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September’s arrival means many things to Portland families — back to school, the arrival of autumn, and a chance to spend two hours watching thousands and thousands of birds roost. The tiny North American birds, known as Vaux Swifts, are back for their annual migration party and here’s how you can witness this natural phemomenon in action.

vaux swifts crowd farm4.staticflickr.com

 Photo credit: Heathre via Flickr Creative Commons

The Scoop on Swift Watch
Swift Watch happens September 1-30th. Each evening runs from about 6–8 p.m. and is free. The tiny swifts will roost about one hour before sunset. At go-time, thousands of birds fly overhead from all directions, circle and huddle up, then dive into the chimney like a smoky tornado in reverse, settling in for a long night of rest. A hawk or peregrine falcon usually makes a nightly appearance to try and catch one of the swifts. Onlookers audibly ooh, aah, cheer and clap as the birds circle the chimney, then drop in carefully or successfully dodge a hawk. Audubon volunteers are onsite offering swift details and history, collecting donations and perhaps selling a swifts hat or two.

swifts chapman school lauriesharp.netPhoto credit: lauriesharp.net

Picnics and Cardboard Hill Slides
For families, Swift Watch has become a marker of the season. Parents pack picnic baskets, bring chairs and blankets, invite friends and neighbors and find the best spot on the hill to watch. There’s sometimes even pizza for sale onsite, if you don’t have time to cook (or eat) before you arrive, but it’s better to plan ahead if you can.

If you do end up getting to the general area a little early, grab some Mexican food and margaritas at Acupulco’s Gold (2610 NW Vaughn St., 503-220-0283) or frozen yogurt with all the toppings you can handle at Twist Frozen Yogurt and Coffee Bar (1650 NW 23rd Ave., 971-271-8756).

For the bigger kiddos, Chapman School has become a destination also because of the mini-sledding, grass-covered hill. Kidlets of all sizes bring cardboard flats and slide down the massive hill, then climb back up and do it again. Chapman School and Wallace Park also have an excellent playground, making it a fantastic night of play, community and bird-gazing.

VauxsSwift brid-friends.com

Photo credit: bird-friends.com

Good to Know
The NW neighborhood around Chapman School gets packed every night for thirty nights so they ask that you clean up after your clan and keep your pets in check. Parking can be tight. With many streets around the neighborhood, something can usually be found. Condense your gear though, it could be a multi-block walk and there are steep hills. Parking near Montgomery Park gives you a quick getaway after the birds have finished.

Chapman School and Wallace Park
1445 NW 26th Ave.
Online: audubonportland.org

Are the swifts part of your family’s fall tradition? If so, let us know in the Comments section below!

— Liz Overson

 

Great Pit Stops on Your Road Trip to the Coast

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Late summer is the perfect time to enjoy both sun and sand at the majestic Oregon coast. Part of the joy is the journey, not just the destination, so click through our album to find six quick stops along the way, from Portland to the coast. They’ll alleviate your kids’ backseat boredom, fend off rumbling tummies and cure them of the worst case of the wiggles.

Out of This World Pizza

If you need a double whammy of exercise and food, look no further than Out of this World Pizza. Offering an all-you-can-eat pizza, salad and drinks buffet, it's also a gigantic warehouse full of climbing, sliding, bouncing and plasma-car driving. For an added fee you and the arcade zealots in your clan can score game cards and play Pac-Man, driving games, skee ball, fishing games, Dance Dance Revolution and air hockey before piling back into the car. 6255 NW Century Blvd Hillsboro Or 503-629-8700 Online: <a target="_blank" href="http://www.outofthisworld.net&quot; target="_blank">outofthisworld.net</a> <p style="text-align:right;"> <em><p style="text-align:right;"><em>Photo: Out of This World Pizza, credit <a target="_blank" href="http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/out-of-this-world-pizza-and-play-hillsboro#Dxbt190rgHq08P99JuK2Uw&quot; target="_blank">Sean D.</a> via Yelp</em></p> fuck
  • Sean D. via Yelp http://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/out-of-this-world-pizza-and-play-hillsboro#Dxbt190rgHq08P99JuK2Uw
  • Credit Liz Overson
  • Credit Liz Overson
  • bzo via Flickr Creative Commons http://farm1.staticflickr.com/206/518610923_92c8f88376_o.jpg
  • Credit Liz Overson
  • wikimedia.org via Creative Commonshttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tillamook_Cheese_Factory_-_Oregon.JPG

Where does your family take a break from the road trip? Tell us in the Comments section below!

– Liz Overson

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The last month of summer has officially arrived, but that doesn’t mean all of the fun is behind us. And, because some kids may have hit the mid-summer slumps, that gives us even more reason to spring into action. Sandy toes, saggy paper wrist bands, happy photos and ear-to-ear grins await. Welcome to August in Portland. This is how we do it.

imagephoto credit: Liz Overson

1. Go for a Ride
Perhaps you crave an alpine slide, zip line and/or giant hamster ball adventure like at Mt Hood Skibowl Adventure Park? Or maybe you envision a soaking wet, happiest-20-minutes-ever log ride, followed by an icy Jetson-esque roller coaster thrill at Enchanted Forest? Or, by all means, would you rather rock a close-to-home spin on the 2nd oldest and still running carousel in the US at Oaks Park? Whatever your thrill ride poison, all of these are available within in hour of Portland.

Mt Hood Skibowl Adventure
88335 E Government Camp Loop Rd.
Government Camp, Or

Online: skibowl.com

Enchanted Forest
 8462 Enchanted Way SE
Turner, Or
503-363-3060
Online: enchantedForest.com

Oaks Park
7805 SE Oaks Park Way
Portland, Or
503-233-5777
Online: oakspark.com

2. Get Wet
With options from lakes to rivers to our favorite public pool –  there is no time like the present to cool off and float around. And nothing wipes the kiddos out like swimming! However, Blue Lake and Vancouver Lake have both had bacterial issues this summer so be sure to check the web or call ranger stations before heading to our local lakes. Meanwhile, our rivers are bringing it (some with hefty undertow) and Wilson Pool is outdoors and has open swim every afternoon of the week.

Wilson Pool
1151 SW Vermont St.
Portland, Or
503-823-3680
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks

image_1photo credit: Liz Overson

3. Root for the Home Team
The Timbers and Thorns soccer teams and the Hops and Volcanoes minor league baseball teams all want you! Open air seating, enthusiastic crowds, unbridled talent and in some cases divinely family-friendly priced tix await. And they serve beer. Once autumn rolls in, they’re done, unless, of course, they’re in the playoffs.

Timbers & Thorns
Providence Park
1844 SW Morrison St.
Portland, Or
503-553-5400
Online: providenceparkpdx.com

Hillsboro Hops
Ron Tonkin Field
4460 NW 229th Ave.
Hillsboro, Or
503-640-0887
Online: milb.com

The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes
6700 Field Of Dreams Way
Keizer, Or
503-390-2225
Online: milb.com

4. Hit a Street Fair
Maybe you made it to Mississippi Street Fair, maybe you didn’t. Fear not. There are heaps more street fests all month long in August, ready to delight and entertain the minis and their grown ups. Alberta Street and Hawthorne Street fairs are two of the bigger ones, and they’re both in August. Lucky us.

image_2photo credit: Liz Overson

5. Sing with the Band
There’s a free, outdoor concert pretty much every evening this month. Pack a picnic and have a blast. If you prefer a more traditional concert venue than your local park, the Oregon Zoo and Edgefield are barely halfway through their summer shows. Pack only low chairs and blankets if you don’t have an assigned seat, bring only unopened bottled water and don’t forget the earphones for the minis.

The Oregon Zoo
4001 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, Or
503-226-1561
Online: oregonzoo.org

McMenamins Edgefield
2126 SW Halsey St.
Troutdale, Or
503-669-8610
Online: edgefieldconcerts.com

6. Take in a Flick
Flicks on the Bricks, Movies in the Park and Dive in Movies are surrounding us with fantastic film choices all month long. For the Dive-In variety, the pools are warmed to keep floaters toasty warm. For Flicks on the Bricks, bring your chairs and blankets. Lastly, if you are aching for a throwback, non-floating movie experience for your reel-lovin’ next gen,  head to Newberg’s real deal drive-in. Aw yeah.

99W Drive-In
3110 Portland Rd.
Newberg, Or
Online: 99w.com

image_5photo credit:Liz Overson

7. Hit the Beach
Even if the ocean is tooooo c-c-c-cold to truly bask in, the beaches here do not disappoint. Keep an eye on the weather for our western shore. There’s always an August gem of a day to go and play. We heart us some Pacific City fun, Seaside silliness, Astoria magic,  and of course – Cannon Beach merriment.

8. Count Some Stars
From Cape Lookout to Lost Lake and hundreds of others between and beyond, there are numerous, amazing family camping options all over Oregon. Cabins, yurts, and good ole platforms beckon your family for lifelong memories. Grab your outdoor champions and enjoy some nature. Bonus points if you see the Milky Way.

Cape Lookout
13000 Whiskey Creek Rd.
Tillamook, Or
503-842-4981
Online: oregonstateparks.gov

Lost Lake Resort & Campground
9000 Lost Lake Rd.
Lost Lake, Or
Online: lostlakeresort.org

image_3photo credit: Liz Overson

9. Embrace Our Best: Farms and Fish
There is no time like the present to berry pick, cherry pick and lavender snip. Our local farms are dynamite and always worth the undertaking. From Sauvie Island to Oregon City to Hood River, it’s on at these local treasures. Or, if you’re feeling more like a hunter than gatherer,  grab your bait and tackle and hit a stocked pond, river or stream. In late August, salmon are running and waters are high. And even if you prefer not to catch them, you can admire their exhausting journey upstream at Bonneville Dam. Educational trip, anyone?

Bonneville Dam
40 miles East of Portland
near Cascade Locks
Exit 40 off of I-84 East
Online: nwp.usace.army.mil

10. Explore a New Corner of Town
Whether it’s a shady playground on the other side of town, a day trip to Lake Oswego, bike riding in an unknown park, or creating a groovy exploit on the Washington side of the Gorge, summer is for new adventures. Pile in the kids and on the sunscreen and away you go!

How will you and your kiddos round out the dog days of summer? Tell us in the Comments section below! 

– Liz Overson

Just Opened: A New Play Space at Dawson Park

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With soft turf underfoot, tall trees offering plenty of shade, a boulder-circling spray fountain and enough different play options to keep any kiddo moving and grinning for days, Dawson Park is a welcome upgrade to Portland’s playground arsenal. And, best news of all: Dawson Park is absolutely, positively bark-chip free.

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photo: Liz Overson

Let’s Play
Located right off of the Fremont Bridge and next to Legacy Emmanuel and Randall Children’s Hospitals, this recently modified playground is literally brand spanking new again. We loved seeing the kids explore giant climbing structures attached to the slide (some were calling it a spider web, while others pretended it was a haunted house they had to escape).

Several swing options mean kiddos of different sizes, ages and abilities can all get a turn. The see-saw has four seats and in the middle is a standing board, like a small surfboard, where someone can stand and help move the see saw up and down. There’s a large circular bench for the grown ups, in the shade no less, and a perfect stopping point for snack time.

The center of the park is an open field. On a recent visit it was home to a tackle football game and also a cartwheel contest. The gazebo has been a pillar of the park for years and has been updated for any stage productions your kiddos may need to perform. On Wednesday nights in July it was home to the Summer Free for All Concerts. Other events take place here year ’round as well. Plus, Dawson Park rocks a covered picnic/event shelter … future birthday parties, anyone?
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photo: Courtesy of Portland Parks & Rec

Got Spray?
Last but far from least, is the gentle spray fountain. Encircling the area are several boulders of various sizes, each inscribed with an inspirational quote. Get a little mood elevator, while you watch the littles cool off in the mist. Bathrooms are nearby in the shelter, and some port-o-potties are also to be found around the park as well.

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photo: Liz Overson

Show Us the Way
Located between N. Vancouver and N. Williams and between N. Morris and N. Stanton we recommend parking off of the busier N Vancouver and N Williams or in one of Emmanual’s garages if need be. There are entry ways into the park from all four corners which makes access a breeze.

Dawson Park is very close to New Seasons if you need to get some groceries (and when don’t we?). It’s also super close to some of our Red Tri happy hour and shopping faves like Poa Cafe, Hopworks and Treehouse Boutique to top off your experience.

Dawson Park
N Stanton St. and N Williams Ave.
503-823-2525
Online at: portlandoregon.gov/parks

What’s your favorite playground and why? Tell us in the Comments section below.  

Liz Overson

 

8 Things We Adore About Washington Park

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We heart Washington Park. Formerly known as City Park, it’s a measuring stick for all that’s going on in our fair hamlet. Live music, inspiring gardens, righteous views, amazing museums and, of course, an epic playground combine for months of summer merriment. Here are our top eight ways to play at this enormous park just steps from downtown Portland, from late June to Labor Day weekend.

wfc2bred2btree2b3002bjpgKnock on Wood at the World Forestry Center
Summer, especially pre-July fourth, can be a bit of a weather quandary. If it’s rainy, chilly or full-on gloomy out, head inside to the World Forestry Museum and Discovery Center. There are literally heaps of things to do with the saplings and the new Art of Dr. Seuss exhibit is sure to delight one and all. This spot can also be a fab refuge on the baking-hot summer days when you need an indoor option that’s rarely crowded, yet full of places and ways to burn energy.

Outdoor Adventure Pavilion

Head Outdoors at the Portland Children’s Museum
The new Outdoor Adventure exhibit at Portland Children’s Museum is super cool. Build a fort, climb rocks and trees, play in water, sail boats, and picnic or snack al fresco. Score! Then head inside for all the go-to faves like Banfield Pet Hospital, Building Bridgetown and DIY face-painting.

Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts

Be a Party Animal at the Oregon Zoo
Take in a concert at the Oregon Zoo. Pat Benatar, Huey Lewis and the News, and Amos Lee are all on hand this summer. Evenings at the zoo have a magic all their own and going at least once a summer is sure to keep the blues away. Get there early with your picnic blanket and dinner to stake out your primo space. As for daytime fun, there’s the new condor exhibit, sweet baby lions and the future elephant habitat to check out.

washington park play.alligatorjuice.com

Play Hard at the Playground
Officially titled the Rose Garden Children’s Park, this delightfully intricate and involved play space has ways to entertain kids for what feels like days. Sand box, ramps, swings and slides abound. The nearby Elephant Amphitheater has a couple of covered picnic tables, perfect for a shady lunch. *According to their website, the play structure is closed for maintenance and the adjacent picnic shelter cannot be reserved June 9-July 4, 2014.

wash park concert

Enjoy Al Fresco Dinner and a Show
Washington Park rolls its own live music fest every summer. August 8-15 are the dates and the park’s amphitheater is the place. See greats like local jazz songstress Nancy King, the Portland Festival Symphony and even watch the Wizard of Oz.  Pack a blanket, dinner and enjoy the shows for free.

The Portland Japanese Garden

Be Naturally Inspired
The Japanese Garden is always a winner. Unbelievably pretty and inspiring, it’s also a fab destination for an outdoor adventure. On July 7 it’s the Festival of Stars with live entertainment, kids activities and cultural energy galore.

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Go on a Statue Hunt
Find Sacajawea (near the Rose Garden and playground off of Vista and 23rd), the gargoyles of Chiming Fountain (near Sacajawea’s statue), a bronze statue entitled, The Coming of the White Man (about 200 yards north of Sacajawea, hidden in the trees) and a monument memorializing Lewis and Clark (at the park’s entrance).

AA_Parks_RoseGarden_TravelPortland

Run Amok in the Rose Garden
The International Rose Test Garden’s beautiful roses and views are to die for and the taller plants make for hide and seek ease. This is a terrific spot for a picnic, a stop over as you hike some of the Wildwood Trail or wait for the tennis courts to fee up.

What’s your favorite thing about Washington Park?  Let us know in the Comments below.

– Liz Overson

Thanks for the photos oregon.gov, allligatorjuice.com, tenminutetourist.com, Portland Children’s Museum and TravelPortland.

 

The Wildlife Refuge to Scamper to Now

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If you and your budding naturalists enjoy wide-open green spaces, bird-watching, easy hikes, and seeing river otters do their thing in the wild, you need to run, not walk, to check out Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. The sanctuary encompasses over 5,300 acres of wetlands, croplands, forests and grasslands, and is home to thousands of cool animals. The best part, is that before the kids ask, “Are we there yet,” you will have arrived — the refuge is just 30 minutes north of downtown Portland.rnwr southwestwashingtonzest.com

The Animals
The large greenspace is not only gorgeous, but it’s also a quiet, tranquil and inspiring outing that will keep the kids entertained and enjoying the fresh air for hours. The sanctuary is home to thousands of waterfowl, like ducks, geese, shorebirds, swans, herons, hawks and all of their associated hatchlings. Other animals live here, too, including  deer, coyotes, river otters and beavers.

One of the best spots for bird watching is the Observation Blind, a hut that allows you and the little birders to watch and observe the fowl behavior quietly. It is a very cool experience, a quick walk from the car, and the trailhead is conveniently located right by a restroom.

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The Trails
During the summer, all trails and roads are open and ready for viewers. The one-mile Kiwa Hike is part-gravel, part-dirt and completely stroller-friendly.

The two-mile Oaks to Wetlands hike is rockier and uneven – great for little walkers, but not for strollers. Plus poison oak’s around this trail, so keep an eye out with your knee-high minions.

There’s also a 4.2-mile road around the refuge, so everyone can snack and check out the scene from the car. Even though it’s less than 5 miles, plan on the loop taking about an hour to complete from start to finish.

 

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The Details
The refuge is run by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who asks for a $3 entrance fee per car (exact change is preferred), and is open from 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m. If a staffer is on hand when you arrive, he or she will give you maps of the refuge and make recommendations for how to see it best. Pets, jogging, running, biking and picnicking are not allowed. This place is super peaceful and they want to keep it that way.

The RNWR is off of Exit 14 on I-5 in Washington, in the town of Ridgefield. It’s about 5 exits past Clark County Amphitheater so if you’re going to a show anyway, it could be an easy peasy add-on. It’s also close to some of RT’s fave lakes and water-friendly options and Vancouver’s many kidtastic haunts.

A great time to check it out is at the refuge’s annual Birdfest . This year, Birdfest fall on the weekend of October 4-5 and offers up kiddo activities and games, guided hikes, history talks in the plank house and live bluegrass music, making it a super-fly time for the whole gang.

 

rnwr rebecca DSC_0175A Heron-fish Apr 19, 2007 D2Xs

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
28908 NW Main Avenue, Ridgefield, WA, 98642
(360) 887-4106
Online: Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Where do you and the kids like to chase birds? Tell us in the comments section below! 

– Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of southwestwashingtonzest.com, Rebecca at RNWR and Liz Overson

 

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Summer has almost officially arrived in Portland. Hip, hip hooray to that because we’ve been waiting since last summer for outdoor fun, plenty of sunshine and fantastic live music. The following epic options for live music run June through September, so find that picnic blanket and cooler STAT. Your summer calendar is about to be filled with sweet music to calm those savage little beasts.

concerts in the park

Concerts in the Park 2014
Portland Parks and Rec, we salute you. With a live show every night of the week, in a local park near you, and absolutely free, there is simply always somewhere to boogie on down. Offering rock, folk, funk, or fusion – the toes are tapping with something for every musical craving. On a Monday find your jam in Sellwood Park. On a Wednesday it’s Willamette Park and on a Friday it’s Fernhill Park. All the other nights in between it is on like Donkey Kong at area green spaces as well. The week of July 7th kicks off the action and shows start at 6:30 p.m. Some parks offer parking lots and others are surrounded by easy street parking.

Sellwood Riverfront Park (SE Spokane & Oaks Pkwy.)
Willamette Park (
SW Macadam & Nebraska)
Fernhill Park (
NE 37th, north of Ainsworth)

ecotrust 2

Sundown at Ecotrust
Happening on Thursdays in July, these four shows are not-to-be-missed. It’s a bonanza of fun for the family with healthy food(Laughing Planet, Hot Lips and more) drinks (sangria y cervezas por favor), kid-friendly music, eco-friendly vendors focusing on themes of Energy, Food, Water and Forestry and easily accessible bathrooms. Score!  5:30 p.m. start every Thursday in July. The first show is on July 10th.  Street parking in the Pearl can be tricky, but it is possible with patience, persistence and prayers.

Ecotrust Parking Lot (721 NW 9th between Irving and Johnson)

kruger farm hayride

Kruger Farm’s Farm Tunes
Farmer Don can’t wait to see ya. He’s the host with the most Thursdays nights all summer – starting June 19(!)  from 6:30-9:30 p.m.  At a mere $10 per car, you and the kidlets can rock a hayride, check out the farm animals, purchase or bring food and pull up some field for an evening of shakin’ your groove things. We love the Johnny Cash cover band Get Rhythm and the alt country twangs of Jawbone Flats. Parking is included with admission but leave your doggies at home.

17100 NW Sauvie Island Rd.

pfs

Portland Festival Symphony
One of our fave concerts every summer, the Festival Symphony truly delights the grown and still growing. These free concerts are on Saturdays and Sundays – starting July 26 and shift around to a different local Portland park for each performance. 6:00 p.m. start and it’s free. Go. Go. Go. Street parking abounds.

music on main st kzme.com

Music on Main Street
At 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, the block between the Schnitz and Antoinette Hatfield Hall becomes an outdoor venue bar none. For free, lads and lasses, you can revel in the merriment that is BIllie and the Holidays (July 9) or the Vagabond Opera (July 30) to name but two. Other weeks there’s Cuban, soul, African drumming and some of the gals from Dirty Martini in a new iteration. Bask in the glory that is this super-fly, urban, pedestrian-safe zone and get your dance on. We recommend taking the Max/bus, going early to find street parking along the South Park Blocks or hitting the garage parking. Smart Parks are close by at 4th and Alder and inside the Fox Tower building.

Downtown Portland, SW Main Street between SW Broadway and SW Park

plaza palooza

Plaza Palooza at the Oregon Convention Center
Hello? It’s the eastside calling. Thursdays from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. you can sit or stand while free tunes kick off your weekend. Roots, reggae, r&b, soul, funk…need we say more? Running from July 10-August 28th, they’ve got one heck of a lineup. Do you remember the band, NU SHOOZ? Yup. For reals. The Max stops right in front of the Convention Center so take it and enjoy the ride.

777 NE MLK (Across from the Oregon Convention Center)

What’s your favorite, can’t-miss summer concert? Let us know in the Comments below!

– Liz Overson

Thank you for the photos Kruger Farm, Oregon Convention Center, Ecotrust and Portland Festival Symphony Facebook pages, chuck currie.blogspot.com and Liz Overson.

Capture the Flag: It’s Dragon Boat Time!

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The Dragon Boat Races are hands down one of those can’t-miss Rose Festival traditions. Teams come from around the world to compete in this ancient Chinese tradition. In Portland, the Willamette River is the race’s home base and Tom McCall Waterfront Park is the grandstand. So grab your chairs, blankets, picnic basket and binoculars, find your spot and make a day of it with the family.

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Four teams at a time race in heats every nine minutes for fast-paced action with teams paddling their hardest in unison in a race to the finish line.  The hand-painted, hand carved boats are a feast for the eyes, and best of all, you can sit on the bank (grass or rocks, it’s up to you), cheering on your favorite team or business and watching it all unfold for free.

The dragon boat races have been held here for 25 years. 80 teams of local, national and international paddlers compete every nine minutes in teams of four boats with one member solely responsible for grabbing the flag at the end of the race. You don’t win unless the flag is in hand. The boats themselves are gorgeous, painted brightly and graciously donated by the Portland-Kaohsiung Sister City Association.

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The dragon boat races are held the first Saturday and Sunday of the Rose Fest events. Running from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., you and the kiddos can watch, wander, grab lunch, wander some more, catch a nap and still see plenty of the feats of strength and commitment. Some races are crazy close! And some are heartbreakingly hard. Plus, walking around Waterfront Park is fun with all the teams stretching, chanting, eating, relaxing and maybe even talking a little smack, all in good fun, of course.

If the action on the river isn’t enough, your backdrops will be the Hawthorne Bridge and the new Tillikum Bridge. For the wiggly ones, there are rocks to climb over and sand to play with along the river’s edge. As a bonus, this spot provides a front-row view of winners grabbing their flags.

The always-pretty South Waterfront is close-by, as well. With cafes, patios, green spaces and paved walkways – little feet and bodies can definitely get their wiggles out and bellies will not go hungry.

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We like The Little River Café, the further afield Riverwalk Café and Bean and Tree Coffeehouse for a quick muffin, mocha or milk. Sandwiches, salads, breakfast and ice cream or gelato are plentiful at these spots.

For something a little more relaxed with a view/sun/experience, we heart Three Degrees (and their fab patio) at Kimpton’s Riverplace Hotel. (Hint, hint, make a beeline for the rocking chairs.) Newport Seafood Grill is a floating restaurant – try their Widmer Hefeweizen fish and chips, or check out McCormick and Schmick’s outdoor tables and huge windows that make the marina feel like it’s your front door.

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If you need a few more close-by options to truly round out the day, then check out the Oregon Maritime Museum, Saturday Market, explore downtown, or cross the Hawthorne Bridge and head to OMSI.

Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races
June 7 and 8, 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., Free
Tom McCall Waterfront Park – south end, between the Hawthorne and Marquam bridges
Online: Rose Festival Dragon Boat Races

What’s your favorite spot to watch the Dragon Boat Races?  Let us know in the Comments section below!

– Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of Liz Overson and the Rose Festival’s Facebook page

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We’re so lucky. Ridiculously talented musicians walk among us every day in Portland and many of them actively play for our kiddos. We took time to check out these cool cats and are happy to report that they rocked our world. Behold a few more acts to see, hear and embrace.

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Chuck Cheesman
The recent Portland transplant and mega-Americana talent is here doing fab things with banjo, guitar and ukelele. His rockin’-soulful-folksy tunes make us wanna get up and dance. Plus you can enjoy him at home via his very own Pandora station. Rad!
10:30 a.m. Tuesdays at Café au Play (5633 SE Division St., 503-894-8506)
10 a.m. Fridays at Treehouse Children’s Boutique (3954 N Williams St., 503-928-5987)

miss saramag

Miss Saramag
Miss Saramag may just be our newest up-and-coming kindie superstar. She gets everybody moving with songs, dancing and even sign language while she plays her keyboard or piano or whatever her hands feel like playing. Her songs are playful and sweet (like a preschool teacher for the universe) and meant to inspire – not bad for mid morning on a weekday.

10 a.m. Wednesdays at Treehouse Children’s Boutique (3954 N Williams St., 503-928-5987)
10 a.m. Fridays at Rain City Coffee (2035 NE 41st Ave., 503-282-2529)

lori h7

Lori Henriques
Lori is gooey chocolate brownies on a crisp fall day. Her songs, words and arrangements are a combo of jazzy and classical perfection with sweet, silly and even wistful lyrics. She writes about all kinds of topics including Dinosaurs, stars, the delights of learning, and counting by twos, threes, fours and fives (each its own ditty).  She’s played piano classically all her life, including earning a grad degree in piano performance and in 2013 won an ASCAP award for kiddo music excellence. Now a mama to two (read: inspiration abounds for her songwriting savvy), find her stuff on iTunes and Sirius XM’s Kids Place Live. Though none are currently listed, feel free to friend her on Facebook to find out where she will be performing next.

Pointed Man Band 2

Pointed Man Band
With the best tag line around, “Kids music for the grown and still growing,” this band never fails to make us smile. Their debut CD, “Swordfish Tango,” is out now, and their live performances keep toes tappin’ with their Latin sounding beats. Horns, guitars, strings and uber-creative lyrics – we just love these unique cats and their full band orchestration. One reviewer referred to them as Shel Silverstein meets Tom Waits. How kindie can you get?  Visit their Facebook page to see where they will be performing next.

Who’s your favorite Portland-based kindie rocker? Let us know in the Comments below!

— Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of Chuck Cheesman, Lori Enriques and Miss Saramag via Facebook, and Kevin Drake

 

 

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If your kid is a fan of exploring the skies, seas and space, The Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is right up their alley. Little voyagers will have a blast checking out the largest wooden plane ever (the legendary Spruce Goose) and modern rocket ships before dipping their toes into Evergreen’s massive indoor waterpark. Check out our tips to navigating this cool space!

What To See
Evergreen Aviation Museum touts military, commercial and general aeronautical planes, manned and unmanned spacecraft, helicopters, and even a rocket or two–what’s there not to love? Plus, there are planes on display outside the buildings, just to get your gang’s excitement going even before they get inside. Uncover diagrams of planes, pilot uniforms, firearm exhibits and other impressive displays of flight and air travel as you peruse the two buildings of aircraft. Oh and if the mood strikes, you and your team of super kids might want to unwind and catch one of the onsite movies.

Insider Tips
Supported by a wealth of volunteer Air Force retirees, the aviation museum offers numerous lectures about the planes you see on display. Some lectures cost extra and are best for the bigger kids who can sit still and appreciate the first hand experiences of these heroes.

Get Your Wiggles Out
Break up the aviation lesson with a spin on the indoor, no charge biplane ride (preschoolers and older kids will love how they can control their plane’s ascent and descent). Or get climbing, moving, and sliding at the playground outside of building three. It’s not covered, so dress your kiddos for the elements.

Fees and Food
Admission for the Aviation Museum, Space Museum and Firearms Exhibit is $25 for adults, $24 for seniors and $23 for kids ages 5-16. It’s free for kids under 5. Annual family memberships are a great way to waive daily entrance costs if you and the kids want to come back often.

Fuel up with snacks or lunch at one of the cafes (located in each of the museum buildings and walking distance from one another) with the typical grilled kid food/cold sandwich options. The museum does not allow outside food or drinks, but if it’s a nice day you can take the kids and a cooler to the museum’s Oak Grove for a picnic.

Wait…There’s More
If you and the kiddos have time and energy left after all this aviation-themed learning fun, then check this out high flyers…just across the parking lot is the nowhere-else-in-the-world Wings & Waves Waterpark. You can’t miss it. It’s got a 747 on the roof!

Wings & Waves Waterpark
There is only one word to describe Wings & Waves – and that word is rad. It may be a day trip all by itself, but if your clan has the energy for it then get ready for an epic afternoon! There are play areas and slides for little kids and incredible twisty, turny, steep and FAST slides for bigger kids. The water park boasts water play galore via splash areas, a wave pool and a leisure pool with complimentary tubes for floating fun. The interior of the park is heated to 85 degrees, the spa to 102 and all of the water to 84…a toasty warm escape on those chillier Oregon days.

The science park inside this building presents even more opportunity for hands-on joy with over twenty interactive exhibits focused on water. The in-house Milky Way café is ready for your clan (no outside food allowed) for snacks or even dinner on the weekends. The kids will surely be hungry after all of this amazing indoor fun!

Things to Know
It is a pricey day. Adults and kids over 42” are charged $32 each to swim or $12 for a dry pass for entry to the science area but no water features are included. It’s $27 for each kiddo under 42” to swim and free for children three and under. Lockers are available for an additional rental fee.

The waterpark, like the museum, boasts floor to ceiling windows so sunglasses may be helpful on bright days. The park can be mighty noisy between the cacophony of happy kids, the music and the buzzer warning of the next wave about to break in the wave pool. Be prepared for sound!

What To Bring
Pack the suits, sunglasses (as needed), towels and aqua shoes. Life vests are available on site without a fee. You definitely want to bring your own towels. If you forget, you’re buying them in the gift shop. Aqua shoes are allowed, but it is recommended you hold them in your hands when you go down the slides. And a packing note for your littlest tadpoles; bring the swimsuits that don’t have any built-in floaties.

How to Get There and When To Go
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum and Wings & Waves Waterpark are located a little over three miles southeast of McMinnville and about a one-hour drive from Portland. Take 5 South to exit 294 for 99W/Tigard toward Newberg. Follow for about 23 miles then pickup Highway 18W/OR 233 SE Dayton Bypass and follow for five miles. The museum is located across the street from McMinnville Municipal Airport.

Waterpark hours vary by season and during the week so check out the web site for the daily schedule.

For even more action nearby, check out other Red Tricycle approved family fun in McMinnville!

Does this sound like something your plane-loving kid would love? Tell us about your trip to the Avergreen Aviation and Space Museum in a comment below. 

— Liz Overson

Photos courtesy of The Evergreen Aviation Museum and Wings & Waves Waterpark