Here in the Pacific Northwest we’ve never let rain stop us from playing outside, but sometimes it’s a lot easier (and a lot less mess) to find an indoor space to let the kids get the wiggles out. With all the rain ahead, we found low-cost options that won’t break the bank but still get your clan out of the house. Scroll down to learn more.

photo: SE Indoor Park Facebook 

Southeast Indoor Park
Since 1978, this membership-based co-op has been providing Portland families with a casual, friendly environment for kids to play together. Ride-on toys, climbing structures, and tumbling mats give active toddlers and preschoolers plenty to do, with quieter corners set aside for baby swings, reading, and art-making. Everyone pitches in to set up and break down the play areas, and someone always brews a pot of coffee for parents to sip while chatting and keeping an eye on their little ones.

Southeast Indoor Park
Daylight basement of Trinity Methodist Church
3915 SE Steele St.
Portland, Or

Ages: 0-5
Hours: Mon. & Thu. 9–11 a.m., Oct.-May
Fee: $5/drop-in; family memberships $60 full-season, $35 half-season, (plus prorated monthly options if you join late in the year)

photo: NE Indoor Park 

Northeast Indoor Park
This play space is a great choice for extra wiggly kids, with plenty of slides, playhouses, riding toys, cars, and trucks– and even a climbing dome. Open to all families of children up to age eight, it’s also a friendly, welcoming environment for parents and caregivers to connect while their children play.

Basement of Central Lutheran Church
1820 NE 21st Ave.
Portland, Or

Ages: 0-8
Hours: Mon.-Thurs., 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.; Fri. 9 a.m.-noon., year-round
Fee: Drop-in $3/child; $5 for 2 or more children; or $12/ month

Play Park at Piedmont Presbyterian Church
An indoor play space for children and their parents and caregivers. Enter through the side door on Cleveland Avenue. Store strollers on indoor landings, in the Fellowship Hall, or inside Play Park.

Piedmont Presbyterian Church
5760 NE Cleveland Ave.
Portland, Or

Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-noon
Ages: 0-5
Fee: .50/child suggested donation; space is limited to 25 children.

Photo: Oak Grove Indoor Play Facebook Page

Oak Grove Indoor Play
This play space features several different “studios” with ball pits, ride-on toys, climbing structures, large foam stacking blocks, and smaller toys. It’s also a popular choice for party rentals. Be sure to bring cash for drop-in play!

16101 SE McLoughlin Blvd.
Milwaukie, Or

Ages: 1-5
Hours: Tues. & Thurs. 9 a.m.-noon
Fee: $3/child; $2/each additional child. $25 for 10-Play Punch Cards.

Photo: Indoor Park at MJCC

Mittleman Jewish Community Center Indoor Park
This thrice-weekly indoor park uses a portion of the side turf on an indoor soccer field inside the JCC’s “sportsplex,” a big green dome held up by air. Caregivers and kids can  build forts in the gymnastics area, practice crawling and walking on the spring floor, play on the trampoline, and use a number of toddler cars and slides. Once a month, both members and non-members can enjoy a special FREE indoor park called Chai Baby (pronounced like “high,”) which includes a story time and snacks.

6651 SW Capitol Hwy.
Portland, Or

Ages: 6 months-5 years (but a babe-in-arms is okay if you have an older kid)
Hours: Mon., Wed. & Fri. 10 a.m.-noon., Sep.-Jun.
Fee: $5 drop-in; free to members (available for people of all faiths)

Upper Westside Play Gym
An affordable drop-in option for westside families, this play gym has drop-in family play hours focusing on different ages and stages. Choose from baby & toddler open play as well as drop-in hours for kids under 5. With a wide range of additional classes and activities, this location has a lot to offer every week.

1509 SW Sunset Blvd.
Portland, Or

Ages: 0-5
Hours: Varies by age group and activity; check calendar online
Fee: $5 drop in/ child; $2.50/ each additional child (bring cash or check to avoid a $1 card fee)

Photo: St John’s Swap n Play Facebook

St John’s Swap n Play
This award-winning membership-based swap-n-play features several distinct play areas, including use of the popular Imagination Playground, a mobile play system of blue blocks in different shapes and sizes. Members have access to both indoor and outdoor play areas, as well as classes and events, while non-members can drop in on Monday mornings during open play to see what membership is all about.

7535 N. Chicago Ave.
Portland, Or

Hours: Drop-in play Mon. 10 a.m.-noon.; Member hours Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-1 p.m.
Fee: $10-$40/month; limited sliding scale memberships; $70-$170 punch cards

Woodlawn Swap n Play
Located below the popular Village Ballroom (which hosts regular performances from well-known Portland “kindie” musicians and mother-oriented exercise classes), the Woodlawn Swap n Play has use of two indoor play areas. During regular swap hours, members have access to the main facility downstairs, while twice a week the ballroom space opens up for ride on toys and other gross motor play options. Members also enjoy the benefits of the honor-based goods-exchange model that makes swap-n-plays a popular choice for eco-conscious and budget-wise families.

704 NE Dekum St.
Portland, Or

Ages: 0-5 (recommended; all ages welcome)
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun. 1 p.m.-8 p.m., year-round
Fee: $75/ 3-month session membership, + $20 joining fee/ family. (Includes co-op responsibilities, ~ 20 min./week)

Photo: Hammer + Jacks

Hammer + Jack’s
Small but mighty. At 680 square feet, this is the smallest play space on our list, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in warmth and a focus on community. The indoor play space– located at the back of an impressively-curated toy store– features a large, whimsical wooden slide and climbing tunnel, with plenty of smaller toys below. A row of picnic tables is available for enjoying snacks from home or Henry Higgins Bagels next door. Be sure to check out the calendar for a list of upcoming performances, classes, and events.

6416 SE Foster
Portland, Or

Ages: 0-5 (plus drop-in play for non-walkers on Fridays)
Hours: Mon.-Sat., 10 a.m – 6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fee: $4 drop-in; $6 all-day pass; call ahead as space is limited

Photo:  SWCC

Portland Parks & Recreation Indoor Parks
Portland is home to a wealth of community centers, and each one has several indoor play options for children. From baby gym and family park to indoor parks geared toward homeschooling families, there is truly something for everyone. Check the catalog of your neighborhood center for hours and themes, and don’t be afraid to try out a new location a bit further from home. All community centers are accessible by public transit.

Locations, ages, and hours vary
Fee: Generally $1-$2 drop-in

Creative and Mostly Free Alternatives to Organized Indoor Parks
Set up a play date at the Lloyd Center or Clackamas Mall, which open at 7 & 6 a.m., respectively, for mall walkers (stores open at 10 a.m.) There are play areas, elevators and escalators, and plenty of room for your new runner to, well, run. Or take the kids to Ikea, where you can enjoy $1 coffee in the café and watch planes take off from the airport. Cruise the kids’ section nearby and let them explore the nylon tents, big kid beds, and rocking chairs—all their size.

Libraries are another good option, with free story times for kids of all ages and many branches to choose from. In addition to Portland’s Central Branch, the Central Vancouver Library has a huge kids’ floor with sensory exhibits and multimedia center, all for free. Or take advantage of a Discovery Pass from your county library system to attend local museums and cultural events for free. Passes may not be immediately available, and you can only check them out twice per calendar year, so plan ahead for this one.

What are your go-to spots during Portland’s rainy season? Join the conversation by adding your ideas in the comments!

—Melissa Poulin


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