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!
- Kennedy School Soaking Pool (NE Portland, $): Enjoy a refreshing soak in the non-chlorinated saltwater pool. A local favorite.
- 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.
- Yoshida’s Sand in the City (Downtown Portland, FREE): July 16-19, 2015 — Watch teams of sand artists create gigantic sand sculptures to benefit Kids on the Block at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Washington Park (SW Portland, FREE-$$): Includes Portland’s Children’s Museum, The Oregon Zoo, Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and one killer playground. Easily accessible by the MAX train.
- Portland Timbers (Downtown Portland, $$$): 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, $$): Kids ages six and under get the run of Oaks Park every Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9:30-11:30 throughout the summer. Admission includes unlimited preschool rides, milk, and cookies plus storytime with an Oregon Dairy Princess. Begins June 16, 2015.
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Vancouver, WA, $, FREE for kids): Explore the lands and structures at the center of fur trade and military history in the Pacific Northwest. Great fun for kids.
- Playgrounds & Free Lunches 2015 (Portland Metro area parks, FREE): Organized sports, games, and crafts + a free healthy lunch for kids.
- Kids Bowl FREE (FREE): Registered Kids Receive 2 FREE games of bowling daily all summer long! Find a bowling center near you.
- Powell’s City of Books (Downtown Portland, FREE): Peruse the largest used and new bookstore in the world.
- Portland Saturday Market (Downtown Portland, FREE): Open every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas.
- Portland Rose Festival (Portland, FREE – $$$): Memorial Day weekend – mid-June — Celebrate all things Portland during this three-week city-wide festival. Includes two parades, a 5K run, amusement rides, and so much more! Get an unlimited ride wristband plus 3 games at the Rose Festival CityPark for $28 (Tom McCall Waterfront Park).
- Portland Festival Symphony (Portland, FREE): July-August — Experience the music at seven events at area parks.
- 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!
- Regal Cinemas Summer Movie Express (Portland Metro, $): Family friendly movies for $1 per person at participating Regal Cinemas on Tuesday and/or Wednesday mornings. Also check out Cinemark’s Summer Movie Clubhouse for more options.
- 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.
- Portland’s Food Carts (Portland, $$): Explore an incredible array of cheap and unique eats with carts located around Portland. You can even take a guided tour!
- Portland’s Farmers Markets (Portland Metro, FREE): Hit a market every day and enjoy local food and wares.
- McMennamins (Portland Metro, $$$): Unique pubs, restaurants, breweries, winery and hotels. The food is good, but go to experience the renovated historical locations. Well, and the food.
- Burgerville (Portland Metro, $-$$): The very best in fast-food. High quality ingredients, great prices, and crazy about local sustainability. Conveniently located throughout the Portland Metro area.
- Marine Drive Bike Path (N Portland, FREE): Easy, 12+ miles of paved trail along the Columbia River.
- Powell Butte Nature Park (SE Portland, FREE): Mountain bike and hiking trails in the middle of suburbia.
- The Springwater Corridor (East Portland, FREE): A scenic, widely paved trail, encompassing wetlands, buttes, agricultural fields and pastures, residential and industrial neighborhoods. Bike and pedestrian friendly. Runs from Boring to the Willamette River.
- Eastbank Esplanade (SE Portland, FREE): 1.5 mile trail that travels the Willamette River to Waterfront Park or wind your way back to The Springwater Corridor.
- Sunday Parkways (Portland, FREE): Walk, bike, roll, and discover active transportation while enjoying various Portland neighborhoods. Five Sundays throughout the summer, sponsored by the Portland Bureau of Transportation.
- Providence Bridge Pedal (Downtown Portland, $$$ for adults, kids are FREE ): Sunday, August 9, 2015 — 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 2015 (Portland, FREE – $): Enjoy 3+ weeks of bike fun with over 250 different events June 4-27. There are family-friendly events in addition to adult-only rides.
- 4T Trail (Portland, $$): Explore the city with this four-mile hiking trail and the combined rides on the OHSU tram, Portland trolley, and MAX train. Takes about 4 hours to complete.
- Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (SE Portland, $): Enjoy over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants.
- Forest Park (Portland, FREE): Eighty+ miles of jogging, hiking, and biking trails with 19 trailheads for easy access (maps are available at REI, New Seasons, Powell’s and other PDX locations).
- Japanese Gardens (SW Portland, $$): 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
Looking for more staycation fun? Check out posts from bloggers all around the United States, highlighting more fun than you can handle in their home cities!
A – D
Phoenix, Arizona — Saving For Someday
Fresno, California — Living A Frugal Life
Orange County, California — More With Less Today
San Diego, California — Southern Cali Saver
Denver, Colorado — Bargain Blessings
Washington, District of Columbia — Kidventurous
F – I
Disney World, Florida — The Happy Housewife
Jacksonville, Florida — Saving The Family Money
Orlando, Florida — Coupon Mamacita
St Augustine, Florida — Simply St. Augustine
Tallahasse, Florida — SwagGrabber
Tampa Bay, Florida — LaToyaEdwards.net
Atlanta, Georgia — Pretty Frugal Diva
Dahlonega, Georgia — Kathys Cluttered Mind
Savannah, Georgia — This Mommy Saves Money
Aurora/Chicago, Illinois — A Savings WOW!
Chicago, Illinois — Entertaining Chicago
Indianapolis, Indiana — Chaos Is Bliss
K – P
Lexington, Kentucky — Homeschool Village
Louisville, Kentucky — The Kennedy Adventures
Northern Kentucky, Kentucky — Simply Sherryl
Carroll County, Maryland — Looking at life CreativLEI
Boston, Massachusetts — Maven of Savin
Battle Creek, Michigan — Pichea Place
Grand Rapids, Michigan — Give Me Neither
Metro Detroit, Michigan — Saving Dollars and Sense
Kansas City Area, Missouri/Kansas — Redefined Mom
Omaha, Nebraska — Family Fun in Omaha
Central, New Jersey — Our Good Life
Cincinnati, Ohio — Adventure Mom
Cleveland, Ohio — Kosher on a Budget
Columbus, Ohio — Cleverly Simple
Dayton, Ohio — Savings Lifestyle
Mansfield & Richland County, Ohio — The Traveling Praters
Miami County, Ohio — Something 2 Offer
Northeast, Ohio — Sisters Shopping on a Shoestring
Portland, Oregon — Frugal Living NW
Harrisburg/Central, PA — Family Balance Sheet
Erie, Pennsylvania — Growing Kids Ministry
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania — Moms Need To Know
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — The Coupon High
R – W
Arlington, Texas — Grocery Shop For FREE
Fort Worth, Texas — Coupons and Freebies Mom
Houston, Texas — Melissa’s Bargains
Katy, Texas — Moms Confession
San Antonio, Texas — How to Homeschool My Child
Tyler, Texas — iLoveMy5Kids
Charlottesville, Virgina — How to Have it All
Norfolk, Virgina — The Talking Suitcase
Richmond, Virgina — Vacation Maybe
Seattle, Washington — Thrifty NW Mom
Tacoma/South Puget Sound, Washington — Queen Bee Coupons
Oshkosh, Wisconsin — A Little Bit of This and That