Jackson Bottom Wetlands

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Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve is just outside downtown Hillsboro, Oregon. It’s a nice location for hiking with younger children and viewing birds/wildlife. There is a beautiful Education Center with a gift shop and exhibit hall.

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Foster Burger

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Foster BurgerWhat’s to Love:  Foster Burger hand-grinds local (Lexington, Oregon) beef into some of the best burgers we’ve had in Portland.  They are just ridiculously good.  If you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll believe Bon Appetit Magazine who named Foster Burger as one of the Top 10 Best New Burger spots for 2010!  “Burgers here taste of local artisanal ingredients: house-ground beef from Lindsey Ranch, Beecher’s cheddar, and Rogue Creamery blue cheese. The buns are made in-house as well as pickled vegetables, hand-cut fries, and some very good coleslaw.

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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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Fernhill Park

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Fernhill ParkWhat’s to Love:  When we used to live in Northeast Portland, we’d frequent Fernhill Park with our dog.  As you can see, there is PLENTY of green space for romping, stomping, running, and jumping.  With the tall trees providing cover on the north end, this is a stunning park and the perfect destination if you feel like you need a little space.

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Sellwood Riverfront Park

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Sellwood Riverfront ParkWhat’s to Love:  Located just to the west (and below) Sellwood Park, Sellwood Riverfront Park often gets passed-up as bikers cruise the Springwater Corridor and cars zip by on the way to Oaks Amusement Park , Oaks Rollerskating Rink, or hiking in the nearby Wildlife Refuge.  Too bad!  Just like many inner southeast parks, this is one you don’t want to miss. 

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Kenton Park

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Kenton Park, North PortlandWhat’s to Love:  North Portland – so many parks, so little time!  Yes, Columbia Park is awesome, and it has a pool.  Pier Park has a pool, an 18-hole disc golf course, and an amazing skatepark.  Of course, there is Peninsula Park, Smith & Bybee WetlandsKelley Point Park, and many other little gems scattered across “the Gateway to Nature.”  How does Kenton Park rate?  Well, if they were to add a new playstructure, Kenton Park would be right on-par with the many beautiful parks in North Portland.  Chances are, if you don’t live in North Portland, Kenton Park isn’t even on your radar – until now!

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Great Adventure Book!

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As adventure-loving-parents, you must become familiar with Portland’s very own Joe “Metal Cowboy” Kurmaskie.  I can’t believe I just read my first book by Kurmaskie (Mud, Sweat, and Gears).  Where have I been?  I rarely do this on the site, but I want to encourage you all to order his book as soon as possible!  If you PayPal him directly at: mtcowboy@teleport.com, he’ll give you free shipping and the book for only $20!  That’s an incredible deal!

This book will inspire you to get up, get out, and have even MORE fun with your family.  His wife’s footnotes add to the outrageous, (at times) self-deprecating, bust-out-loud-laughing-humor.  I couldn’t put the book down, and I still can barely believe that any family has enough guts (or whatever you want to call it) to do what they did.  How did I finally stumble into the Kurmaskie circle?

There I was at a Portland biking event (Expo Center) with my two kids.  I was telling one of the event’s sponsors about my Portland Family Adventure website.  I went off on how the site has propelled me into travel writing, and how I’ve been able to have so many exciting adventures with my family.  The sponsor listened politely.  When I finished, he said, “That sounds great, but you gotta go check-out that dude over there – calls himself the Metal Cowboy.”

I quickly answered back, “Oh yeah, what’s so great about the Metal Cowboy.”  Actually, I didn’t really say that, but I was thinking it.  I was also thinking, “Metal Cowboy?”

The sponsor said, and I could barely believe what I was hearing, “That guy pedaled 4000 miles across Canada with his wife and 3 kids!”  What?  I made him repeat it to me again.  Yep…same thing I thought I heard the first time.  Wow…I had to go meet this guy.  Mud, Sweat, and Gears chronicles this amazing journey.  While bikes certainly make the story impressive, it’s really about how adventure can pull a family together.

So, I did finally make my way over to meet Joe Kurmaskie.  He is an engaging guy, which clearly stands out in his writing.  In a short conversation, I learned that he has written several books, biked across African nations, the Australian Outback, and across the USA with his sons and his father’s ashes.  I stood there in disbelief.  Really?  I had about a million questions I wanted to ask him, but he seemed more interested in my own kids, and listening to a story I told about my son Rhys riding Pedalpalooza when he was 3 1/2.  What a day…

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Smith & Bybee Wetlands

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What’s to Love:  Despite being sandwiched-in between some nasty industrial businesses, Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is an excellent family-biking destination with several options for family fun.  You may just need to hold your breath every now and then.

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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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Pier Park: Disc Golf, Skateboarding and Swimming

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Pier Park is yet another excellent North Portland Park featuring an challenging 18-hold disc golf course, an outdoor skate park, and an outdoor pool! This destination park has a little bit of everything for the whole family. If you have yet to visit, I suggest heading up to St. Johns before the rainy season hits in North Portland.

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Ibach Park – Tualatin

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Ibach Park is located 15-20 miles south of Portland off I-5. It has an award winning playground with some interesting playground gear. The park is super clean and well kept.

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Columbia Park

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Columbia Park is located in the Portsmouth neighborhood in North Portland. It has one of the new water/spay features for kids to play in. It also has a nice indoor pool.

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Beaverton City Park Fountain

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Beaverton City Park FountainWhat’s to Love:  Beaverton City Park is located right next to the city library.  We first visited on a very hot day when my son was around 3 years old. As you can see in the first video clip below, he was pretty spooked-out by the vertical row of spraying jets, so he just hung out on the fringes. I literally had to pick him up and run with him through the spray. This is your basic fountain with nothing too fancy, but it certainly can cool you off on a hot day. Plus, it’s a good fountain for all ages.

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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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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?

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Audubon Society of Portland

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PavillionWhat’s to Love:  Their message – “Audubon Society of Portland is devoted to the conservation of Oregon’s last remaining wild places.  Our first articles of incorporation written in the early 1900’s reflect this sentiment, ‘to use any and all lawful means for the protection of the wild birds and animals for the State of Oregon and elsewhere.’  We have taken this task very seriously over the years.”  (source)  After seeing some injured birds live (falcon, owls, turkey vulture, red-tailed hawk), I believe their commitment.  However, I believe the Audubon Society is somewhat off the radar for family fun, but for me, it’s an absolute must for small children.  Here is why…

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Car Free in Portland!

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Due to the popularity of my post “Tips for Biking with Kids,” I thought I’d do a follow-up that focuses on a family living without a car in Portland…by choice!  If you’re a family thinking about making a similar lifestyle change, or you’re simply interested in how a family can possibly live without a car, read-on and get inspired.

In October 2006, Michael Downes and Wendy Ashton moved to Portland, Oregon with their son Nathan Downes after living in Pasadena, California for 10 years. 

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