What’s to Love: North Portland – so many parks, so little time! Yes, Columbia Park is awesome, and it has a pool. Pier Park has a pool, an 18-hole disc golf course, and an amazing skatepark. Of course, there is Peninsula Park, Smith & Bybee Wetlands, Kelley Point Park, and many other little gems scattered across “the Gateway to Nature.” How does Kenton Park rate? Well, if they were to add a new playstructure, Kenton Park would be right on-par with the many beautiful parks in North Portland. Chances are, if you don’t live in North Portland, Kenton Park isn’t even on your radar – until now!
Let’s get this straight, the Kenton area is changing. The neighborhood is home to Portland’s current Mayor, Sam Adams, and the downtown area just received a new library as well as a complete “Streetscape” makeover. With some excellent businesses including: Posies Cafe, Cup & Saucer, Homebrew Exchange, Pizza Fino, E-San Thai Cuisine, and Po’ Shines Cafe De La Soul, North Denver Avenue is poised to be the next Mississippi Avenue.
After picking up some take-out at a local eatery, walk over to Kenton Park, which is right in the heart of all the action and a perfect spot for some summer fun. There is a picnic bench located right next to the playstructure on the west side of the park. From the moment you step into the park, you’ll be drawn in to this intensely green landscape with big beautiful trees and a laid back feel. Here is a short clip.
Caveats: One big complaint: it’s common to see families monopolize the picnic areas with HUGE cookouts. When this happens, there is little supervision of children on the playstructures, trash is often just thrown on the ground in front of adults (sometimes by adults!), and smoking near children is practically a given. The park service has done an excellent job keeping on top of the cleanup. If you want to avoid this altogether, visit during a weekday afternoon.
Although there is no official “off-leash” area, don’t be surprised to see dogs running around the park without much owner supervision. There is no covered picnic area.
Distance from Portland: Located in North Portland approximately 5 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a Google Map of the area.
Recommended Ages: The playstructure is best for kids 4 and up. There really isn’t a toddler playstructure. However, toddlers will LOVE the spraypark!
Parental Stress Factor: If it’s a weekend afternoon/evening in the summer, expect to be stressed a little bit. Just like many popular parks, things can get a bit overcrowded and loud (see caveats above).
Physical Difficulty: Park has some paved paths for accessibility. The paths entering the park are also fully accessible to wheelchairs.
Family Fun Factor: As a park, this falls into the moderate area. With the playstructure and spraypark, you’ll probably get hours of entertainment value. Throw in the potential of biking and/or combing the trip with other North Portland parks, and the family fun factor definitely grows.
Pet Friendly: Great park for dogs. Does not have an official off-leash area!
Weather Considerations: If it snows, you’ll definitely want to head to this park! There are some nice hills for sledding. It’s sort of a dreary park in the winter, but we still try to head over quite often. For hot sunny days, it’s a hard park to beat.
Insider Info: Bring the bikes! If you don’t feel like biking all the way to North Portland, take your bikes on the Max Train and get off at Denver Avenue station. Within minutes, you’ll be right in downtown Kenton. Your kids will love to see the big lumberjack right next to the station.
I recommend checking-out the Portland Bike Map for some excellent rides in the North Portland area. There are many paved biking trails in the area, and your family could spend an entire day just biking around to the various parks mentioned in the first paragraph.
Family Tips: Need an inexpensive treat for the family? Pizza Finno makes the best chocolate chip cookies, and they seem to always have them in the case. Make sure to bring an extra change of clothes and towels for the kids. Inevitably, they will end-up in the spraypark getting soaked! It’s hard to keep them away from this attraction, even if that wasn’t your purpose heading over to the park. It really draws kids in like a magnet. Be prepared!
Make sure to spend some time at the new Kenton Library! This is a beautiful new facility with a cool checkout system, big kids’ section, computer area, and a friendly staff. The library has been the perfect addition to downtown Kenton.
Other Posts of Interest...
Salmon Creek Park/Trail on May 26th, 2008
Salmon Street Springs on June 3rd, 2008
Columbia Park on June 15th, 2009