28 Family Date Ideas Around Portland

I recently talked about the importance of dates with your significant other, and gave 28 date ideas around Portland. In our family we also like to have family dates. We value being intentional with our kids just as much as with each other.
Sometimes we take our kids for one-on-one dates so they get individual time with us, and they don’t have to compete with a sibling. Friday nights are usually family fun night where we make pizza and watch a movie or play games, but we also like to do some other things out and about that feel like a bigger “date” or special outing. Check Groupon, Living Social or Gold Star to find great deals on many family fun activities around Portland. 

28 family dates

Family Fun Dates Out and About 

  • Eating Out – This is not something we do often because dining out with kids is rarely a treat for the parents (at least when they are little), but because we don’t do it often my kids think it’s the best thing ever. Here are some fun and easy kid-friendly spots according to my kids. Slappy Cakes, The HUB (they have a great kids corner), Killer Burger, Cha! Cha! Cha!, The Old Spaghetti factory, Grilled Cheese Grill (you can eat in an actual bus while you eat your grilled cheese, definitely a kid pleaser). 
  • Create Art Together – My kids have been to a birthday party at Mimosa Studios and had a blast. There are many small items they can paint, and they feel so proud when their masterpiece is done. Another great spot is Art a la Carte. I love that the crafts are all ready to be used and they clean up after (Yes please, and thank you very much). 
  • Dessert – What kid doesn’t like a sweet treat? You can’t go wrong with these options: Salt & Straw, Waffle Window, Cloud City Ice Cream, Fifty-Licks, TartBerry, Nectar, Pip’s Doughnuts, Blue Star Donuts. Maybe even get the kids all ready for bed, in their pj’s and surprise them with a trip out to dessert! They’ll think it’s the craziest and most fun treat ever because it is a little crazy. Sometimes you have to break all the rules. 
  • Go Roller Skating at Oaks Park Roller Skating Rink This will be a work out if your child isn’t very good because you have to hold them up for an hour, but it can be really fun if you have kids old enough to make the loop themselves. Either way, it’s memorable. 
  • Swimming – There are so many great pools around the area that have shallow areas for little ones, water slides and rope swings for the bigger kids. Check out Portland Parks and Rec or your local aquatic center for pool hours and locations.  
  • OMSI – My kids LOVE OMSI and it offers some family fun for all ages, infants to elderly. 
  • Children’s Museum – Another option for young kids, the Children’s Museum has great exhibits that aid in learning and using their imaginations as they play. 
  • Play Games at the Nickel Arcade – Electric Castle’s Wunderland Cinema & Nickel Games is always a fun place for the kids to live out their arcade dreams. 
  • See a Live Play – Some of my favorite dates with my kids have been to watch a play at the Oregon Children’s Theatre and NW Children’s Theater. They watch in wonder as characters from their favorite stories or books come to life on stage. 
  • Watch a Movie at a Cheap Theater – Academy Theater, Moreland Theatre, Cinematic,  Valley Cinema Pub, Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater or McMenamins.
  • Ride the Train – Ride the Oregon Pacific Railroad passenger train from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center and back via the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge along the Willamette River on Saturdays. We did this last Valentine’s day because the weather was awesome and had such a great time. 
  • Bounce out Some Energy – Sky High Sports, JJ Jump, and PlayDate PDX are always kid favorites and a great way to ensure they sleep well that night.  
  • Visit the Library –  We go to the library weekly to check out books and movies. They have story times and different activities through the week and month. Utilize this awesome resource within our cities. 

In Nature

  • Go for a Stroll or Hike – Our kids love being outdoors. Nature is good for the soul. Go explore Forrest Park (our favorite is the Macleay trail to the abandoned stone house), Tryon Creek (Just watch out for poison oak; we learned the hard way), Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge (which connects to the Springwater corridor), Mt. Tabor and Sauvie Island
  • Ride the Tram – The kids are always excited to see the city from heights of the Portland Aerial Tram
  • Go to the Zoo – We love going to the Oregon Zoo, learning, and being out with the animals. 
  • Feed the Ducks at the Rhododendron Garden – This is my favorite park in the city and my kids are beyond enthusiastic about feeding the ducks. There is always something in bloom and trails to run on. You can stop by the Berry Good fruit stand right down the road and buy your duck food before going, and stock up on some fabulous produce, too, while you’re there. Check the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden website for days and times when the entrance is free.
  • Explore a New Park – There are so many fabulous parks in the Portland area. Why not leave your neighborhood and try out a new one? A couple of our favorites are Westmoreland Park Nature Play, Cathedral Park, and Washington Park
  • Head to the Snow for Sledding – We love getting out of the city to enjoy the beauty of the place we live and in the winter, sledding is a real treat. Here is a great list of sledding destinations near Portland. 
  • Conquer the 4-T Trail – Our family did this and loved it (read more of our experience here). We started out in the morning, rode the bus from our house to downtown where the official “trail” begins. You get on the max Train to the zoo, cross over to hike the Trail up to OHSU (stopping at Council Crest for a snack), take the Tram down from OHSU and then the Trolly (street car) back to the city center where we celebrated with ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s. Our kids think riding public transportation is so fun, and coupling that with the great outdoors was a bonus. There is a strenuous hike in parts but our 4 year old did it like a champ. Add this to your bucket list. 
  • Visit the Beach – This is, and always will be one of our favorite family spots to getaway and play while being refreshed. We are so lucky to live about 90 miles from the beach. Take advantage of it!
  • Waterfall Hikes – Latourell Falls, Elowah FallsBridal Veil Falls, Horsetail FallsWachlella Falls, and of course Multnomah Falls never disappoints. The picture below is Elowah Falls. 
  • Bonneville Dam Fish Hatchery – After a waterfall hike, feed the fish and see “Herman,” the 450 lb. sturgeon at eye-level as he swims by the glass at the fish hatchery. It’s only 9 miles east of Multnomah Falls on I-84. 
 family dates collage

Staying In

  • Game night – We love to play games. Now that our kids are older, Pictionary has been a new favorite. The laughs are a plenty when the white board comes out. 
  • Make pizza together – You can make a family-sized pizza or let everyone create their own. 
  • Make cookies and take them to your neighbors – My kids love to bake, and what neighbor doesn’t love a warm treat from the oven? 
  • Art night –  Keep it simple and have everyone grab their own coloring book or make pictures or cards for one another. For a family fun challenge have everyone draw a portrait of someone else. 
  • Movie and popcorn – This may sound boring but my kids still love this after a busy week.  
Family fun dates are a highlight for us each month. We love having big or small adventures with our kids and making memories along the way. What about you? What are some of your favorite family dates?
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Jody grew up in a small town in Central Oregon, graduated from Oregon State University, traveled to Africa for three months and, upon returning, moved to Montana to be near her then fiancé. They lived in Bozeman, Montana for nine years working on the Montana State campus in full-time ministry. They now have lived in SE Portland for nearly eight years and work part-time with the same faith-based non-profit. She is also now a business owner and helps others find health and happiness through Plexus. She has been married for 16 years and they have two beautiful kids. Their 11 year-old daughter is a miracle biological child after years of infertility, and their son 7 is a miracle child through the gift of adoption. Jody loves living in beautiful Portland where flowers are always in bloom and there is always an adventure around the corner to be had. She loves Jesus, coffee, a good book, deep conversation with people she loves, being intentional to love those around her, hosting events in their backyard, sausage, beer, traveling, and being a wife and mom. The beach is her happy place. She also blogs occasionally at jodymccomas.com about motherhood and ministry.


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