Weekend Getaway With A Toddler: Portland

Thinking of taking a weekend getaway in Portland? There is plenty to do in this city of over two million people. What is even better is that there is a multitude of family-friendly activities that your toddler will love. The city is renowned for its excellent park system and public transportation and boasts a wide range of culinary delights within its borders. Here are some great ways to spend a weekend in Portland with your toddler.

Downtown Portland Oregon skyline at sunset.

Downtown Portland Oregon skyline at sunset.

Day at the Museum

Portland Children’s Museum is a great place to take your toddler on your getaway experience to encounter novel sensory experiences and educational enrichment. Your child is sure to be engaged by the age-appropriate sights and sounds and will burn off some energy with the kid-oriented activities. Special events and exhibits may be going on during your visit, so it is best to check ahead so you do not miss out.

Park It

Even if you are visiting from out of town, you can have a picnic in the park. Park options abound in Portland, offering something for everyone. If you want to check out an expansive forest space in the middle of the city, check out Forest Park. On your way there, stop by at Stepping Stone Café for some takeout, then enjoy a view of Portland from the lawn of the historic Pittock Mansion, located on the Forest Park premises.

Stack of "Mancakes" at Stepping Stone Cafe. Photo: Stepping Stone Cafe

Stack of "Mancakes" at Stepping Stone Cafe. Photo: Stepping Stone Cafe

Another premier Portland park with several recreational options is Washington Park. With all that there is to explore at Washington, you could easily fill a day. You can talk to the animals at the Oregon Zoo, have a picnic, enjoy free summer concerts, or take the time to smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden. There is even an arboretum to explore that has free admission.

If you ever wanted to know what the top of a volcano is like, Portland has you covered. Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano which is now a city park. At the top of the volcano, your toddler can enjoy the playground, and everyone can take in the great views.

Mount Tabor Playground. Photo: Portland Family Adventures

Mount Tabor Playground. Photo: Portland Family Adventures

Go to the Market

If you are in Portland on the weekend, a must-do on Saturday is the Portland Farmers Market in the Portland State University location. Food choices abound from market vendors in this 140 plus stall market, and there is always entertainment via music or just simple people watching. The beautiful foliage of the campus landscaping is the backdrop for this weekly Portland tradition.

Shoppers at the main Portland Farmers Market at PSU in downtown Portland. Photo: Gardenista

Shoppers at the main Portland Farmers Market at PSU in downtown Portland. Photo: Gardenista

Premier Food Cart Scene

With one of the premier food cart scenes in the country, Portland has a food truck to satisfy every craving. Korean bulgogi, tacos, Thai noodles, burgers, breakfast, and hot dogs all have food carts devoted to them. What is even better is that food trucks are fun and casual, perfect for families with small children. In Portland, most food carts are organized into pods, so that everyone in the family can get what they want to eat from various vendors. To plan out your approach, check out Food Carts Portland for all of the latest details about the food cart scene. For a fast track to toddler-relevant fare, check out the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at  PBJ’s Grilled, a Portland food truck mainstay.

Peanut Butter & Jelly Grilled sandwich. Photo: Roaming Hunger

Peanut Butter & Jelly Grilled sandwich. Photo: Roaming Hunger

Water Play

Does your little one love water play? Portland has them covered with entertaining water features throughout the city. A notable water feature is the fountain at Jamison Square. It mimics the activity of a shallow tide pool through the water’s movement from the elevated stone to the lower pools.  An abundance of sculptures at this park raises the aesthetic of the experience even more for mom and dad. Waterfront Park offers great views of the Willamette River and also has a toddler-friendly fountain.

Photo Op Free for All

The best place for an epic family selfie is also an adventuresome mode of transport that will put you high in the air overlooking the city. The Portland Aerial Tram, which connects with streetcar, bus, light rail, and walking and biking paths, is a unique Portland experience with unparalleled views of the city and surrounding geography. Check out the Tram details here and plan an unforgettable trip on your way to a Portland destination.

Take Advantage of Transit

Portland can be a challenging city to drive in, but there are so many transportation alternatives, it really pays to do your homework on how you can navigate the myriad transport options. Tri Met is your transportation knowledge shortcut for bus and light rail routes. With all of the integrated modes of transportation, you could make an entertaining day for your toddler by seeing how many types of public transportation you can take to make your way around the city. Toddlers will be enthralled with novel ways to get around, and you can interact with your little one while someone else does the driving.

In the downtown area, another transportation option is the streetcar. Since traffic and finding parking can be a hassle, it will pay to check out your transit options ahead of time. The Tri Met resource will be able to show you how to connect routes of all of Portland’s public transportation to get you where you want to go.

If you are going on a walk on one of the many shared paths throughout the city, be aware of bikes on the path and keep your toddler within arms’ reach. Portland is well-known for its rain, so be sure to pack all of the appropriate rain gear for your family so you are literally covered if Mother Nature decides to douse you. Preparing for rain ahead of time means that you can continue your fun getaway without interruption. There is a ban on plastic shopping bags in Portland, so be sure to bring a reusable tote along with you for any shopping errands.

 Traveling with a little one can be challenging, but with proper planning, it can be fun and rewarding. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for more tips for managing life with your little one.

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