We Portlanders don’t need the “Keep Portland Weird” slogan to remind us that our city has plenty of unique and fun places to explore. Whether your curious cutie is a budding artist, a voracious reader, or even a movie buff, read on for a list of free sights to check out inside, outside and all over town.


photo: April Hasson

Movie Madness
Not only is visiting a brick and mortar movie rental store a novelty in and of itself, Movie Madness is unique in that it offers movie fans a rare glimpse at actual film props and costumes. Budding actors and designers will love seeing pieces from their favorite movies, such as costumes worn by Jennifer Aniston, Julie Andrews and Jennifer Lopez. Future film directors and special effects hopefuls will love viewing the xenomorph head from the movie Aliens, or a model building from Blade Runner and Ghostbusters. Along with an impressive collection of monsters at the checkout counter, Movie Madness is a fun place to visit on a rainy Portland day, even if you aren’t there to rent a movie.

Daily 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
4320 SE Belmont St.
online: moviemadnessvideo.com

photo: jpelgen via flickr

The Portlandia Statue
Second to only the Statue of Liberty as being the largest copper repousse statue in the United States is Portland’s very own Portlandia statue. Take a walk downtown to gaze upward at the 35 foot tall statue. Little artists and explorers will especially love finding the mini versions of Portlandia scattered throughout downtown. Additional “maquettes” can be found at the Heathman Hotel, the Wells Fargo Building, and the World Trade Center (at Salmon St. and Naito Parkway). Travel up to the second floor of The Portland Building to view plaster molds, including the model used to cast the statue’s face in bronze. Grab a map of the city and plan a downtown Portlandia scavenger hunt!

1120 SW 5th Ave.
Online: www.portlandoregon.gov

photo: April Hasson

Hippo Hardware
Looking for a unique rainy day activity for your little handy fixer? Visit the kid-friendly Hippo Hardware store, where accompanied children are welcome to touch anything and ask the friendly staff questions about the variety of doorknobs, keys, hooks and plumbing parts. With 30,000 square feet to explore, your future engineer or electrician will leave with a whole new set of ideas and interests.

Mon.-Thur. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sun. Noon-6 p.m.
1040 E Burnside St.
Online: www.hippohardware.com

photo: Kitty Baby Love via flickr

The Belmont Goats at Lents Town Center
What could be more “Portland” than an urban goat herd? Bring your junior veterinarian to visit the furry friends, now located at 91st and Foster. Named “The Belmont Goats” after their original SE Belmont location where they cleared brush, this friendly family of 14 goats are available for petting on weekend afternoons and Wednesday evenings. The Belmont Goats volunteers are happy to introduce you to a few members of the herd, including their pet hen, Juniper.

Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.
Wed. 4-6 p.m.
5808 SE 91st St.
Online: thebelmontgoats.org

photo: April Hasson

Gleall Castle
Do you have a princess or prince who loves all things royal or medieval? Portland has its very own castle located in the SW hills. The structure was originally named Mount Gleall Castle, after the names of the children (Gladys, Earl and Lloyd) of the builder, Charles Piggott. The 124 year-old castle is a quick drive (or urban hike) up Buckingham Terrace, but remember not to disturb the current residents.

2591 SW Buckingham Ter.
Online: facebook.com/charleshenrypiggott


photo: Heidi De Vries via flickr

The Portland Horse Project
Combining both a touch of history with Portland-esque whimsy, are the mini horses of The Portland Horse Project. The community-led project began 10 years ago, after one Portlander tied a toy horse to one of the metal rings commonly found in local sidewalks. These rings, which were once used to tie up real horses in the 1900s, are now homes to many mini horses (or pigs, lions and other animals), placed by the people of Portland. To find one near you, or to replace or place your own, visit The Portland Horse Project Facebook page.

Online: 39forks.com/

Photo: Lance and Erin via flickr

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park
For the little literary lover in your life, take a trek to the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park, which features statues of Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins and Ribsy the dog. With author Beverly Cleary turning 100 this year, now is a great time to introduce, or reinvigorate, excitement in the popular Ramona Quimby children’s book series. After visiting the statues, take a stroll to nearby Klickitat and Tillamook streets, which are both featured within the books.

NE 33rd Ave. and Grant Pl.
Online: www.portlandoregon.gov

photo: Pui S. via Yelp

Multnomah County Central Library, lobby stairs
Continuing on the Beverly Cleary theme, take a trip to the Multnomah County Central Library, home of the Beverly Cleary Children’s Library. While there, take a self-guided tour of the granite staircase leading upstairs from the lobby. Named the “Garden of Knowledge Stairs”, this structure by artist Larry Kirkland is both functional and an adventure. Climb carefully and pause to see the hidden etched symbols, along with inspiring words, such as “create,””discover” and “imagine”.

801 SW 10th Ave.
online: multcolib.org/library-location/central 

What are your favorite Portland sites to visit with your children? Tellus below in the comments section!

—April Hasson



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