Portland with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

Portland with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Portland, Oregon, is a fun city for a holiday with tweens. It's here that two major rivers meet, and Voodoo Doughnuts were born. Community is very important and, as you will find, we take our individuality very seriously. The weather in Portland is mild and often rainy, so plan your day accordingly. The warmest, driest months are July and August with November through January typically the wettest, so summer is usually the best time to come to Portland with tweens.


The morning is best started with a good breakfast. There are large chains like Shari's, Elmer's and IHOP, if you prefer something familiar. Smaller, family-owned restaurants are also found all over. Of these, I would suggest Nite Hawk on North Interstate Ave. in North Portland (6423 North Interstate Ave., Portland, OR 97217; 503-285-7177). The dining room is small but the omelets are fresh and come with a wide variety of ingredients.

There are two places you could kick start your day in Portland with tweens. The first option is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (1945 SE Water Ave. Portland, Oregon 97214; 503-797-4624). The exhibits offer a little something for everyone, with hands-on activities in physical science, life science, earth science, technology, and astronomy. There is also an IMAX theater, a planetarium and the opportunity to go aboard the USS Blueback submarine. The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday (except on Thanksgiving and Christmas) from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the summer and from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. after September 7, 2010.

Another option is to head to the Washington Park area, where there are a number of attractions in close vicinity (making for less driving time between them). The Oregon Zoo (4001 SW Canyon Road Portland, OR 97221; 503-226-1561 ext. 0), is one of the main attractions in Washington Park. Its parking lot is small so get there early -- or take the Max Light Rail Service. The zoo has exhibits from around the world along with hands-on activities and specific information about each animal. Seasonally, there are concerts in the evenings. Also, there is a large field and many grassy areas on the zoo's grounds in case you'd like to stop for a picnic lunch. The zoo is open from 8 a.m to 6 p.m. and admission for adults and children 12 and up is $10.50 and $7.50 for children 3 to 11. If your tweens are more into art than animals, next to the zoo is the Portland Children's Museum (4015 SW Canyon Road 97221; 503-223-6500). The museum is open daily from 9 a.m to 5 p.m. but closed from September 7 to 13, 2010. Admission is $8 for adults and children; free for babies up to age one.


If you're staying in Washington Park, now is a good time to head over to the Japanese Garden (611 Southwest Kingston Avenue Portland, OR 97205 503-223-1321). There are guided tours included with the admission fee ($9.50 for adults; $6.75 for children between 6 to 17) and it's the perfect place to take beautiful scenic pictures. And you can't leave without seeing the International Test Rose Garden (400 SW Kingston Drive Portland, OR 97205; 503-823-7529), part of Portland's Rose Gardens. Within the International Test Garden are themed sections, such as the Shakespeare Garden, the Miniature Rose Garden, Royal Rosarian Garden and the Queen's Walk. Admission is free and the garden is open daily from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A great place to go in downtown Portland with tweens is Powell's Books (1005 West Burnside St., Portland, OR 97209; 503-228-4651). Powell's is an institution in Portland -- a new and used book store that takes up a whole city block and has books of every genre, including rare and valuable ones. There is a great pizza place called Rocco's Pizza (949 SW Oak Portland, OR 97209; 503-223-9835) right across the street.


The nightlife scene in Portland is mostly pub related, which isn't particularly tween friendly. But the Lloyd Center (201 Lloyd Center Portland, OR 97232; 503-282-2511) in the North Portland Lloyd district, offers plenty of activities for families with tweens, with a food court, movie theaters, stores -- and an ice rink. A great end to your perfect day in Portland with tweens.

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