Welcome to Portland, one of the coolest and weirdest places to live in the US!
If you are planning your first visit to the City of Rose (Portland’s nickname), you might wonder how does it feel to be there the first time. We felt the same couple years ago when we’re looking through articles with similar names: “Best cities to raise a family”, “Best places to live”, etc. Portland held high positions on many of them, named one of the most bike-friendly, eco-friendly and family-friendly US city. After our visits there I can tell you it’s all true and even more: Portland is eclectic, cozy, incredibly green with tons of recreational opportunities so easy to hit. You can be whoever you wanna be in Portland, with a rare chance to catch a sideways glance.

One of 550 rose varieties, International Rose Test Garden, Portland

This post is for parents, who want to know Portland, but wanted to make sure the kids will also have a great time. We always plan our trips around our plans, mixing it with cool ideas kids will be excited about. Some of the 15th places, listed below, wasn’t designed specifically for kids but are family-friendly and were experienced by us and our 1, 4 and 9 years old.

City views from Portland aerial tram

Best time to visit Portland

There is no best time to visit Portland, it’s all based on your desires: what you are gonna see and do. Summers usually very sunny, dry and sometimes really hot, while winter is mild with a rare chance of temperatures to hit below frizzing. Rainy season last from October till May, so be prepared for gloomy weather. We prefer to explore new cities from outdoor so our second visit in September brought us much more joy than in beginning of December: the days were longer, dry and very sunny.

How to spoil your visit to Portland

Truth be told, Portland is a city where you’ll have to try really hard to spoil your visit there. It’s a beautiful, family-friendly place full of all kind of activities: beautiful gardens, dozens of parks, museums, galleries, roasters, breweries, and great eateries where visitors with kids feel welcome. Meanwhile, after our second visit we found out couple moments I wish somebody told us before.

During our first visit to Portland we felt like this goat: sad and completely wet. Oregon Zoo

Stick to only to “kids will love” places. Period.

Not going out of town. One day I will make a full post about this topic :).
Oregon is home for multiple nature wonders and some of them in just half an hour drive from the Portland. It’s roughly like driving from one end of the city to another! Anyway, make a drive through spectacular Columbia Gorge and visit at least a couple of waterfalls. It’s very worth to spend there from a couple of hours to the day if not longer. Multnomah Falls is the tallest and most popular but not last – there are more than a ninety of other waterfalls! They are all different and many of them doesn’t require any hiking, not crowded at all and easily accessible by car – you just drive a couple of minutes from one place to another. Check for possible closures or wildfire here before you go. Come early in the morning or late in the afternoon to beat the crowds if you plan to visit Multnomah and watch kids closely while visiting Columbia Gorge: there are plenty of slippery places and some exposed cliffs. We spent an entire day at the Gorge, (we also made a tour at the Boneville Lock & Dam) walked several easy trails and saw so many completely different waterfalls, I still remember them. Two hidden gems worth your time and effort: Horsetail Falls hike and Lower Oneonta Falls hike – we almost did this one, but in December water was too cold to wade in to get to the waterfall. Exceptional summer hike!

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Underestimate the weather. If you are coming during the rainy season (October – May) you should be properly geared up. While most of the time it only drizzles, heavy rains occur and sometimes, unexpectedly. Waterproof boots, waterproof jacket, umbrella, sweater – you don’t need to carry all of that around, but it’s good to know you can pull it on any time you need. Electric shoe dryer takes up very little space but can save a day (it did for us and our 4 pair of shoes). First time and single time our kid was crying about how cold he is, happened in Portland when all of his “waterproof” clothing was soaking wet in half an hour.

Where to sleep

Our most favorite options to look for accommodations became Airbnb/VRBO (for personal experience and meeting the locals) and Priceline (best hotel deals). After we came back home I found this local gem I would love to try for staying: McMenamins Kennedy School. Sounds weird but true: hotel located in a former school! Plus heated pool, free theater admission, bar, restaurant and all of it surrounded by “not your ordinary hotel” design – seems like the price worth the experience.

McMenamins Kennedy School, Portland

Where to eat

Portland can be your next foodie destination. There are so many places to have the unique experience of any kinds and diet, you’ll be surprised! Since two of our kids are very small (1 y.o. and 4 y.o.) and usually behave like normal, happy kids (read: loud, moving around instead of sitting still like little Buddhas and waiting quietly), most of the time we stay out of any eateries. But during our last visit, we felt like we just need to visit some brewery and treat the adults by local craft beer Portland is so famous about.

Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland

We had a great experience at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Besides nice food and a huge beer selection, it was the most kid-friendly place we have ever visited. 3 playing areas, toys, huge magnetic chalkboards – kids went bananas when they saw all of it. Laughing Planet is another worth place to visit with little ones, especially with picky eaters, like one of our kids. Large varieties of kid styled healthy meals, fast served and reasonably priced. The place is very spacious and has tons of dinosaurs to play with :). Both places located on the Eastside of Portland.

Nola Doughnuts, Portland

Being in Portland and not trying local doughnuts is a crime! Usually, we don’t buy any doughnuts, but in Portland, it’s hard to resist. They look like a small weird piece of art. We tried: Nola Doughnuts (great for adults: Cajun Maple Bacon, texture and taste are melting in your mouth), Voodoo Doughnuts (Great for kids: dough tastes like in regular doughnuts, but in design and names imagination gone wild. Huge doughnuts, one is more then enough to feed the adult, not speaking about child, great price). Both are located on the Westside of Portland.

Inside Voodoo Doughnut bakeshop, Portland

15 things you should try while visiting Portland

Lan Su Classical Chinese Garden, Portland
Erika with Voodoo Bubble doughnut

Thanks for reading and happy travelling!