Free Things to Do with Kids in January

Take a hike. State parks across Oregon are offering free guided hikes on January 1, beginning at 9 am. Hikes will highlight multiple trails, topography and natural history. Start the new year off right! Can’t make it on the first? Try out one of these kid-friendly hikes.

Check out a museum. Come in from the cold and enjoy one of the regular free days at museums across town, like Portland Art Museum’s First Thursday or the Children Museum’s First Friday. Other free and discounted museum days can be found here.

Cuddle up with a book. Library storytimes are a great way to engage with your child and other parents while reading great books, singing songs, and engaging in play. Many local bookstores also have storytimes, like Powell’s and Green Bean Books. Find storytime schedules here.

Catch a puppet show. Puppetkabob will be doing free performances of The Snowflake Man in locations around town in January. The show is done with Czech-style marionettes and tells the story of W.A. Bentley, pioneer of snowflake photography.

Make a craft. You can paint a sweet rainbow keepsake box at the Woodstock Library on January 6. The perfect size for storing little treasures. Or use a plastic straw to create a unique creature craft at the Gregory Heights Library on January 13. Can’t make either date? Try one of these crafts at home.

Get up and close personal with the orchestra. This is such a cool program. Every week in January, a different Oregon Symphony musician adds music to the stories read at the Milwaukie Ledding Library storytimes. You can check out a viola, oboe, French horn and percussion.

Explore the Confluence Project. The project is a series of art and educational sites up and down the Columbia Gorge that reflect the travels and journals of Lewis & Clark. Currently five of the six sites are complete, including a site at Fort Vancouver and the Sandy River Delta in Troutdale.

Give back. Celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by volunteering together as a family. Hands On is a great place to look for volunteer opportunities. If you have a preschooler, here’s a great option for volunteering. You can also check out some of our compilations of volunteer opportunities appropriate for kids.

Learn about American Indian cultures. The Oregon Historical Society is hosting its inaugural Family Saturday program on January 13. This month’s program will highlight American Indian cultures in Oregon, and showcase musical performances and storytelling, craft activities, and more.

Make like Ramona. Head to Northeast Portland for a self-guided Ramona Quimby walking tour. Walk by her school, Beverly Cleary’s house, and even the spot where Ramona’s boots got stuck in the mud in Ramona the Pest (now a QFC parking lot!).

Be a scientist. Head to the Water Resources Education Center in Vancouver on January 13 to explore what it would be like to be a scientist. Kids can discover different fields of science through hand-on activities and games.

Go high. Explore Portland’s highest point, Council Crest Park. On a clear day, you can see five mountains from the summit: Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, Mt Adams, Mt Jefferson and Mt Rainier.

Go natural. Sometimes you just need to run around outside. Nature playgrounds are a great place to do just that. In addition to often having rain-shielding branches, you’ll more than likely have the run of the place on a rainy day.

Jump, jump, jump! Dream Big Community Center is partnering with the G6 Airpark in Vancouver is offering a free family jump night on their trampolines on January 18. (All jumpers will need to purchase grip socks for $2). Sweet!

Enter the land of fire and ice. Head to the St. Johns library on January 20 for a peek into the magic of science. Demonstrations will use fire, bubbling potions and carbon dioxide gas frozen to 109F below zero.

Experience a Powwow. This cultural event at the PCC Sylvania Campus features drum groups and dancers from across the region, crafts, food and kids’ activities. The event takes place on January 20.

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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