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Portland Winter & Spring Places for Younger Kids

December 31, 2012

Money Magazine rated Portland, OR as the best place to live in 2011.  With a temperate climate and many outdoor and indoor attractions, green spaces, and good food Portland is both kid and parent friendly.   Portland is one of our highest rated KidScore cities,  especially friendly towards younger children and toddlers.  Here’s some of our top kid friendly picks for eateries and activities in the Portland Area for the Winter and Spring.

1.  Fort Vancouver KidScore 76 (Kid Friendly)

The park has many activities specifically designed for our younger visitors. Overnight & Day Camps provide both an overnight and day-long hands-on experience inside the fort and neighboring Village. Click here to learn more. In addition to a new Audio Tour specifically designed for families with children, the park features a new hands-on exhibit inside the reconstructed Counting House. This exhibit introduces kids to the fields of history and archaeology through an exploration of the lives of three children who lived at Fort Vancouver. The park also continues the highly popular Junior Ranger and Kids Dig programs each year. For younger kids looking for a place to play, the park has a new playground near the Visitor Center.

Admission: Adults: $3, 15 and under free.

2.  Oregon Museum of Science and Industry KidScore 92 (Kid Heaven)

One of the nation’s leading science museums, OMSI is 219,000 square feet of brain-powered fun. Five enormous halls bring science to life with hundreds of interactive exhibits and displays. Experience an earthquake, take part in live lab demonstrations, see a movie in the OMNIMAX® Dome Theater, explore the universe in a world-class planetarium and even tour a real submarine. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River.

Admission: Adults: $11, youth (3-13) $9, seniors (63+) $9, children 2 and younger free. Parking: $2/car.

3.   Portland Children’s Museum KidScore 100 (Kid Heaven)

One of the oldest children’s museums in the country, this beloved institution is filled with a collection of interactive exhibits where little ones can build, sculpt, and splash in the name of discovery. Popular attractions include the Play It Again Theater, which never goes dark, and the Dig Pit, filled with rubber gravel and located next to the Caterpillar Café.

Admission: Youth and adults (ages 1-54) $9, seniors (55+) and military $8, members and children under age 1 free. Free on the first Friday of each month from 4-8 p.m.

4. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum KidScore 90 (Kid Heaven)

Hands-on, interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family are waiting to be explored at the Discovery Museum. See the forest from a bird’s-eye view or take a wet-free raft ride in Class IV rapids. Climb underneath the forest to see the life below, or try your smoke jumping skills. Round out your adventure with video journeys to Siberia, China, South Africa, and Brazil. Five minutes from downtown Portland via Hwy. 26 or MAX light rail.

Admission: Adults $8, children (3-18) $5, seniors (62+) $7, members and children 2 years and under free. Parking $2/car.

5. Powell’s City Books KidScore 81 (Kid Friendly)

Naturally, the world’s largest independent bookseller, which stocks more than 1.5 million books in nine rooms, spanning three stories and filling an entire city block, includes an amazing children’s section. Young readers can pull up a seat and find new favorite authors among from the packed and lovingly curated shelves.  Note they have multiple locations in the Portland area.

Admission: Free

6.  Mt. Hood Snowshoeing and Tubing

A low cost and active activity for the whole family, breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and surrounding areas with a trail network of over 1200 total miles in the Mt. Hood National Forest.  Old Maid Flats, Salmon River Trails, Wildwood Recreation Area, and the Mt. Hood Sno-Parks all access excellent snowshoe trails.  Stop by REI Portland- KidScore 89 (Kid Friendly) to stock up on gear, outdoor advice, and snowshoe rentals.  If snowshoeing is not fast enough for your kid you can ski or go tubing at the Summit Ski Area on Mt. Hood.

More info:

7.  Café Au Play KidScore 100 (Kid Heaven)

Café au Play is a nonprofit coffeehouse and community center with play areas for children and activities for children, caregivers, and the community. The coffeehouse provides a welcoming, comfortable environment where adults and children can gather on a daily basis, develop lasting relationships and exchange resources. Proceeds from the coffee bar help provide funding for Café au Play; patrons design and lead activities; families connect to services and support networks. Café au Play is changing the way the public embraces the needs of families and is a leader in creating family friendly cities.

8.  Laurelwood Public House & Brewery KidScore 87 (Kid Friendly)

With three convenient locations in the greater Portland area, it’s easy to stop in to Laurelwood Public House and Brewpub for a delicious breakfast, lunch or dinner with the kids. The restaurant’s family-friendly staff accommodates families of all sizes spectacularly, and ensures that families with kids of any age have a comfortable dining experience. High chairs and booster seats are provided for the little ones, and a kids area with toys and games keeps kids entertained while they wait for their food. Laurelwood’s affordable kids menu costs $4.50 and the price includes a choice of an entree, side dish, drink and dessert! Upon request, if you order your kids meal early, the restaurant will work to feed the kids first and get their meals out fast. Popular kids meal entrees are: mac and cheese, dinosaur chicken strips, corn dog, cheese quesadilla, buttered noodles and more. In addition to catering well to children, Laurelwood also offers an array of specialty beer and adult beverages for thirsty beer-lovers. The restaurant’s fast service, friendly staff and cheap eats make Laurelwood Public House and Brewpub a great place to dine on any budget.

9.  Salt and Straw KidScore 94 (Kid Heaven)

Portland’s farm-to-cone ice cream shop.  Their ice cream is handmade in small-batches using only all-natural dairy with  local, sustainable and organic ingredients.   Roasted Chestnut, Eggnog custard, bourbon pecan pie, are some of the yummy holiday flavors. In the owners own words “Our ice cream is made with 17% butterfat, very little air in the churn process, and a low sweetness level…so the flavors can really shine through!”

10.  Hopworks Urban Brewery KidScore 85 (Kid Friendly)

Hopworks Urban Brewery is committed to providing guests with organic and sustainable food and beverages. The restaurant serves artisan organic beers as well as a number of gluten-free and vegetarian meal choices. Their color-me kids menu features a coloring sheet and activity page, as well as several organic and healthy meal choices. All of Hopworks’ kids meals are served with a choice of carrots and celery sticks, organic french fries, organic applesauce and a small drink for $4.75. Popular entrees include: hot dogs, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, pizza, PB&J, pasta, grilled chicken and pasta with marinara, butter, or homemade cheese sauce. Hopworks also sells Earth’s Best Organic baby food for only $2. Hopworks sets itself apart by providing healthy and organic foods for a reasonable price, in a welcoming, family-friendly dining atmosphere.

11.  Multnomah Village KidScore 91 (Kid Heaven)

Quaint. Charming. A bit off-center and quintessentially Portland. Call it what you will, southwest Portland’s Multnomah Village is filled with character – as well as dozens of unique shops, galleries, restaurants, a wine bar and a brewpub, professional services, and the rambling Multnomah Art Center. Only about a five minute drive from downtown Portland, Multnomah celebrated 100 years as a business district in 2009. Many of the original buildings are still intact and the compact pedestrian-friendly “downtown” retains the ambience and spirit of that earlier period. But the vibe is decidedly modern Portland that attracts a diverse and ever-growing fan base that has discovered why a decade or so ago the area was sometimes referred to as “Portland’s Best Kept Secret.” Annual events include the Multnomah Days Parade and ensuing street fair on the 3rd Saturday in August, an afternoon Halloween in the Village and the Holiday Gala on the First Friday and Saturday of December. Parking is available on the street as well as at the Multnomah Art Center. TriMet buses 44 and 45 serve the community, and the area is easily accessed by bicycle

12.  Proper Eats KidScore 90 (Kid Heaven)

Proper Eats Market and Cafe is dedicated to supporting local farmers and bringing fresh and organic produce to average families for affordable prices. Their market carries an array of nutritious and locally-sourced foods including bulk items, snacks, juices and produce. The restaurant features numerous gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian meal options, as well as a kids menu available to anyone regardless of age: “For the Kids (or the young at heart).” All of the kids menu entrees cost less than $5, and features delicious meal choices such as: organic PB&J, kids grilled cheese (with gluten free bread for an extra $.50), a bean, rice and cheese burrito, and more. The quaint restaurant does get rather busy and crowded during peak hours, but this is to be expected for such a gem of a market and restaurant. The restaurant features a kids table, where the little ones can dine in smaller-sized chairs and a shorter table. Proper Eats Market and Cafe is a great place to shop and eat for families who want to support the local economy and eat fresh and organic foods for an affordable price.

13.  Tin Shed Café KidScore 89 (Kid Heaven)

The line for a table can go out the door, but if you hit it on a non-holiday or weekday, you should be fine to try this fun restaurant with kids. Ask about the ‘Mac of the Day’ (mac and cheese) and ask for a table on the quaint patio…it’s more fun for the kids. Note: the Tin Shed is very dog-friendly. There are high chairs and booster chairs and clean bathrooms.

14.  Laughing Planet Café KidScore 88 (Kid Friendly)

The Laughing Planet Cafe serves families delicious and affordable food with extremely fast and courteous service. This family-friendly restaurant features a team of kid-friendly staff and a relaxed, welcoming dining atmosphere. The restaurant utilizes fresh and organic ingredients in their Mexican-inspired cuisine and nutritional fruit smoothies. Entrees from the kids menu cost $3.25 each, and include gluten-free and vegan meal choices. Kid’s love Laughing Planet Cafe’s gluten-free Taters and Cheese, vegan/gluten-free Rice-N-Beans, and gluten-free beans, cheese and chips entree. Other kids meal entrees include a Mini Burrito and Mini Quesadilla. Laughing Planet’s fruit smoothies are made from fresh fruit and unsweetened fruit juice only, with no additives, sweeteners, extenders or ice. For less than $5 per smoothie, parents and kids can enjoy a healthy and nutritious liquid meal. The restaurant’s quick service, healthy ingredients and extensive gluten-free menu choices make The Laughing Planet Cafe the perfect place to get a light meal with the kids.

15.  Columbia River Brewing Co KidScore 83 (Kid Friendly)

Columbia River Brewing Company serves up delicious artisan beers as well as delicious American cuisine. The restaurant’s kid menu is both affordable and extensive, with kids meal entrees priced at $4.99 per entree and includes a fruit cup as well as a choice of beverage. Popular kids menu items include: chicken strips with fries, personal pizzas, PB&J, Kraft Mac and Cheese, buttered noodles and more. The spacious dining room allows large families to dine in comfort, with plenty of room for high chairs, stroller parking, and large families. The dining atmosphere at Columbia River Brewing Company is casual and welcoming, and the restaurant sometimes has a live musician to serenade diners. Affordable food, a decadent beer selection and a team of family-friendly staff makes Columbia River Brewing Company a great place for families to dine.

Have you been to one of these or have another top place, share your thoughts by writing a review at:

Happy New Years!

The KidScore Team.

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