Particularly Portland: 10 Places for Rainy Day Play

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In the heat of summer there’s plenty of particularly Portland playgrounds to hit up, and it can be easy to forget we live in the Pacific Northwest. But fall means rain, reminding us that we do, in fact, live in a rainforest. With the wet, Portland weather comes cold, muddy days and runny noses, so having a place to play indoors is a mother’s must-have.

mom in the fall rain

Here are TEN particularly Portland indoor play places to get the wiggles out, keep dry, and save your family from rain-induced cabin fever.

1. Community Centers

Many community centers around Portland turn their gyms into playgrounds for open play times. For a small fee, your little one can ride a tricycle or hula hoop to their heart’s content right at the community center. Several also provide inexpensive drop-in childcare so you can enjoy the hot tub or work out in the fitness center (or sit in the lobby and read a book) They really don’t care what you do as long as you stay on the premises.

2. Museums

The Portland Children’s Museum and the World Forestry Museum provide lots of exhibits and hands-on activities for little ones. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a special play area for children six and under and their siblings complete with a sand box, a reading nook, and an art center.

3. Covered Playgrounds

A portion of the blacktop at the elementary school near our house is covered to provide the kids with a place to play in even the hardest downpour. I’m actually surprised that more of these don’t exist, but it’s a perfect place to ride bikes, play with chalk, and run around. Look around and you may find that there’s a covered play area near you. If it’s just misting instead of raining, a park with good leaf cover could do the trick.

4. Kids’ Gyms 

The Playground Gym, The Wiggle Room, The Lumberyard Indoor Bike Park, Outdoors In, and PlayDate PDX are just a few of the places your kids can play hard and try something new. Tigard Indoor Play Park, housed in a church, is open from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays, and there’s always good ole Gymboree.

5. The Mall

Malls including Washington SquareLloyd Center, and Clackamas Town Center have play areas where small ones can climb and tumble, and are usually open whenever the mall is open.

6. Restaurants

Sometimes you can’t beat a good, old-fashioned, fast food Play Place. My kids love to hit McDonalds for a fish sandwich and some climbing time, and I love the cheap mochas! Chick-fil-A also offers place places. Not pinching pennies today or want to take the whole family out to dinner? Try Out of This World Pizza, Papa’s Pizza Parlor, or John’s Incredible Pizza.

7. Libraries

Many libraries have story times and music events for young ones and the people who love them. If you’re in Vancouver, the Vancouver Community Library’s Early Learning Center is the stuff of legends: a huge indoor play area designed for kids ages 0-7!

8. Coffee Shops

Many small coffee shops have a modest play area for kids with a few books or puzzles. Some places take indoor play to the next level, like Two Sisters Play Café in Milwaukie and Sunburst Play Café in Gresham.  

9. Pools

Getting wet in the swimming pool may be the last thing on your mind on a cold, rainy day, but fall can be a nice time to visit the pool without all the crowds. Many Portland indoor pools are heated to temperatures in the 90’s, and the hot shower can feel heavenly.

10. Children’s Stores

Check your local bookstores and children’s consignment stores for their schedule of events. Many stores host local musical favorites like Squatchie, The Alphabeticians, and Red Yarn on a regular basis.                                      

There’s also another option: play anyway!

As any Portlander who’s been here for a while will tell you, rain shouldn’t stop young ones from going outside. Purchase the family a matching set of waterproof rain gear and get out there. As someone recently pointed out to me, kids spend all summer trying to get wet and we spend the rest of the year trying to keep them dry. Kids don’t care about rain and mud, and it would probably do us all good to go outside a bit more often.

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Aside from being a writer, Kendra is a Birth Trauma Doula at KarysMa Birth, where she helps moms find their joy after birth trauma. A former middle school English and theatre teacher, she has an insatiable love for learning and a flair for the dramatic. Among the best moments of her life, she counts marrying her husband Steve during a dream rainbow wedding, planning a princess picnic on the beach with her eight year old daughter Karys, giving birth to her one year old daughter Saryn in the middle of a blizzard, and sitting on stage with Glennon Doyle. A Navy brat for the first 13 years of her life, Kendra settled in Virginia for eighteen years before she was finally ready to move again, relocating to Portland in 2014. You can find her work on Portland Moms Blog, The La Leche League Blog, and The Not Your Average Mom Project, as well as the hard drive of her computer.

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