When you head to the Pacific Northwest for a vacation, Portland should be at the top of your list of places to see. From children's activities to parks, there are several things to do in Portland that are entertaining for the whole family, no matter how different your interests are. Portland has a lot to offer visitors including museums, art galleries, shopping, nightlife and outdoor recreation.
The Oregon Zoo is one of the state's most popular attractions. More than 1.5 million people visit the zoo each year and it features 1,955 animals from 232 different species. There are birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fish living in the zoo, including 22 endangered and 37 threatened species. Also in the zoo are native Pacific Northwest plants. There are more than 1,000 species of exotic plants in the zoo's botanical gardens which means you'll get to see firebird heliconia, pelican flower and ground orchid. Kids will love getting to see the American black bear, Amur leopard and tiger, Asian elephant and the bald eagle while browsing the zoo's many exhibits. Humboldt penguins, cheetahs and lions also live at the zoo in exhibits including Africa Rainforest, Asian Elephants, Black Bear Ride, Cascade Stream and Pond and Penguinarium.
Go on a thrilling adventure at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Here you'll get to participate in exhibits and engage in hands-on learning.The center's five unique exhibit halls, eight interactive science labs, the USS Blueback submarine, Kendall Planetarium and the Empirical Theater will let you spend the whole day being a kid again. Kendall Planetarium is the largest and most advanced in the Pacific Northwest and offers educational and entertaining presentations on astronomy and space science, including "Starry Nights LIVE!," "Perfect Little Planet," and "To Space and Back."
Let the kids take the lead when you visit the Portland Children's Museum. With so many exhibits you'll want to give them time to explore each at their own pace to get the best of the learning experience. The museum's feature exhibits are there for several months at a time so you have plenty of time to get in there and check them out. Some of the museum's past exhibits include "Cycle City: A Spin on Bikes" and "Outdoor Adventure," which is slated to become a permanent exhibit and transform 1.3 acres of inaccessible land into an education-based outdoor play space. Additional exhibits and studios in the museum include Baby's Garden, Building Bridgetown, Grasshopper Grocery, Butterfly Bistro, Zany Maze and Pet Hospital.
Things to Do in Portland
Washington Park: Washington Park is one of the oldest in Portland and was purchased by the city in 1871. Cougar used to roam what is now the park, and thick brush and timber covered the land. Since then its been transformed into an outdoor play land for people of all ages. You'll find a number of attractions in the park, including a bronze statue of Sacajawea as well as the Lewis and Clark Memorial. At the center of Washington Way and Wright Avenue, you'll see the Oregon Holocaust Memorial featuring a stone bench near a cobblestone area that simulates a town square. Be sure to stop and see the wall of history panels that offer a brief look at the Holocaust and quotes from survivors. This historical site is also home to paved paths that are great for walking and jogging as well as a giant playground for children that includes a disabled access area.
Pittock Mansion: There's a story behind every house and the Pittock Mansion is no different. The structure was built in 1914 for the state's first and most influential families. It overlooks the city skyline and is a great place to learn about the history of Portland. Henry and Georgiana Pittock lived in the home during the 1900s and their work contributed to the growth of the city they called home. When you visit the mansion today it's full of family artifacts and a memorial to the Pittock family. Generations of the Pittock family lived in the home until 1958, and the home was opened to the public in 1965. Not only do you get a peek into the past of the Pittocks, but a look at how Portland became what it is today.
Portland Japanese Garden: The Japanese Garden is comprised of 5.5 acres and five distinct garden styles. There's a sense of peace, harmony and tranquility in the garden - perfect if you're looking for a place to relax during your stay in Portland. The Flat Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, The Tea Garden and Sand and Stone Garden are influenced by Shinto, Buddhist and Taoist philosophies and composed of stone, water and plants.