40 Ideas for a Totally Portland Summer

totally portland summer

Summer! The popsicles! The sprinklers! The cries of “I’m so bored!” Well, at least the first two are fun. While there is nothing wrong with a little (or a lot of) down time over the summer months, sometimes you all are just itching to do something. Anything. Well, luckily Portland does not disappoint with ways to get active, get inspired and best of all – get out!

Here are 40 ideas for a totally awesome, totally Portland summer – inside and out.

Outdoor Adventures

  1. Have a scavenger hunt at your local farmers market. Look at the farmers market’s website to see what’s in season. Pick a few unusual things and let your kids find them. Reward them with a locally-grown treat.
  2. splash padVisit a splash pad. With dozens of splash pads scattered throughout Portland and beyond, you’re sure to find a fun way to get a little break from the heat.
  3. Looking for even more water? Try out a local swimming hole. Here’s a map to find the right one for your family.
  4. Go for a nature walk. You can plot your own hike (here are some suggestions), or sign up for a Ladybug Walk with Portland Parks & Rec or a guided nature walk at Tryon Creek.
  5. Grab your bike. Portland is one of the most bike-friendly cities around. Here are a few suggestions for family-friendly routes.
  6. Pick some berries. Portland is ripe (wah wah wah) with berry picking spots. Grab a bucket, a sun hat, and be prepared for a delicious adventure. Here are some of our favorite spots.blueberries
  7. Do the 4T Adventure. Called 4T because it uses trails, trolley, tram, and train, grab your family for a fun adventure that includes Portland’s highest point (Council Crest Park), the zoo, and the South Waterfront District. You can find a detailed guide online here.
  8. Visit a nature playground. Stay local at Westmoreland Park, or go for an adventure further afield. Here’s a handy list of the area’s many nature parks.
  9. See an outdoor concert. Take in some tunes ranging from Reggae to Honkey Tonk and everything in between with Portland Parks & Rec’s free outdoor concert series. Here’s the schedule.
  10. Explore a new neighborhood during a street fair. Many of Portland’s most notable neighborhoods – including Alberta, Hawthorne and Mississippi – have street fairs. There yoTimeOut-StreetFairsEverywhereu’ll find music, dancing, food and lots of kids activities. Check out our guide to street fairs and festivals here.
  11. Head to an Amusement Park. Rides, games and carnival food are all in our own backyard at Oaks Park. Or head a little further out to The Enchanted Forest.
  12. Check off a few items from our Summer of Fun guide. There you’ll find something fun to do every day of the summer.
  13. Catch a movie in the park. Every summer, Portland Parks & Rec hosts a series of free movies in local parks around town. Here’s the schedule.
  14. Volunteer. You can find plenty of kid-friendly ways to give back through Hands On Portland’s searchable database.
  15. Take advantage of Sunday Parkways. A few Sundays every summer, the streets close to traffic and pedestrians and bikers get to rule the road. You’ll also find activities, vendors and lots more. Here’s the list of dates and locations.
  16. Play some golf. Check out a kid-friendly tee time, or go even kid-friendlier with a round of mini golf.golf
  17. Get your feet wet. Dip your toes into the Willamette or the Columbia. Sellwood Riverfront Park has a great spot for digging in those toes, or check out George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego. For a beach feel without heading to the ocean, head to Sauvie Island.
  18. Set sail. Feel that river breeze with a jet boat ride or a boat trip.
  19. Bring a picnic. There are more than 10,000 acres of public parks in Portland – how cool is that! Why not check out an acre or two that you haven’t explored before. Bring a picnic and make a day of it.
  20. Smell the roses. Even when the flowers are out of season, Portland’s public gardens are worth visiting. Check out Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, the Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, or one of other other gardens around town.

Cool Indoor Fun

  1. Visit an indoor playground. When it’s just too hot to handle, but your kids still have the wiggles, check out one of the area’s many indoor parks and playgrounds.
  2. Sign up for the library’s summer reading program. A great motivator to get your kids to read over the summer. You get prizes along the way for minutes spent reading, and at the end, a t-shirt. Sign us up.
  3. Make art. Sure, you can do art at home, but the beauty of doing it outside the home is that you don’t have to clean up! Plus the messyIMG_3314
    art studios around here are brimming with great ideas on what to create and have tons of supplies to bring your child’s vision to light. From Art ala Carte to your local library, you’re bound to find the right studio for you. Here are a few that we’ve visited.
  4. Catch some kindie music. Portland is teeming with kids’ musicians (in a really good way!). Check out Mr. Ben, Mr. Hoo, The Alphabeticians, Mo Phillips, Olive & Dingo, Tallulah’s Daddy, Aaron Nigel Smith and even more at one of their regular shows around town. Most shows are on a donation basis of $3-5 per kid. Check out our calendar for schedules.
  5. Head to a museum. Everyone knows about OMSI and the Children’s Museum, but did you know Portland has a vacuum museum? A puppet museum? Check out the many kid-friendly museums here.
  6. Get some ice cream. Portland has become a hotbed for this cool treat. Check out our ice cream map to discover a new favorite. ice cream
  7. Do yoga. Portland is filled with kid-friendly yoga classes. Here’s a list of nine of them.
  8. Watch a movie at the Kennedy School. Sometimes a break from the heat (and even a mini-break from parenting) is just what the doctor ordered. See a Mommy Matinee at the Kennedy School, enjoy a slice and don’t worry if the kids aren’t quiet.
  9. Go to a storytime. Either check out a storytime at your local library, or visit one of the storytimes at local bookstores around town. Check out our calendar for schedules.
  10. Take a cooking class. Several area farmers markets have Kids Cook at the Market classes. Or check out a kid-friendly cooking class at places like Turnip the Heat or The Merry Kitchen.
  11. Watch the planes from IKEA. A surprisingly fun low-key way to enjoy a hot morning. Order an affordable kids’ meal or indulge in a cinnamon bun. (p.s. they have free child care there, you know, just in case.)
  12. Take a lap. Go indoor or out for a dip in the pool. Here’s a list.
  13. Roller Skate. Relive the 80s with a spin around the rink. Here are some options.
  14. Go bowling. Strrrike! Knock down those pins and stay cool with a trip to the bowling alley. Make your trip even more affordable by taking part in the Kids Bowl Free program.
  15. Climb the walls. Work those arms! Test that balance! Your kids are climbing the walls anyway, so may as well make it legit! Here’s our list of indoor rock climbing spots.FieldTrip-Archery2
  16. Shoot a bow and arrow. Yup, you read that right. Both Tracker Earth in Portland and Archers Afield in Tigard offer drop-in archery.
  17. Play Lego. Check out one of the library’s Lego play times, or head to some of the local shops’ mini model builds. Find out more details here.
  18. Bring the bike inside. If your kids are itching to get on their bikes, but it’s just too hot to even contemplate being out on pavement, head to the Lumberyard’s indoor bike park. Read our review here.
  19. Visit a Play Cafe. Enjoy some coffee while letting your little ones play. You may even get to drink it before it goes cold (or the melts, given that it’s summer)! Here are some options.
  20. Head for the ice. Who says ice skating is a winter sport! Stay cool. Fall down. Repeat.

What’s on your summer bucket list? Let us know below!

Ali Wilkinson
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Ali Wilkinson

Online Editor at PDX Parent
Ali Wilkinson is the Online Editor for PDX Parent, and is one of the founders of PDX Kids Calendar. She loves exploring Portland with her three small children, especially when the explorations lead outdoors, to music or to ice cream. You can read more from Ali at www.runknitlove.com.
Ali Wilkinson
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