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Children in North Portland

We all know that North Portland has a lot of great things for adults to do. But there are a lot of great things to do with your children in North Portland, too. If you know where to look, you can stay busy throughout the year. Here are some fun things for your kids to do right in their own neighborhood.

St. Johns Community Center

The St. Johns Community Center has a wide variety of classes available for children in North Portland. In fact, registration for spring classes started just this month. Preschool classes are available for the little ones. The center also offers spring break camps where kids learn communication and socialization skills, as well as participate in fun games, crafts, and art projects.

The community center has a plethora of sports and arts classes. Some of these are parent and child classes, so you’ll get to participate and learn with your children. There are even gymnastics and basketball classes for children starting as young as 18 months—those are some brave teachers! Things like Tae Kwon Do and soccer are available for older children.

Check out the entire catalog of available classes and programs here.

Mad Science

Mad Science is all about making science fun for kids. The staff at Mad Science focus on engaging children so that they learn about science in a fun and interactive way. In fact, kids are more likely to think they’re playing than learning.

Children in North Portland

The center offers after-school programs for children (each is one hour long). Each session is focused on a particular scientific topic, like rockets or magnets. Sessions include demonstrations, hands-on activities, and projects for kids to make and take home. And all sessions include plenty of lively scientific discussion. For information or to register for after school sessions, go here.

Mad Science also has spring and summer break camps to keep your children learning even when they’re not in school. See the spring schedule here and the summer schedule here. Mad Science even does birthday parties and sessions for boy and girl scouts.

Portland Meadows

Portland Meadows is a horse racing track that’s been around since 1945. Any time you want to visit, you can just walk right in through the door—no tickets necessary. Although children are obviously not allowed to drink or bet (and there are a few restricted areas for those activities), Portland Meadows encourages and welcomes children to come and watch the beauty of horse racing. Portland Meadows is a great option for free entertainment.

Children in North Portland


Cathedral Park, situated under (and named after) the gorgeous St. Johns Bridge, is a great place to take your kids to feed the ducks. It also has walking trails, picnic benches, and a floating dock that extends onto the Willamette River.

Children in North Portland

Columbia Park is a 35-acre complex with a pool, sports courts (including multiple tennis courts) and fields, and a splash pad. It’s also full of gorgeous, mature trees, if you’re looking for some shade to relax under. And there are plenty of trails for walking or running.

Kelley Point Park forms the peninsula at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. The park includes a canoe launch and places for swimming and fishing. There also are paved walking trails that lead down to the sandy beaches. As a bonus, it has a historical site and gorgeous vistas of the two rivers.

Children in North Portland

Peninsula Park is technically right outside North Portland, but we wanted to mention it because it is full of gorgeous rose gardens. The park also has a community swimming pool and a community center with classes similar to the ones offered at the St. Johns Community Center.

There are also many, many splash pads for children in North Portland. Here’s a roundup of all the ones in Portland. They are generally open from March to September.


Smith and Bybee Wetlands

The Smith and Bybee Wetlands area is surrounded by warehouses and industrial buildings, so it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the area. It’s nearly 2,000 acres and is currently in the process of being restored. It’s actually one of the largest protected wetlands in an American city.

You’re sure to see lots of animals like beavers, deer, otters, turtles, and all kinds of birds just walking along the trails. Don’t forget to bring some binoculars. And from mid-April to June, you can hop in a kayak or a canoe and look at the lakes up close.

Here’s another blog post where we talk about the Smith and Bybee Wetlands.

Vanport Wetlands Wildlife Habitat

This site, which is 90.5 acres, is located in the Columbia Slough corridor. It’s just west of the Smith and Bybee Wetlands area. The area was renamed the Vanport Wetlands in 2001 and has since been developed into a wildlife habitat.

Children in North Portland

The habitat’s name is a nod to what was the nearby community of Vanport, which was wiped out by a flood in 1948. There’s actually even a spot where you can see an old amphitheater from before the flood.

Fun with Children in North Portland

North Portland is a great place to live with children. There’s plenty to keep them (and you!) busy. We hope this gives you some ideas for getting out there and having fun with yours, especially as spring comes our way.

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