Portland parents know our sunny summer days are limited, and we don’t want to miss out on any of those rays. So pack your picnic, because these destination playgrounds were made for play. Not only will your kids love climbing, swinging and sliding till they’ve had their fill, these parks have other perks that keep kids playing all day long. We’re talking splash pads, skate parks, hiking trails and more. Definitely save these for an unscheduled day of play.
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Westmoreland Park Nature Playground
Nature nerds of all ages will fall in love with this destination playground in the city that makes the concrete jungle fade into the background. It's a spot where kids can climb boulders and logs in a safe and structured way. But it's also got slides and an oversized sand play area that rivals even the best backyard mud kitchen. Plan for kids to come home dirty, or pack an extra pair of clothes along for this trip. There are also some trails the kids can explore and a nearby pond, so you might spots a few ducks, with ducklings trailing sweetly behind, in the summertime.
S.E. McLoughlin Blvd. & Bybee Blvd.
Harper’s Playground at Arbor Lodge Park
After realizing that their daughter, Harper, couldn’t access most playgrounds from her wheelchair, the Goldberg family created the non-profit Harper’s Playground in 2010. Since then, the organization that's committed to building amazing playgrounds where kids of all abilities can play has introduced Portland families to five inclusive playgrounds. Harper's Playground at Arbor Lodge Park was the first. This destination playground features the three components that are the core of the organization's mission: it's physically, socially and emotionally inviting. That's why you'll find elements of nature interspersed between the playground elements that include swings, slides, teeter-totters and more. Don't forget the sensory features like the water and sand stations and the beloved oversize xylophone that make this a favorite for everyone, but especially toddlers.
N. Deleware Ave. & N. Bryant St.
Related stories: Play For All! Portland's Best Inclusive Playgrounds
Tucked deep inside the Crestwood neighborhood of Southwest Portland you’ll find Dickinson Park. This park hosts a modern playground made by Landscape Structures, lots of wide open spaces for kids to freely run and play and a hill for tucking and rolling. While it doesn’t have bathrooms (come prepared), it does offer a futuristic modern play environment. If you have tiny climbers in your household this is a perfect park destination. They have suspended rings, a 10-foot net wall to scale, rope ladders and bars to hang from. Definitely a destination playground that'll keep the kids busy all afternoon.
S.W. 55th Ave. & Alfred Ct.
If you want to enjoy the outdoors in the middle of the city, head over to Pier Park. It’s enormous! They have everything from a skate park to a Frisbee golf course, picnic areas, a splash pad, a playground and an attached dog park. Pier Park doesn’t attract huge crowds and is tucked away in far North Portland. Plus, the accessible bathrooms and easy street parking make this an easy place to plan your next preschool meet-up or playdate. There’s a ramp going into the play area so all kids can play (read: stroller-friendly), sensory play elements, rope climbing structures, swings, spinning toys and a slide for kids to enjoy.
N. Lombard St. & Bruce Ave.
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Located about 30 minutes outside of Portland near Willsonville’s library, you’ll find the beautiful Memorial Park. The Murase Plaxo Playground sits right above this expansive park. In the Spring of 2015 the park went through some big renovations and now has several new play structures and a 24-foot-long embankment slide. On the property you’ll also discover a splash shelter, historic barn and an interactive water feature. Kids might also enjoy the play volcano, climbing wall or eagle’s nest made from netting. If you go during the summer months, make sure to bring towels, bathing suit and maybe even a change of clothes because the cascading water feature can be extremely enticing, especially on a hot summer day. Since the renovation a large percentage of the new structure is now inclusive so kids of all abilities can play.
8100 S.W. Memorial Dr.
Washington Park Playground
Tucked away just south of the Rose Gardens you'll find one of Portland’s largest playgrounds. The Washington Park Playground hosts all of your kids’ favorites. There are swings for tots and bigger kids, a sandbox and slides galore. The park has lots of space, too, so if you have high energy kids who love to run this is a great spot. You might want to be prepared to stay on your feet during this visit to make sure you can keep kids properly supervised. On those super steamy days there are some shady areas for kids to take a break from the sun. This spot is great for kids ages 2-5 and comes equipped with public restrooms. Don't forget to hit your favorite Portland spots like the Oregon Zoo and Hoyt Arboretum to truly make a day of it when you visit.
1546-1666 S.W. Sherwood Blvd.
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The Chelsea Anderson Playstation
The Chelsea Anderson Playstation at Marshall Park is part of a 14-acre community park that serves the downtown and central Vancouver area. Within this expansive park you’ll find ball fields, open lawn areas, a picnic shelter available for reservations during the summer months, a playground and public restrooms. The amazing playstation is where you'll find all your kid favorites including slides, a log roll, a big arch climber, a balance beam, a spiral staircase, a fire truck structure, a nature area and so much more. The small tot and bigger kid play areas are at opposite ends of the park, so if you have both be prepared to be moving around a lot. This park is most certainly worth a trip across the river.
1015 E. McLoughlin Blvd.
If you are looking for a land of adventure, we found the perfect spot. Go pack up the kids and head to Pirate Park. Formerly known as Bethany Meadows Parks this destination park is nestled in the Bethany neighborhood of Beaverton. You may have already guessed that this park has a special pirate theme. On top of a steep hill there’s an island lookout where your adventures can slide down and find themselves in a larger ship play structure. There are multiple slides, walkway bridges, swing sets, a sand-pit, and turf that resembles the ocean. Imaginations will go wild! While there’s not a public restroom there is a portable potty available. Keep in mind that this park has a reputation for being hard to find which is perfectly fitting with the pirate theme. Treat the whole experience like a grand adventure. You can’t park right outside the park so make sure you come prepared with everything you’ll need. You can access it by walking down the trail that meets NW Kaiser Road just past NW Wismer Street. Click the link below to take you a map of the area!
N.W. Energia Street, between N.W. Brandberry Dr. & N.W. Graf St.
—Allison Sutcliffe & Annette Benedetti