McMenamins: Kennedy School
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What’s to Love: This is my favorite McMenamins in Portland city limits. I’ll admit, I’ve never been a big fan of their food, and my wife the Naturopath isn’t too keen on bar food, but they do have a few items worth mentioning. I always enjoy the Captain Neon Burger with spicy fries, and their fish-n-chips are pretty good. If you enjoy a good soda, definitely have their draft root beer, which is like a dessert.

While the food doesn’t knock my socks off, don’t let it deter you from making a trip with the whole family to the Kennedy School. The atmosphere and the “cool factor” more than make-up for any shortcomings. Located in NE Portland near 33rd and Killingsworth (see Website), the Kennedy school is a revamped elementary school complete with quirky bathrooms, a detention room bar, soaking pool, gym for larger events, plenty of classrooms turned into meeting rooms, and an amazing outdoor fireplace.

My son just enjoys wandering around the halls looking at all the different pictures. Accessibility-ramps have been added to maneuver around stairs, and children love running up and down these big ramps. As parents, you’ll admire all this whimsical art/tile work. The main dining area has a good family vibe, and when you’re done eating, you can always go check-out a movie!

Caveats: While the servers have always been friendly, things do take time. If you’re in a hurry or stressed-out, I would probably pick another location for lunch or dinner. While very cool, the rooms are overpriced for what you get; unless, you get them in a package deal (see Insider Info.).

Website: Kennedy School

Distance from Portland: Within Portland city limits.

Recommended Ages: All ages!

Parental Stress Factor: Low/Medium Stress! This really depends on how crowded things get while you’re there. All of the larger McMenamins’ are pretty low stress venues.

Physical Difficulty: Low – fully accessible to all.

Family Fun Factor: Medium – If there is a great concert happening, or a very good movie for kids, I would knock this up a notch to high.

Pet Friendly: No pets.

Weather Considerations: Year round…always nice in rainy weather. I don’t know what it is about McMenamins and bad weather. I think the artwork always cheers me up!

Insider Info: Make sure you take a look at their weekly specials – I have found this food to be a bit more creative and for the most part, pretty good. The soaking pool is worth a dip, and the outdoor fireplace, on a good night, is splendid! If you can break away from the kids, slip into one of their cozy little bars – my favorite is the Detention Room.

If you feel like a night out without the kids, try booking a room to take advantage of their sweet packages. We’ve purchased the “Hammerhead” package, which includes dinner and breakfast with a queen-bed room for $159-$179…not bad.

Last time I was there, the movie theater was packed with a bunch of old couches and chairs. It was so uncomfortable that I could barely sit through the movie. Give yourself some time to try out a few different options before committing to a 2 hour movie.

Family Tips: If your kids are going to need some assistance getting around, I would leave the stroller in the car and opt for a sling or backpack-type carrier. The restaurant is always pretty crowded, and believe me, when young walkers get a look at that open hallway, they will want to try out their legs!

The Kennedy School offers concerts and entertainment throughout the week. Check their calendar often for special events for kids and families.

Technorati Tags: McMenamins, Kennedy School, Portland Schools, northeast Portland, New Seasons, family restaurants

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