In Portland, OR for a week with a toddler. What shouldn't I miss?
April 29, 2013 3:33 PM   Subscribe

We're going to Portland for a week-long vacation (and maybe a moving trial run) in a few days. We've visited before, but this time we're taking our 2-year-old daughter, and I wanted to ask if there are any great toddler friendly destinations or day trips that we shouldn't miss. Any tips on kid-friendly restaurants and organic grocery shopping in NW Portland are also appreciated.

It doesn't have to be a spectacular place. Just a nice neighborhood park with a cool play area would be good to hear about. Or a cool toy store - we saw Finnegan's last time, are there any other ones we should hit up?

Are there any great kid-friendly restaurants we should know about? I'm not talking chuck-e-cheese games, but if it has booth seating and is informal enough that a little loudness is OK, that's friendly enough.

We'll also be cooking while we're there, so any tips on where to shop for good organic groceries would be appreciated. I can find a Whole Foods, but if there's a local store that's better, I'd love to know.
posted by mmc to Travel & Transportation around Portland, OR (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
When I was a kid, I loved OMSI.
posted by primethyme at 3:47 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

New Seasons Market is Portland's locavore riff on Whole Foods.
posted by seemoreglass at 3:53 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ack, I had a lovely narrative with links that I wrote and then somehow managed to navigate away from the page and lose it all in search of a link! I'm sorry I don't have time to make it all pretty again, but here are my recommendations:

Things to do:
Oregon Zoo
Children's Museum (these two share a parking lot so you can go one way if the weather's nice and the other if it's not)
Test Rose Garden
Japanese Garden (these two gardens are also in the same general area as the Zoo and Children's Museum, and in a HUGE park)
Play in a fountain!

Restaurants: Portland is a kid-friendly place, and I think most restaurants would be fine. Here are a few that we go to regularly with our 2-year-old:
Sinju if you like sushi (and then play in the Jamison Fountain and get ice cream at Cool Moon)
McMenamins -- any McMenamins will be just fine with a kid.
Lovely's 50-50 -- Pizza and ice cream, but done really well. They'll take your cell phone number and call you when your table's ready if there's a wait, so you can walk around a bit, and then they'll put your kid's pizza order in immediately so it comes out quick.

Local Food:
Portland Saturday Market and the aforementioned New Seasons.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:13 PM on April 29, 2013 [4 favorites]

Oh, also, if you go out to the coast, go to Seaside! There are swings on the beach, and a merry-go-round and toy store in the little mall.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 4:15 PM on April 29, 2013

Play Date PDX is great for little ones. It has a cafe if you want to eat there.

Memorial Park in Wilsonville is awesome, depending on how adventurous your kid is. The part of the park near Wilsonville Rd. has cool pyramid-type-thingies for kids to climb on and a pretty calm water play area when the weather is hot.
posted by tacodave at 4:18 PM on April 29, 2013

Proper Eats (cafe & small grocery) and Anna Bannanas Cafe in St Johns (North Portland) both have kid sections.

There's also Forest Park.
posted by aniola at 5:03 PM on April 29, 2013

For groceries in NW Portland, there's Food Front Co-op
posted by aniola at 5:04 PM on April 29, 2013

The zoo is fantastic, and you can take the train to it (and if you do, you'll get a discount on admission). I think the Stellar's Sea Lion exhibit is worth flying to Portland to see. From Japan. Plus there's a baby elephant and a baby otter right now, and they're darn cute.

You can get a day-long pass for all the buses and trains and street cars. There's even an elevated tram to the medical center (OHSU) which gives you a great view of the city (that your child will ignore while playing with gravel or something else spectacular for a toddler).

Powell's Books has an incredible children's section. And many, many incredible adult sections. (Meaning, grownups, not porn.)

Mother's Cafe (near Saturday Market) is good for kids; ditto Paradox in the Pearl District.

Portland is fantastic for just walking around -- lots of public art to climb on! Just head to Pioneer Courthouse Square, downtown, and have fun.
posted by Capri at 5:12 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

The two Hopworks locations have killer play areas, as does Laurelwood brewing company.

Seconding OMSI; there's a 5 and under playroom upstairs that we can chill in all day.

If you're around North Portland, Harper's playground in Arbor lodge park is one of the coolest playgrounds in town.
posted by lilnublet at 9:15 PM on April 29, 2013 [2 favorites]

I liked eating with my family at Hedge House -- there seemed to be a number of families hanging out both in booths and outside, good burgers (even if you don't eat meat).

OMSI is great. A lesser known attraction is the Mount Scott pool -- go at one of the family or preschool swim times (the latter being a bit more mellow). There are all sorts of neat water toys/sculpture, a whirlpool, and a a current pool (at kid time, a river you can float through), and more than enough animal shaped float boards for everybody. We try to go swimming every time we visit Portland -- that's how much my daughter loves it still.
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really like Laurelhurst park in SE, and the weather is supposed to be great this week. Sauvie Island is also lovely in the sunshine and would be a good day trip. There's a farmer's market at PSU on Saturdays but I do most of my produce shopping at Kruger's on Hawthorne.

Also seconding the Children's Museum - I nanny a 2-year-old and we have spent many a happy afternoon there.
posted by rabbitbookworm at 9:38 PM on April 29, 2013

Your child "might" be old enough to get a kick out of the Portland Aerial Tram.

Another fun thing to do is to rent a bike with a carrier or trailer and bike around the downtown river area (there are bike rental shops right near the river).

It ain't exactly a classy place (and I would certainly go to the Children's Museum and Zoo first) but if you want an old fashioned amusement park there's Oaks Park (I'm not sure if they have toddler-appropriate rides though).

Grant Park has a tall, all metal, super fast slide and swings on long chains (warning: wear socks on the slide because shoes and bare feet can snag on the metal surface and cause injuries).
posted by Dansaman at 10:01 PM on April 29, 2013

I'm going to second the Jamison Square + cool moon suggestion.

ON NE Alberta street there's: Green Bean Books and Grasshopper Toys (and cute clothing) just blocks from each other! If your kid was older, I'd suggest going a bit farther down to Candy Babel (okay, go there anyway, because they have awesome licorice and these amazing lemon malt balls!)
posted by vespabelle at 10:06 PM on April 29, 2013

This hasn't come up before, but the best restaurant with kids is Old Wives Tales off Burnside.

Great for kids, has different sides of the restaurant for 'those afflicted with children' and 'those unafflicted', and the side of the afflicted has a playground - it's pretty much the best thing for toddlers that have to eat in public sometimes.
posted by msamye at 10:52 PM on April 29, 2013

Take her to Cool Moon Ice Cream. Just outside of it is a fountain/wading pool where all the kids go and play. Portland loves to play in fountains!

Also-in a few days might mean you're here for Cinco De Mayo. That means there will be a huge carnival going on at the Waterfront with plenty of kiddy rides :)
posted by haplesschild at 8:28 AM on April 30, 2013

It's not in NW, but Posies is a great kid-friendly coffee shop. They have a soundproof play area with books and games, and truly fantastic coffee to boot. (Get the lavender latte. You won't regret it.)
posted by frizzle at 12:20 PM on April 30, 2013

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