I don’t think it’s a big revelation to anyone that our incredible fall weather is winding down. At Portland Family Adventures, we had a very active summer. Since June 1st, we’ve published 34 articles, and experienced a 2500% increase in site traffic! We published two of our most popular articles “Tips for Biking with Kids” and “Top 10 Summer Activities.” In that same vein, I’m going to highlight some of our favorite rainy-day-activities. Although the outdoor activities may start to decrease, remember that Portland Family Adventures documents indoor activities as well.
Ultimate Indoor Family Getaway!
If you’ve saved-up some dough for a family getaway during the winter months, I recommend heading to the incredible “Great Wolf Lodge Resort.” You’ll probably be inside the lodge during your entire visit, and you won’t even get stir-crazy! This is a “Disney-quality” destination only 90 miles from Portland featuring an insanely-large waterpark filled with cool slides, a massive wave pool, and plenty of lifeguards! If you think it’s just a waterpark, think again. There is so much to do (all indoors!) for the whole family.
Great outdoor destinations, even though it’s raining:
The Oregon Zoo! Hard to believe? I invite you to visit the Zoo on a rainy day. I’ve had some of my best visits to the Zoo when it’s cloudy, cold and raining…seriously! The animals were out and more active, there were WAY fewer people, and there is just the right amount of indoor shelter, if necessary.
Tualatin Hills Nature Park: Not be confused with the Tualatin River Wildlife Refuge (see educational destinations below), the Tualatin Hills Nature Park has plenty of tight trails that gently meander through a forest with good tree coverage. There are also some Letterboxes in this park, paved-paths for biking, and the visitor’s center provides some refuge from a complete downpour.
Hoyt Arboretum: A delightful hiking destination, especially in rainy, muddy weather. This is our favorite hiking area inside the city limits. There are plenty of trees here in case of heavy rain; however, just bring your rain gear along, and you won’t even notice the wet weather.
Cannon Trail: Trying to keep dry and clean? Forget about it!!! Get your old raingear, mud boots and head for the loop-hike described in this article on the Cannon Trail in Forest Park. At one point, you’ll encounter a hillside that is pure mud! Be prepared to slip and slide to your heart’s content. Let your kids run wild on this mud-infested hike deep in Forest Park.
Want to blow an entire day somewhere?
Head over to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). There is so much to do at Portland’s favorite, kid-friendly museum – a family can easily spend most of a rainy day here. It has it all: space, dinosaurs, giant movies, mind benders, archaeology, paleontology, science store, decent food, kids’ play area, and much, much more!
Rainy outside? Why not jump in a local pool?
Okay, it sounds a bit crazy heading to a pool in the pouring rain (NOTE: actually, in Portland it’s more like an annoying and constant drizzle, but “pouring rain” sounds a bit more exciting), anyway…we prefer visiting “North Clackamas Aquatic Park’s amazing indoor waterpark during the winter months. When the weather is nice during the summer/fall, it’s a much harder sell to the rest of the family.
It probably has been awhile for most of you. However, I’m sure you’ll remember that crazy sport where you throw a ball down a lane trying to knock down a bunch of pins, right? In my opinion, Wilsonville Lanes is head-and-shoulders above the rest. I really like the automated bumpers! Plus, this place is so much cleaner than most bowling alleys.
Indoor miniature golf? Yes…I know, it’s a bit strange, especially when the entire place is lit-up with 3D neon paint with a pirate-theme. Don’t believe me? Well, take a stroll downtown and witness this Portland weirdness (Glowing Greens Miniature Golf) yourselves. It’s a fun time!
Stir crazy? Kids climbing up the walls?
Why not let them climb the walls where there are actual holds, routes, ropes, harnesses, climbing shoes, padded floors, and plenty of expert instruction? Makes sense to me, and it certainly makes sense to the folks at Portland Rock Gym! For older kids (5 and up), this gym offers huge climbing walls covered with holds and plenty of routes for all abilities.
If the scale of the Portland Rock Gym is a bit intimidating, try “bouldering” (climbing closer to the ground without ropes) at “The Circuit Bouldering Gym.” This gym offers a special climbing area just for young children – the perfect spot for kids 5 and younger.
Indoor, educational destinations that will keep the kids entertained:
With two young children, sometimes I feel like the extent of my intellectual stimulation ranges somewhere between Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and Clifford the Big Red Dog. Do you know what I mean? If so, keep reading…
So, the Art Museum isn’t on the top of your 3 year old’s list of indoor activities? Portland Ballet seems to be suffering the same fate, yes? Try these educational “museum-type” destinations that promise to provide you with a bit more mental stimulation than a big, purple dinosaur.
Safe, indoor destinations where kids can expend great amounts of energy without driving you nuts!
You want your kids to run wild in a safe environment? Try these places…
Get physical with martial arts: One with Heart Tulen Center on Hawthorne has a great program for kids called, “Little Monkeys.” They also have a plethora of other programs.
When rain means snow!
Yes, Mt. Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl and Timberline are all great skiing destinations for the whole family. However, if you’re looking to teach a beginner, I recommend “The Summit” ski area near Government Camp on Mt. Hood. The problem with most bunny hills at the other resorts is they are just too short. You ski for about 1 minute and wait in line to get back up the hill…repeat a dozen times or so. At the Summit, their entire hill is basically a bunny hill! You’ll have PLENTY of time to actually ski before hopping back on a lift. The entire slope is perfect for first-time skiers.
Inexpensive enrichment programs and activities:
We often overlook the obvious, which in this case means your local community center and/or Parks and Recreation programs. We have friends who often take advantage of the excellent programs at the Sellwood Community Center. We’ve also heard good things about the programs at The Garden Home Recreation Center, which is right next to the excellent “Fanno Creek Trail.”
I think that’s it for now. Because it’s cloudy and drizzly much of the year, there are plenty of indoor activities to keep the whole family busy. Of course, you can always put on your raingear and get outside. A wet slide with nylon pants = a wild ride! Perhaps, we’ll see you out and about on your next adventure. If you have a favorite that is not on the list, please comment below….thanks!
Other Posts of Interest...
Ultrazone: Portland's Best Laser Tag on November 12th, 2014
OMSI on February 4th, 2008
The Playground Gym on November 16th, 2009