Portland Staycation: 39 ways to enjoy Portland, Oregon on a budget

by Angela Davis on May 19, 2014

Portland Staycation Ideas: Tons of ways to enjoy Portland, Oregon. List includes options for every budget.

Looking for ways to enjoy Portland without breaking the bank? The following is a list of fun and frugal activities, events, and attractions to get your imagination started! This list can be enjoyed by vacationers, newly transplanted Portlanders, and those who have lived in Portlandia for decades. Each listing includes a general pricing guide:

  • FREE — won’t cost you penny!
  • $ — Under $5 per person
  • $$ — Under $10 per person
  • $$$ — Over $10 per person


  • Portland Parks & Rec Swimming Pools (Portland, $): Enjoy a dip in a public indoor or outdoor pool! Be sure to also check out the summer movie events — enjoy a family movie from your floatie!


  • OMSI (SE Portland, $$): Special dedicated area for preschool kids plus exhibits that will interest the entire family! $2 admission on the first Sunday of every month.
  • Portland Children’s Museum (SW Portland, $$): Check out the new outdoor exhibit: Outdoor Adventure, along with all other types of educational fun for little ones. Get FREE passes through your public library and on the first Friday evening of the month.
  • Jamison Square (Downtown Portland, FREE): Cool off at the huge outdoor fountains and enjoy walking along the Willamette River.
  • EV Celebration Day (Downtown Portland, FREE); July 5 — Electric Vehicles and charging devices will be displayed on the Square to educate the general about the benefits of Electric cars. Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  • Yoshida’s Sand in the City (Downtown Portland, FREE): July 18-20, 2014 – Watch teams of sand artists create gigantic sand sculptures to benefit Kids on the Block at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  • Washington Park (SW Portland, FREE-$$): Includes Portland’s Children’s Museum, The Oregon Zoo, Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and one killer playground. Easily accessible by the MAX train.
  • Alpenrose’s Dairyville (SW Portland, FREE): Head to Alpenrose Dairy’s Western-themed town located right on the 52-acre dairy farm! Visit a bakery, bank, school, and post office as well as watch model trains chug through tiny Oregon landscapes. Stop off at the Ice Cream Parlor for a delicious Alpenrose ice cream cone. Open Sundays from 1-4 pm, June 1-August 31.
  • Portland Timbers (Downtown Portland, $$$): Catch one of Portland’s two professional sports teams. Not a soccer fan? Don’t worry. Watching the Timbers Army is worth the price of admission so try to grab a seat at the north end of the park.
  • Oaks Park Amusement Park Preschool Rides (SE Portland, $$): Kids ages six and under get the run of Oaks Park every Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9:30-11:30 throughout the summer. Admission includes unlimited preschool rides, milk, and cookies plus storytime with an Oregon Dairy Princess. Begins June 17, 2014.
  • Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Vancouver, WA, $, FREE for kids): Explore the lands and structures at the center of fur trade and military history in the Pacific Northwest. Great fun for kids.


  • Movies in the Park (Portland, FREE): End of June – early September — Catch a summer flick at Portland area parks. Movies start at dusk; pre-movie entertainment begins at 6:30 pm.
  • Concerts in the Park (Portland, FREE): July – August — Enjoy a free concert at Portland area parks. Starts at 6:00 or 6:30 pm.
  • OPS Fest (Portland, FREE): June – September — Experience a new style of Shakespearean performance! Actors perform the way Shakespeare’s own actors did: in the open air, in natural light, with minimal sets, and with great, fast-paced, energetic acting and lots of audience interaction!
  • Flicks on the Bricks (Downtown Portland, FREE): End of July – August — Free movies each Friday at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
  • Portland Actors Ensemble (Portland Metro area parks, FREE): June – September — Experience Anthony and Cleopatra and A Midsummer Night’s Dream in area parks.


  • Burgerville (Portland Metro, $-$$): The very best in fast-food. High quality ingredients, great prices, and crazy about local sustainability. Conveniently located throughout the Portland Metro area.


  • The Springwater Corridor (East Portland, FREE): A scenic, widely paved trail, encompassing wetlands, buttes, agricultural fields and pastures, residential and industrial neighborhoods. Bike and pedestrian friendly. Runs from Boring to the Willamette River.
  • Sunday Parkways (Portland, FREE): Walk, bike, roll, and discover active transportation while enjoying various Portland neighborhoods. Five Sundays throughout the summer, sponsored by the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
  • Providence Bridge Pedal (Downtown Portland, $$$ for adults, kids are FREE ): Sunday, August 11, 2013 — The only way to truly enjoy the Willamette River bridges – including the top decks of the Fremont and Marquam bridges. Bike and walk options available.
  • Pedalpoolza 2014 (Portland, FREE – $): Enjoy 3+ weeks of bike fun with over 250 different events June 5-28. There are family-friendly events in addition to adult-only rides.


  • 4T Trail (Portland, $$): Explore the city with this four-mile hiking trail and the combined rides on the OHSU tram, Portland trolley, and MAX train. Takes about 4 hours to complete.
  • Forest Park (Portland, FREE): Eighty+ miles of jogging, hiking, and biking trails with 19 trailheads for easy access (maps are available at REI, New Seasons, Powell’s and other PDX locations).
  • Japanese Gardens (SW Portland, $$): Proclaimed the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Free guided tours with admission.
  • Multhomah Falls (Columbia Gorge, FREE): Discover Oregon’s tallest waterfall from both the bottom and the top. Depending on your energy level, you can take the moderate 2.2 mile hike to the top, a difficult 5.4 mile look that includes Wahkeena Falls, or just enjoy the view from the bottom at Multnomah Falls Lodge.
  • Pittock Mansion (NW Portland, $$): Take a self-guided tour of the home of Henry & Georgiana Pittock, Portland pioneers.

Looking for more Portland-area fun? Check out these resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Portland Family Fun — A gigantic list of affordable, family-friendly activities, events, and attractions in Portland

Summer Reading Programs for Kids — A comprehensive list of summer reading programs in Oregon and Washington

Pacific Northwest Summer Fairs & Festivals — A huge list of Oregon and Washington fairs, festivals, and special summer events

Travel {Oregon & SW Washington} on Pinterest

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