Free July Fun in Portland

July in Portland makes all the preceding months of rain worth it. Those pure blue skies, the cool mornings and breezy evenings. Plus the vast amount of free family-friendly fun around town. Here are some of your best bets for a totally fun and totally free July.

Eat Free Ice Cream. Who can say no to ice cream—especially when it’s free! Celebrate National Ice Cream Month at locations throughout Portland with free samples and games from Alden’s Ice Cream. The full schedule is here.

Get Shakespearean in the Park. Portland Actors Ensemble is presenting Shakespeare’s Troillus and Cressida Thursdays through Saturdays from July 7 to 29 at the Lone Fir Cemetery. Given the nature of the show (it’s a tragedy) and the setting, this one is probably best for older kids. For lighter fare, hold on until the end of the month, when the troupe begins performances of The Winter’s Tale, a romance-comedy. The show run begins July 28. You can also check out performances of All’s Well That Ends Well, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Julius Cesar, Romeo & Juliet and more by the Original Practice Shakespeare Festival at parks around town on weekends in July.

Take a Dip. Portland Parks and Recreation opens up its pools for free open swims across the city Mondays through Fridays throughout the summer. Check out the schedule here.

Eat, Dance, Love. Enjoy free music during your lunch hour as part of the Portland’5 Summer Arts on Main Street program. Performances happen every Wednesday from 12 to 1, but head over at 11 to take part in children’s activities and check out local vendors selling their wares. July performances include big band music and classic and pop tunes. Other options for summer music include Noon Tunes in Pioneer Square (held on Tuesdays at, well, noon), and PP&R’s extensive summer concert series.

Remember: Learning Is Cool. Take a break from the heat and learn something new—all for free. The Oregon Historical Society is always free to Multnomah County residents. You can also take part in museums’ regularly-scheduled free days, like the Portland Art Museum and The Children’s Museum. Check out our compilation of free and discounted museum days here.

Be All Over Free Slurpee Day. 7/11 is 7-11’s day for free slurpees! Cool down with this sweet treat.

Bowl for Free. It’s not too late to sign up for this amazing program! Sign up online to score two free games of bowling for your kids every day this summer. Find out more details here.

Par-tay. Have fun at one of the many local street fairs and festivals taking place in July. Some of our favorites include the Mississippi Street Fair, the Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood, the Tualatin Art Splash and Sunday Parkways. Check out the full schedule here.  

Take in a Library Show. While libraries have free, engaging and educational performances and activities year-round, they really pick up speed in the summer. You can find fun outings like a Bollywood family dance party, comedy stunt show, reptile show, or fun with bugs with the Bug Chicks at local libraries across Portland. Check out what’s on tap on our events calendar.

Find the art. Print this out, and go for a mural scavenger hunt across Woodstock. Not only will you have fun, but you can also trade in your sheet for a free treat from New Seasons, and be entered to win a gift certificate from Laughing Planet and Otto’s Sausages!

Get Lost in Nature. The wildlife is teeming out there. Head out to Tryon Creek to figure out what it all is! Every Thursday at 11, join in on this free program—best for ages 2 to 6—that integrates nature exploration, art, literature, movement and outdoor play. Can’t make it? Check out one of these nature playgrounds on your own schedule.

Explore Alpenrose Dairy. Every Sunday this summer, Alpenrose Dairy offers the opportunity for families to explore the Western-themed model town and train display. Visitors can also peek into the confectionary. Sundays from 1 to 4.

Check out Some Opera. Expose your kids to opera! You can check out a preview of the upcoming Portland Opera season at the Central Library on July 9, or enjoy a full-length production of Hansel and Gretel (in German) with Portland Summer Opera Workshop.

Go Canoeing. Children ages five and up are welcome to spend a morning exploring the Willamette River aboard a 14-passenger canoe. No paddling experience is necessary. These paddles take places July 11, 18 and 27. Check out the website to register.  

Be Surrounded by Jazz. Now in its 37th year, the Jazz Society’s Cathedral Park Jazz Festival is a great way to introduce young kids to jazz, or reinforce the love for it in older kids. This event takes place July 14th to 16th at Cathedral Park, and is open to all.

Get in Your Outdoor Screen Time. Does it even count as screen time if you’re watching it outside? Nah. Come check out one of PP&R’s summer free for all movies at parks all across town. Movies include Sing, The BFG and Zootopia among many others. Here’s the full schedule.

Get Just a Little Spooked. Are you up for a nighttime hike in Sauvie Island to learn about bats? Yikes! You’ll learn about local bat species during the walk, and then watch bats and listen to echolocating bats with a bat detector. The event takes place July 26 at 8:15 pm—be sure to pre-register.

Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know!

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
Ali Wilkinson
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