Keep your crew entertained even after the presents are open with these city adventures

Christmas Day is almost here. You’ve baked all the cookies and seen all the lights; now you’re looking for something to do with the kids after the holiday hurrahs are over. Luckily, there are plenty of Christmas things to do in Portland, even on that special day. From hiking and watching old movies to taking a river cruise or a day trip, we’ve got lots of activities that’ll keep your kids busy after the main event. Pull on your matching sweaters, fill a thermos of hot cocoa, and head out to explore.

1. Go See Christmas Lights

If you’ve already visited your neighborhood’s lights, take the family to Portland’s own Peacock Lane, filled with historic English-style cottages, which are all decked out in lights and decorations. A Portland tradition since the 1920s, there are two ways to see the houses: on foot and by car. If you’re staying in your car, visit at non-peak times, which are typically before 7 p.m. and after 10 p.m. Alternatively, head to the Portland International Raceway to be awed by the 250 illuminated holiday set pieces. This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the “Largest Light Show West of the Mississippi.” So bring a thermos full of cocoa, adding some marshmallows for good measure, turn on the Christmas tunes and meander through a winter wonderland that is sure to leave a sparkle in your eye!  This is open evenings throughout December including on Christmas Day, but be sure to order tickets ahead of time so you’re guaranteed a spot. Peacock Lane is, as always, free.

Peacock Lane
Between S.E. Stark St. & S.E. Belmont St., one block east of S.E. 39th

Portland International Raceway Holiday Light Show
1940 N. Victory Blvd.

Related: Electric Avenues: Holiday Light Displays That Really Shine

The gingerbread display at Benson Hotel is something to do on Christmas Day in Portland
courtesy Benson Hotel

2. Marvel at Trees & a Gingerbread Display

Make it a downtown scavenger hunt: a tree, a gingerbread house, and more. At Pioneer Courthouse Square, you can visit the city’s holiday tree without the crowds on Christmas Day. The 75-foot Douglas-fir tree—provided each year by Stimson Lumber Company—will be lit up over 14,000 colorful lights. Bring some hot chocolate and treats for an extra magical experience.

Then, walk five blocks over to the Benson Hotel to spy their lobby gingerbread display, a tradition for over 50 years. This year's theme, Multnomah Falls, is surely one your kids will recognize. Made using 150 pounds of gingerbread, 50 pounds of marzipan, 20 pounds of chocolate, 10 pounds of Rice Krispies Treats, and more royal icing than you can image, it's truly a work for art. Our tip? After you've checked out this masterpiece, head to the Historic Stairwell and check out the hotel's mini museum featuring over 160 pictures of Portland's history.

Pioneer Courthouse Square
701 S.W. 6th Ave.

Benson Hotel
S.W. Broadway

3. Catch a Flick

You can’t beat the classic Christmas-at-a-movie-theater, so why even try. This year the big ticket shows are Puss in Boots: The Last Wish and the new Avatar: The Way of Water. All the area’s large theaters like Regal and Century are open, or head to McMenamins Baghdad or McMenamins Power Station to catch those flicks. For something slightly more festive, grab tickets at Vancouver’s sweet 1930s-era one-screen Kiggins Theater – they’re screening one showing each of Bing Crosby’s White Christmas, and The Bishop’s Wife, a Christmas rom-com with Cary Grant and Loretta Young from 1947.

Good to Know: The Moishe House will also be hosting a movie night complete with vegetarian Chinese food. RSVP if you want in on this event.

Kiggins Theater
1011 Main St.
Vancouver, WA

4. Head to the Coast

It’s a fact that the Oregon Coast is lovely in winter—maybe not in terms of weather, but in terms of less crowds, a rugged windswept beauty, and that cozy feeling of staying inside and playing games during a storm. Plus, winter storms tend to churn up more treasure for agate or seashell hunting. It’s also the season for clam digging and crabbing—clam diggers will want to watch for low tides when the beach is more exposed.

Check out Lincoln City’s Finders Keepers program for a fun treasure hunt. The city’s glassblowers drop surprise floats on the various beaches and if you find one, it’s yours to keep. This year, they’ll drop around 50 new floats from December 19 to 25. Good luck!

Alberto Cassetta via Unsplash

5. Explore the Great Outdoors

Whether it's a white Christmas or not, heading outside for some fresh air is a perfect way to get out the holiday wiggles. There are plenty of easy hikes around the city—at parks, arboretums, and in the Gorge. Without the leaves on the trees, you can even spot waterfalls and streams from further away. Be prepared with plenty of layers, water, hot drinks, and spare clothes.

Related: 8 Wondrous Hikes That Are Best in Winter

6. Enjoy a River Cruise

For an especially magical day, book a ticket for Portland Spirit Cruise where you’ll spend time on the river from the desks of a 150-foot ship. This special two-hour cruise with a holiday buffet comes with holiday cheer and old-world charm as you take in the sights of the Willamette River. Choose from a morning or evening cruise—each comes with live music on a baby grand piano, desserts, and hot drinks.


a smiling boy dressed for winter comes down a snow tubing hill

7. Hit the Slopes

From Cosmic Tubing to skiing, Mt. Hood is a winter playland where the fun doesn't stop on Christmas Day. Bring your own sled and scope out some excellent tubing or sledding spots, or strap the kids in to find some snowshoe trails. For official slopes, there's plenty of skiing options on the mountain. And be sure to check out Mt. Hood Skibowl for the world's only Cosmic Tubing®. Enjoy over 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows, black lights, colored lights, rocking music, and even dual conveyor lifts dedicated to tubing. It's great fun for the whole family.


Related: Snow Much Fun! 8 Places to Go Sledding & Tubing

a mom gives a kid a kiss at a christmas decorated restaurant in seattle aromory

8. Sit Down at One of These Restaurants Open on Christmas Day

If you need a break from the holiday cooking, let one of Portland’s restaurants take the burden off your shoulders. Many are open on Christmas Day– for something more upscale head to Jake’s Grill or McCormick and Schmidt’s. At JinJu Patisserie you can enjoy some of the city’s best croissants along with eye-catching desserts and flavors. And at Prost, enjoy a pretzel or curry wurst while you travel the length of Germany, in beer (minors welcome until 8pm).

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