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Happy Valley City Park
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Boardwalk through wetlands at Happy Valley City ParkWhat’s to Love: Surrounded by large-scale condo/housing developments that all look the same, Happy Valley City Park offers a bit of a reprieve from its chaotic surroundings. The park has some well kept athletic fields, green spaces, picnic areas/shelters, playgrounds, and even offers recycling receptacles! Sounds like a pretty decent park, but is it worth the 8-10 mile drive from Portland?

Spray/water area at Happy Valley City ParkIf it’s going to be a summer scorcher, this park is definitely worth the drive. The park offers one of the nicest spray parks in the area, especially for children 5 and under. There are 16 different spray jets shooting water in a variety of patterns. On one end, the jets spray water only 1-2 feet into the air so toddlers have their own place to play. Certainly, this water park cannot compete with Memorial Park or Jamison Square, but it will be far less of a scene.

Tunnels at Happy Valley City ParkIn the back area of the park, there is a nice playstructure with a cool, above-ground tunnel. It’s made out of cement sewer pipes that are about 3 feet in diameter. The whole tunnel is about 10-15 feet long and not too scary for younger kids. You may have to go halfway with them the first time they try to go through.

Playstructure at Happy Valley City ParkBehind the playstructure area is an off-leash area for dogs and a boardwalk through a wetland area. The boardwalk is about 1/8 – 1/4 of a mile in length and loops back to the front of the park. There is also a small pond at the halfway point. The boardwalk is definitely worth checking-out, especially if you have small children.

The bathrooms are practically brand new and conveniently located right next to the spraypark. It’s a covered area where you can setup some chairs in the shade, and watch your kids run around in the water jets.

Finally, the park has plenty of green space and athletic fields for sports. There are several covered picnic areas, which are reservable through their website. Here is a short video clip of the park.

Picnic area at Happy Valley City ParkCaveats: The surrounding scenery was probably very nice at one time. Now, it has been pretty much destroyed by housing developments. There is not much shade near the spray park, which is unfortunate. However, bring some lawn chairs and sit under the shelter provided by the new bathhouse. Overall, this is a very nice park!

Website: Happy Valley City Park

Distance from Portland: About 8 – 10 miles from downtown Portland. Here is a Google map of the area.

Recommended Ages: All ages! Even young toddlers can run around in the spray park. Older kids will need something else to keep them entertained (e.g., frisbee, croquet, horseshoes, soccer ball, etc.).

Parental Stress Factor: Low stress! I thought this park would be overcrowded, but it was pretty mellow the day we were there. I think most people were probably sitting in their new homes enjoying their air conditioning. Also, Happy Valley is beyond the nastiness of the 82nd area. The park was very clean – people were respectful and kind.

Physical Difficulty: The park offers plenty of accessible paved-paths, as well as the boardwalk for wheelchairs.

Family Fun Factor: Medium – This park doesn’t offer quite as many amenities as some of our other favorite parks. However, if your family likes water play mixed-in with some outdoor sports, the fun factor is at least medium.

Pet Friendly: There is an off-leash area in the back of the park. See their website for guidelines and restrictions.

Weather Considerations: The perfect destination when your little ones want to run around in the water and cool off. Most likely, we will visit this park again, but probably not during the winter months.

Picnic shelter at Happy Valley City ParkInsider Info: This park is probably big enough to fly a kite or launch a model rocket. New Seasons, our favorite grocery store and family restaurant, recently opened a brand new store in Happy Valley! If you’re in the area, drop-in for a picnic lunch.

Pond at Happy Valley City ParkFamily Tips: Due to the lack of shade, your kids will need a pretty extreme setup including: sunglasses and hat, sunscreen, plenty of water and/or juice, and vegetable/fruit snacks. If you have an umbrella for shade, definitely bring it! Sunscreen the kids up at home before you leave, or you might be able to do it in the parking lot. However, if you wait, you’re going to have a hard time when they see the spray jets going.

Any type of stroller or child carrier works at this park. If it’s going to be a super hot day, try getting to the park between 10 and 11. That way, they’ll have some time to play before lunch, and you’ll be long gone before the hottest time of the day.

Technorati Tags: Happy Valley, city, park, boardwalk, New Seasons Market, water play, spray park

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