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Jamison Square – Water Fountain
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What’s to Love: Jamison Square is well-designed, city block in the heart of the Pearl District. The center piece being the water fountain, which attracts pretty big crowds in warm weather. There is a nice patch of green grass for sunning and picnic lunches and/or dinners. Of course, the square is surrounded by shops and restaurants (cheap eats – Hot Lips Pizza), Powell’s Books is close, as well as REI and Patagonia. If you’re not careful, your afternoon at the fountain can end up costing you hundreds of dollars!

This is probably the nicest fountain in the area. Aesthetically, it’s visually appealing with water pouring over layers of flat rock into a small brick area. As it fills with water, kids and adults can frolic around in no more than 12″ of water, which is just fine for cooling off.  Here is a short video clip.

Caveats: On a hot weekend afternoon, this is a popular destination, and may be overrun with people, kids and dogs. Since there is not much shade, you’ll probably be better off in an air conditioned locale. My favorite time to visit is in the early evening when the buildings shade much of the area. Parking is difficult – I recommend biking or parking and taking the street car. This is a social place for many parents, who often end up talking on their cell phones, or talking to friends while their kids take a dive off the rocks. It’s a bit frustrating.

Website: Jamison Square

Distance from Portland: Within walking distance of downtown.

Recommended Ages: All ages – you’ll need to keep an eye on toddlers. Older kids ages 8 and up do show-up at times, but this is mainly an area for smaller kids and families.

Parental Stress Factor: Medium stress – there have been some irresponsbile dog owners when I have been there, and the tiered rocks are not a safe surface in case of a fall. My son has scraped himself up. Even though the water is not deep, it’s still dangerous, and parents need to watch their kids closely, which doesn’t always happen.

Physical Difficulty: Low – fully accessible to all.

Family Fun Factor: Medium – The tiered-rock make me nervous. My son loves to run along the top row – adults are often oblivious to kids around them. I mainly go to the fountain for my son – it’s not my favorite place, but it is a very nice area.

Pet Friendly: Dogs are okay, but they need to be on a leash and in control. My son has been knocked over by dogs many times at the fountain.

Weather Considerations: Obviously a warm weather destination.

Insider Info: I’m not exaggerating when I say the wet bricks are VERY slippery. I’ve seen so many parents and kids bite the dust…hard! If you have to run, or your kids have to run, please be careful. You and your kids, if not careful, are a fall away from an emergency room trip. The rocks are rough cut and sharp. Cheap food is hard to find, but there is a hot dog stand with some other snacks and drinks.

Family Tips: Sunscreen is an absolute necessity here…put it on before you get here, because your kids will be pretty excited to hit the water. A brimmed-hat is a great idea too, and you may want some shoes for the water – Crocs or Keens work well for the fountain.

For entertainment, bring a beach ball or some water toys! Frisbees are not a good option, because the area is to crowded. Most kids just like to run around, but when it gets crowded, even that is not an option. Make sure you bring a swimming diaper for your kids – too many kids are going in “commando” style. Thinking about all those kids peeing in the water makes me a bit queasy. They do use chlorine, but it’s better to keep the water as clean as possible. If you can get some lawn space, a picnic is a decent idea. We usually bring snacks with us.

Technorati Tags: Jamison Square, water fountain, water features, urban water fun, Pearl District, Whole Foods

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3 Comments


  1. Don't forget to take a jog around the pearl when your out and about. Check out the dog parks too!

  2. My nearly 3 year old loves trains, so Jamison is great for him as the street car comes by every few minutes. We took the streetcar up to NW 23rd and walked to the park from there. The walk was a little long for my two kids, but it makes for a good afternoon of fun. Oh, and just an FYI, swim diapers don't absorb pee, just hold in the poo :). That's the difference between a swim diaper and a regular diaper. I found this out the hard way once when I thought it would be a good idea to put my baby son in his swim diaper before leaving for the pool. The car seat was soaked when I got to the pool.

  3. Does it mean those pool in the picture is actually a water fountain?

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