Travels, USA

20 Best things to see in Portland, OR with kids

Portland has the most beautiful and scenic terrain that the west coast is famous for.  Traveling to Portland any time of the year can be rewarding due to the picturesque landscapes that welcome you. Depending on when you visit, Best things to see in Portland, OR with kids range from seeing tulips, cherry blossoms, Roses and beautiful fall colors to snow capped mountains! What a win!

20 Best things to see in Portland, OR with kids

3-day weekend itinerary & best things to see in Portland, OR

Flying over Portland, OR

Day 1

1. Pittock Mansion

The best way to begin a tour of Portland is at Pittock Mansion. This historic museum tells the story of Portland from it’s early ages to the industrialized modern city it is today. Please be sure to check their website for timings to ensure you don’t miss anything. Admission is just $11 and free for kids under 6.

2.Max train to Washington Park

The Explore Washington Park free seasonal shuttle runs on a loop inside Washington Park, stopping at all of the major attractions in the park. Get to the park via TriMet MAX Light Rail Red or Blue lines and catch the shuttle on the plaza level of the Washington Park station. You can cover at least 8 attractions if you have the time and energy, literally spending the whole day here. The Park covers Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Hoyt Arboretum, Holocaust Museum, International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, Archery Range, Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum & World Forestry Center.

3. Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden in Portland, OR

Japanese Gardens are the most peaceful places that you must visit to understand the true beauty of the city you are visiting. If you are lucky, you might be able to encounter a performance in the cultural village.

Definitely enjoy Japanese Tea at the Umami Cafe.

Sipping Matcha Tea at Umami Cafe of Japanese Garden in Portland, OR

Do check out their events page and time your visit accordingly.

4. Rose Garden

There’s a reason Portland is called the Rose city & the best time to see them is between June and mid-October. We were unlucky this time around but we’re surely going to make another trip to see the famous Roses in this city.

Check out ideas for romantic this to do in Portland.

5. Lunch Cruise

If you are lucky with a clear day, one of the best things to do in Portland, OR is a Lunch cruise or a dinner cruise on the city’s rivers.

Lunch Cruise on the Willamette River in Portland, OR

6. Portland Ariel Tram

Portland Ariel Tram is a must-do in Portland, OR

To get that birds eye view of the city without burning a hole in your wallet, get on the Portland Ariel Tram. It operates from early morning till late in the evening every day of the week (but closed on Sunday). The ride costs less than $5 per person for a round trip. You can spend as much time as you want once you get up. The tram takes you up 500 ft above to the main campuses of OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University) on Marquam Hill. OHSU is  Portland’s largest employer, medical destination, and home of several medical schools.

On a clear & sunny day, you can get a gorgeous view of the surrounding region and, on a clear day, Mount Hood and Mount St Helens. This is a definite must see things to do in Portland.

7. Tilikum crossing & the other bridges

View of the bridges from atop the OHSU upper viewing deck at Portland, OR

The Willamette River cuts through the city resulting in 12 bridges (as of 2018) that have been built over time. Some of the famous ones that you must spot, walk over or drive through are: Tilikum crossing, St. Johns Bridge and the newest – Sellwood Bridge. You can view the bridges from many parts of the city and also along the river.

8. Grotto Park

The Grotto in Portland, OR

The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, popularly known as The Grotto, is a Catholic outdoor shrine and sanctuary not too far from Downtown and also the airport. There is a large meditation hall and a trail of the stations of the cross on the hill which is visible from miles away.

Day 2

9. Lan Su Chinese Garden

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is one of Portland’s wonders and is a must-see in Portland. Make sure to check out their website to Join a trained docent for an interpretive tour of the garden. This is a respite from city life and offers and extraordinary glimpse into Chinese culture.

10. Pioneer courthouse square

Pioneer courthouse Square in Portland, OR

Dubbed as Portland’s living room, Pioneer courtyard square is a place to experience the city’s culture. With over 300 pogromed events a year, your sure to catch a performance or two. Do check out their events page and ensure you time your visit well.

11. Tom McCall Waterfront Park & Portland fountain walk

Make sure to stroll around the Willamette River to see the Tom McCall Waterfront and other fountains in Portland, OR

One fantastic option is to do a Scavenger Hunt, suitable for all ages. Kids will especially love this!

12. Bridal Veil Falls

The Bridal Veil Falls is a beautiful waterfall on the Columbia River Gorge. The falls consists of two cascades in quick succession, so when there is a good amount of water the falls looks very much like its namesake.

13. Crown Point & Vista House

Crown Point overlooking the expansive Columbia River Gorge near Portland, OR

This is one of the many points to get a beautiful birds eye view of the Columbia River Gorge. Vista House has a museum, gift shop and interpretive display of historic and geologic points of interest in the Gorge  and is open to public from 9 am – 4 pm

14. Multnomah Falls

The dramatic Multnomah Falls near Portland, OR

This is one of the most scenic spots in the pacific northwest. Currently only the lower viewing platform is open and the trails have been closed, since they have shut access to build certain safety measures in the area. You have a gift shop, restaurant and toilets with the visitor center open to public from 9 AM – 7 PM.

Late Winter and spring are the best times to visit the various Falls in Oregon, with the volume of water at it’s peak.

End your day with a tour of Breweries by Bike.

Day 3

15. Vancouver, WA

Fort Vancouver near Portland, OR is perfect for a half day getaway with the kids

The region’s only national historic site is centered around a complete replica of Fort Vancouver, a fur-trading camp founded in 1825.

Join Park rangers for a 2 hour Kayak tour on Columbia River. All participants must be 8 years or older and that’s why we had to skip this. Do check out more details about Kayak Tours here.

Hope you are enjoying this post on the best things to see in Portland. If you are road tripping, do read this post on road trips with kids.

16. Wineries

Less than an hour from Portland lies the Willamette Vally with more than 250 wineries. Check out the wineries near Portland for some of the best things to see in Portland, OR.

17. Some other things to do in Portland

  • Portland Art Museum
  • Museum of Contemporary craft

18. Shopping in Portland, OR

Enjoy Tax-free shopping in Portland and save some precious $$$ (which can be spent on food or some more shopping). Choose from The Pearl District, Nob Hill and the Pioneer Courtyard.

19. Where to eat in Portland, OR

Where to eat in Portland, OR
Source: Intrepid Travel

We are currently not eating out and sticking to only home cooked food. But I will refer to other websites whom I can trust. Here’s one Foodie’s Guide to Portland. And here is a guide to kid-friendly restaurants in Portland. Here is a guide on where to eat in Portland (with a map).

20. Where to stay in Portland, OR

We stayed in a suite hotel close to the airport that I can talk less about but you can check out these 11 Cool & Unusual places to stay in Portland or the 10 Best Boutique hotels in Portland.

A Gorgeous sunset amongst Fir trees in Portland, OR

We hope you get to visit this beautiful city very soon and also enjoy some of the best things to see in Portland, OR as mentioned above. Make sure to leave a comment!

Much love,

Mama Dee

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7 thoughts on “20 Best things to see in Portland, OR with kids

  1. Ohh it seems like such a beautiful place and you had explained every detail so summer is just around the corner and i am also in mood to take a break with my family, your post is tempting me to do that more early. beautiful pics..enjoyed reading your experience.

  2. That’s a whole lot of places to visit in your daily 3 days itinerary especially with a toddler!
    Kudos to you for cooking while on ur trip. The last thing I wanna do when travelling is cook 😒
    Portland seems like a nice place to visit, has lots to offer to suit everyone. Will keep it in mind if we venture to visit the West coast!

    Jamie Chaw

  3. Never been to Portland but after reading your travelogue, feels like visiting it soon. I am curious to see how the Bridal Veil Fall would look. 🙂

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