by JPL Designs / Getty Images)

Amuse Yourselves

Hidden in Southeast Portland is Oaks Amusement Park, one of the country’s oldest continuously operating amusement parks that dates back to the early 1900s. And, if you’re in Portland over a weekend, stop by the Portland Saturday Market (open Saturdays and Sundays), featuring about 300 local artisans, for the ultimate handmade Portland souvenir.

Shop from local artists at Portland
Shop from local artists at Portland’s Saturday Market. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

What To Do When It Rains (and It Probably Will)

Given the Pacific Northwest’s typical weather patterns, a rainy day in Portland is likely. When that happens, head to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and be sure to check out the USS Blueback, a retired US Navy submarine that you can even spend the night on (with prior reservations).

Turbine Hall at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Turbine Hall at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (Photo courtesy of Gia-Goodrich / www.travelportland.com)

Any readers in the family will appreciate a visit to the famous Powell’s City of Books, the world’s largest new and used bookstore that takes up an entire city block. SpielWork Toys is a great place to discover well-crafted toys that promote imaginative play.

Powell
Powell’s City of Books (Photo courtesy of Torsten Kjellstrand / www.travelportland.com)

Eat It All — and Even Grab a Drink

Portland is known for its stellar food scene, and just because you’ve got kids in tow doesn’t mean you can’t chow down on some of the country’s most innovative cuisine. Thanks to the city’s generally relaxed vibe, stuffy dining rooms are rare  and kids are easily catered to in most places — even at some of the city’s hottest spots like Tusk, Nostrana and Hat Yai (if they can handle a little spice). Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty makes some of city’s best pizza and homemade ice cream, while stops at inventive doughnut shops like Blue Star, Pip’s and the famous Voodoo’s are fun for the whole family. Plus, the food cart culture is especially strong here, making it easy (and affordable!) to grab a tasty, international food-focused lunch on the go. 

Because Portland is known for its craft beer scene, it would be a shame to miss out on trying some brews because of your littles. Luckily, there are breweries like the family-owned Hopworks, which happily welcomes kids and even has dedicated play areas sponsored by local toy stores.

Hopworks in Portland, Oregon
Portland’s Hopworks (Photo courtesy of www.travelportland.com)

Sleep It Off

Portland is full of funky hotels, which means not all of them are great for families (accommodations with shared bathrooms and hotels that also house music clubs are a thing here). Thankfully, there are plenty of Airbnbs and hotels that welcome kids with open arms, like the Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel (bookable with IHG Rewards points), which has a bedtime butler that delivers treats — for adults and kids — and children’s books several times a week, and the Inn at Northrup Station, which features brightly decorated family-friendly suites complete with pull-out beds and mini-kitchens. There are plenty of points hotel options in the downtown area, including the Hilton Portland Downtown, Hyatt House Portland / Downtown and Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront.

The stylish boutique Hotel Modera recently added its Colosseum — a multipurpose space with a pool table, darts, shuffle board, a giant Connect 4 and classic board games.

Hotel Modera guestroom
Hotel Modera guestroom (Photo courtesy of www.travelportland.com)

Bottom Line

While you’re flying into or out of Portland International Airport (PDX), be sure and use your Priority Pass card to enjoy free food and drinks in the airport or even catch a free movie. Probably not coincidentally, PDX is ranked as the #3 airport in the United States by TPG.

Have you been to Portland with your kids? What attractions did they like best?

 

Discover it® Miles

Set your own sign-up bonus with the Discover it Miles card. Any rewards you earn in the first year will automatically be matched at the end of the year and you'll earn an unlimited 1.5 miles on all purchases with no annual fee.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Unlimited Bonus: Discover will match all the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 35,000 Miles, you get 70,000 Miles. That's $700 towards travel! The more you earn, the more you get.
  • Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases - with no annual fee.
  • No Blackout Dates. Simply pay for travel purchases like airlines, hotels, rental cars, and more with your Discover it® Miles card.
  • Miles Pay You Back. Easily redeem Miles as a statement credit for travel purchases. Or get cash.
  • Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% for 14 months
Regular APR
13.49% - 24.49% Variable
Annual Fee
$0
Balance Transfer Fee
3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.