Outdoor Time: Events and Venues Edition (SW PDX)

While the backyard is a perfectly legitimate place to go for outdoor time, sometimes, no matter how fun your backyard is, you just have to get out of your house! For this reason, here is my list of our favorite places, events, and things to do outside in and around SW Portland.  Enjoy exploring them on your own!



  • Gabriel Park Playground:  Baby swings, tire swing, two slides, and a bridge.  Great picnic space nearby and a huge park overall with a great small forested area to hike through if you fancy that.
  • Holly Farm Park:  New baby swing, great grassy area to run, an awesome climbing tree, and a wonderful play structure… Also, right next door to the Capital Hill Library with incredible storytimes hosted by Miss Tasha, librarian extraordinare.
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  • Multnomah Arts Center Playground:  Right in the middle of Multnomah Village, so its close to home… so close that the stroller is practically unneccessary unless somebody gets a boo boo. Across the street from a Starbucks is sometimes a bonus, too.  Baby swings, one slide, tunnel, covered basketball courts perfect for tricycling in the rain or drawing with chalk, but beware the kitty littered sandbox.
  • Washington Park Playground: This is the sandbox that you should use!  Incredible playground for all ages and sizes.  Great swings, tons of slides (at least four), huge play structure, train to the zoo stop and rose garden nearby!
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  • Pendleton Park:  Some old school toys like teeter-totters (or seesaws?), a merry-go-round, plus great swings and slides, a huge field and BATHROOMS close by are a huge plus.
  • Custer Park: Parking can be challenging here, but this a good old school playground.  Also has nearby bathrooms and if you are there in the spring when the cherry trees are blossoming, it is a sight to behold (look on the other side of the baseball diamond).

Hiking (for the very small)

  • Gabriel Park:  See above.  Great small forested area for little ones to run through, and by no means a huge commitment of time or energy.
  • Elk Rock Garden at Bishop’s Close: Beautiful manicured gardens, open grassy spaces, views of the river, and a toddler size maze!  Spend an incredible morning here, but know that there are no restrooms and officially, no picnics.
  • Tryon Creek State Park:  For some reason, Adam dislikes this park, but I love it.  Streams, forest, wide, mostly easy-ish trails.  Close to home. You can go for as long or short a hike as you want and easily make it back to the car.
  • Waterfront Park:  Not so much a hike, but a great walk with a stroller.  Good people watching (ALWAYS!) and the river.  We took my nephew and brothers-in-law here are they commented that it was like, “Being in a Richard Scarry book,” because of all of the trains, busses, boats, ships, bikes, Max trains, etc. Plus, there are new fountains in the new Saturday Market area that are really cool!

Not to miss events

  • Multnomah Days Parade:  Our favorite little parade, ever!  Small, hometown feel that keeps getting bigger and bigger.  Tons of candy and fun.  We like to sit on the bridge about two blocks from our house.  Wouldn’t miss it for the world! One Saturday in August, every year.
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  • Portland Rose Festival:  Okay, so we may have missed almost all the events this year due to leaving town at the wrong time, but we did make it down to the waterfront during fleet week.  The big ships are awesome!  Also, we love the Grand Floral Parade and as soon as our kids can stay up past 7:30 pm, we will be all about the opening fireworks.  Not to mention that both of our girls will be queens of Rosaria!  First two weeks of June!
  • Hillsdale Farmer’s Market: Great market, just the right size with many great produce venders and great food for eating lunch.  Sundays, weekly in spring and summer and twice a month fall and winter.

Other Must Do Things

  • Jamison Fountain:  Like a beach in the city.  Always a great time in this zero depth fountain that all can enjoy.  Bring a picnic or enjoy the cafes and ice cream shops all around.  There is no bathroom, however…
  • Wilson High School Pool:  Awesome outdoor pool, only open during summer break, but so great.  Big kid slide, little kid slide, lazy river, fountains, and zero depth area.  Something for all swimming abilities!

I know that there are other things that should be on this list that I am not thinking of right now, so I will update this as I can.  Also, if there is a place that you love, add a comment and a link!  I would love to have this as a great resource!


10 Responses to “Outdoor Time: Events and Venues Edition (SW PDX)”

  1. 1 Rick August 26, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    WHAT, no breweries???????

    • 2 mysillylittlelife August 26, 2010 at 7:40 pm

      I will work on outdoor breweries to update the list with. Although, you will have to hurry over to try them out because by the time you come back in December it will be much too rainy.

      • 3 Rick August 28, 2010 at 2:57 pm

        A patio is all it takes. Rain? just go inside. Product tastes the same. The kiddies will all learn this in time.

  2. 4 lisaekman August 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    These may be for the years to come, but here are my favorites:

    -Marquam Nature Park: tons of great trails, and near my house for snacks afterward.

    -Ira Keller fountain: I walked by the other day for the first time in, oh, ten years (last time I was there, it was called something else), and remembered how fully amazing this fountain is. You can stick your feet in, or wade in past your waist, or stand behind a fake waterfall. It reminds me a lot of the real waterfall Marc and I hiked to a few weekends ago, with all its stairsteps and swimming holes.

  3. 6 lisaekman August 26, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Yes! I’m in for either/both.

  4. 7 Multnomah Arts Center August 27, 2010 at 6:40 pm

    Thanks for mentioning the Multnomah Arts Center! I’ve posted a link to your blog on our Facebook page!

  5. 9 Kristen August 28, 2010 at 9:14 am

    I love the pics of the kiddos! We just go where you tell us to go! Ha ha ha

  6. 10 Children's Outdoor Toys March 25, 2011 at 3:48 am

    I really liked the pics of kids in this blog and remembered my childhood days……..

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