Summer Fun for Kids in Portland – 2011


There are so many amazing summer activities and events Portland this summer – from theater to music, from outdoor adventures to street fairs – there is plenty to keep you and your kids occupied on even the longest summer day in PDX. And most of it is free or cheap!


Movies in the Park. Portland Parks celebrate this summer tradition with movies from Despicable Me to the Goonies; Iron Man 2 to Free Willy. Pre-movie entertainment includes hte likes of The Toy Trains, Mr. Hoo, Mo Phillips, The Beaver Boogie Band, and tons more. Many also feature a portable rock climbing wall. All movies start at dark, with pre-movie entertainment starting at 6:30. Movies start in June and run through September.

What’s more summer than Shakespeare in the Park? The Portland Actors Ensemble is performing The Tempest at Lovejoy Fountain in June and July, and Much Ado About Nothing at all sorts of locations in August. All shows are free!

A number of movie theaters across town have free or cheap movies for kids during the summer.¬† Here’s a good compilation.



Concerts in the Park. Portland Parks has summer concerts most days of the week in July and August at parks across Portland. There’s everything from “smoky rockabilly” to Afro beat, and from “Boogie Cat” to good ol’ Mr. Ben.

Washington Park Summer Festival. From August 4 to 13, Washington Park is alive with music, dance, and fun. Samples include NW Dance Project, Portland Summerfest Opera, and Portland Festival Symphony.

Music on Main.  Portland Center for the Performing Arts puts on this music festival every summer where they dsut down Main between SW Broadway and Park and let the music ring.  This summer, acts like Celilo, The Buckles, and Lisa Mann will be performing.  All shows are free, from 5 to 7, and appropriate for all ages.  The first concert is June 30, last is September 1.

Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts.¬† The Zoo outdoor summer concerts bring in some of the hottest stars of today and yesterday.¬† This summer’s line up includes k.d. lang, The Go-Gos, Chris Isaac, and lots more.¬† Shows start in June and run through August.¬† Ticket prices vary.

McMenamins Edgefield Summer Concerts.¬† This summer’s lineup includes outdoor performances by Willie Nelson and Jethro Tull!¬† First show is in June and they run through September.¬† Ticket prices vary.¬† Kids under 3 do not require a ticket.

Portland Festival Symphony.¬†¬† The thirty-year tradition continues with Portland Park’s Festival Symphony.¬† Man, Portland Parks rocks!¬†¬†¬†This season there will be 5¬†free symphony concerts at parks around PDX.¬† All are free!¬† From July 30 to August 14 at 6 PM.

Kruger Farm’s Farm Tunes.¬† Outdoor concerts from the likes of Jackstraw and The Midnight Serenaders.¬† Plus hayrides, farm animals, and u-pick berries.¬† Bring your own food, or purchase there.¬† Thursdays from June 23 to September 1.¬† All shows are from 6:30 to 9:30 and are $10 per car.

Pioneer Courthouse Square has a number of events throughout the summer, including free Noon Tunes.¬† Running every Tuesday and Thursday from 12-1 on July 5 to August 18, it’s a great chance to get outside and hear some new music, or hear some music from local favorites like St. James Gate.¬† They also typically host flicks on the bricks, a great chance to see some free movies outside!

Director Park also has a number of events throughout the summer, like free dancing, opera, shakespeare, and music from July to September.

Sundown at Ecotrust Concerts.¬† These outdoor concerts tell a story about how to live deliberately in our bioregion.¬† Each week’s concert, plus its sponsors and information booths, highlight the topic.¬† Featured musicians include Y La Bamba and the Vagabond Opera.¬† All events are from 5:30 to 8:30 on Thursday from June 30 to July 28 and are FREE!



Sunday Parkways¬†are¬†a great way to explore your neighborhood or a new neighborhood!¬† It promotes helthy, active living through a series of free events opening the city’s streets to walk, bike, roll, and discover active transportation.¬† The first one is May 22 (East), and the last is September 25 (NE).

Portland Parks have a number of swim-related events, including open swims, itty bitty beach parties for kids 6 months to 6 years, and “dive-in” movies.¬† Get your suits and get ready for summer! Here’s the free swim schedule:

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Creston Pool, SE 44th and Powell
When: Monday, July 4, 12:30-2 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Buckman Pool, 320 SE 16th
When: Wednesday, July 6, 1:05-3 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Grant Pool, NE 33rd and US Grant Pl
When: Wednesday, July 6, 1:15-3:15 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Columbia Pool, 7701 N Cautauqua Blvd.
When: Wednesday, July 6, 2:10-3:50 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Sellwood Pool, 7951 SE 7th
When: Wednesday, July 6, 7:20-8:50 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Peninsula Pool, 700 N Rosa Parks Way
When: Thursday, June 30, 1-2:55 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Matt Dishman Pool, 77 NE Knott
When: Thursday, June 30, 1:15-3:45 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Montavilla Pool, 8219 NE Glisan
When: Friday, July 1, 1-2:30 PM
Cost: Free!

What: Free Open Play Swim Session. Enjoy the pool ‚Äď for free!
Where: Pier Pool, N Seneca and St Johns Ave
When: Friday, July 1, 1:30-5:30 PM
Cost: Free!

Portland Parks also traditionally has a summer program, which includes a traveling rock climbing wall, crafts, and lots of other great events.  The rock-climbing wall schedule is available here:

Ladybug nature walks.¬† Let your preschooler explore one – or many – of Portland’s parks with these weekly nature walks.¬† The walks are Fridays and some Saturdays in June, July, and August.¬† $3 per preschooler.

Weekend Guided Walks at Leach Botanical Gardens.¬† From May to October, you and your little one can take a tour of the gardens and learn a bit more about what’s in bloom.¬† Free!


WATER – we’re talking outdoor pools, fountains and splashparks

Jamison Square – 810 NW 11th Ave

Bill Naito Legacy Fountain in Waterfront Park – Waterfront Park at SW Ankeny Street
Elizabeth Caruthers Park – 3508 SW Moody Ave
Keller Fountain Park
– SW 3rd Ave & Clay St
Lovejoy Fountain Park – SW 3rd Ave & Harrison St (although has signs posted “No Wading” so you take your chances)
Salmon Street Springs located in Waterfront Park – Naito Pkwy between SW Harrison St & NW Glisan St
Teachers Fountain in Director Park – 815 SW Park Ave
Wilson Pool – 1151 SW Vermont St

Grant Park
– NE 33rd Ave & US Grant Pl
Grant Pool – NE 33rd Ave & US Grant Pl
Holladay Park
– NE 11th Ave & Holladay St
Irving Park – NE 7th Ave & Fremont St (Big water feature, relatively new)
Montavilla Community Center & Pool
– 8219 NE Glisan St
Woodlawn Park
– NE 13th Ave & Dekum St

Creston Pool – SE 44th Ave & Powell Blvd
Earl Boyles Park
– SE 112th Ave & Boise St
Essex Park
– SE 79th Ave & Center St
Raymond Park
– SE 118th Ave & Raymond St
Sellwood Pool – 7951 SE 7th Ave
Stark Street Island – The Rose Petal
– SE 106th Ave & Stark St

Columbia Park
– N Lombard St & Woolsey Ave
Farragut Park
– N Kerby Ave & Farragut St
Kenton Park
– 8417 N Brandon Ave
McCoy Park
– N Trenton St & Newman Ave
Northgate Park – N Geneva Ave & Fessenden St
Peninsula Park Community Center & Pool – 700 N Rosa Parks Way
Peninsula Park & Rose Garden
– 700 N Rosa Parks Way
Pier Park
– N Lombard St & Bruce Ave
Pier Pool
– N Seneca St & St Johns Ave

GENERAL INFORMATION AND RULES (from the Portland Water Bureau website)

Look but don’t drink!¬†The water flowing in decorative fountains is not for drinking. To conserve water, most of these fountains recycle water. The water is chlorinated to a level comparable with swimming pools.

Be safe! Although people enjoy splashing around in the interactive fountains, (Jamison Square, McCoy, Holladay Park, Salmon Street Springs), there are potential dangers for unattended children.

Please use caution at all fountains. Slippery surfaces, rapidly moving water, and pools of water require careful attention.

Most of the Portland Water Bureau’s municipal decorative fountains operate¬†spring through fall¬†from 6:30 am to 8:00 pm. If a fountain is not operating during that time period, the Portland Water Bureau is performing¬†maintenance or repairs¬†to the fountain. If repair work is necessary, the bureau¬†restores fountains to full operation¬†as quickly as possible.

Aesthetics are important to us! The Regional Arts and Culture Council advises the Portland Water Bureau on maintenance of bronze sculptures. The natural aging of unprotected bronze causes the green color (patina) found on some of the bronze sculptures in the fountains.

We take fountain operations very seriously! The decorative fountains are turned off during winter months for maintenance and repairs.


Portland’s Municipal Fountains – Portland Water Bureau
Portland Water Fountains
Download a self-guided tour of¬†downtown Portland’s¬†fountains




Food, vendors, sales, music ‚Äď sometimes even parades! Here’s this year’s lineup.

Interdependence Day Celebration РCraft Fair and Neighborhood Party. features live music, food vendors, a bike rodeo and clinic, kids’ activities, yoga and qi gong, and lots more. PLUS, a craft fair featuring local artists and craft vendors. July 2 9am -3pm.

McMinnvilles Turkey Rama festival, with carnival rides and games, food, music, and entertainment. July 8-9.

Mississippi Avenue Street Fair. The Mississippi Avenue Street Fair is a community-building event that celebrates the neighbors, businesses and organizations that make their home in the Mississippi Avenue neighborhood. The event honors history and tradition while embracing diversity and sustainability. July 9, 2011 10 am – 9 pm.

Division/Clinton Street fair. Celebrate the fair’s 25th anniversary with a parade, shopping, eating, contests, dancing, and friendly neighbors. Saturday, July 23.

Ramona/Lents Street Fair. Music, arts and crafts, kids activities, food ‚Äď fun! July 31.

Beaumont Business Associations annual Fremont Festival. Kids zone, a parade, food and music. August 6.

Alberta Street Fair. Vendors, musicians, artisans, and more. August 13.

Multonmah Village Days. Parade, kids zone, vendors, arts ‚Äď this is a great one! August 20.

Festa Italiana’s 20th annual festival of food, culture, and all things Italian. August 25-27 in Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Hawthorne Street fair. This fair will be paired with Sunday Parkways ‚Äď bonus! August 28.

Art in the Pearl festival. A fabulous display of art plus hands-on activities for kids. September 3-5.

Belmont Street Fair. Start planning ahead ‚Äď this fair is September 10.

West Linn arts festival. Art, music, food and other kid-friendly attractions. September 10-11.


And be sure to check out our other Summer resource pages



Tabitha Rhodes

Tabitha Rhodes

I am an explorer at heart - getting out and experiencing all that life has to offer is what I do best. Before I had a family, I traveled, played and explored -- now that I have a family I enjoy doing those things with them. I'm happy to live in a place that let's us do just that.
Tabitha Rhodes

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  • Anonymous

    I love the street fairs!