The Ultimate Guide to Cheap or Free Summer Fun With Kids in PDX

When you think about Portland Oregon and kids a few things come to mind pretty quick. OMSI, the Zoo, the Children’s Museum….I’ve been to them all both as a kid and as a parent.

This summer we are wanting to find things do that are

Fun for 3 boys


I’ve been collecting a list of fun things to do with my boys all year and found they were scattered in different places so I thought I’d compile them all in one spot just to save me some trouble later on down the road when I’m stressed and wanting to do something fun. Hope this helps you have a blast this summer with your little people. Please let me know if something is mis-linked, not correct or there is some great place/event I missed.


Water time!

Portland-Area Water Parks, Fountains, and Features  

List found here 



 Hagg Lake has picnic areas, a trail around the lake, Disc golf 


Indoor Pools

Open Swim at Portland Public Pools June 16-Aug. 28  at Columbia, Creston, Grant, Montavilla, Peninsula, and Pier pools.On select days throughout the summer, Portland public pools are open for free swim. Half are indoor and half outdoor.


Beach Trippin’




The Great Outdoors. Hiking, Camping…


10 Perfect PDX Hikes for Kids   

Tualatin Hills Nature Park



Great places to hike with kids   (scroll to the bottom of the page for full list) Has a great list of hikes and has search features that allows you to filter for family hikes, distance and dificulty level. Look in the tab ‘find a hike’




(for places to stay, camp, permits, reservations, locations of parks)





(Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, can also get permits here)


Outdoor Events 

Audubon Society of Portland Daily, 6 a.m.-10 p.m. at 5151 NW Cornell Rd.
Walk the trails, find birds, visit their wildlife center and nature store.

Story and Stroll Thursdays and Fridays, 1-2:15 p.m. and Sundays, 10-11:15 a.m. at  Tryon Creek Nature Center, 11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd.  It is a fun and free event designed for families with children 2-6 years old. The story is read by a park naturalist then followed by a guided walk through the park. Make a reservation on their site.

Leach Botanical Garden
Every Saturday, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. at  6704 SE 122nd Ave. There is a  guided tour with a gardener/curator takes place the first Saturday of each month.

Awesome Parks 

Washington Park – Also home of Oregon Zoo, Portland Childrens Museum and World Forestry Center. It is full of gardens, trees, trails and a large playground. 

Laurelhurst Park – 26 acres of walking trails, a great playground, and large duck pond.

City of Portland Parks and Recreation – search for any Portland park with various amenities/activities   


Park Programs

Portland’s Summer Playground and Free Lunch Program June 18-Aug. 21 in Neighborhood Portland parks. Free summer fun with a mobile climbing wall, crafts, sports, songs and more.

Sunday Parkways Sundays: June 21, July 26, Aug. 23 and Sept. 27, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. in NE, SE and SW neighborhoods. Cycle as many as 6-7 miles via blocked-off streets in your hood or someone else’s. Stop for games, crafts, live music, playground fun, shade, and food.

Oregon Summer Meals  offers free lunches to any in need children ages 1-18. Their are tons of locations, most are at schools, parks or apartment complexes.

Pacific Northwest Summer Fairs & Festivals




Additional Festivals

Cruisin Sherwood Saturday June 13th, block party until 10pm.   Hot rods, food and drinks, a kid zone. Great for families.

Fremont Fest – Saturday August 1, 10am-5pm at NE Fremont from NE 42nd -NE 50th streets. It will have a kids parade, live music, vendors, bouncy house and crafts

Portland Saturday Market – Visit the nation’s largest open-air market.  Open every weekend March through Christmas Eve.  Tons of unique handmade items, awesome music, and a variety of food options.One visit to Saturday Market, and you’ll understand why Portland’s slogan is “Keep Portland Weird.”

Farmers Markets and U-picks




 A great list of local u-pick farms with links to each farms information. 

Not on the list, but should be!

who have peaches, apples and pears 


Library Programs 



 All libraries have so many fun free things going on. Summer reading programs, events, concerts. Check out your closest library for a list of events.

Washington  County Libraries  have tons going on. Check out each library for their schedule of events and programs this summer.  
You can also check out Cultural Passes to get into many great museums for free.  You can reserve them in advance and sometimes their gone fast but I’ve found over half the time they are there for last minute trips.

Multnomah  County Libraries   have lots going on this summer, check out their events page here.
You can find out more about each libraries events by looking at their individual pages.  

Aloha Community Library (I didn’t know they had one!) but they have great programs and events going on this summer.




My kids favorite (mostly because I’m too cheap to pay for full price tickets!) The movie theatre experience without the price tag. 

Flicks on the Bricks
Friday evenings at dusk, July 24 and 31, August 7, 14 and 21. Pioneer Courthouse Square, 715 SW Morrison St. For five Friday nights over the summer Pioneer Square is turned into an outdoor movie theater. Throw your chairs in the car, bring blankets and make a night of it — picnic basket and all.

Movies in the Park
July 8-Sept. 11 at parks throughout Portland; see website for locations and movie selections.
Hosted by Portland Parks Department and is great for the whole family. Wear PJ’s, bring blankets, a picnic. Check out the schedule for details about the movies to make sure the pick of the week is a good fit for your family.

 Pix on the Plaza – Hillsboro  
June 12, 19, 26th at 7pm Civic Center Plaza 150 East Main St. Hillsboro, Oregon 97123

Libraries –  I have been informed some libraries provide movie nights so make sure to check out your local library to see what events they offer. Also they have TONS of DVD’s you can check out.

Concerts and Music (be sure to check out your local library for additional concerts)

Concerts in the Parks
July 6-Aug. 26 in neighborhood parks around Portland; visit the website for locations and performances. Music and crowd are family friendly and always has food for sale.

Washington Park Summer Festival
Aug. 7-14, 6 p.m. at the Washington Park Rose Garden Amphitheater, 611 SW Kingston Ave.
Performances take place nightly for a week straight, and include bluesy-Americana music to Taiko drumming. Don’t forget to pack your picnic blanket and dinner for your crew.

Noon Tunes
Tuesdays and Thursdays,12-1 p.m. July-Aug. at Pioneer Courthouse Square, 715 SW Morrison St.

Other Entertainment

Free Bowling for kids – sign your kids u for 2 free games of bowling everyday this summer, you only have to pay for shoes.
Wunderland Cinema and Nickel Games – All locations include a nickel arcade. Some locations include a movie theater and laser tag. Most games are a nickel and laser tag is $4. Sign up for their email list to have them email you deals.

Portland Aerial Tram – An exciting way to enjoy a gorgeous view of Portland.  Amazing views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood. Kids under 6 ride FREE.

Historic Belmont Firehouse offers free tours every Wednesday from 9-3, and the second Saturday of every month for “Safety Saturday” from 9-3

Places to Visit That are a Little More $$$$

OMSI – Adults $13, Youth 3-13 $9.50, 3yr and under free. Also have a submarine, lazer show and theatre (each costs additional). It’s a great deal to get a pass if you live locally.

$2 admission on the first Sunday of each month.

ZOO Adults $11.50, Youth 3-11 $8.50, 3 and under free. Another great place to get a yearly pass to if you’re local. Summer events and concerts held throughout the summer.

$4 admission on the second Tuesday of each month. 

Portland Children’s Museum – Ages 1-54 $10, 1 and under free, 55+ $9. Open 9am -5pm daily. Tons of stuff to do with various events and exhibits.

FREE admission the first Friday of each month from 4:00pm to 8:00pm.

World Forestry Center –

$3 admission the first Wednesday of each month.

Portland Art Museum –

FREE admission on the fourth Friday of each month from 5:00pm to 8:00pm.

Enchanted Forest – For general admission Adults $10.95, Children ages 3-12 $9.95, 2 and under free. Lots of rides (price for each depends, see website). Fun rides, food and attractions.

Wildlife Safari– Adults 13-59 $17.99, Children 3-12 $11.99, 2 and under free. Open 9am -5pm  Drive through animal park.

Pittock Mansion – Adults $10, Youth ages 6-18 $7, under 6 free. Visit beautiful historical mansion overlooking the city.

Oaks Amusement Park – Free to enter park, ride bracelets can be purchased as well as entrance to skating rink.  Check out your local library for summer reading programs. If you complete Washington Counties summer reading program you can get discount ride tickets.

Evergreen Waves and Wings Waterpark and Aerospace Museum – You can go for the waterpark, the museum, to see an IMAX movie. Different prices for each, see website for details.

Additional websites with great resources 

Things to do in Portland



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