7 Portland Spots Kids & Grandparents Should Explore Together

a boy hugs his grandpa from behind on a sunny day iStock
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Whether the grandparents are local or visiting, they’ll have a blast with the grandkids at these spots that are all about ease and accessibility

It’s a proven fact that being around and caring for grandkids has amazing health benefits for grandparents. And we know parents aren’t going to complain about some extra hands, either. This year celebrate the generations at one of our favorite places to play. It’s a chance for some quality time for everyone. If new and creative ideas are what you’re after, we’ve put together a list of our top things to do with grandparents in Portland.

Explore Vancouver’s Waterfront

Have you seen? Vancouver has transformed their waterfront in the last few years and created a beautiful destination full of fun. Just 10 minutes north of Portland, the seven-acre Waterfront Park has picnic spots, views of the Columbia River, walking and biking trails, shops, bakeries, and restaurants for everyone. Kids will love the splash pad with its cascading fountain and alternating jets near the wading areas.

Plus, from March through October, weekends are where you’ll find an incredible farmer’s market, just a quick walk away near Esther Short Park. Over 100 vendors are on hand to showcase the food, flowers, and crafts of the Northwest. Pair a visit to the market with a picnic on the river for a day of fun along the Columbia.

Find out more: visitvancouverwa.com

Visit the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Because train lovers come in all shapes and sizes, a visit to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center is a great thing to do with grandparents in Portland. Run by a dedicated group of volunteers, this free museum cares for three vintage steam engines, two of which are now operational. Because it’s a working museum, visitors can check out the action in the machine shop where maintenance crews work to fix up the trains. The small museum includes maps and displays on train history, a gift shop stocked with genuine rail spikes, and plenty more.

When your crew finally runs out of train questions, take a break across the tracks at Mt Hood Brewing Tilikum Station for wood-fired pizzas and another train, or extend your day with a visit to nearby OMSI, Portland’s epic science museum.

Insider Tip: Check the rail center’s online schedule for upcoming train ride events, including a holiday train ride.

Good for Grandparents: The center has free parking, and it’s also an easy walk from the streetcar, light rail, and many bus lines.

2250 S.E. Water Ave.
Portland
Online: orhf.org

Related: The Ultimate Family Guide to Portland: Where to Eat, Play, Learn & Grow

Wander Through the Pittock Mansion

For great views and a little local education, make your way to the stunning Pittock Mansion. Built in 1912 by Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock, this stunning building is located on 46 acres of land and sits approximately 1,000 feet above downtown. It offers visitors a beautiful mansion to wander through and exceptional views of the city and Mt. Hood. One of our favorite things to do with grandparents is to make the experience extra special by reserving a behind-the-scenes tour. It’s a chance to see areas of the mansion that aren’t typically open to the public, like the basement passages, Henry Pittock’s private den, and the Otis elevator room.

Good for Grandparents: If your grandparents are the outdoorsy type, pair a visit to the mansion with a hike at Forest Park. There are plenty of trail options perfect for family members both big and little.

3229 N.W. Pittock Dr.
Portland
Online: pittockmansion.org

Related: 6 Awesome Forest Park Hikes You Can Do Now

Spend a morning in the Pearl

The Pearl District is one of Portland’s most popular and famous neighborhoods. With its wide array of cool shops, restaurants, and kid-friendly places to play, it’s a perfect way to spend a morning or entire day with your grandparents (even if they live here). Powell’s City of Books can be enjoyed by family members of all ages—pick up a map to find your way to the Rose Room, the children’s section, and maybe make those puppy eyes at grandma and grandpa so you can score a new book. There, grandparents can read to the kids at the tables before choosing their favorite board book to take home. If you need a bite to eat, you can head to the cafe in the store for a quick cup of coffee, but there’s also Lovejoy Bakers (on N.W. 10th) or Hot Lips Pizza, waiting to offer you a slice o’ pie.

Good for Grandparents: Take a moment to stroll or splash through Jamison Square, grab a cone at Cool Moon Ice Cream, or check out the selection at Posh Baby

Related: Explore Portland’s Pearl District with Kids

red lanterns float on the water at Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland
Lan Su Chinese Garden

Enjoy Beauty at the Lan Su Chinese Garden

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is one of Portland’s most prized areas with a number of stunningly landscaped gardens that are guaranteed to thrill both the young and old alike. Make your way through the Courtyard of Tranquility for some quiet time, head to the Terrace for a taste of what it would be like to live as a hermit in the mountains, and don’t skip over the Fish Pavilion. You can even grab a spot of tea at the Teahouse inside the Tower of Cosmic Reflections where guests are served tea in the “classic style,” with small dishes to enhance the flavor of the tea. There is metered parking surrounding the garden, and the bus and light rail both have stops nearby.

239 N.W. Everett St.
Portland
Onlinelansugarden.org

Related: 9 Jaw-Dropping Fall Hikes for Families

Check Out Sellwood

Another great neighborhood to his is the historic Sellwood neighborhood. You can spend and afternoon watching birds and hiking at the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, or catch a show at the Moreland Theater. This little single-screened movie house opened in 1926 sells super affordable tickets. You’ll also find Oaks Amusement Park here where you can go on rides, hit the rollerskating rink, or try your hand at mini golf. In fact, you might want to block out two days for this amazing area. It is sure to provide a multitude of memories that will last a lifetime for kids and grandparents alike.

Related: Your Family Guide to Sellwood-Moreland Fun Is Here

Play Arcade Games at Wunderland

Arcades have been around a long time creating wonderful memories for children across the generations. For a dose of nostalgia for the young and old alike, have the kids show the grandparents how it’s done at Wunderland Arcade, where games are played in nickels. This arcade is also home to a theater that shows family-friendly movies at an affordable price, if the grandparents need to take a break from the bings, buzzes, and dings.

Locations in Portland, Milwaukie, Beaverton & Gresham
Online: wunderlandgames.com

Related: A Retro Arcade Where Games Cost Nickels

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