My daughter, Paris, and I spent last week there visiting friends, and we discovered a paradise for families. The city has it all–affordable housing (two-story Craftsman bungalow for $350,000!), public transportation, up-and-coming public schools, nearly 260 miles of bike routes, and more than 200 parks and public gardens, including 5,000-acre Forest Park, the largest U.S. wilderness park within any city’s boundaries.
On our trip, I compiled a list of my top kid-friendly spots. Please add your favorite places in the comments section.
1) OMSI. At this amazing science museum, kids can shoot water rockets, fly paper airplanes in a wind tunnel, and build a block house and test its durability during an earthquake.
2) Oregon Zoo. Don’t miss Lorikeet Landing, where you can feed the birds, and the Zoo Train, which takes you through the forests of nearby Washington Park, above the International Rose Test Garden, and back to the zoo.
3) McMenamins Kennedy School. Housed in a former school, this hotel is a gathering spot for families. The general public can use the outdoor soaking pool for $5 and you can also catch a movie in the auditorium for only $3.
4) Portland Saturday Market. International food court, kids activities, musical entertainment, and lots of homemade crafts for sale.
5) Portland Aerial Tram. From the South Waterfront, ride in a space-age sphere to the top of Marquam Hill, where you can take in views of Portland’s gleaming skyscrapers and leafy neighborhoods, the Willamette River, and majestic Mount Hood (pictured above).
6) Wells Fargo History Museum. Highlights include an authentic stagecoach and a real teletype office where kids can send messages.
7) Portland Children’s Museum. Kids can pretend they’re dinosaurs and journey through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods; select entrees from the frozen food isle and pick out fresh fruit in the produce area at a miniature grocery store; and panel a wall, connect plumbing fixtures, and take measurements at a hands-on construction exhibit.
8) Powell’s. The largest new and used bookstore in the world also has one of the biggest sections for children and young adults. Employees highlight favorite books by posting hand-written reviews on the shelves.
9) Jamison Square. This is the best place to be on a hot day. The focal point of the park is a fountain that simulates a shallow tidal pool. Young types can splash around and cool off.
10) Oaks Amusement Park. At one of the oldest amusement parks in the United States, you’ll find about a dozen old-school rides, from a Ferris wheel and bumper cars to a roller coaster that goes upside down.