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Portland with Toddlers: What to See, Do, and Eat in Oregon’s Quirkiest City

Portland with Toddlers: What to See, Do, and Eat in Oregon’s Quirkiest City

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Are you planning a trip to Portland Oregon with young kids but aren’t sure what to do? Check out this guide to Portland with toddlers that includes the best things to do, see, and eat!

Living in Seattle, we are fortunate to be so close to both Vancouver, BC and Portland, Oregon.

Both are amazing cities for families with toddlers and preschoolers. Plus, they are the perfect weekend getaways from Seattle.

But there’s something special about Portland with kids. From the amazing restaurants and attractions to the quirky hidden gems, there’s something for every family.

Keep scrolling to see why Portland with toddlers is always a good idea. 

Where to Stay in Portland with Toddlers

There are so many great hotels in Portland that it can be hard to choose!

For the past few trips to Portland, Oregon, we have stayed at the same hotel. We’ve also traveled with the same family who also has a toddler.

We always stay at the Inn at Northrup Station when visiting Portland with toddlers
This is the breakfast nook outside the lobby of the Inn at Northrup Station. Photo credit: Inn at Northrup Station

After researching online for our first trip, we decided to book a suite through the Inn at Northrup Station.

The photos online showed a very vibrant, boutique hotel and that’s what we got when we arrived.

We also like that we got free tickets for the nearby streetcar, which our transportation-obsessed toddlers loved! They also had quite an extensive breakfast set-up and we had a kitchen in our room.

As your kids get older, the jars of taffy and Starbursts will be a reason they want to return. Let’s be frank, it’s a reason I like to come back here!

Other Places to Stay in Portland with Kids

Where to Eat in Portland with Kids

Pine State Biscuits

We’ve been going to Pine State Biscuits for the past 8 years. There is always a line out the door. And for good reason. They make the yummiest biscuits topped with fresh fruit or savory breakfast sandwiches.

Pine State Biscuits is a great place to stop in Portland with toddlers
This is the McIsley sandwich at Pine State Biscuits in Portland, OR. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This is a great place for dining in Portland with toddlers because you can order a side of biscuits with a variety of toppings. Plus, kids love the fried green tomatoes!

My friend had a brilliant idea: Buy a few extra biscuits and order a tub of gravy to go. Then, you have an easy dinner for when you return home!

Apizza Scholls

The first meal we had was dinner at Apizza Scholls. Our friend from New York told us it’s the closest thing he’s found to New York pizza in the Pacific Northwest. It was absolutely delicious and the restaurant was very kid friendly.

Our pizzas came out pretty quickly and they came by often to refill our water. They also take reservations, which is great for families! We were surprised how many restaurants didn’t take reservations, which is tricky when you are in Portland with toddlers.

We will definitely be adding this place to our Portland food circuit.


This Japanese restaurant was a good fit for our toddlers because they love noodles, edamame, and fried chicken. They offered half portions of their curry dishes, which would be the perfect size for children.

We like to order extra eggs in the ramen so we can share them with the kids.

Blue Star Donut

No trip to Portland with toddlers is complete without donuts. On both occasions, our friends arrived a few hours before us, so they grabbed donuts from Blue Star for us.

No trip to Portland with toddlers is complete with a stop at Blue Star donuts
Blue Star is THE donut shop in Portland, OR. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They got one of almost everything, so we just cut them all in half. They were delicious and they still tasted great the next morning. I should know, I eat most of them for breakfast.

The only strange one so far was Peanut Butter and Jelly, only because the jelly seemed to have hot peppers in it. My 2-year-old was not pleased.

Wailua Shave Ice

If you’re looking for a bit of the tropics mixed with Portland hipster, Wailua Shave Ice is the place to be. I may be a bit partial since the company started on Kauai.

It’s a bit hidden away in a building, so it’s like uncovering a secret shave ice spot.

They offer a ton of flavors and the shave ice is easily shared with a toddler.

Book a Family Photo Shoot

Whenever we travel, we almost always book a family photo shoot with Flytographer. They are super easy, affordable, AND guarantee that I’ll be in some photos. You can get $25 off if you book through this link or use the code HAWAIITRAVEL.

Nob Hill

Nob Hill is a great place to stroll with or without the kids. My friend and I checked out Nob Hill while the toddlers were sleeping.

I ended up getting chocolates at Moonstruck and cake and macarons at Papa Haydn. These sweet treats were enjoyed back in the hotel room.

We also stopped in Child’s Play toy store, which had an excellent assortment of toys and activities for babies, toddlers, and children.

Things to do in Portland with Kids

Oregon Zoo

On our most recent trip to Portland, we spent some time at the Oregon Zoo. Let me tell you, it’s a fantastic zoo you can easily explore in a half day.

Oregon Zoo is a must stop for famlies traveling to Portland with toddlers
The Oregon Zoo has a VERY short train ride that is perfect for toddlers. Photo credit: Oregon Zoo staff

They also have a train that does a little ride perfect for families with babies and toddlers. Read my full recap of the Oregon Zoo here.

Portland Night Market

Last year, we checked out the monthly Portland Night Market in the Industrial District. They have an entrance just for 21+ and they had a lot of bars.

Most of the shops are indoors, which was nice on that chilly, rainy night. We found a cool Portland shirt for my toddler and a fun sign that read “Readers are Leaders” for his book nook in his playroom.

Outside, they had lots of food vendors.

My toddler devoured half a plate of yakisoba noodles, several dumplings, and lots of strawberry ice cream. I had some fried chicken steamed buns that were tasty. It was nice that we could get several things to share, especially when our toddler changes his mind about food frequently.

The only downside was a lack of seating, so it was kind of tricky to feed our kids while eating ourselves and huddled under a tent to avoid the rain. But, it was a fun place for dinner!

This would be a fun date night while packing a baby in a carrier.

Powell’s Used Books

Since we had promised the kids that we would ride a train, my friend and I grabbed the boys and rode the streetcar to Powell’s books. The ride was definitely a highlight for the boys and they wanted to keep riding it. In fact, they want to ride it on every trip!

The street car itself is a must-do in Portland with toddlers.

Powell’s has a nice selection of books celebrating different cultures. I found a couple of books about Chinese folk stories and plenty of books about construction vehicles.

If you go, make sure to look at the price of every book of the title you’re interested in. They mix the used books in with the new books and sometimes you can score a great deal!


Next, we hit up the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This is a legit museum! It reminded me a lot of Science World up in Vancouver, B.C.

We weren’t sure how long the boys would last, so we decided to quickly look at a few of the exhibits.

Portland, Oregon - March 19, 2021: Lively Gargoyleosaurus is on exhibition as part of "Dinosaurs RevealedaEUR? at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
OMSI has tons of cool special exhibits throughout the year.

Then we headed to their Science Playground children’s play area. The play area was fantastic! They had a large, enclosed sand pit with lots of activities for kids. They also had a nice water table area, an infant area, musical instruments, books, a discovery lab, and more.

My toddler spent the majority of time in the sand pit and then moved on to the vehicles and blocks. It would be easy to spend the whole day here.

I love that they not only had 2 bathrooms inside the Science Playground, but they also had a nursing room.

After a couple of hours at OMSI, the boys were starting to fade, so we grabbed a quick lunch and hit the road.

Westmoreland Park Nature Play Area

Something cool that we read about in this Red Tricycle article is the Westmoreland Park Nature Play Area. So, we made a point to stop there on our way out of Portland so our toddlers could run around before the drive home to Seattle.

It’s such a cool playground! Everything is made of wood and kids are encouraged to use their imaginations.

While we were there, our toddlers worked with older kids to build a fort. They also trekked up to the top of a wooden tower. They beamed with pride the whole time we were there. And they wore themselves out! Double win!

If you are in Portland with toddlers, this is definitely worth a stop!

Other Places to Go in Portland with Young Kids

Hoyt Arboretum

The Hoyt Arboretum is a beautiful park with many trails and paths for toddlers to explore. The arboretum features over 12 miles of trails, as well as a Visitor Center with exhibits and activities.

Oaks Amusement Park

Oaks Amusement Park is a classic amusement park with rides, games, and attractions for toddlers and older children. The park features a roller rink, miniature golf, and a historic carousel.

Portland Aerial Tram

The Portland Aerial Tram is a unique and popular way to see the city and surrounding mountains from above.

Portland Aerial Tram (OHSU Tram) between the city's South Waterfront district and the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus
The Portland Aerial Tram is fun for kids of all ages.

It runs from the South Waterfront to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus, providing stunning views of the city and the Willamette River along the way.

Portland Farmers Market

The Portland Farmers Market is a great place to take toddlers to experience local food and culture. The market features a variety of vendors selling fresh produce, prepared foods, and artisanal crafts.

Keller Fountain Park

Keller Fountain Park is a beautiful urban park located in downtown Portland, known for its cascading waterfalls and tranquil pools of water.

Ira Keller Fountain in Portland, Oregon
Ira Keller Fountain in Portland, Oregon

It’s a popular spot for visitors and locals alike to relax and cool off on hot summer days.

World Forestry Center

The World Forestry Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forestry and educating the public about the importance of forests. The center features interactive exhibits, educational programs, and a museum showcasing the history and future of forestry.

Japanese Garden

The Japanese Garden in Portland is a beautiful and serene space featuring authentic Japanese landscaping and architecture.

Image of a pond and waterfall at the Portland Japanese Gardens.
Don’t miss the Japanese Gardens.

It includes five distinct garden styles, a cultural village, and a tea house, and is a popular destination for visitors to the city.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a large park along the Willamette River, with a playground and many open spaces for toddlers to run and play.

What to do with Kids on a Rainy Day in Portland

Portland, Oregon has many indoor activities and attractions for families to enjoy on a rainy day. I highly recommend adding rain jackets for the whole family to your Portland packing list.

Here are some ideas for indoor activities:

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

This science museum offers hands-on exhibits and activities for all ages, including a planetarium and a submarine tour.

Powell’s City of Books

This iconic bookstore offers a large selection of children’s books and a cozy atmosphere for reading and exploring.

Indoor Playgrounds

There are several indoor playgrounds in Portland, including the Wiggle Room, LEKA Playland, and Nest.

Movie Theaters

Portland has many movie theaters, including some that cater specifically to families with young children, like the McMenamins Kennedy School.

Portland Art Museum

This museum offers a variety of exhibits and programs for families, including hands-on art activities and family tours.

Foodie Adventures

Portland is known for its food scene, and there are many child-friendly restaurants and cafes to explore.

These are just a few of the many indoor activities and attractions in Portland, Oregon for families to enjoy on a rainy day. Be sure to check the hours and admission prices ahead of time, and don’t let the rain dampen your fun.

Image of the Portland Oregon sign
Don’t miss the Portland Oregon sign!

Tips for Visiting Portland with Toddlers

If you’re planning a trip to Portland, Oregon with toddlers, here are some tips to help make your visit more enjoyable:

Plan Ahead

Before your trip, research child-friendly activities and attractions, and make a plan for your visit. This will help ensure that you don’t miss any must-see destinations.

Bring a Stroller

Portland is a very walkable city, but toddlers can tire easily. Bring a stroller or carrier to make it easier to get around.

Dress for the Weather

Portland can be rainy and cool, even in the summer months. Be sure to pack appropriate clothing for your toddler, including rain gear and layers. And it never hurts to bring a pair of rain boots.

Take Advantage of Parks and Playgrounds

Portland has many great parks and playgrounds, including Forest Park and Laurelhurst Park. These are great places for toddlers to run and play.

Visit Kid-Friendly Museums and Attractions

There are many museums and attractions in Portland that are designed for children, including the Oregon Zoo and OMSI. Take advantage of these opportunities to engage your toddler in learning and exploration at one of the many Oregon museums.

Try Local Food

Portland is known for its great food scene, and there are many child-friendly restaurants and cafes to choose from. Don’t be afraid to try local foods with your toddler.

Take Breaks

Toddlers can get overwhelmed easily, so be sure to take breaks throughout the day. This can include rest breaks, snack breaks, or quiet time in your hotel room.

Overall, visiting Portland, Oregon with toddlers can be a fun and rewarding experience. By planning ahead, taking advantage of child-friendly attractions, and taking breaks as needed, you can help ensure that your trip is enjoyable for everyone.

Portland Oregon skyline downtown buildings and marina.
Portland is a fun Pacific Northwest getaway.

Portland with Kids FAQs

Are there any stroller-friendly hiking trails or parks in the area?

Yes, there are many stroller-friendly hiking trails and parks in Portland, Oregon. Here are some options:

Forest Park

This is one of the largest urban forests in the United States, with over 80 miles of trails. Many of the trails are stroller-friendly, including the Lower Macleay Trail and the Wildwood Trail.

Laurelhurst Park

This is a popular park in the heart of Portland, with paved paths and a large pond. The park also features a playground and picnic areas.

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

This park features several stroller-friendly trails, including the Red Fox Trail and the Trillium Trail. The park also has a nature center and a playground.

Powell Butte Nature Park

This park has several stroller-friendly trails, including the Mountain View Trail and the Orchard Loop Trail. The park also features a playground and picnic areas.

Peninsula Park

This park features paved paths and a large rose garden. The park also has a playground and picnic areas.

These are just a few of the many stroller-friendly hiking trails and parks in Portland, Oregon. Be sure to check the park’s website or trail guide for more information on accessibility and stroller suitability.

What are some child-friendly restaurants or cafes in Portland?

Portland has many kid-friendly restaurants and cafes that cater to families with young children. Here are some options:

Pine State Biscuits

This restaurant is famous for its delicious biscuits and gravy. It’s a great spot for breakfast or brunch with your family.

Tasty n Alder

This restaurant offers a family-style brunch menu with dishes like French toast and fried chicken. It’s a fun and lively spot for families.

¿Por Qué No?

This taqueria offers delicious Mexican food, including tacos and quesadillas. There are two locations in Portland, one in North Portland and one in Southeast Portland.

Slappy Cakes

This restaurant allows you to make your own pancakes at the table, which is a fun activity for kids. It’s a popular spot for breakfast or brunch.

Laughing Planet

This restaurant offers healthy and affordable food, including bowls and wraps. There are several locations throughout Portland.

The Observatory

This restaurant offers a kid’s menu and a fun space-themed decor. It’s a great spot for families looking for a unique dining experience.

Ruby Jewel Scoops

This ice cream shop offers delicious homemade ice cream, including vegan and dairy-free options. It’s a fun spot for a sweet treat with your family.

These are just a few of the many child-friendly restaurants and cafes in Portland, Oregon. It’s always a good idea to check with the restaurant ahead of time to ensure that they can accommodate your family’s needs.

What are the best transportation options for getting around Portland with a toddler?

Portland, Oregon has many transportation options for families with toddlers. We usually just drive our car. However, Portland has an extensive public transportation system, including buses, light rail, and streetcars.

Portland is also known for its bike-friendly streets, and there are many rental options for families with toddlers.

Uber and Lyft are available in Portland and can be convenient options for families with toddlers. Some ride-sharing companies also offer car seat options.

Portland is a very walkable city, and many neighborhoods and attractions are within walking distance of each other. Be sure to bring a stroller or carrier for your toddler if you plan to walk.

Are there any safety concerns or tips for visiting Portland with a toddler?

Portland is generally a safe city, but it’s always a good idea to stay aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded areas.

This city has many bike lanes and busy streets, so be sure to keep your toddler close and hold hands when crossing streets.

What happened to the Portland Children’s Museum?

After nearly 75 years of operation, the Portland Children’s Museum shut down permanently during the pandemic. They suffered financial instability and it just wasn’t feasible to re-open.

Portland with Kids and Toddlers Wrap Up

I hope this post gives you some ideas of how to explore Downtown Portland with kids!

Portland really has something for the whole family to enjoy, no matter what their interests are. There is cool street art, art events, and interactive exhibits in Portland museums.

There’s also a fun amusement park, the Portland Saturday Market, and the stunning Japanese gardens.

Looking for more PNW kid-friendly getaways? Check out how to spend 4 days in Vancouver with kids, my review of Semiahmoo Resort & Spa, and the Inn at Cape Kiwanda.

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    Thursday 8th of March 2018

    Love this post!! I am always looking for places to go with the kids, looks like a trip to Portland is in our future thank you so much!!


    Thursday 8th of March 2018

    Portland, OR is one of the COOLEST cities I've been to!


    Thursday 8th of March 2018

    OH MY GOODNESS! how fun does that hotel look?! we brought our boys to the PNW a few years ago but they were too young to appreciate it! Now that they're a little older, i think they'll love it! I heard the cart food is amazing. <3 Gotta make a trip back


    Thursday 8th of March 2018

    Yes, Portland is known for their food truck scene!


    Wednesday 7th of March 2018

    First off, how cute are your boys?? Thanks for this guide. We haven't been to the Pacific NW, but it's definitely on our list of places to go. You have certainly hit the nail on the head for our would-be travel itinerary! Pinning for future reference!


    Wednesday 7th of March 2018

    Aw, thanks! You definitely need to plan a trip up here! I'd suggest Portland, Seattle and Vancouver!

    Anna Radmall

    Wednesday 7th of March 2018

    This is a great post! I love traveling with my two little boys - this is definitely going down as a trip we need to do! :)


    Wednesday 7th of March 2018

    Portland is amazing for little kids!

    Alice Nettleingham

    Sunday 29th of January 2017

    This is a great trip. Sad to hear about the Children's Museum being stark. I'm with you there, if they named it Children's Museum then it should be colorful. Even so, the kids had a great time there so I that's good. All in all, a great family trip. :)

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Monday 30th of January 2017

    Thank you for that validation about the Children's Museum! We go to a lot of children's museums when we travel, so I was surprised more than anything that it was so bleak.

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