Whether you’re a Portland local hosting family from out of town or visiting our beautiful city, we have a list of Portland hidden gems that are sure to make your time in the city something special. Beyond everyone’s favorites, these little known spots are just what you need to make your everyday city adventures a little more intriguing. Perhaps you are longing for some time in nature or a truly one-of-a-kind donut—whatever your desires, these awesome destinations go above and beyond.
Your Kids Will Love These Portland Hidden Gems
Spend a day in SE Portland in the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood to find this Portland hidden gem. Oaks Park is Portland’s very own amusement park. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for big drops and daring turns, or you have younger ones who appreciate the slowness and ever-lasting awe of train cars, Oaks Park has attractions for everyone. Enjoy their old-school carousel, and delicious fair-inspired treats, and be sure to play some of their classic carnival games. Grab your tickets online or in person, download a map of the park, and experience the magic of Oaks Park.
7805 S.E. Oaks Park Way
Happen to be lucky enough to visit Portland during the summer? Then you must take advantage of one of the city’s best fountains. Located in the serene Pearl District of NW Portland, Jamison Square makes our Portland hidden gems list because it’s a destination for all things kids and water. A timed water feature spills out and fills a gentle, sloping bowl before draining and restarting a cascading display. The thrill of waiting for the demonstration to begin again will keep your kids entertained for hours while you lounge on the nearby lawn. Following a successful time in the water, take a stroll around the neighborhood for delicious eats, like Hot Lips Pizza that is just down the street.
810 N.W. 11th Ave.
You might show up to Ground Kontrol looking for a fun time for your children, but you will leave having also had a grand time yourself. This classic arcade bar is full of every arcade game imaginable and offers activities like video games, pinball, and features the occasional live music. Hit up this truly unique, old-school arcade in NW Portland, and treat yourself and your children to a blast from the past.
115 N.W. 5th Ave.
Washington Park Playground
Run off energy all day at Washington Park Playground near the Rose Gardens of NW Portland. This play structure is a child’s dream, with countless slides, ladders, bridges, and swing sets. Built near fields and picnic houses, Washington Park Playground offers itself for a day of fun and imagination. Throw together some snacks and sandwiches for a picnic and head into the beautiful, cool forests that border the Oregon Zoo for a heap of fun and loads of excitement.
The Portland Saturday Market is a nearly year-round event that takes place each and every Saturday under the Burnside Bridge in NW Portland. This open-air event draws artists, crafters, cooks, and musicians from far and wide to the riverside in downtown Portland. Here, you can meander through rows of tents selling artisan soaps, ceramics, caricatures, and more. And, in Portland fashion, food carts are in abundance, and they do not disappoint. If the weather is nice, make sure the kiddos pack a bathing suit for the water feature that sits at the entrance of the market.
2 S.W. Naito Pkwy.
This wouldn’t be a proper Portland hidden gems article if Voodoo Doughnuts wasn’t mentioned. Whether you know exactly what we’re talking about, or you’re completely unaware of the magic of these doughnuts, swinging by Voodoo has to be on your Portland bucket list. Signaled by bright pink accents and a perpetual line of anxious doughnut lovers, Voodoo Doughnuts offers a range of out-there goodies like their Voodoo Doll (chocolate, doll-shaped donut filled with jam and speared by a Pretzel stick) or the Oh Captan, My Captain, which features Captain Crunch cereal atop a perfectly sweet glaze. A visit to the SW Portland shop for the sugar rush of a lifetime is a must-do. But locals know you can cut your wait time down by heading to the NE shop on Davis.
22 S.W. 3rd Ave.
Inspire your child’s curiosity at Oregon Museum of Science and Intellect (OMSI) in SE Portland. Built along the scenic Willamette waterfront, OMSI is a paradise for the growing mind. You and your family can easily spend an entire day wandering through the many science exhibits, interactive, experimental displays, or watching a documentary in OMSI’s IMAX theater. Visit their gift shop to pick up some memorabilia, or enjoy a relaxing lunch at the Theory Café. But the real hidden gem of this Portland staple is the submarine stationed just down the dock in the Willamette River. Be sure to snap a photo in front of it before heading home.
1945 S.E. Water Ave.