Curious Comedy Theater

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What’s to Love:  My band for kids and families (The Toy Trains) recently had a show at The Curious Comedy Theater with other local “Kindie” artists Johnny & Jason and Mo Phillips.  Check-out the video clips below in the text of the article.  I wanted to do a short write-up about this wonderful little (non-profit) theater that provides a wide variety of comedy shows and special shows just for kids and families.

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Bouldering at The Circuit Gym

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What’s to Love: I’m republishing this article because The Circuit now has a Northeast location (410 NE 17th Ave.) as well as their SW Macadam location (6050 SW Macadam Ave).  The NE location is EVEN BIGGER than their Macadam spot, which is hard to believe.  Also, the NE location has more kid-friendly climbing with a cool slide and bridge structure.  I’ve included some pictures and a video clip.

Over the years, The Circuit has been one of my absolute favorite indoor places to take my oldest son (now 7). We were going so often that I had to get a yearly membership, which can be paid monthly via automatic debit (nice!). This is an amazing experience for young children, and we started our first son here when he was around two years old. Bouldering is a form of climbing where there is no need for a rope due to the fact that you’re never very far off the ground. The emphasis is practicing and mastering hard sequences of moves.

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Revolution Parkour

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IMG_0547What’s to Love:  “Functional Fitness” is a trendy term these days.  What does it mean?  I’m sure I could gather many definitions from practitioners, teachers, and students.  To me, it means exercising in dynamic/non-linear ways like rolling, tumbling, climbing, twisting, turning, jumping, leaping, grasping, etc.  Most importantly, the movements have to be done with a mindful intent on the technique.  Oh yeah, it MUST be fun!  It’s the type of fitness that makes you feel like a kid again.  Revolution Parkour houses one of the first Parkour Academies in the country, and after experiencing a course first-hand with my son, I can certainly attest to the “having fun” aspect.

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John’s Incredible Pizza

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John's Incredible PizzaWhat’s to Love:  Open just a couple of weeks now (Grand Opening on Tuesday, March 29th, 3PM to 9PM), we spent nearly 3-hours at John’s Incredible Pizza playing games, enjoying the rides, and eating.  This place is HUGE (46,000 square feet) with over 110 games, but it’s the little things that actually make John’s worth a visit.

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Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP)

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What’s to Love:  Love art at home but hate the mess and clean-up?  Simple solution – turn your kids loose inside the Art Factory of the Children’s Healing Art Project.  It’s sort of like being inside Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory but with paint, brushes, push carts, and colorful smocks.  Don’t be afraid to make a masterpiece or a mess.  All the while, know that your dollars are helping fund an innovative nonprofit that helps ailing children and their families.

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PlayDate PDX

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PlayDate PDX SlidesWhat’s to Love:  Playdate PDX features a 7500 square foot indoor play space for kids, which is certainly one of the nicest I’ve seen in the last three years of Portland Family Adventures.  The facility is perfect for parents who want to both interact with their kids and relax a bit.  The business model is another home run in a town that offers so many great opportunities for families.

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Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

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IMG_0986What’s to Love:  File this under “MUST VISIT NOW!”  This place is AMAZING!  Even a week after the visit, our kids were still talking about it, and I’m trying to fully grasp and articulate our experience.  I cannot believe we hadn’t visited these incredible museums.  Out in what seems like the middle of nowhere, Portlanders have access to aviation and spaces museums that rival anything you’d see at Cape Canaveral or Washington D.C., or anywhere else for that matter.  These museums are squeaky clean, full of helpful volunteers, and will literally make you just stare in awe.

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The Playground Gym

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“The Playground Gym provides kids with an environment that nurtures physical, mental and emotional development. Kids are built to play, and skills learned from physical activity combined with social interaction are the foundation of a healthy life. For many parents, its easy to forget the energy and curiosity that we took granted as children.” (http://www.theplaygroundgym.com/about/)

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Spielwerk Toys – Werkshops

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Felted soapbar werkshopWhat’s to Love:  Spielwerk has long been my favorite toy store in Portland.  The owners (Sonja Barclay & Stacee Wion) filled a stellar Sellwood location with Waldorf-inspired toys, games, tools, and art supplies.  Forget about the plastic junk you’ll find at places like Toys R Us – this is a Portland original featuring toys that you’ll hang onto for years and years.

Plus, you’ll feel good about supporting a local business like Spielwerk.  It’s obvious Sonja and Stacee realize the importance of building strong relationships with their customers and the community, which is why they host some inspired “werkshops” for kids and their parents.

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Safari Sam’s Jungle of Fun

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Safari Sam’s Jungle of Fun has Oregon’s largest indoor jungle-gym/playstructure. Your kids will have a great time running around in the jungle gym, playing 18 holes of miniature golf, and having fun with arcade-type games. It’s the perfect location for a birthday party. They also have a sports-gym that can be rented out.

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Rainy Day Favorites

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I don’t think it’s a big revelation to anyone that our incredible fall weather is winding down. At Portland Family Adventures, we had a very active summer. Since June 1st, we’ve published 34 articles, and experienced a 2500% increase in site traffic! We published two of our most popular articles “Tips for Biking with Kids” and “Top 10 Summer Activities.” In that same vein, I’m going to highlight some of our favorite rainy-day-activities. Although the outdoor activities may start to decrease, remember that Portland Family Adventures documents indoor activities as well.

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Out of This World

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Space Training Center at Out of this WorldWhat’s to Love: Awesome indoor playpark! When I’m out investigating businesses that bill themselves as “family friendly,” it’s obvious that the majority of these businesses have good intentions. However, all too often, I’ve discovered the list of caveats to be as long as the list of good intentions. For example, your kids may have a great time somewhere, but exorbitant costs come close to driving you into bankruptcy! It’s definitely hard to find a place with high marks in a wide variety of areas (e.g., decent food, fair prices, accessibility, plenty of options for fun, low stress, etc.). Well, I’m happy to report that “Out of This World” owners Don and Linda Milford used their good intentions wisely, and absolutely nailed the indoor playpark concept!  This is without a doubt the best multi-use, indoor playpark in the greater Portland area. Here is why…

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Sellwood Community Center

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Sellwood Community CenterWhat’s to Love: Established in 1920, The Sellwood Community Center remains an important fixture in the neighborhood.  While a bit worse for wear, fans of Sellwood’s small-town-feel will ultimately enjoy the space.  The Center offers a plethora of programs throughout the year and a day camp program in the summer.  This small space has plenty to offer!

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Glowing Greens – Mini Golf

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Pirate Skeleton outside Glowing Greens Mini-GolfWhat’s to Love: Perhaps, you’ve seen the bumper sticker, “Keep Portland Weird!” I’m all for it, and this establishment sure helps make a strong case for Portland’s weirdness.   It’s in a pretty unusual location – downtown in the basement of a building between 5th and 6th on Taylor. It has a pirate theme with glow-in-the-dark paint, which also adds a three-dimensional feel when glasses (supplied) are worn.

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Wilsonville Lanes

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Wilsonville Lanes - clean and tidy bowling alleyWhat’s to Love: My son and I stumbled onto Wilsonville Lanes by accident. We were in the parking lot of Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center, and my son said, “Dad can we go bowling?” I replied, “I don’t think there is a bowling alley nearby.” At that point, I looked in the distance and sure enough, Wilsonville Lanes appeared. In this area of strip-malls and car dealerships, I didn’t expect much, but was pleasantly surprised.

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Puppet Shows/Companies

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Penny Walter of Penny’s Puppet Company showing puppets to kids after showWhat’s to Love: I just saw the “Speakin’ Beacon” puppet show, which was a combined effort from two Portland puppeteers: Penny’s Puppet Productions & The Mudeye Puppet Company. During the show, we met several interesting characters including a lovable rat and a space alien, who transformed to hide his identity into a 3-eared bunny and what appeared to be a talking pickle. The show did a good job of engaging the audience with a fun storyline, humor, and “clap-alongs” to music at several points during the production.

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OMSI

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Lobby and Ticket Area at Oregon Museum of Science and Industry OMSIWhat’s to Love: Where do I start? The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (affectionately know to all as “OMSI” ahm-zee), is almost a pointless post. Most people in the Portland area are well aware of this incredible community resource, and everyone seems to love OMSI. I should probably break this up into 5 or 6 different posts, because there are so many things to love about OMSI. However, since OMSI offers a plethora of general information via their website, I’m going to stick to my usual format – trying to pinpoint what might be extra special just for parents and their kids.

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JJJump

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JJJumpWhat’s to Love: JJJump has two locations in the Portland area (Clackamas and Vancouver). This inflatable playland is very similar to Pump-it-Up, but doesn’t feel as corporate to me. We’ve only tried out the Vancouver location, and we had a great time. JJJump offers a good variety of inflatable structures, which will get you and your children bouncing, sliding, climbing, and crawling.

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Kids’ Club Fun & Fitness

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Entrance to Jungle PlaylandWhat’s to Love: The main attraction here – “Jungle Playland” – is free for adults and reasonably priced for kids. It’s the best indoor play structure I’ve seen in the Portland area. Bullwinkle’s Family Fun Center in Wilsonville has a nice structure, but this is as nice and bigger. There is just so much room for kids to move and play within this structure filled with great slides, a twirling tunnel, obstacles, and a plastic-ball plunge “pool.” Personally, I love the climbing nets and the fact that adults can go in the structure (if your back can handle it!) with their kids.

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North Clackamas Aquatic Park

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North Clackamas Aquatics ParkWhat’s to Love: Simply stated, the North Clackamas Aquatic Park (NCAP) is the nicest facility for swimming and water-fun in the Portland area. The biggest attraction is probably the wave pool, which generates some pretty nice cruising waves. Their water slides are gigantic (one is a fully enclosed tube), the under 5 area has the best kiddie-slide in Portland, there is a rock climbing wall with an auto-belay feature, and the changing/public areas are clean and well kept. The design of this aquatic park will keep the whole family busy visit after visit.

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