Portland welcomes families with many activities for your toddler.

Things to Do With Toddlers in Portland, Oregon

by Ursula Crawford

Portland has an abundance of bike paths, parks and farmer's markets, making it easy for its residents to embrace a healthy lifestyle. Active explorers by nature, toddlers fit in well in the city that was named America's third fittest in 2013 by the American College of Sports Medicine.

1. Stories and Movement

Multnomah County Libraries, Portland's library system, has 19 branches in neighborhoods around the city. For a free learning activity, check out one of Multnomah County Libraries' toddler story times. Parents and toddlers sing, move and read together during these sessions, offered throughout the week at different library branches. Parents can also take their future dancers to Portland Metro Arts' Tiny Boppers drop-in dance classes. These classes, for parents and children ages 9 months to 6 years, provide a low-key introduction to movement and music. At Woodlawn Movement and Healing Arts, introduce your toddler to yoga by attending a drop-in YogaTots class. These classes, for parents and little ones ages 1 to 2 years of age, incorporate music, rhymes and stories with traditional yoga poses.

2. Nature Activities

Introduce your toddler to nature at one of Leach Botanical Gardens' weekly Honeybee Hikes. Best for ages 1 to 6 years of age, these guided nature walks will introduce you and your toddler to the nearly 17 acre gardens. Portland Parks and Recreation hosts Ladybug Nature Walks each Friday at parks around the city, rain or shine. These walks are led by trained naturalists and are designed for ages 2 to 5 years of age. Story and Stroll at Southwest Portland's Tryon Creek State Park is best for little ones ages 2 to 6 years old, though all ages are welcome. This free weekly program combines nature exploration with music, movement and art.

3. Museums

Portland Children's Museum, located next to the Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, offers an interactive experience with exhibits like Water Works and The Clay Studio. Baby's Garden is a multi-sensory space specifically designed for children under 3 years of age. Budding scientists will enjoy a visit to the Science Playground at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. OMSI's Science Playground exhibit is designated for families with children ages 6 years old and under. They can play in the sand, splash in water and explore a hollow log. There's also an infant area for children under 2 years of age, where little ones can work on their motor skills and watch fish swim.

4. Dinner and a Movie

When you have a squirmy, vocal toddler, going out to restaurants can be a challenge. Laughing Planet Café is a convenient spot for families, offering quick service and healthy meals like rice and beans mixed with veggies. Kids also enjoy playing with the dinosaurs the decorate the tables. The Laurelwood Public House is a local chain with four locations in the Portland area. Each Laurelwood restaurant is equipped with a play area for toddlers. Tired parents can relax with a craft beer without worrying that their little ones are being too noisy. The Kennedy School McMenamins, a hotel, restaurant and movie theater, offers family matinees on weekends. Snuggle up with your toddler on one of the theater's comfy couches while watching a second-run family film.

About the Author

Ursula Crawford has been writing for publication since 2004. She has been published in "Eugene Weekly," "Oregon Daily Emerald" and "Flux" magazine. Crawford has a BA in journalism from the University of Oregon and a master's degree in teaching from George Fox University.

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