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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 Zany Maze, the new outdoor exhibit, 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.
- Yoshida’s Sand in the City (Downtown Portland, FREE): July 20-22, 2012 — Watch teams of sand artists create gigantic sand sculptures to benefit Kids on the Block. Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Washington Park (SW Portland, FREE-$$): Includes Portland’s Children’s Museum, The Oregon Zoo, Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum and one killer playground. Easily accessible by the MAX train.
- Kennedy School Soaking Pool (NE Portland, $): Enjoy a refreshing soak in the non-chlorinated saltwater pool. A local favorite.
- Portland Timbers (Downtown Portland, $$$): 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. Try to grab a seat at the north end of the park. You can also pick up cheap seats to watch the Timbers Reserve team play for just $10.
- Oaks Park Amusement Park Preschool Rides (SE Portland, $$): Kids ages six and under get the run of Oaks Park every Tuesday and Wednesday morning from 9:30-11:30 throughout the summer. Admission includes unlimited preschool rides, milk and cookies plus storytime with an Oregon Dairy Princess.
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (Vancouver, WA, $, FREE for kids): Explore the lands and structures at the center of fur trade and military history in the Pacific Northwest. Great fun for kids.
- Powell’s City of Books (Downtown Portland, FREE): Peruse the largest used and new bookstore in the world.
- Portland Saturday Market (Downtown Portland, FREE): Open every Saturday and Sunday through Christmas.
- Portland Rose Festival (Portland, FREE – $$$): 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!
- Portland Festival Symphony (Portland, FREE): Summer — 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.
- 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.
- Noon Tunes Summer Concert Series (Downtown Portland, FREE): July – August — Enjoy music from local bands every Tuesday and Thursday from Noon – 1 pm at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Flicks on the Bricks (Downtown Portland, FREE): End of July – August — Free movies each Friday at Pioneer Courthouse Square.
- Portland Actors Ensemble presents Hamlet (Portland Metro, FREE): June – July — Experience Hamlet 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, $-$$): The very best in fast-food. High quality ingredients, great prices and crazy about local sustainability. Kids meals are $2 off every Tuesday evening from 4-8 pm. Conveniently located throughout the Portland Metro area.
- Marine Drive Trail (N Portland, FREE): Easy, 12+ miles of paved trail along the Columbia River.
- Powell Butte Nature Park (SE Portland, FREE): Mountain bike and hiking trails in the middle of suburbia.
- The Springwater Corridor (East Portland, FREE): A scenic, widely paved trail, encompassing wetlands, buttes, agricultural fields and pastures, residential and industrial neighborhoods. Bike and pedestrian friendly.
- Eastbank Esplanade (SE Portland, FREE): 1.5 mile trail that travels the Willamette River to Waterfront Park or wind your way back to The Springwater Corridor.
- Providence Bridge Pedal (Downtown Portland, $$$ for adults, kids are FREE ): Sunday, August 12, 2012 — 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.
- 4T Trail (Portland, $$): Explore the city with this four-mile hiking trail and the combined rides on the OHSU tram, Portland trolley, and MAX train. Takes about 4 hours to complete.
- Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden (SE Portland, $): Enjoy over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants.
- Forest Park (Portland, FREE): 80+ miles of jogging, hiking, and biking trails with 19 trailheads for easy access (maps are available at REI, New Seasons, Powell’s and other PDX locations).
- Japanese Gardens (SW Portland, $$): 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.
Leave a comment with your favorite Portland-area activities! What are your staycation plans this year?
Traveling this summer or live in a different area? Check out the full list of Staycation ideas from all over the United States!
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