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Peter asked

Family w/ 3 boys looking for unique portland experience

We are visiting Portland in August with our 3 young boys (8,6,3) for 2 nights and we are looking for some fun family things to do and see. I'd say we are into to tech, science and anything outdoors (we have 3 boys, duh) so bonus point for anything to wear them out! Staying downtown at the Westin w/ no car & we do enjoy public transportation w/ the kids if it's easy (we can always Uber)

Also, we're foodies but need kid friendly restaurant suggestions.

Portland (Oregon)

7 Answers
top answer by
Benjamin from Portland

I will start with a heads up, Uber is actually not allowed in Portland, but the public transportation system is pretty great. There is a street car that runs around downtown, as well as various MAX Trains that run all over the Metro area. 

Things for kids:

1. The Oregon Zoo. You can hop on either the Blue or Red Max line heading West and end up at the Zoo in just a few short stops. 15-20 minutes or so. 

There is also a Portland Children's Museum and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum at the same stop.

2. OMSI. Oregon Museum of Science & Industry is another great Museum/Activity Center for kids. It is on the East side of the Willamette River. You can walk across the Hawthorne Bridge and follow signs to it. Its a nice walk with great city views. 

3. Forest Park (Oregon)/Hoyt Arboretum.

The city of Portland has an amazing network of Forested trails that span the West hills overlooking the city. Here are some links with more info:

4. Food Carts

As I am sure you are aware, the amount of cheap but quality food in Portland is amazing.

Some locations don't have the best seating options, but there are quite a few that have picnic tables setup. 

5. Cool Neighborhoods

NW 21st and NW 23rd. You can access both of these Via the Street Car. Cool Restaurants, shops, bars.

Pearl District

The Pearl is the epicenter of new development in Portland. Trendy business, food, bars.

Alberta Arts District

In NE Portland, this street has amazing selection of restaurants that span for many blocks.

6. If you happen to be in town on a Saturday you should make sure to check out the Portland Farmers Market on the PSU campus. It is great. 



Comments (2)

Great answer.

Thanks for uber tip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oregon Zoo (attraction)
  2. Portland Children's Museum (attraction)
  3. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum (attraction)
  4. Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (attraction)
  5. Willamette River (attraction)
  6. Hawthorne Bridge (attraction)
  7. Forest Park (Oregon) (attraction)
  8. Hoyt Arboretum (attraction)
  9. Pearl District (neighborhood)
  10. Alberta Arts District (neighborhood)
  11. Portland Farmers Market (restaurant)
comments (2)
likes (9) thanks
answered by

OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science & Industry) Oregon Zoo, (Wednesday nights throughout the summer they also have a great concert series fun for kids)   Bike around the Willamette River, Portland Farmers Market Saturday morning on the park blocks, Portland Saturday Market on the Waterfront. Lots of Amazing hikes through Forest Park (Oregon)

Public Transportation is really easy in the City. The Max line takes you to most places throughout the city Some of the restaurants that have been suggested might be easier to get to by cab.

I'm sure the boys would love some ice cream so you need to come to Ruby Jewel Scoops! It's the best ice cream in the city although I might be a little biased because I'm one of the owners :)  If you come by please ask for me because I'd love to say hello in person. I hope you enjoy visiting Portland as much as I love living here!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (attraction)
  2. Oregon Zoo (attraction)
  3. Willamette River (attraction)
  4. Portland Farmers Market (attraction)
  5. Portland Saturday Market (attraction)
  6. Forest Park (Oregon) (attraction)
  7. Ruby Jewel Scoops (restaurant)
likes (8) thanks
answered first by
Brew from Manhattan Beach

We were there with our kids and some friends (similar ages to yours) and had a great time.  The one thing I guaranty will make your kids happy is getting ice cream at Ruby Jewel Scoops.  This is some of the best ice cream in the world.  Great ice cream, sundaes (the coffee buzz sundae is incredible), and ice cream sandwiches (life changing).  All organic, locally sourced from artisan suppliers, etc.  Delicious.

Right down the street from Ruby Jewel is Tasty N Alder which is a great spot for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, etc.  

A fun, and very Portland-y thing to do is to hit the food truck pods, which are all over the city.  One of the biggest in the city is the "Alder Pod" which has a ton of selection, including Nong's Khao Man Gai which is famous for its 1 item:  garlic and ginger infused chicken and rice paired with dipping sauce (basic, and very good).  This place always has a line.  

Also in the vicinity is Powell's City of Books which is a Portland institution.  

So, a nice triangle with the kids would be:  Powell's, Alder Pod or Tasty N Alder, and Ruby Jewel (note:  the only mandatory stop on this list is Ruby Jewel, LOL).

All of the above are very easy to get to from the The Westin Portland.

A little further afield, but worth it:

Apizza Scholls - insanely good pizza by people who take it very, very seriously.  They have limited amount of dough each night and when they run out, they run out.  If you and the kids want pizza, try to make it here.

OX Restaurant - Not a kid friendly place, but wow.  Its good.  Meat heavy.  

The area of North Portland, generally around Mississippi Avenue is a very cool place to explore.  Referred to by many as simply "Mississippi" there are tons of shops, restaurants, food carts, breweries, etc.   If you make it there, the original Ruby Jewel Scoops is there.  Good, kid friendly casual Mexican with a great vibe at ¿Por Que No?.  Not too far from Mississippi is the amazingly good Tasty N Sons, which is the original and sister restaurant to the aforementioned Tasty N Alder.  Tasty N Sons is a great place, both food-wise and atmosphere (expect hour waits on weekends for breakfast/brunch). 

Also on Mississippi is The ReBuilding Center which is a cool, non-profit that takes used building materials and repurposes them into furniture, lumber, etc.  Very cool place to pop your head into if you are interested in design, building, etc. 

Comments (1)

Ruby Jewels was awesome!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ruby Jewel Scoops (restaurant)
  2. Tasty N Alder (restaurant)
  3. Nong's Khao Man Gai (restaurant)
  4. Powell's City of Books (attraction)
  5. The Westin Portland (hotel)
  6. Apizza Scholls (restaurant)
  7. OX Restaurant (restaurant)
  8. Ruby Jewel Scoops (attraction)
  9. ¿Por Que No? (restaurant)
  10. Tasty N Sons (restaurant)
  11. The ReBuilding Center (attraction)
comments (1)
likes (7) thanks
answered by
Debbie from San Francisco

Here are a few Portland ideas so that your kids think that you're super even cooler :)

  • Hit up Old Town Chinatown and go to the Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade.  One of the coolest arcades that I've been to in a while, and they do have food.  Good food, at that.
  • Check out some food truck pods.  One of my favorites is where Potato Champion is on SE Hawthorne.  They make awesome fries with tasty dips, and they also have poutine.  Quite a few other options there, too!
  • Of course you have to go to Voodoo Doughnuts.  There are a couple locations in the city.  You can get some fun donuts here, my favorite being the cereal-topped ones.
  • For a place with really good sandwiches, check out Bunk Morrison.  They have a slightly fancier newer location downtown, but if you want to keeps it real, visit the original one on Morrison in the industrial part of town.  Try their Cubano or roast beef.  Grilled cheese is also good.  Love the side of house-made kettle chips that comes with each sandwich.  Dad can order a "bunkmosa" (Coors Light with OJ ;).
  • Powell's City of Books is also an awesome place for kids/young inquisitive minds to explore.  Shelves upon shelves of books with really cool finds.Hope you guys have fun! :)

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Old Town Chinatown (attraction)
  2. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade (attraction)
  3. Potato Champion (restaurant)
  4. Voodoo Doughnuts (restaurant)
  5. Bunk Morrison (restaurant)
  6. Powell's City of Books (attraction)
likes (5) thanks
answered by
Laura from Walla Walla

Food -- Nicholas Restaurant for excellent pita bread [huge!!] and hummus; Salt & Straw for dessert! Check out the fountains around the city for summer splashing fun and be sure to visit OMSI Science Store -- best science playground ever. Fortunately, public transportation is really easy in Portland. Enjoy!

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nicholas Restaurant (restaurant)
  2. Salt & Straw (attraction)
  3. OMSI Science Store (attraction)
likes (2) thanks
answered by
Elliott from San Francisco

Here are my suggestions for having a wonderful time in August with three young boys (assuming the will have high energy, like to be outdoors, explore, and you want to wear them out.

* Walking around downtown: Portland’s downtown is compact and complex, with an attractive mixture of buildings, bridges, architectural styles, parks, and plazas that makes it wonderful for walking. From Tom Mccall waterfront park portland OR right along the Willamette to Pioneer Courthouse Square, this is one of the most attractive, human-scale downtowns you’ll ever see.

* Sipping a latte at Caffè Umbria in the Pearl District. It’s the best hot chocolate in Portland, and the most attractive and congenial cafe in the upscale Pearl District. Order your coffee, your kid's hot chocolate,  a panini, a pastry, or a gelato, take a seat, and people watch. .

* Browsing through Powell's City of Books: Even if your kids are not  totally committed to reading,  you shouldn't miss Powell’s. One of the world’s largest bookstores, Powell’s is visited by kids of all ages as well as by readers who love books and know they will be able to find a new or used copy of just about anything in one of Powell’s color-coded rooms. But beware: Once your kids are inside and start browsing, it’s difficult to tear them away. ;-)

* Hiking with the kids in Forest Park: Few cities can claim, as Portland can, to have one of the largest urban forests in the world within its city limits. Giant Forest Park covers thousands of acres in Northwest and Southwest Portland and forms part of a wildlife corridor that stretches all the way to the Coast Range. Put on  comfortable walking shoes and bring a picnic  and hook up to one of the many trails that crisscross this vast urban green space. . .

* Sniff the roses at the International Rose Test Garden . Your kids will be wowed by the spectacle of tens of thousands of roses in all shapes and colors growing on terraces in beautiful Washington Park. 

* Riding the Rails: Take your pick: MAX, the light-rail train, or the Portland Streetcar. Buy a ticket, hop on, and go for a ride—it hardly matters where. Portland is way ahead of the curve when it comes to providing public transportation, and if you are coming from a place where you are a prisoner of your car, what could be more enjoyable than to let someone else do the driving?

The Museums for taking the active kids:

* Pittock Mansion: Have your kids imagine living their.  This enormous French Renaissance Revival chateau, built for the owner of The Oregonian newspaper, occupies the highest point in Northwest Portland. Wander through rooms paneled with rare woods and sheathed in rare marbles, and enjoy the panoramic view of Portland from the gardens. . .

* Portland Art Museum:  It great for kids as it is not huge.  The collection of Native American art and artifacts is reason enough to visit Portland’s art museum. It has a small collection of French Impressionists and galleries of contemporary Northwest art, and it hosts interesting but smaller-scale traveling shows.

Comments (0)


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Tom Mccall waterfront park portland OR (attraction)
  2. Pioneer Courthouse Square (attraction)
  3. Caffè Umbria (restaurant)
  4. Pearl District (neighborhood)
  5. Powell's City of Books (attraction)
  6. Forest Park (attraction)
  7. International Rose Test Garden (attraction)
  8. Pittock Mansion (attraction)
  9. Portland Art Museum (attraction)
answered by
Carol from Oregon

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