Portland with Kids – Top Places to Visit and Awesome Attractions

When we first began creating our Oregon bucket list, we knew exactly what we wanted – a Portland itinerary that provided the perfect balance of fun, education and unique experiences for our kids, as well as Mom and Dad.

There are so many amazing places to visit in Portland with kids, and even more kid friendly attractions. We managed to cram in all the Portland sightseeing and attractions which made for an unforgettable trip.

If you’re looking for things to do in Portland with kids, keep scrolling!

  • Tips for Traveling to Portland with Kids
  • Where to Stay in Portland with Kids
  • Family-friendly Places to Visit and Awesome Attractions
  • Portland Tours, Guides & Maps

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WHAT TO PACK FOR A TRIP TO OREGON

Rain jacket – The liklihood of rain while you’re visiting Oregon, and especially the coast, is high. Pack a rain jacket.  → Check out our favorite rain jackets for the family!

Hiking shoes – If you’ll be exploring any hiking trails in Oregon, we recommend hiking shoes instead of sandals. After the umpteenth time of getting rocks out of the sandals, you’ll thank us!  → REI is the best place to get hiking shoes – trust us!

Hiking socks – Darn Tough socks help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and are guaranteed to last.  → Check out the BEST SOCKS EVER!

Water shoes – You’ll want shoes that are made to get wet AND protect your feet from the rocks. If you’ll be visiting the coastal beaches and tidepools, pack water shoes.  → Check out these water shoes.

Sunscreen  → Check out travel size sunscreen!

Water bottle  → Check out these water bottles perfect for traveling!

Healthy Snacks – Everyone gets irritable when they’re hungry. Pack healthy snacks to make everyone happy!  → Check out our favorite healthy snacks

5 TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO PORTLAND WITH KIDS

Portland Tip #1 – Public Transportation

Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the MAX light rail, or mapping your planned walking destinations. Biking is also a great way to get around Portland with kids that are younger.

Portland Tip #2 – Anti-Nausea Medication

If you or your little ones get car sick, be sure to plan ahead. The drives outside the city are mountainous and beautiful, but very windy and not ideal for sensitive tummies.  → Get anti-nausea medication!

Portland Tip #3 – Pack Light

A load of laundry each night keeps our suitcases half as full, and allows us to bring gear for all the different activities we did – hiking, swimming and being prepared for any kind of weather. Plus, this is Portland – you can always just run to Target if you forgot something.

Portland Tip #4 – Road Trip

Keeping everyone happy in the car on your trip to Portland is essential. Plan ahead and make sure you have all the items you need when driving in the car with kids. Don’t forget to include some of these toys for the kids that are perfect for traveling.  → Check out our road trip must-haves! 

Portland Tip #5 – Cook at Home

As usual, we recommend an Airbnb or hotel suite with a kitchen. We were able to shop at the grocery store and make dinner at home most nights. Being able to prepare healthy snacks and packed lunches to take on our hikes and adventures during the day is also super handy when you have kids. → Our favorite healthy snacks!

WHERE TO STAY IN PORTLAND  

We like to use Hotels.com where you collect 10 hotels nights and get 1 reward night free!

→ CHECK OUT these hotels in Portland at Hotels.com

→ Airbnb vacation rentals in Portland

→ VRBO vacation rentals in Portland

PLACES TO VISIT IN PORTLAND WITH KIDS

Tillamook Forest Center

The Tillamook Forest Center is conveniently located on Highway 6 from Portland to the coast, and stopping there was by far one of the best decisions we made on our trip to Portland with the kids. The things we loved the most about Tillamook Forest Center were: 

  • The fire lookout
  • The indoor visitor’s center with a gift shop
  • It had really clean restrooms
  • Fantastic educational displays

But best of all, they have several kids’ activities running daily! When we visited, a group had met on the beautiful bridge behind the forest center to get ready for the fairy garden tour. The volunteer tour guide showed the children what materials they could find for building fairy houses, and how to collect them without damaging living plants.

Kids love the Fairy Garden Tour at Tillamook Forest.Kids love the Fairy Garden Tour at Tillamook Forest.

After that fun and educational activity, they led the kids on a short hike, where they viewed fairy houses built by previous groups. Everyone in the group built their own fairy house along the trail. It was a truly magical experience, a great way to stretch everyone’s legs for an hour and a perfect first stop on our Portland travels.

Tillamook Cheese Factory

If you’re a cheese lover like me, this is definitely a stop you want to make on your stay in Portland! You get to watch the cheese being made AND sample all the different cheeses.

But the Tillamook Cheese Factory isn’t just limited to cheese. You can also try their amazing and unique ice cream flavors!

Sample cheese and ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.Sample cheese and ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory.

Lunch items such as grilled cheese sandwiches are available, but you may not need lunch after your cheese and ice cream sampling!

The kids also loved posing in the Loaf Tour bus, and with the cow statues. Make sure you add this to your Portland itinerary!

Newport

Newport is a small fishing village but one of the more famous stops along the Oregon Coast. We spent a morning wandering the small-town streets, exploring the docks and shops.

Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.

The kids’ favorite activity of the day was watching some fishermen catching crabs in baskets. My favorite part of the day was the view of the Highway 101 bridge across Yaquina Bay. And seeing restaurant employees walking down to the dock to collect fresh crabs to sell was unexpected but pretty amazing. 

TOP TIP – If picking out a piece of salt water taffy gets your kids to behave as well as ours, there are several candy shops along the main street (Bay Blvd). 

Yaquima Head Lighthouse

Just north of Newport is the Yaquima Head Lighthouse. Tours of the lighthouse itself are limited, and because of the steep steps, children must be 42” tall.

Yaquima Head Lighthouse is a fun stop near Portland with kids.Yaquima Head Lighthouse is a fun stop near Portland with kids.

Although we didn’t go inside Yaquima Head Lighthouse, the view from Yaquima Head was spectacular! You can even see the sea lions on the coast below.

The Yaquima Head visitors center was very fun and child friendly. There were old fashioned games to learn, coloring activities and dress ups.

The sea life display was particularly impressive. It had a tunnel to crawl through and a lighthouse replica that showed how the light worked. This was fascinating for my older kids.

Otter Rock Beach

Otter Rock Beach is where we spent most of our time on the Oregon Coast. Pacific Northwest beaches are not known for being sunny and warm, and this was no exception. However, Otter Rock is one of my favorite beaches I’ve ever been to (and I’ve lived in California most of my life).

Searching for sea glass at Otter Rock beach in Oregon is a fun activity for kids.Searching for sea glass at Otter Rock beach in Oregon is a fun activity for kids.

Of all the places to visit in Portland, this is super kid friendly. At this beach you can search the tide pools, hunt for sea glass, build with driftwood and climb on rocks.

Amid the rock piles, we found dozens of pieces of sea glass. The kids loved digging through the rocks and seeing who could find the biggest or most colorful pieces.

Devil’s Punch Bowl

When visiting Oregon’s Otter Rock Beach, you also have direct access to the Devil’s Punch Bowl. At low tide you can access the inside of the punch bowl, and the surrounding tide pools.

Explore the Devil's Punchbowl area along the Oregon Coast.Explore the Devil’s Punchbowl area along the Oregon Coast.

The tide pools were amazing, and we saw some beautiful sea creatures there. The kids also loved climbing on the rocks in the punch bowl, and along the access route.

At high tide, you can see the Devil’s Punchbowl from above and watch the water swirling from the street level. 

If you take a short walk along the cliff side you can view the beaches below. Anything outdoorsey is perfect for kids to do near Portland.

Lincoln City Beach

If you’re taking young kids to visit Portland, you might want to opt for a less rocky beach experience. Several miles north, Lincoln City Beach provides a wide area of sand, even at high tide.

Kids love flying kites at Lincoln City Beach, Oregon.Kids love flying kites at Lincoln City Beach, Oregon.

This expansive beach is great for kite flying and other Portland activities that are perfect for kids!

THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND WITH KIDS

Bagby Hot Springs

Our favorite activity in Portland with kids is hiking to Bagby Hot Springs. The hike is about a two hour drive outside of Portland but it’s a beautiful drive. It winds through the stunning mountains and leads to mile long hike in the woods that’s easy for little legs. 

These aren’t just any woods. The amount of green in the area was astonishing – green trees, green ground cover, green moss, and to top it off, there were fairies visiting the area (glitter bombed tree stumps). The entire hike was a magical experience for everyone.

Kids enjoying the Bagby Hot Spring in Oregon.Kids enjoying the Bagby Hot Spring in Oregon.

At the end of the trail, there are changing shacks and bathtubs ready for piped water from the hot springs. The water is so hot you have to add buckets of cold water from a different spring. It was incredible to bathe in the middle of the woods! Be sure to bring a change of clothing if you don’t want to hike a mile back in a wet swimsuit.

If you’re visiting Portland with kids, put this at the top of your kid friendly Portland itinerary. 

Multnomah Falls

One of the most famous hikes in Oregon is Multnomah Falls. It’s conveniently only about a 30 minute drive away from Portland.

Multnomah Falls In OregonMultnomah Falls is a must-see when visiting Oregon.

There are three different hikes you can take to suit any family of any age. You can take a short walk up to the base of the famous falls. A slightly longer walk to the bridge in front of the falls. Or if you’re ambitious, hike a mile straight up the mountain to the top!

The views of the Columbia River from the top of the falls are truly unbeatable. Whether it’s worth carrying my 3 year old up the steep climb is another question entirely!

MUST READ: TIPS FOR HIKING WITH KIDS

Mt. Hood Adventure Park

One of the most fun places to go in Portland with kids is the Mt. Hood Adventure Park. It’s not unique in the activities on offer. What makes it unique is the beautiful view of Mt. Hood as you careen down the alpine slide.

Mt. Hood Adventure Park is a fun place to take kids when visiting Oregon.Mt. Hood Adventure Park is a fun place to take kids when visiting Oregon.

There are also kiddie rides, a ropes course, ziplining, and bungee jumping (which I can’t 100% recommend! Yikes!). This Portland attraction is a fun way to spend a day with your family. The adventure park is just over an hours drive outside of Portland.

Washington Park

If you’re looking for attractions in Portland with kid friendly activities, Washington Park is where you need to be. You can walk along the trails to visit the zoo, head to the children’s park and visit the children’s museum. They also have a beautiful Japanese Garden, arboretum and rose garden.

Japanese Garden at Washington Park, Oregon.Japanese Garden at Washington Park, Oregon.

We chose to walk around the Japanese Garden for our first visit to Washington Park. It was a bit too solemn for our energetic kids, but the adults in our group enjoyed the landscaping and the interesting facts we learned.

Afterwards, we visited the children’s park (basically a very large playground), to try and exhaust some energy from the kids! The little ones were much more interested in that and it did just the trick!

Downtown Portland

You can get around downtown Portland by walking and using MAX light rail. Exploring Portland with kids is easy because it’s such a pedestrian-friendly city.

Downtown Portland, Oregon skyline.Downtown Portland, Oregon skyline.

When you’re visiting Portland with kids, it’s nice to be able to simply walk from place to place. You don’t have to load kids in and out of the car at every stop or worry about parking, which is a dream!

Arial Tram and Tilikum Crossing

Attractions in Portland with great views are not hard to come by. The Arial Tram and Tilikum Crossing was no exception.

We took the tram up the mountain for a breathtaking arial view of Portland. We then walked across the Willamette River on the nearby Tilikum Crossing which is a bridge solely for pedestrian and public transit use.

Voodoo Doughnuts

If you’re looking for things to do in Portland that are a little more quirky, you should definitely take a trip to Voodoo Doughnuts. Hopefully your kids are young enough to overlook the innuendos or old enough to laugh at them with you!

four stacks of doughnutsPut Voodoo Doughnuts on your Portland bucket list.

Either way, this is a must on your Portland itinerary. We waited in line 20-30 minutes to try several different unique donuts and it was worth the wait. The grape soda one was my favorite.

Food Trucks

The food trucks in Portland are really more permanent kiosks than the food trucks I’m used to in Southern California. They are set up in vacant lots throughout downtown and there are dozens of options at each.

The best part was we could find food to please the picky eaters, as well as more adventurous and local fare for the rest of us. That makes for a Portland itinerary to please everyone!

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19 Comments

  1. Portland being a beer Mecca (Beervana we call it), going to family-friendly breweries is also a big thing to do here with kids. Try Laurelwood or Hopworks on your next visit, they even have play areas for kids…

  2. Great list of activities to do in Portland with kids. I love the idea of hot spring water in bathtubs – a much-needed treat after a two hour hike. Kids seem to enjoy it a lot. Multnomah Falls look just wow! This is the place I would so love to visit. A perfect shot admist raw nature. Thanks for providing the helpful tips as well. Love your amazing photographs. 🙂

    1. Thank you! The whole facility built around the hot springs is wonderful. Very convenient, but blends right into nature.

  3. Ha, I’ve never been to a hot spring where the water was put into tubs! That looks like so much fun. And of course, who would ever want to miss out on driving a go-cart (big kid here). I must say that I loved your opening photo with the lighthouse. Lots of great advice here. Pinning to my family travel board.

  4. It’s great to see that there are so many outdoor activities that can be done just outside Portland. I love hiking so going to the hotsprings would be a must for me, especially that after the 2 hours hike you get to sooth your muscles in the hot water. The Multnomah Falls it’s also a must, I don’t think I have ever seen such a tall waterfall!

    1. You should definitely hike to the top of Multnomah Falls. It’s a fun hike, steep but pretty short, and the views are incredible.

  5. There are lots of activities to do in Portland with kids. Hiking to Bagby hot springs must be a beautiful hike as it surrounded by nature. Your kids looks happy in hot water bathe. Multnomah Falls looks stunning and picturesque. My kids would love Mt. Hood Adventure park as they love all adventure stuff. Great place and that too kids friendly.

    1. There was a ton of things to do in Portland with kids! We were there five days and couldn’t do them all.

  6. I am so so looking forward to Oregon! I have heard so many great things about this state! And your list of activities to do with kids is perfect for us because we will be traveling with our three years old daughter. Hiking to the Bagby hotspring following by eating donuts at the Voodoo donuts would be a perfect day for a family outing!

  7. The Multnomah Falls look stunning and I would definitely love to explore the same, I am very sure my son would love it. And the view from the top, that picture is so beautiful. I didn’t know much about Portland, but your post has really helped knowing the place better

  8. Being someone who almost always travels with kids this is extremely handy. Portland looks like a great place to visit with kids and it’s nice to see so many varied options for them to enjoy. Being a huge advocate of Food Trucks I can see there is something that will keep me happy as well. Thanks.

    1. There were so many food trucks! There were lots of them throuought downtown, each with dozens of food options. It was food truck paradise.

  9. This seems to be such a beautiful place. And perfect for daytrips especially with kids. I think especially for children it is important to get in touch with nature, being surrounded by green and fresh air. The Washington Park also looks very nice, but I think my personal highlight would be taking a bath in a tub in the Hot Springs, this must have been fun!

    1. The hot springs were awesome! You’re right, there were so many wonderful day trips out of the city to visit and hike in nature, it was perfect for exploring with kids.

  10. I would love to do the hike to Multnomah Falls! It looks breathtaking from all of the photos I’ve seen. Such a fun list of activities including the voodoo doughnuts and the food trucks. 😉 I’m sure your kids had an amazing time!

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