Free and Fun Summer Activities

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After a snowy winter and rainy spring, we’ve earned some summer fun with the fam! There are plenty of opportunities to see movies, go for a hike, and enjoy outdoor concerts. Best of all – the resources we’ve rounded up here are all free! Read on for our favorite fun summer.

courtesy Portland Parks and Recreation

Movies in the Park

Portland Parks and Recreation hosts a whopping 39 free movie events this summer, each offering free popcorn and pre-show entertainment in the form of live musicians ranging from jazz to classical to rock. Check out screenings of Moana, Star Wars and Ferdinand, amongst many others, with friends and family under the stars. Leashed dogs are allowed, too!

When: 6:30 p.m., nights vary
Where: various Portland area parks

courtesy Portland Parks and Recreation

Washington Park Summer Festival

There isn’t a setting more beautiful to enjoy music than the Washington Park International Rose Test Garden. This year’s lineup features Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater; Opera in the Park—Tosca by Giacomo Puccini; and Orquestra Pacifico Tropical. Come early to enjoy hands on art activities, and to secure your spot with a blanket. Try taking the MAX to avoid parking congestion, and bring plenty of snacks.

When: July 27-29 at 6 p.m.
Where: International Rose Test Garden Amphitheater, 410 SW Kingston Ave.

courtesy Portland Parks and Recreation


Need a way to beat the heat? Free Open Play swimming is offered at the following locations and times:

Mon. 1-4 p.m., Creston Pool, 4454 SE Powell Blvd.               
Tues. 1-2:30 p.m., Montavilla Pool, 8219 NE Glisan St.
Wed. 1:15–3:00 p.m., Grant Pool, 2300 NE 33rd Avenue
Wed. 2–3:45 p.m., Columbia Pool, 7701 N Chautauqua Blvd.
Wed. 7:30–8:50 p.m., Sellwood Pool, 7951 SE 7th Avenue
Thurs. 1:05–2:55 p.m., Peninsula Pool, 700 N Rosa Parks Way
Fri. 1:45PM–4:30 p.m., Pier Pool, 9341 N St. Johns Ave.


Humam T via Yelp

Hawthorne Street Fair

Enjoy live music, activities and over 100 local businesses and vendors at this eclectic outdoor-based event. Enjoy free samples, demos and discounts. Kids (and adults!) will love the face painting, misting tent, crafts and photo booth.

When: August 26
Where: SE Hawthorne Blvd

courtesy of Portland Children's Museum

Portland Children’s Museum

When it’s hot outside, head inside to the museum where children are not only allowed to touch the art, but are encouraged to explore the exhibits! Splash in the Water Works area before checking out the Treehouse Adventure area, and end with a calming tactile visit to the clay studio.

When: Free on the first Friday of each month from 4-8 p.m.
Where: 4015 SW Canyon Rd.

courtesy of Friends of Tryon Creek

Nature Walks

The Friends of Tryon Creek program integrates nature exploration, art, literature, movement, and outdoor play.  Each walk has a theme, such as salamanders, forest moles, or worms. The program is geared toward families with children aged 2-6, but all are welcome.

When: Thursdays 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Fridays 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m and 1-2:15 p.m. from May 1 through June 1, 2018. Register in person 30 minutes before program.
Where: The Friends of Tryon Creek Nature Center, 11321 SW Terwilliger Blvd

Lauren A via Yelp

Urban Walks

The City of Portland’s Ten Toe Express walks are great for little history buffs, budding architects, future landscapers, and babies in strollers. Most of the walks are relatively flat and paved, and are typically about three miles long over about two hours. Each walk has a different theme. Check out The Historic Black Williams Project walk, which acknowledges the complex and changing history of Williams Avenue by viewing 40 art installation honoring the role Portland’s Black community, or the Feig & Jacobberger Historic Residences walk, which tours apartments and single-family homes in NW Portland designed by two of Portland most prolific architects.

When: Thursdays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. from May 3 through September 8, 2018.  No registration is required.
Where: Each walk starts from a designated starting point, varying by tour.

What’s your favorite free summer activity? Let us know in the Comments section below!

— April Hasson

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