19 Ways to Spoil Grandkids in Portland


I think we can all agree that, as far as our kids are concerned, life is just better when grandma and grandpa are around. Take for example going out to dinner. Whether this is a regular occurrence or a rare treat, kids generally enjoy going to a restaurant. But have grandma and grandpa tag along and suddenly it’s the coolest thing in the world. 

Then there are those special things that only happen between a grandparent and their grandchildren. Suddenly all those parenting rules and guidelines they had when we were kids go out the window. From “no jumping on the bed” to “I bet you could jump higher than that.” Or “no running in the house” to “you better run, I’m going to get you.”

And let’s face it moms, though we cringe over learning they had five scoops of ice cream for dinner, we love the fact that they are enjoying this unique and sacred bond between grandparent and grandchild.   

In honor of Grandparents Day–not that they need any encouragement to do this–here are 19 ways in and around the Portland area to spoil the grandkids.

Spoil Grandchildren
Image Credit: Flickr

1) The Oregon Zoo: Lions and Tigers and Bears oh my! Not to mention train rides, elephant ears, and giant plush toys. Make the trip even more exciting and ride the MAX train to and from.  

2) The Children’s Museum: Also available by the MAX train, this hands on museum has just about every fun thing a kid could dream of. Visit their website for a full list of exhibits. 

3) Washington Park Playground: This large and unique playground is sure to be memorable for everyone. 

4) Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI): The place where learning and fun meet face to face. Featuring new exhibits throughout the year, there’s always something fun for both young and old.  My favorite from when I was a kid was making my own flubber, not to mention a store full of rock candy, just sayin’.   

5) Multnomah Falls: Get out of the city and enjoy some fresh air. Hike all day or just to the Benson Bridge for a breathtaking view. Visit the lodge for a wonderful meal and the gift shop on your way out. Buy your grandkids whatever they want.

6) Forest Park: Speaking of nature, you don’t have to go far for it, even in the city. Play “I Spy” or make a chart of how many times you see birds, squirrels, and deer. Your grandkids will love being out in the forest with you.

7) Oaks Amusement Park: Rides, carnival games, mini-golf, roller skating, and much more. Go all out and do it all.

8) Family Fun Center and Bullwinkle’s Restaurant: It doesn’t get much better than an arcade, laser tag, go karts, bumper boats, rock climbing, batting cages, and a zip line all in one trip. This place really does have it all, and one flat fee gets you unlimited everything. The grandkids will never want to leave.

9) Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum: If you have a grandchild who loves airplanes or anything to do with outer space, then it’s worth the trip to McMinnville to see the original Spruce Goose along with all the other displays. Not to mention the giant waterslide made from a real Boeing 747. Where else are you going to get to enjoy an airplane museum and a waterpark!

10) IKEA: We took our daughter there a few months ago and she didn’t want to leave. Forget the fact that the store itself is pretty awesome (she couldn’t get over the giant ceiling fan), but there are also huge airplanes flying over the parking lot every few minutes. Let the grandkids enjoy the store for awhile–maybe even buy something cool for their room. Then take them to a nearby restaurant to enjoy a delicious meal and watch the airplanes fly overhead.

11) The Old Spaghetti Factory: Speaking of enjoying a delicious meal, did you know that the now popular chain began right here in Portland? Make the meal extra special and request a seat in the old train car (Tanasbourne location).  Dinner doesn’t get much better than that. 

12) Voodoo Doughnuts: As if doughnuts alone weren’t enough, enjoy some of their unique and off the wall concoctions such as the bacon doughnut, the fruit loop doughnut, and the grape ape doughnut. I’m pretty sure your grandkids will be in heaven the moment they walk in the door.

13) Salt and Straw: Besides featuring one of a kind flavors that can’t be found anywhere else, it’s ice cream. And what kid doesn’t like ice cream? Buy a scoop or two or three.

14) Ava Roasteria Progress Ridge: Just outside this Beaverton coffee shop is a great fountain that the kids can run around and play in on warm days. Afterwards, you can step inside this local gem for a variety of non-caffeinated beverages and tasty treats. It doesn’t get much better than fountain play followed by a milkshake. Walk along the pond behind Ava’s to be greeted by families of ducks, or even bring along a fishing pole. 

15) Baggenstos Farm: With Fall around the corner, what could be better than a visit to the pumpkin patch. There are lots of local farms to choose from. Baggenstos offers corn mazes, hayrides, and much more. Visit their store for fresh produce and honey sticks. They also open in the summer for berry picking; my daughter helped me pick six pounds of blueberries this year, yum!

16) Washington Square Mall:  Let your grandkids build a bear, play with the legos, get some candy, buy a new outfit, and end the day with whatever food they want for lunch. 

17) Woodburn Premium Outlets: Visit the Disney Store, buy your grandkids a new outfit, take them out for lunch but above all else take them to the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory for a candied caramel apple, giant peanut butter cups, and chocolate covered everything. Did I mention the caramel apples are dipped in just about any candy you can imagine? 

18) Playdate PDX: Soon enough we’ll be drowning in rain and the kids will be stuck inside. Playdate PDX is the perfect solution to rainy day blues with its giant indoor play structure complete with slides and more.  After the kids are tired out, enjoy a nice lunch at the cafe. 

19) Ice Skating: There are several ice rinks in the area including the Lloyd Center Mall. Grab a bite to eat and some ice cream afterwards.

Happy Grandparents Day! Let the spoiling begin–or in most cases continue. And remember at the end of the day, the ultimate spoiler you can give your grandkids is your love. 


MelissaWMelissa was born and raised in the Portland area. She spent five years in Corvallis completing her degree, at which time she met and married her husband. Three years ago they made the move back to the Portland area. They have been married four years and have a beautiful and spirited 2-year-old daughter. Melissa loves being a stay at home mommy and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. For fun, Melissa likes to crochet and knit, sew, and go for walks to the park with her daughter.