What’s to Love: In 2005, Oaks celebrated its 100th consecutive year in operation making it the oldest amusement park in the country (source)! While impressive, that’s not the reason to bring you kids here. The reason to bring your kids here is that it’s a great time! Your money supports a local Portland institution, AND the park has perfect rides for every age group. For a small amusement park, they have a decent variety of rides.
Your toddlers will love the big slide, airplanes, motorcycles, cars, balloon ride, bouncing frog, and the kiddie roller coaster. Your older kids might be ready for the spider, ferris wheel, chair swings, bumper cars, or the big roller coaster. The people who work in the park are helpful and friendly, which I find completely different from the traveling carnivals.
Check their website for special discount days, which can make your visit VERY inexpensive. Even on a regular day, this trip will not break the bank. There is plenty of parking, and due to its location right off the Springwater Corridor Trail, it makes an ideal destination for a family bike trip. Here is a video clip of a few rides including the toddler, rollercoaster!
Caveats: On summer afternoons the park can get a bit crowded, and you may have to wait in lines. There isn’t much shade, so make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and/or hats. The hours vary depending on the day of the week, the month, the season, etc. Make sure you check the website before you head out.
Website: Oaks Amusement Park
Distance from Portland: Within a few miles of downtown Portland.
Recommended Ages: All ages – there truly is something for everyone at this park. You won’t get the big time thrill-rides like a major amusement park, but the park will keep most kids entertained.
Parental Stress Factor: Low to Medium. If it’s not busy, you’ll have a relaxed visit. If it’s busy, you will need to watch your kids closely. If you have more than one, it’s hard to keep them all corralled.
Physical Difficulty: Easy and accessible. It’s a small park with all the rides in the same area.
Family Fun Factor: High! We’ve always had a great time at Oaks. Because it’s a local business, they realize the importance of keeping the environment as clean and safe as possible.
Pet Friendly: Not a good place for a pet.
Weather Considerations: The park is open May through October. We try to avoid the park in the summer – it’s busy, and hot! Late August, September and October are the best months for a visit, especially if the weather is nice.
Insider Info: This is a decent place to check-out fireworks on the 4th of July. It gets a bit overrun, but if you’re there early enough, you’ll get a good spot. It’s also home to a roller skating rink, which is open year round.
For some shade, you’ll have to head over to the river. Along the main-drag of rides, you will get plastered by the sun. If you have family coming in from out-of-town, this is a fun place to take them, especially if they want to spend some time with your kids.
The kiddie roller coaster is a fun ride! However, if you decide to ride it with your child (not a bad idea), please prepare yourself to be tossed around a bit. The bumpy sections will definitely make your head roll.
Family Tips: Bring your own food and/or snacks! You don’t want to be in a situation where you have to spend money on pretty unhealthy vendor food and/or candy. There are plenty of picnic benches to sit and enjoy lunch. Of course, if you do want to eat there, they have plenty of fast food. My personal recommendation is to go to the park in the morning. At lunchtime, head over to New Seasons Market in Sellwood, get a picnic lunch, and head over to nearby Sellwood Park.
Even if your kids say they’ll walk, a stroller and/or jogger is not a bad idea. Eventually, they will get tired, and you of course, will be ready! If you have an infant and a toddler, bring a backpack carrier (check my store for some recommendations) and a stroller.
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Rocky Butte - Joseph Wood Hill Park on May 6th, 2012
Peninsula Park on June 22nd, 2008
Springbrook Park/Uplands Elementary on March 8th, 2008