Best Costume Shops Your Little Portland Ghouls

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It’s Halloween time, and the little ghouls in your house are already changing their mind on costumes five times a week! Whether your tiny trick-or-treaters want to be a vampire or kitty, pirate or alien, keep up with their latest plan by browsing these stores across Portland. Bonus—you can keep it local and keep costs low, too! Read on for more great shops and stops.

The Lippman Company

This long-lasting store in SE Portland is your home base for all sorts of party supplies year-round. Come Halloween, it's costume central! They've got shelves on shelves of ready to wear costumes, along with makeup, wigs, accessories and more for a design-it-yourself look.  As a bonus, you might come away with extra décor for your spooky front door.

50 SE Yamhill St.
Portland, OR

The Village Merchants

A sweet secondhand store in SE Portland that is full of unique finds any time of the year. Check out the kids section upstairs for a selection of unique ready to wear costumes. Or for something more crafty you'll find bins overflowing with fabric, sequins, and other bits and bobs that you can use to create a masterpiece. And after the big night you can sell or trade things back to them!

It's the "Giving tree of stuff," as they say inside.

4035 SE Division St
Portland, OR


With two locations in the SE and NE, this shop is the place to go for families looking for cute options at affordable prices. Beanstalk offers a wide selection of costumes from newborn to 10 years. They have everything from those cute ladybug, pumpkin, lion, monkey and elephant costumes that are one or two piece cozy fleece to bigger kid costumes of princesses, fairies, ninjas, astronauts and pirates. Along with resale items, this cute shop offers locally made goods and new items including wings, tutus and wands. And don’t worry about fitting this into your busy weekend—Beanstalk is open seven days a week. You’ll also find plenty of stroller parking and play area for the little ones.


3527 NE 15th Ave.



8021 SE Stark Street




This SW favorite consistently wins awards in parenting magazines for their top-notch selection, quality, and service. And now they've added a second location! Most costumes are under $10 and there’s a wide selection for infants and toddlers all the way up to youth 16. 

6308 SW Capitol Hwy
Portland, OR

7323 SW Barnes Rd
Portland, OR


A Woodstock neighborhood gem, this consignment store has used and some even locally handmade costumes. You can bring outgrown costumes in to sell, trade or consign them while you shop for next year's batch. You’ll be amazed at the selection of quality used children’s goods in all categories, alongside sweet clothing finds from favorite brands like Hannah Andersson, Tea, Kickee Pants, Boden, and more.

4416 SE Woodstock Blvd
Portland, OR


This cute resale shop in the Clinton neighborhood is bursting at the seams with kids’ Halloween costumes. You can buy, sell or trade here, too, but if you're stuck at home, don't worry: you can shop their Instagram feed! They regularly post new items, which you can purchase online for delivery. Easiest costume shopping ever!

2700 SE 26th Ave

Costume Swaps

The costume swap: because not only is it a great way to reduce costs, manage waste, and connect to your community, what else are you going to with that tiny pumpkin costume? Check out your community for informal costume swaps: places like your child's school, Buy Nothing Facebook groups, Nextdoor, and more are great places to start. Be sure your old Halloween costume is clean and free of stains and holes, ready to re-use.

If you can’t find one nearby, organize one of your own!

—Katrina Emery


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Unforgettable Fall Roadtrips for Families

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The seasons are changing and there’s a hint of fall magic in the air. Across Oregon, leaves are turning colors and kids are heading back to school. But don’t give up on adventuring yet—there are still so many places to enjoy a stunning getaway! The state is packed with accessible and epic road trips, whether you want to escape for the day or a whole weekend. We’ve rounded up a few of the best destinations for your fall family escape. Read on for more!

Hood River

Enjoy the bounty of fall at the Fruit Loop—one of the best places in Oregon to gather, eat, and explore (not to mention drink a fresh-fruit milkshake or two). And it’s only an hour away from Portland!

In town stop by the visitor center for a Fruit Loop map, then leave it to the kids to navigate to any of the 30 farms! Any given weekend offers another apple or pear festival, and later in the fall you’ll find plenty of pumpkins to pick and corn mazes to navigate. You could easily spend two full days enjoying every single farm, but for this visit, pick your favorites so you can spend a day in town.

Back in Hood River, stop by G. Willikers Toy Shoppe for an excellent selection of games, books, noise-makers and rabble-rousers. Then spend an afternoon at the Waterfront Park, watching the kite-boarders play in the world-famous Columbia Gorge wind. A recently updated playground is a welcoming addition to the town for all ages. Toddlers will love the gentle hill slides, and older kids can challenge themselves to scale the climbing wall– it’s tough! Across the street you’ll find Solstice Wood Fired Cafe or Pfriem Brewery, two delicious and completely family-friendly restaurants.

photo: via Oregon Coast Aquarium

The Oregon Coast

While Seaside and Cannon Beach are the closest to Oregon (and come with salt water taffy, Haystack Rock, great tidepools and more) there’s plenty to see further south, too. Take an extended trip down the 101 to find lighthouses, whale-watching spots, an award-winning aquarium, and sandy dunes.

Start out your adventure at Newport, about 2 and a half hours away from Portland. There you’ll discover one of the nation’s best aquariums! Once home to Keiko the whale (of Free Willy fame), the aquarium now houses sea otters, a giant octopus, plenty of crazy-looking fish, and a long tunnel to stroll underneath the predators of the deep.

A bit north you can spy the Devil’s Punchbowl, a unique rock formation that swirls water around in it’s wild geology, and offer some great tide pool exploring. Go lighthouse hopping down the coast near Florence with Heceta Head and it’s rumored-to-be-haunted lighthouse. Can you find all 11 of Oregon’s lighthouses? Finally, get sandy at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, where you can rent dune buggies and ATVs to zoom around the shifting sands.


Though it’s only an hour south of Portland, Salem has a whole new world of fun for kids. Stay a few days to take advantage of nearby day trips like a hike in Silver Falls State Park, or a bicycle tour of covered bridges.

In Salem, spend some time wandering around the Oregon Garden in it’s fall colors– kids will love the Children’s Garden, complete with a hobbit door. Older kids will learn a lot about state history with a guided or self-guided tour of the capitol building, and the whole family will love the the beautiful Riverfront Park on the Willamette River. And for even more fun, stop by the Enchanted Forest, a non-Disney theme park that’s a little goofy and utterly enchanting, aimed at those ages 3 and up.


Tucked away in Oregon’s northwestern corner is the Scandinavian-inspired town of Astoria, rich with Scandinavian and fishing history. A weekend there is packed with fun, even if you’re just standing by the river watching the big boats go by. Learn more about the ships and the surprisingly dangerous waters where the river meets the sea at the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The Graveyard of the Pacific has claimed over 2,000 vessels since 1792! You’ll see some of the recovered items from shipwrecks like old cannons.

Speaking of shipwrecks, see a real one for yourself at the beach at Fort Stevens State Park, where the Peter Iredale ran ashore in 1906 and still sits today, hulking and rusted. You can also see historical military sites, and even hunt for fall mushrooms (check out their mushroom guide for helpful hints!). The coast is also a clamming hot spot.

Back in town, you have a few great options to fuel up, including the family-friendly Fort George Brewery, a nod to the original name of the city. Grab a quick bite to eat across from the maritime museum at Bowpicker Fish and Chips. Not only is it delicious, it’s actually served out of a real boat! And finally, fuel up with some ice cream and french fries at Frite and Scoop — you’ll need the extra energy to climb the Astoria Column. The observation deck atop the column offers stunning views of the city and over into Washington.

Eastern Oregon

Fall is one of the best times to head to the desert of Eastern Oregon, with temperatures a little bit cooler and crowds thinner. The drive itself is part of the allure, with mining towns and ghost towns scattered around. Aim for the John Day Fossil Beds for a stunning geological survey of the state: the park is spread out over three locations 3-4 hours away from Portland. Each “unit” shows off a rainbow of colors, as well as geological formations and history. Rock-lovers and kids can admire the range of rocks along the drive, and they can can even dig for fossils themselves at Wheeler High School, in the aptly named town of Fossil. At the Thomas Condon Paleontology Center learn more about the national monument, and the impact of paleontology.

Further east, dig into more recent history at Kam Wah Chung State Heritage Site, the town that was once the third largest Chinatown in the country. The building opened in the late 1800s and served as a Chinese apothecary and general store.

Check locations websites for updates on COVID-related changes.

—Katrina Emery


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Summer is waning, school is starting, and the PSL is back at Starbucks. While summer hikes make fond memories, fall means piles and piles of colorful leaves to gather, collect, throw, jump in, and admire. We’ve rounded up some of the best places in Portland to get back outside, enjoy the show, and play. Don’t forget your camera for the best shots.

Sauvie Island

Fun is a main attraction every fall on this farming island! Besides pumpkins, apple cider, and corn mazes, you’ll also be able to soak in some beautiful fall color from all the oaks blanketing the land. For a perfect picnic spot, head to Howell Territorial Park and spread your feast under the oaks. In the apple orchard behind the house you’ll find trees that were planted from cuttings carried by wagon over the Oregon Trail.

13901 NW Howell Park Rd
Portland, OR

Leach Botanical Garden

Tucked near the forested hills of Johnson Creek, Leach Botanical Garden is a hidden gem of Southeast Portland. A collection of over 1,000 native and non-native plants is spread over 16 acres. In 2021, the Upper Garden expansion was completed, with a new canopy tree walk, a pollinator meadow, new pathways and many more plantings. It’s a beautiful place to wander, letting kids lead the way-- see if they can find the maple trees for some fall glory! Reserve tickets in advance online- currently admission is free, so take advantage!

6704 SE 122nd Ave
Portland, OR

Pittock Mansion and Forest Park

Originally built in 1909, the Pittock mansion is perched on top of a Forest Park hill, just waiting to burst into fall color. If you’re a history buff you’ll enjoy the indoor mansion tour, but strolling through the grounds to find a prime picnic spot makes a fine day, too. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of Mt. Hood. For a more active day under the trees, hike down through Forest Park to the Stone House, or combine a driving tour with a visit to the Audubon Society.

3229 NW Pittock Dr.
Portland, OR

Cathedral Park

The views from this park anytime of year are nothing short of stunning. Add a blaze of red and yellow and roll in some fog over the river and you’ve got yourself a fairyland to play in for hours. Bring a picnic blanket and a thermos of hot cider and let the kids go wild! A frisbee, a pile of leaves to jump in, or even some games of tag are perfect against such a beautiful backdrop.

N Edison St & Pittsburg Ave


Columbia Children’s Arboretum

If you’ve got time to venture north, consider the Columbia Children’s Arboretum in North Portland’s industrial area. Tucked away from the noise, it’s a quiet and underused wooded park centered around a large meadow and former orchards, with loads of fall color from the sugar maples and American sweet gums. Acquired by Portland Parks and Recreation in 1999, there’s a plan in place for eventual development into a more extensive educational park. For now, it’s a great place to take in the turning leaves.

Columbia Children's Arboretum
10040 NE 6th Dr.
Portland, OR

Hoyt Arboretum

Portland’s biggest arboretum is a clear choice to watch the fiesta of fall colors explode across the trees. Over 12 miles of hiking trails span 190 acres, and 6,000 trees like the color-changing birches, maples, oaks and magnolias. A stop at the visitor center will help direct you to which trail offers the most colors, whether you want red hawthorn berries or fiery yellow maples. They offer miles of stroller-friendly paths, a scavenger hunt for the kids, and plenty of great views. 

4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, OR

Portland Japanese Garden

Tucked away in Washington Park, this garden is perfectly coiffed and bursts into color every year. Japanese maples and other fall show-offs were planted to expertly frame certain areas, like a pond, waterfall, or statue. Leave the stroller at home, as many areas use steps. Strap the little ones into a carrier and let older kids pick the path-- it’s not too big to get lost in, but big enough that they’ll have fun exploring. Afterward, stop in the teahouse for a meal or a mochi ice cream treat. Get your tickets online for timed entry before you head out.

611 SW Kingston Ave.
Portland, Oregon 97205
(503) 223-1321

Historic Columbia River Highway

Ready to head a bit further? Hop on the Historic Columbia River Highway for one of the most scenic drives this time of year. It begins in Corbett, 20 miles outside of Portland, and winds along the Columbia through a wide range of both evergreen and deciduous trees. Pack a lunch and make a day of it-- and don’t forget to try out some of the short hikes along the way, just perfect for little adventurers. Latourell Falls is doable at just under 2.5 miles, while Horsetail Falls is another great option. Of course, no one can forget Multnomah Falls, which tends to be slightly less crowded than summer, but no less stunning.

Getting there: From Portland, take I-84 east to Corbett. Take exit 22 and follow the Historic Columbia River Highway/Highway 30 east toward Multnomah Falls.

—Katrina Emery


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With cooling temps, back to school, and that exciting feeling of change in the air, Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer. Fill your weekend up with fun with these ideas below, from free backyard games, farm festivals, ice cream spots, and more!

Find Ice Cream

Find Ice Cream

Because a sweet treat is always a good idea, whether it’s full or non-dairy, here are five spots to find the best ice cream around town. Try them all and vote for a favorite! You might have to try them all twice, just to be sure!

Find more!

Ready, Set, Gorge

Get out and play in Portland’s backyard, the Columbia River Gorge! It’s a popular weekend to get out, so use Ready, Set, GOrge to plan and travel safe. You can also book popular attractions like Multnomah Falls, which now requires reservations.

In addition, The site has maps, trailhead information, shuttle options, and more to make it a fabulous trip. If you’re coming from Portland, head north to the Washington side or further east to The Dalles to beat the crowds and find spectacular scenery.


Dahlia Festival

The Annual Dahlia Festival is a rainbow of color and blooms for every flower lover. The indoor pavilions are closed for safety this year, but outside the fields burst with botanical fireworks - over 370 varieties! Learn how to grow your own, or bring some cut flowers home with you from this free event that spreads over 40 acres.

995 NW 22nd Ave. Canby

More information here.

Find a Swimming Hole

Cool off and have a blast with a dunk in the water at one of these natural spots around town.

Find more!

Catch Dinos at OMSI

The Dinosaurs Revealed exhibit closes it's door after Labor Day- it's your last chance to catch it! Journey back in time to watch these animatronic dinos come to life. Exhibits will teach even your dino-loving kiddos new things. Find your favorite before they leave!

More information here.

Head to the Playground

Sometimes a simple day at the park can be the best way to make memories. Strike out to find a new-to-them playground and maybe a new-to-you neighborhood! You’ll find climbing ropes, pirates, oversize xylophones, and more! Bring a picnic (or grab a local goodie) and spend the day exploring.

Find more!

BBQ & Backyard Games

Find all the fun you need right in your own yard with these sidewalk games. Fire up the grill and make it an evening event!

Find more!

photo: via Oregon State Fair

Discover the Oregon State Fair

Labor Day Weekend is the grand finale to the summer’s big event, the Oregon State Fair. Eleven days finish off with a bang with livestock competitions, cook-offs, six stages of live music, dog shows, and plenty of baby animals. Future farmers, animal lovers, and fried food aficionados are welcome.

More info here.

Discover a Science Experiment

Encourage some messy and scientific exploration with some classic science experiments like making rock candy, a vinegar-powered boat, and of course: plenty of slime.

Find more!

View Wildlife at Portland Audubon

The Vaux Swifts migration happens every year, but the 2021 viewing at Chapman Elementary is cancelled for safety this year. Instead, head straight to the Portland Audubon to enjoy their 172-acre Wildlife Sanctuary, with hiking trails, a wildlife care center, and a nature store.

5151 NW Cornell Rd
Portland, OR

Get Lost in the Corn Maze

Get a jumpstart on fall fun (and maybe beat some fall crowds) and check out the corn maze at Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch! This epic maze winds through almost two miles of corn and is great for all ages. Bring snacks: it can take up to 45 minutes to get through!

16511 NW Gillihan Rd

Portland, OR


Art in the Pearl

This free three-day festival has been named one of the best art fairs in the country! Running Sep 4-6, it combines over 100 artists showcasing their work alongside original songs, great food, and hands-on activities for kids.

Find it at the Northwest Park block of Portland between W Davis and NW Flanders at NW 8th Ave. 

More information here.

Go Fishing

Cast your lines into some of the best family friendly fishing holes around. Maybe you’ll catch something for the grill!

Find more!

Head to a McMenamins

With a variety of locations and events across the Northwest, McMenamins boasts unique family fun in refurbished historical locales. They offer a myriad of concerts and dinners along with miniature golfing, frisbee golf, soaking pools, beer and wine tastings, and more. Edgefield, Kennedy School, and Grand Lodge are just a few of the great locations to check out!


Head to Oaks Park

An amusement park might just be the best way to send summer off with a bang on Labor Day. Head to our favorite Oaks Park for all-ages rides, a carnival, a train ride, and the all-important snacks.

Find more!

—Katrina Emery

Featured image via unsplashed


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Awesome Must-Experience Apple Picking Outings

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The hot hot summer has ripened fruit quickly this year and fall is set to bring bushels of bounty! The orchards around Portland flow with all varieties of apples, pears, peaches, and more, and we know you’re ready to pick. We’ve rounded up the best farms around and they’re all gorgeous enough to sneak in those beloved fall family photos. How can you resist? Read on for more!

Beilke Family Farm

Near Salem, Beilke Family Farm boasts up to 17 styles of irresistible apples like Ruby Mac, Cripps Pink, and Gold Rush. Four generations have worked these trees, and the care shines through in well organized rows that are easy to navigate and find your favorite fruit. The dwarf trees make it a cinch for kids to pick and fill their buckets.

4925 Rockdale St NE
Brooks, OR

Jossy Farms

You don't want to miss out on this U-Pick Apple experience. In the farming business since 1885, the Jossy family has a long legacy. Their U-Pick fields are open this season for apples like the tart Gravensteins and sweet Early Golds, and plenty of red and green Bartlett pears. Pick up some hazelnuts and walnuts in their shop while you’re there, too!  Bring your own container or buy some at the farm.

31965 NW Beach RD
Hillsboro, OR

photo: Katrina Emery

Mountain View Orchards

Apples aren't all you will find at this U-Pick orchard near Portland. Three generations in and this 50-acre orchard is still producing stellar fruit. August and September see peaches, plums, pears, apples, nectarines, late blueberries, and even dahlias, corn, carrots and beets! Make it whole day with a hayride later in the season, topped off with fresh cider and donuts. And for the adults in the group–don’t miss their special hard cider on tap or in bottles to take home. They are open daily this summer and fall. Pups happily allowed on a leash!

6670 Trout Creek Ridge Rd
Mt Hood, OR

Kiyokawa Orchards

Family-owned and operated in Parkdale, Oregon, this orchard produces apples your family won't be able to resist. A standing favorite in the U-Pick farms, this orchard is pushing pause on welcoming the crowds this year. Despite not being able to wander the rows, you can still get your favorite apple varieties from them at their orchard fruit stand in Parkdale or farmer's markets. They have a presence at 15 area markets! Check their website for the full list and times.

8129 Clear Creek Rd.

Sherwood Orchards

In the rolling hills past Newberg, the 1,300 trees of this orchard produce pears, apples, plums, quince and even persimmons! U-pick is available over the 26 acres–apple varieties ready now are Gravenstein, Transparent, Tydeman Red and Bed Wilde, ranging from tart cooking apples to sweet ones. To pick, you can borrow the farm’s baskets and boxes, and even some pickers for the hard-to-reach spots! Bring your own container for these trees, and get your camera ready, because this spot offers the perfect opportunity for those back-to-school or holiday themed photos.

23995 SW Pacific Hwy.

Bell’s Orchard

This sweet Beaverton farm boasts a bright red barn that welcomes families daily--they even have evening picking for these gorgeous warm summer nights! The short-style orchard means that everyone can pick without ladders. Fill your buckets with varieties of apples, pears, and juicy peaches--your only problem might be stopping before you have enough for 50 pies!

24350 SW Farmington Rd.
Beaverton, OR

—Katrina Emery


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25 Last-Minute Outdoor Summer Adventures

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The final stretch of summer is here. With school starting everywhere, you’ve got to squeeze the most adventure you can out of the final days of the season. Get the whole family outside to hike, bike, swim, explore, and discover. From across the state to your own backyard, we’ve rounded up the best ideas to get you outside and dirty. Read on for more!

photo: iStock

1:  Backyard Games: Try out these epic backyard (or park) games like ninja attack, Simon Says, or giant pick up sticks.

2:  Cool Hikes for Hot Days: Hit the trail with these great hikes for kids featuring waterfalls, playgrounds, garter snakes, and more.

3:  Get out on Bikes: Hit the trail with these great hikes for kids featuring waterfalls, playgrounds, garter snakes, and more. 

4:  Grill up a Feast: From grilled fruit to grilled pizza, there's so many ways to use up summer's bounty! Check out this list of 22 new recipes to try.

5:  Experience Island Life: Beaches, a lighthouse, farm-fresh fruit, and more: enjoy it all at nearby Sauvie Island!

photo: iStock

6:  Explore Black History in Portland: Take yourselves on an educational tour to explore the movers and shakers of Portland's early Black community, like DeNorval Unthank, a prominent doctor and community leader whose name graces a North Portland park today.

7:  Host and Outdoor Movie Night: The weather is warm, the kids are restless. Mix up the weekend with an outdoor movie night! Find tips for a fantastic movie night here.

8:  Go Flower Picking: Catch the last of the summer blooms at these area flower farms!

9: Try out Geocaching & Find Treasure: Join the millions of folks worldwide who love geocaching-- it's like a real-life treasure hunt! Read up on these tips to make the best of your first (or 100th!) geocaching outing.

10 Escape to Eugene: Head out for a day trip or an overnight stay to our next door neighbor, Eugene! From raptors to markets to great eats, there's fun for everyone. Read up here on the best things to see in Eugene.

11:  Dive into a Swimming Hole: Let's face it: it's hot. Stop melting and cool off at some of these favorite local swim holes. From lakes to waterfall pools to rivers, there's a swim spot for everyone.

12:  Go Fishing: Find a local fishing fish hole and reel 'em in! Or just teach the kids how to enjoy the wind in their face, depending on your skill level.

13: Print Your Own Scavenger Hunt: Create your own scavenger hunt with these great printables! If your kids need an extra push to take that walk outside, motivate them with these fun hunts!

14:  Swing from Trees with Aerial Adventures: Get an extra thrill before school by taking the kids to one of these fun aerial adventure courses! Swing from trees, fly down the zipline, and challenge any fears of heights.

15:  Build a Sandcastle: Build a castle, dig a hole, or splash in the water at some of the best sandy river spots around town.

16: Visit a National Park: Check out some of the most stunning vistas around at these nearby National Parks and Monuments. Some are closer than you think!

17: Watch the Sunset: Pack a picnic and watch the sun set at some of these favorite spots around town.

18: Create a Backyard Waterpark: Create an epic backyard waterpark with these hints and tips!

19: Camp on the Beach: Grab your tent and head to the coast to one of these great beach spots to camp!

20: Discover a Waterfall: Sure, you know Multnomah Falls, but have you been to these other gems? Find your new favorite falls with these family-friendly trails.

21: Great Destination Playgrounds: Don't just see any old playground--make it a destination! From climbing to nature play to Frisbee golf, these playgrounds make a dull day turn around.

22: Escape to Seaside: Seals, skating, saltwater taffy. Do you need more of an excuse to hit the road for Seaside?

23: Find a Spot to Pitch a Tent: These six nearby campsites are some of the best close-by spots to pitch a summer tent!

24: Go Miniature Golfing: Fore! Take the family to one of these miniature golfing spots for an epic par 3 battle.

25: Go Splash!: Find a close-to-home adventure with these splashy destinations, perfect for even the littlest of explorers.

—Katrina Emery


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Portland is gorgeous throughout the Spring months. With bloom bursting everywhere and the world coming out of hibernation, there’s so much for people of all ages to delight in. If you are ready to chase the Winter blahs away, there’s no better way to do it than with stunning Spring hikes. We’ve rounded up trails that are perfect for families with young children. Lace up those hiking boots and get ready to roam. Read on to find out where the best spring trails in and near Portland are waiting.

Wapato Greenway, Sauvie Island

One of Portland’s favorite playgrounds is Sauvie’s Island, full of berry picking and beach-going in summer and pumpkin patches in fall. Early spring might be too soon for berries, but you’ll find a great hike at Wapato Greenway, which features a wetland lake, meadows, grassland, and oak trees. Kids will love hunting for snakes (harmless garter varieties!), frogs, ducks, and more on the trails. The loop around the pond is 2.2 miles total and is great for kids.

18846 N.W. Sauvie Island Road
Portland, OR

Powell Butte

Hike around a giant extinct volcano at this park in the city limits! Powell Butte is a beautiful place for a hike, with wooded paths, meadows, and perfect views of surrounding peaks on clear days. Starting at the small visitor center kiosk it’s an easy trek to the top on the paved path. There you’ll find a viewing platform pointing out the nine different mountains encircling you, including Mount Jefferson, Adams, St. Helens, and even Rainier. From there, you can follow the hiking trails around the back of the park into the forests or turn around and wind through the grassy meadows instead. The summit is a 0.7 mile hike, and the whole loop is about 2.9 miles. Spring sees wildflowers galore on the hills, and with them comes the buzz of bees and flutter of butterflies.

Powell Butte Nature Park
16160 Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR

Oak Bottoms Wildlife Refuge

It’s not a long trail or hike, but for a quick afternoon out in nature, it’s a perfect escape. Start on the bluffs at the small parking lot, then wander down the bluff-- turn right to head around the pond for the 2.3 mile loop. The path is well kept, with bridges, boardwalks, and viewing platforms that extend over the wetlands. In the small loop at Tadpole Pond kids will find plenty of places to look for the little creatures along with salamanders and birds.

The park is near the Springwater Corridor, Sellwood Riverfront Park, and Oaks Bottom Amusement Park if you need to extend your day of fun at all.

SE Sellwood Blvd & SE 7th Ave.
Portland, OR


Camassia Nature Trail

You want to time this trail right-- in April through June it comes alive with wildflowers of all colors like trillium, the namesake camassia, and more. It’s a short trail and easy to follow, meaning kids can lead the way with confidence through the forests and meadows.

The rocky ridges here were created by an ancient flood that left giant boulders behind-- learn all about the unique geology from volunteers on guided hikes and at signposts along the trail. You’ll come across creeks and ponds hiding frogs and newts, oak and aspen trees welcoming woodpeckers and bluebirds, and even a radio tower with an osprey nest! The loop is a pleasant 1.5 miles with much of it on a boardwalk.

4800 Walnut St.
West Linn, OR

Hoyt Arboretum Trails

Try to count how many different trees you can find in Hoyt Arboretum, we dare you! With 2300 species and over 12 miles of trails, it’s quite the challenge. Whether you can count that high or not, you’ll find plenty of easy hikes on the hills near the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum. There’s something for every time of year-- in spring, find the 0.3 mile Magnolia Trail between Wildwood and Oak Trails for a great view of the flowering trees. There’s also cherry blossoms, dogwood flowers, and Japanese snow-bells. Don’t forget to look down for early trilliums!

Start your visit in the parking lot (it’s a pay lot, avoid the hunt and cost by taking the Max or even biking), then head to the trails. The visitor's center is closed while Shelter in Place rules are enacted.

Hoyt Arboretum Visitor’s Center
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, OR

Cooper Mountain Nature Park

Situated just outside of Tualatin, Cooper Mountain offers 3 ½ miles of kid-friendly trails in a stunning natural area. You’ll get views of the distant Chehalem Mountains while enjoying trails under the canopy of white oaks.  The nature park playground offers a play area inspired with natural materials like boulders, tree trunks, a sand pit, and more. From the playground, the Little Prairie Loop makes for a great short outing, or extend it up to three miles by connecting to the Cooper Mountain Loop.

18895 SW Kemmer Rd
Beaverton, OR

Mt. Tabor Park

One of the best urban explorations is on the slopes of a dormant volcano. Start at the trailhead by SE 64th and Lincoln, near the reservoirs, then wander at will through the paths and roads. Dirt trails, paved paths, stairs and more wind around the cinder cone volcano, until you arrive at the very top, with fabulous views of downtown Portland. A playground is on the north side-access it from Salmon St or Yamhill, or make your way there by foot.

6220 SE Salmon St.
Portland, OR

—Annette Benedetti



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Winter in the Pacific Northwest doesn’t rob families of any outdoor fun—you’ll just want to pack the raincoats, hats and warm boots! The fresh air can do wonders for a cooped up family. We’ve rounded up some of the best nearby winter hikes and even some short walks near Portland that will help kids and families enjoy the outdoors even in the middle of winter. Add a thermos of hot chocolate to your pack for a required winter treat, and read on for more!

Scouters Mountain Nature Park

You may have come across this winter hike while you were Google searching "Kid-friendly hikes near me". A comfortable and easy hike tucked away in southeast Portland (Happy Valley), Scouters Mountain is a great escape for a bit of fresh air anytime of year. You’ll play peekaboo with Mt. Hood in the distance as you slip in and out of the forest on this extinct lava dome. Some of the trees are over 100 years old! The loop trail is about a mile long, making it easy for all ages. Restrooms are closed at this time.

11300 SE 147th Ave
Happy Valley, OR

Tualatin Hills National Wildlife Refuge

Attention wildlife lovers! If you are looking for a dream winter hike with kids, this refuge just outside of Portland is a rare breed of urban national wildlife refuges in the country, and is a great destination for a bit of fresh air and a chance to see some birds and wildlife. Winter makes a great time to visit, as the area is on the Pacific Flyway and sees plenty of migratory action for waterfowl, shorebirds, and more. What will you discover on the one-mile long nature trail that winds through the habitats and ends at a Wetland Observation Deck? This year, the visitor center and restrooms are closed, but trails remain open during daylight hours.

19255 SW Pacific Hwy
Sherwood, OR 97140

Wildwood Recreation Site

Just off Highway 26 on the way up to Mt. Hood you can find the perfect little area to explore winter at Wildwood Recreation Site. Over 6 miles of trails wind around the picturesque Salmon River-- check out the Cascade Streamwatch Trail, a paved ¾ mile loop that takes you to a fish viewing area below stream level. Will you see any fish on a snowy winter day? Time to find out!
$5 day-use pass, available at automated stations onsite
65670 E HWY. 26
Welches, OR

Orenco Woods Nature Park

If you’re in need of a very short walk and a place to explore, Orenco Woods Nature Park makes a magical winter treat. While the play area is closed this year, the trails are open-- stroll across Rock Creek on the impressive bridge as you look for red-tailed hawks or even beavers! The trail extends north up to 6 miles, but your main destination is closer-- a series of funny faces in a cluster of trees, made out of twisted sticks. They’re the work of artist Patrick Dougherty, but they look like trolls that grew from the forest. Even better, kids can run inside and around the faces-- ask their theories on where they think the faces came from!

Orenco Woods Nature Park
7100 NE Birch St.
Hillsboro, OR

Hoyt Arboretum

A 190-acre wonderland of trees tucked away in Washington Park has been a favorite location for families all year round. The 12 miles of trails are all named for notable sights you’ll see along the way, like the Maple Trail. In winter, be sure to check out the Holly Trail for the bright red berries of its namesake, or the majestic Douglas Firs all around. The Visitor Center is currently closed but the restrooms in the courtyard are still open.

Free, but you’ll need to pay for parking
4000 SW Fairview Blvd.
Portland, OR

Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Tryon Creek is a beautiful natural area covering 650 acres with over 8 miles of hiking trails. You’ll feel miles away from any civilization, even though it’s only about 15 minutes from downtown Portland! This year the natural area is turning 50! Winter walks through Tryon mean a lush and wet trek through the large evergreens, but the well maintained trails make it a breeze. Kids will love counting bridges and watching the water stream under. This year the Visitor Center is closed, and be aware that this is a popular trail, so you might see a lot of other folks!
11321 S Terwilliger Blvd
Portland OR 

Tamanawas Falls

If your crew is up for an adventure, pack the snow gear and head up Mt. Hood to Tamanawnas Falls, about hour and a half drive from Portland. In the winter you’ll want to be prepared for a very snowy road on the mountain, but these falls are popular enough that crews will still plow the parking lot. In dry weather it’s a relatively easy 4 mile hike to a stunning 150-foot waterfall. If it’s a snowy season the hike could be a lot more challenging, so plan accordingly! Even if you don’t make it all the way to the falls this time, the hike through a snowy old forest is scenery enough. Add a thermos of hot chocolate for a required treat!

$5 Recreation Pass required at trailhead
OR-35, Mt Hood, OR

–Katrina Emery


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Awesome Ways to Celebrate New Years with Kids

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Who’s ready to celebrate the end of 2020? Maybe your kids won’t wait until midnight or maybe you’d just like to get the celebration started early—either way, there’s lots of fun to find during New Year’s Eve in Portland. Bonus points for the stay-at-home in your jammies celebrations! While many events were cancelled this year, a few are moving to virtual or are changing things up to make visits safe, whatever your count down preferences you’ll find an option. Now, stop searching “New Years Eve events near me” and Read on for our curated list of the best!

photo: via unsplash

Noon Year’s Eve Party with AC Gilbert House Children’s Museum

While you can’t gather at Salem’s super fun children’s museum for a noon party this year, you can still celebrate New Years Eve with them from Portland! A “party package” will get to a box delivered to your door full of everything you need for an at-home blast like balloons, noisemakers and confetti. Join in for a virtual “Noon Year” and watch the ball drop. Hint: check out their website for their Noon Year’s Eve dance tutorial!


Zoolights at Oregon Zoo

One of the best New Years Eve Portland activities is still on the table. Yes, Zoolights are still on this year and yes, they’re perfectly safe! The zoo has expertely transformed it’s lighted wonderland into a car-only zone, meaning you can drive your family through the zoo itself as you gaze at the lights. And don’t worry-- you can pre-purchase snacks and souvenirs online! They’ll be ready for you when you arrive, so you can chow down on that elephant ear or cotton candy while you watch for lights. Tickets are available 7 days in advance and sell out quickly, so plan ahead!

$50 - $65 per car
4001 Southwest Canyon Road
Portland, OR

New Year’s Eve at Noon with the Mittleman Jewish Community Center

Don’t keep the kids up until midnight (they won’t make it and you’ll all be grumpy!): instead celebrate a balldrop at Noon on Dec 31! While they can’t gather in person like usual, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center is switching to an all virtual celebration. Tune in at 11am for the fun!

11:00 AM
Dec 31
Register on the website

photo: Kelly Gardiner via Oregon Resort

Oregon Garden Resort

In normal years the resort hosts Christmas in the Garden, a veritable wonderland of lights and vendors in a magical setting. This year the full experience has been postponed, but a scaled-back version still holds the same spark of magic. Lights at the Oregon Garden Resort will have thousands of lights with a limited number of booths, fire pits, mulled wine, beer, and more—this experience is guaranteed for resort guests (packages start at $169). If you’re not planning to stay overnight, watch their website as they may sell a limited number of public tickets each week based on occupancy.

Oregon Garden Resort
895 W. Main St.
Silverton, OR

Annual New Year’s Eve Extravaganza at Skibowl

Welcome the new year at Mt. Hood Skibowl with night skiing and Cosmic Tubing until late into the evening. Be sure to order your tickets ahead of time and watch the website for any changes. It’s a party on the mountain! 


Junior tickets start at $45.
Dec 31 all day


Happy New Year and Goodbye 2020!

Featured image via pracilla du via unsplashed

–Katrina Emery

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Skate Away on the Best Ice Rinks in Town

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Note: Please note that because of COVID restrictions, you will need to check with each of these places in advance to find out when they are open and what their safety requirements are.

The air is getting chilly and the holidays are upon us. It’s time to strap on your skates for some celebratory fun! Rinks are taking extra precautions this year, but many are still opening for slip-sliding fun for speed skaters or newbies alike. Fill up your thermos with hot cocoa, grab your camera, and read on for a list of our favorite ice skating rinks!

Lloyd Center Ice Rink

Open seven days a week, the skating rink at Lloyd Center mall offers a convenient chance to get on the ice. As a bonus, you can get some Christmas shopping done while the kids have fun! The rink has been a hot spot in Portland since it opened in 1960, but beautiful renovations in the last couple years have ensured it’s continuing success. This year, they’re performing enhanced cleaning services and offering reserved time slots for 60 minute skating sessions (masks required). 

Current COVID information: As of November 18, this rink is closed until further notice from the governor. Please check site or call for more info. This is the most current information we has as of date of publication.

Cost: $19 (including rental!) $9/kids
2218 Lloyd Center
Portland, OR

Sherwood Ice Arena

A classic rink in the Sherwood area, this has arena everything you need for a day of winter fun! As of publication the arena is closed to public skating, but you can check out their skating and lesson options to get out on the ice-- they offer hockey, freestyle, general ice skating and more. All options are by reservation only this year, so check out the website in advance.

Updated COVID information: Please check website or call before visiting this location. Our information is updated to the best of our knowledge as of publication date.

Hours vary by week
20407 SW Borchers Dr.
Sherwood, OR

Winterhawks Skating Center

This is the rink that Portland’s own Winterhawks glide onto-- with some extra luck you might even see a player! This official regulation-size rink is a practice space for the team, and also open for pint-sized skater practice. Along with open skate, you can choose from plenty of classes for hockey and beyond, or swing by the pro shop for extra ice gear (or Christmas presents!). Open skate is by reservation only this year, and masks are required.

Updated COVID information: Please contact this business before heading in. Information in this article is current as of publication date.

Cost: $20 admission with skate rental.  Children 5 and under are free with paid adult.
Hours vary weekly
9250 Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy
Beaverton, OR

Mountain View Ice Arena

This large, easy to find rink in Vancouver offers all the classic classes as well as plenty of open skating time. Your ice dancers and hockey-stickers will find all the frozen fun they need. Due to COVID they are not offering skate rentals this year so you’ll need to provide your own.

Updated COVID information: Closed until Dec. 14. Please call this business before visiting. Information is current as of the date of publication.

Hours vary weekly
14313 SE Mill Plain Blvd.
Vancouver, WA

—Katrina Emery


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