Portland City Guide

The Best Family Portland City Guide

Portland City Guide

Familydaysout.com has done ALL the hard work so you don’t have to by creating the ULTIMATE family guide to visiting Portland, to read, print and use!

Family Days Out

Family Days Out

25 Aug | read

We can't wait for you to explore our "Top 9 Family Attractions" to enjoy in Portland! This exciting and vibrant Oregon city has so many things to do with kids, so we decided to list our ultimate favorites below, so you can enjoy them on your next family day out in Oregon! We also let you know our favorite FREE things to do with kids in Portland too, and if that isn't enough, you'll see our transport tips for getting around Portland, plus fun facts to impress your friends. We also let you know about a great day trip from Portland, and some famous faces that were born in this great city! We want to make sure you don’t miss out anything when visiting the bright lights of the this amazing city.

So whether this is your first trip to home of the largest city in Oregon, or you've lived here for years and just thought "I wonder what is there is to do near me", then keep reading, because we have the top things to do in Portland with kids, just for you!

View of Portland, Oregon overlooking the willamette river on a Fall Afternoon

Portland was first known to Native American tribes, and even had Lewis & Clark explore the area, before 1843 saw two business partners filed to claim land on a site that had been known as "The Clearing" to trappers, traders and settlers, before officially naming it in 1845. Portland was incorporated in 1851, and since then, it's grown to become one of the most vibrant and eclectic cities in the US!

The city (the largest in Oregon, not the capital as often thought) survived a major fire, thrived as a major port, and was a hub for organized crime, before finding its feet and just boomed! Located at the foot of Mt Hood and at the confluence of the stunning Columbia and Willamette Rivers, this city features some of the most beautiful views in the world, and some great family fun to boot!

Food trucks along the road in downtown Portland

Exploring the fascianting history of Portland is part of the fun when exploring this brilliant city. You can re-live the past in historic homes such as Pittock Mansion, and explore the 85,000 artifacts at the Oregon Historical Museum, and did you know that there are still a network of tunnels under the city that one "kidnapped" men and shipped them off to China - literally! Yes, the Shanghai Tunnels are real and tours are offered!

That's not to say it's JUST history in Portland - because there is SO much more! So keep reading to find out exactly how YOU can spend your next family day out in the Rose City!

MAX Light Rail

Bicycles, streetcars and foot are all very valid and easy ways to get around Portland, but their MAX Light Rail is at the heart of Portland's transporation system, with 97 stations and 60 miles of track connecting outer suburbs and the airport to the heart of downtown.

MAX Light Rail has only five rail lines, but all of them service right through downtown and run about every 15 minutes for most of the day - every day!

Make sure you have a validated ticket before you hop on board, unless you have a Hop Fastpass which just needs tapping. There are ticket machines at the station.

Source and Image Credit: More information here: Travel Portland

Portland has some incredible food, so why not give those taste buds an adventure by people who know the city's food inside out? Eat Adventures offer a number of walking and street car tours, taking you to the heart of Portland's food scene, and yes - there is one dedicated to chocolate!

Website: Eat Adventures


Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Portland

Our Top 9 Fun Things To Do With The Kids In Portland

Science IS fun, and at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, you can see why with nearly 220,000 sq ft of interactive exhibits and hands-on fun for the whole family.

The museum features five main interactive exhibit spaces where you can program your own robots, attempt to solve real-world problems, and explore a 6ft sphere that projects the moon, Mars, animal migration patterns, AND a submarine, just to name a thing fun things to do!

With family-friendly programs and classes to boot, it's a day of experimenting, designing, creating, and learning for all ages!

Explore the wonderful world of art at the Portland Art Museum, home to over 42,000 objects that represent the history of art, and art work themselves!

Kids can explore the collections featuring Native American art, English silver, and even graphic arts, offering a fascinating variety of art, and historic art.

With plenty of family events and FREE public tours across the week, it's an art-tastic day out in Portland, where you never know how you just might be inpsired!

Roar! It's time to explore your WILD side at Oregon Zoo, where you can come face to face with grand lions, watch elephants play in the water, and marvel at the tallest giraffe!

Oregon Zoo is home to amazing species from all over the world, with enclosures that reflect their natural habitats. Asia comes to life with creatures like the Amur tiger, and the plains of Africa are calling with cheetahs and African wild dog

It's not just animal watching at Oregon Zoo either, so keep an eye out for special events and daily animal activities too! From keeper talks to feeding sessions, you can't help but feel WILD in Portland!

Ready for a day of play? Well that's just what you get at the Portland Children's Museum, filled with hands-on exhibits that encourage learning, discovery and development through play.

Kids can become contruction workers as they create the coolest skyscrapers, or plan the specials for their newest restaurant. Animal loving kids can look after "animals" in the Pet Hostpital, or they can just relax in the treehouse with a quiet spot of reading!

From exploring gravity, getting creative with clay, jumping behind the wheel of an ambulance or reconnecting with nature, it's indoor fun for kids in a museum designed JUST for them!

Want to visit one of the OLDEST continually operating amusement park in the entire nation? Well then, Oaks Amusement Park is where you need to head for your next Portland family day out!

Since this family-friendly amusement park opened in 1905, families have been enjoying the old time charm of the classic coasters and gentle rides, with fun activities for all ages. Whether it's the thrills or the joy that you thrive on, there is something for you at Oaks Amusement Park.

Today, the old time atmosphere blends perfectly with modern excitement - and combined with their ice skating rink, it certainly makes for one of our top Portland days out!

Pittock Mansion was built in 1914 and is a fascinating historic home within the city of Portland.

When you visit this century-old property, you uncover the story of Portland's transformation from a developing pioneer town to a modern, vibrant and industrialized city.

Built by an Englishman searching for his fortune on the West Coast, a visit to Pittock Mansion will transport you back to another time, where you can actually re-live history in person.

Influenced by many of the famous classical gardens in Suzhou, the Lan Su Chinese Gardens are a stunning and peaceful day out in Portland.

So much more than just a beautiful garden, what you will see around you is based on 2,000 years of Chinese tradition melding architecture, design, art and nature - all in perfect harmony.

If you need to escape the rush of the city, you don't need to travel far to find yourself in a nature filled oasis.

The Oregon Historical Museum is where history comes to life, with a number of permanent exhibits (and rotating too!) that piece together the history of the beautiful and fascianting West Coast state of Oregon.

All of the exhibits within this Portland museum showcase the people, events and ideas that shaped the state to what it is today, from the end of WWII to present.

With hands-on fun for kids to top off your journey through history, the Oregon Historical Museum is a great destination during your time in Portland to really appreciate everything around you.

We have Lan Su Chinese Garden on our Top 9 list, but the Portland Japanese Garden is so different, and so special, it needed to be our second "garden" mentioned!

Portland Japanese Garden is 5.5 acres of just stunning flora and nature, and is considered one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens outside of Japan.

With a range of unique gardens, including a Tea Garden, Sand and Stone Garden and Strolling Pond Garden, it's a peaceful and zen day out as you immerse yourselves in an incdredibly unique culture!

Famous Portlanders

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Matt Groening

If you don't know the name, you'll know the work! Matt Groening is an American cartoonist, best known for creating our favorite TV family - The Simpsons!

Image Copyright: Gage Skidmore

 Family Days Out: City Guide

Courtney Love

Courtney Love is an American musician, and lead single of the 90s band Hole. She was also married to rock star Kurt Cobain, of Nirvana fame.

Image Copyright: Public Domain

5 Fun Portland Facts

5 Fun Portland Facts

Impress your friends with your amazing Portland knowledge!

  • Portland was named as a result of a coin toss! (If it went the other way, it would be Boston, OR!)
  • Food trucks may be incredibly popular in the 21st century, but Portland actually began making room for them in 1912!
  • Portland is home to the smallest park in the WORLD! The Mill's End Park is a teenie 2 feet across!
  • Wikipedia was created in Portland by Ward Cunningham in 1995!
  • Portland is one of two cities in the United States with an extinct volcano within its city limits. (The other one is still in Oregon!)

Top 5 FREE Things To Do With Kids In Portland

Explore Forest Park

Explore Forest Park

Covering 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the USA, and if you love outdoor adventure, then this is a place for you!

Forest Park features over 80 miles of trails to explore, completely immersing you in a true Northwest forest experience, and don't miss finding Witches Castle!

Image Credit: Forest Park Conservatory

Visit one of Portland's Farmers Market

Visit one of Portland's Farmers Market

A farmers market in any city is always an exciting experience, but Portland has a number of impressive markets that you can explore on your day out! (Rumbling tummies are required)

There are two main markets to focus on - one being on Broadway - every weekend, so explore the inner foodie in you and get tasting!

Image Credit: Portland Farmers Market

Get lost in Powell's City of Books

Get lost in Powell's City of Books

Even if you're not in the market to buy a new book, Powell's City of Books is worth a visit, as it's the largest independent book store in the WORLD!

The store covers an entire city block, and even offers free tours every Sunday.

Image Credit: Powell's City of Books

Visit Hoyt Arboretum

Visit Hoyt Arboretum

Only minutes from downtown Portland, Hoyt Arboretum features over 2,300 species from across six continents all across the globe.

Founded in 1929 as a way to conserve endangered species, today Hoyt Arboretum offers a number of educational opportunities for kids & 12 miles of hiking trails!

Image Credit: Hoyt Arboretum

Check out the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Check out the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

All aboard kids, because the Oregon Rail Heritage Center is a FREE admission museum showcasing the state's rich rail history, rail equipment & artifacts!

This ADA accessible museum allows you to see actual vintage locomotives up close, & explore an industry that contributed to the growth of the state!

Image Credit: Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Dining in Portland for $20 a day!

A Fun Day Trip From Portland!

One of the most impressive aspects of Oregon (and the whole Northwest region) is the rugged and stunning coast, so why not make your day trip one that offers amazing views of the Pacific Ocean! Not only does Astoria sit right on the coastline, but it's also a beautifully historic and charming town (and parents, if you or your kids love The Goonies then you will want to visit!)

Travel to Astoria from Portland is great by car, clocking in at just shy of 100 miles, or via train (AMTRAK) or bus, both of which are around 2hr 45 mins with tickets around $18 one way.

Heritage Museum

Astoria is an incredibly charming town at the mouth of the Columbia River, and it was also the place where Lewis & Clark spent their last winter in 1805 before they returned home - at Fort Clatsop in fact!

In the late 19th century, Astoria attracted a range of immigrants including Nordic settlers, and Chinese, bringing with them important skills and heritage. A key port town for trade, Astoria thrived, until the canneries and logging industries were replaced with tourism and arts.

Love movies? Well, Astoria has seen its fair share of Hollywood come through town, with films including Short CircuitFree WillyKindergarten Cop, and most famously The Goonies all filmed on location in this charming and historic town.


Pop culture connections, rich history, delicious local food and picture postcard architcture, a visit to Astoria is a must do for any day trip from Portland!

Image Credit: www.astoria.or.us

Here’s our top 4 Astoria attractions to visit:

We hope you found this content useful! Please share with your friends, and if you have any comments, or want to let us know what we can do to further help you find fun days out with the family, then just email our team at [email protected]!

Let's get the family adventure started!

Family Days Out Written by
Family Days Out

Family Days Out latest blogs and activities for kids, there are certainly plenty of great places to visit across the USA, Canada, and Australia.

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