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What To Do With Kids Over Winter Break in Portland

  |  Local Happenings, Neighborhood Insight, Portland

The kids are almost out of school for winter break! This usually means lots of sleeping in, cookie eating, movie watching, and fort making. If you have some restless little ones, make plans to venture outside of the house to enjoy the many activities in store for kids in the Portland area. From snowy adventures like tubing and ice skating, to indoor activities like rock climbing and painting, there are so many ways to keep your family busy during winter break!

Remember to take a look at each venue’s hours before your visit, as they may vary during the holidays.


Attend a Holiday Event

Before you explore the assortment of ongoing activities, take a look at the many holiday events happening in Portland this year, the majority of which are kid-friendly. There are plenty of places to see holiday lights, visit with Santa, and watch a spectacular performance or concert!


Visit the Portland Children’s Museum

Keep the education going outside of the classroom with a visit to the Portland Children’s Museum. There is a wide array of exciting exhibits at this hands-on museum geared towards children. Future veterinarians will love the make-believe pet hospital, budding Broadway stars will take center stage at the museum’s theater, and future scientists will have a blast at Water Works. This is the perfect rainy day activity to keep little ones busy and encourage creativity, exploration and imagination.


Go Rock Climbing at The Source Climbing Center

The Source Climbing Center

Photo courtesy of The Source Climbing Center

Test your problem-solving abilities and get a workout with a visit to The Source Climbing Center in Vancouver. This state-of-the-art center has a variety of climbing walls for all skill levels, whether your child is a beginner or avid climber. Plus, you can join in on the fun if you’d like! Rock climbing is a wonderful way to stay active while remaining indoors during the winter months.


Explore OMSI

Stretch your mind and imagination with a visit to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), a science and technology museum with three auditoriums, including a large-screen theatre, a planetarium, and exhibition halls with hands-on exhibits. The exhibits cover a wide range of subjects under the umbrellas of natural sciences, industry and technology. Kids and adults alike will gain a greater understanding of our world and its technology at the OMSI.


Bundle Up for the Oregon Zoo

If weather permits, head to the zoo for some fresh air and a chance to see spectacular wildlife up close and personal. Whether you have yet to visit or have been a dozen times, there is always something new to see at the Oregon Zoo. Plus, you can see the spectacular ZooLights display each night from 5 to 9 p.m. through January 7!


Jump, Jump, Jump Around at a Trampoline Park

Sky High Sports | Portland

Photo courtesy of Sky High Sports

Your older kids will particularly love a visit to a trampoline park over winter break. Sky High Sports offers endless fun, including Klime Wallz, a video arcadedodgeball, a foam pit, and of course, lots of trampoline jumping. Plus, their adventure land and kids court are perfect for little jumpers as well! Sky Zone in Vancouver has plenty of attractions, including Ultimate Dodgeball, the Foam Zone, wall-to-wall freestyle jumpingSkyHoopsSkySlam, and a Toddler Zone for little jumpers. Visit these trampolines parks for a jampacked day full of activity, excitement, and exercise!


Retreat to an Indoor Playplace

Get some pent-up energy out without having to succumb to a rain-drenched playground. Visit  an indoor playplace for endless entertainment for your little ones. Some of our favorites include PlayDate PDX and The Playground Gym. Roseway Play Café in Portland and Dizzy Castle in Vancouver are especially accommodating to adults, as they serve coffee and other drinks and offer free wifi to use while the kids play. Or simply take the kids along while you do last-minute holiday shopping at Washington Square and make a stop at the dynamic and fun play place in the mall.


Create Your Holiday Wish List at Thinker Toys

Finalize the holiday wish list for Santa with a visit to Thinker Toys in Multnomah Village. After deciding on favorite toys, visit the children’s section of Annie Bloom’s Books or grab a sweet treat from Sweets Etc. around the corner. This charming collection of small shops is a simple yet delightful way to spend an afternoon with little ones.


Go Sledding

Portland Sledding Hills

While we may not get measurable snow very often, there are plenty of places to go sledding near Portland. Grab your sleds and head to the many sledding hills in the area, several of which are free! Free snow parks include White River Sno-ParkLittle John Sno Park, and Trillium Lake.


Paint a Masterpiece at Mimosa Studios

Get creative at Mimosa Studios, the perfect destination for kids and adults alike. This pottery studio allows you to create a masterpiece from their wide range of projects, including ceramic tile coasters, picture frames, coffee mugs, plates, bowls, pet dishes, piggy banks, vases, bird feeders, wall murals and more! Paint an object with your child as a holiday gift for someone, or simply as a keepsake memory to take home and enjoy. Reservations are recommended for Mimosa Studios during winter break, so call ahead to reserve your spot.


Visit Esther Short Park

Esther Short Park in the heart of Vancouver is a fun (and free!) destination all year long, but is made even more magical with the enormous Christmas tree lighting up the square. The park is the oldest public square in the state of Washington, and it is adorned with history and charm. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate at Starbucks and take a stroll through the park. The little ones can even play on the playground if weather permits!


Hit the Slopes at Mt. Hood Skibowl Snow Tube & Adventure Park

Video courtesy of Mt Hood Snowtubing | Mt Hood Tubing

Experience the ultimate winter getaway at the Mt. Hood Skibowl, located about an hour and a half away from Portland. This adventure park is perfect for all ages, and features the only tube conveyor lift on Mt. Hood. This means you can ride the lift up the hill then zoom down the hill on one of their custom tubes. The park is open on weekends and school holidays, which includes winter break. Plus, each night during winter break, enjoy Cosmic Tubing®, featuring over 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows, black lights, and rocking music while you go tubing! The Snow Tube & Adventure Park also includes the indoor Super Play Zone, Kids Tubing Carousel, Frosty’s Playland and more.


Go Shopping Along Northwest 23rd Avenue

Head to the charming Northwest 23rd Avenue in Nob Hill for a quintessential holiday shopping experience. Get some last-minute shopping done or simply admire the sparkling lights in trees overhead. Your little ones will particularly enjoy a visit to Child’s Play Toys, an old-school shop with unique toys, books, dolls and puppets for babies and kids.


See Holiday Lights on Peacock Lane

Portland Holiday Events

Photo courtesy of Peacock Lane

The holiday season is not complete without a visit to Peacock Lane, nicknamed Portland’s Christmas Street. Each home in this quaint southeast neighborhood has been decorating for Christmas for decades. Mostly comprised of Tudors, the neighborhood features beautiful sparkling lights, nativity scenes, rotating Christmas trees, and life-like replicas of your favorite holiday characters. Because the streets can become crowded, it is wise to park several blocks away and walk to the street. Peacock Lane will be decorated and ready for visitors from 6–11 p.m. December 15–31. The street will be pedestrian-only and closed to cars on December 14, 16 and 17.


Go Ice Skating

Keep the tradition of ice skating alive at any of the many rinks in the Portland area, both permanent and seasonal. The Lloyd Center Ice Rink is open year-round but has a festive tree in the center during the holiday season. Make a trip to the Oregon Garden in Silverton to visit the beautiful seasonal outdoor ice rink or the 150-foot snowless tubing track. Or stick closer to home at the Winter Village at Jerry Willey Plaza open-air ice rink, where you’ll also find carolers, holiday-themed kids’ activities, and endless holiday shopping at the Orenco Station shopping center.


Enjoy your winter break!

Explore these fun wintery activities — whether you are a child or child-at-heart.

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About the Author

Courtney Itami

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