What's Fun for Kids in Portland, OR
You can play for days in this pioneering town in the scenic Northwest.
1. DOWNTOWN DISCOVERIES Begin your visit at Pioneer Courthouse Square, known as "Portland's living room," where you can view a film on the city (SW Broadway and Yamhill St.; 877-678-5263). Get acclimated with a ride on the aboveground MAX train (503-238-RIDE), or see the sights on a kid-friendly Portland Walking Tour (503-774-4522). Rent bikes at Waterfront Bicycle Rentals (Riverplace Esplanade; 503-227-1719) and head into Tom McCall Waterfront Park, then cross the Hawthorne Bridge for a view from the Eastbank Esplanade.
2. PORTLAND PANORAMA Enjoy stunning views of the City of Roses skyline during a narrated jet-boat ride along the Willamette River to historic Oregon City and Willamette Falls (1945 SE Water Ave.; 888-JETBOAT). Board the Portland Spirit riverboat for sightseeing, music, and lunch and dinner cruises (SW Front Ave. and Salmon St.; 800-224-3901).
3. A SALUTE TO RAMONA Young fans of Oregon author Beverly Cleary can picnic in Grant Park, the setting for many of Cleary's books, and play in the fountains around artist Lee Hunt's life-size bronze sculptures of Cleary's lovable characters Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ribsy the dog (NE 33 and U.S. Grant Place; 503-823-7529).
4. MARKET MANIA Shop for handcrafted toys and enjoy live performances in historic Old Town at the Portland Saturday Market (open Sunday too; 108 W. Burnside St.; 503-222-6072), then sample Northwest cuisine nearby at Dan & Louis' Oyster Bar (208 SW Ankeny St.; 503-227-5906).
5. GARDEN PATHS Get in touch with nature at Portland's renowned public gardens. Highlights: the tranquil Japanese Garden (with koi pond) in Washington Park (611 SW Kingston Ave.; 503-223-1321); the International Rose Test Garden, home of 10,000 rosebushes (400 SW Kingston Ave.; 503-823-3636); and the Portland Classical Chinese Garden, with a real teahouse (NW Third Ave. at Everett St.; 503-228-8131).
6. ALL ABOARD AT THE ZOO Explore the 64-acre Oregon Zoo, with its dazzling butterfly exhibit and aviary, where kids can purchase nectar for birds to sample. Board the zoo train for a 30-minute ride to Washington Park and back (4001 SW Canyon Rd.; 503-226-1561).
7. SCIENCE ADVENTURES At the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, kids can check out their own science playground, see a show at the planetarium, and board the USS Blueback submarine (1945 SE Water Ave.; 503-797-4000). Afterward, treat the kids to lunch at the casual Bread and Ink Cafe (3610 SE Hawthorne Blvd.; 503-239-4756)
8. STREET LIFE Discover the hip Pearl District, home of the original Hanna Andersson store, and visit Jamison Square, where kids can wade in a pool created by fountains (810 NW 11th Ave.). Enjoy a Hot Lips Pizza, made from regional ingredients (NW 10th Ave.; 503-595-2342), then ride the streetcar through blocks lined with cafes and galleries.
9. MUSEUM FUN Explore Oregon's pioneer days at The Oregon Historical Society, with displays that include a re-created ship hull of the Hudson's Bay Company (1200 SW Park Ave.; 503-222-1741). At the Portland Children's Museum, kids can create sculptures from clay, found objects, and recycled materials (4015 SW Canyon Rd.; 503-223-6500).
10. MOUNTAIN & OCEAN Consider a couple of scenic road trips: Head to Mount Hood, 65 miles away via the Columbia River Gorge, for lunch at historic Timberline Lodge (503-622-7979). Or dip your toes in the Pacific Ocean -- too icy for a swim -- and stroll the boardwalk or rent pedal carts in the town of Seaside, 80 miles west on U.S. 26.
Where to Stay in Portland
EMBASSY SUITES PORTLAND DOWNTOWN Kids enjoy the opulent lobby at this comfortable hotel in a renovated historic building downtown. The roomy suites include a bedroom with one king-size bed or two doubles and a living room with a sofa bed and refrigerator, plus free breakfast, an indoor pool, a game room, and a fitness center. Rates start at $159 a night for a king suite. 319 SW Pine St.; 800-EMBASSY
PORTLAND MARRIOTT DOWNTOWN WATERFRONT This 16-story hotel overlooks the Willamette River and is across the street from the Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park and the Riverplace Esplanade with its shops and restaurants above the marina. Visitors enjoy a complimentary health club with indoor pool. Rates start at $139 weekdays and $99 weekends. 1401 SW Naito Pkwy.; 503-226-7600
THE BENSON HOTEL This stately 1912 hotel, with antique chandeliers, marble floors, and paneled lobby, is a national historic landmark well located for exploring the city. Kids are greeted with a goody bag and offered pet goldfish for their stay. Enjoy a weekday lunch buffet for $12, plus free afternoon tea. Rooms start at $129. 309 SW Broadway; 800-663-1144
INN @ NORTHRUP STATION This all-suite boutique hotel is located in the Nob Hill neighborhood, just two blocks from trendy shops and restaurants. Kids love the retro-hip style with lime green walls, bright pink and striped accessories, and local art. Amenities include free parking, continental breakfast, and passes to the Portland Streetcar, which stops out front. Rates range from $109 to $159; kids 12 and under stay free. 2025 NW Northrup; 800-224-1180