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Columbia Park
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Green Space at Columbia ParkWhat’s to Love:  In my opinion, this is the nicest park in North Portland, and it certainly rivals the southeast showpiece “Sellwood Park,” which is my favorite Portland park.  With the Columbia Park Annex that extends the park south to the “Overlook,” Columbia Park is one of the largest parks in North Portland.  

Shelter/BathroomsNorth Portland has been changing rapidly over the last 10 years.  The Kenton area has been identified as a “redevelopment zone,” which has led to the building of tax abatement properties and other funding via the Portland Development Commission and the city of Portland.  Therefore, if you’re expecting North Portland parks to be run-down and/or “sketchy,” you may want to take a tour and see for yourself.  While there are many quality parks in the area, Columbia Park is certainly one of the best options for the whole family.

New spray park at Columbia ParkThe park sports a brand new spray-park, which will definitely hit the spot on hot summer days.  I love these new water features, because unlike many fountains, they are not always running.  Simply touch your hand to a nearby pole, and the feature starts spraying water in a timed-pattern.  When it’s done going through the cycle, the water turns off.  These new spray-parks are probably not the best for older kids; however, younger children will certainly love running around these water features.

Playstructure at Columbia ParkThe playstructure at Columbia Park is relatively new with a double teeter-totter that is just right for kids of different sizes.  Check-out the caterpillar-style jungle gym in the picture below.  My son had a fun going up and down on this structure.  If you’re a traditionalist, the parks and recreation folks left some of the old-school playground gear just for you!

Caterpillar jungle gym!There are some paved paths that wonder through and around Columbia Park, and you’ll definitely notice the plentiful green-space and soaring Douglas Fir trees.  These paths are not long enough for family rides, but they are perfect for beginning riders, skateboarders, and/or rollerblading.

Caveats:  The indoor pool (see “Insider Info” below) has a height requirement of 48″.  If kids are under, they will need to be supervised (in the water) with an adult and/or parent.  This is not a good pool for toddlers or children who cannot swim – there are no water features or kiddie slides.

The bathroom is currently stuff with building supplies, and is due for a renovation; however, I don’t think that it will happen anytime soon.  It’s probably best to go to the bathroom before you get to the park.  If you do need to use the facilities, I would head over to the pool building.

While the playstructure is new, the equipment is pretty limited for older kids (between 5 and 10).  The tennis courts need to be resurfaced, but they’re fine for kids just learning to play and/or a casual game with friends.

WebsiteColumbia Park

Distance from Portland:  Within 5 miles of downtown Portland – here is a Google Map.

Recommended Ages:  Because of the swimming pool, all different age groups can be entertained at Columbia Park!  Older kids will love the pool and all the green-space for playing outdoor sports and games.  Younger kids will love the spray-park and playstructure.  Bring them all together for a great picnic at one of the designated picnic areas.

Parental Stress Factor:  Low.  Just like any park in Portland, keep a close eye on your kids, and you’ll have a great time.

Physical Difficulty:  Paved paths create a nice environment for wheelchair access and the spray-park area appears to be fully accessible.

Family Fun Factor:  High!  If you’re “park people,” this place is for your family.  Just like at Sellwood, it’s possible to spend the whole day at the park with swimming, outdoor games, biking, and a picnic.

Pet Friendly:  Yes!  Columbia Park is definitely big enough for your dog to run and stretch his/her legs.  As always, please be considerate of younger children who may be scared of dogs.

Weather Considerations:  Because there is an indoor pool, this is a great destination year round!  The pool is kept at a comfortable temperature, and there are swimming lessons as well as family/open swim times.

Indoor PoolInsider Info:  There are not many parks in Portland with indoor swimming pools and Columbia Park is one of them!  This is a clean pool with free life jackets.  Again, this is not a good pool for letting toddlers cut loose.  This is a pool for kids who can swim unattended (if 48″ or taller), and/or teenage kids.  The water is kept in the mid-80’s year round, which provides a comfortable temperature on cool winter days.  Overall, this is probably one of the nicer indoor pools in the Portland park system.

In the mood for more parks while visiting North Portland?  Check-out these two gems (Peninsula Park, Kelly Point Park) I’ve covered in previous articles.  Doing this three park tour would be a nice day trip.

New Slide!Family Tips:  There are plenty of picnic areas for family functions, birthdays, parties, whatever!  There is a covered picnic area that can be reserved for some shade or for shelter during the rainy season.

If you’re looking for some food and/or coffee, head over to Kenton’s downtown area by N. Denver and N. Kilpatrick.  The area is quickly becoming the newest Portland hot-spot with some excellent options.  Our current favorite is “Posies Cafe,” which is run by moms!  The moms even get to bring their kids to work, which is the perfect solution to the work-vs-childcare game many of us play.  This is a VERY kid-friendly place, and I’m sure it will quickly become one of your favorite destinations.

Technorati Tags: Columbia Park, Portland, parks, water, feature, spray, park, north, Kenton, Portsmouth, indoor pool, Posies Cafe, Kenton

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