How To Spend 16 Hours in Portland With The Kids

By Keryn Means,

Anyone road tripping down the west coast or touring the northwest must make a stop in Portland, Oregon. Although more than a day is advised, you can still pack in plenty if you are short on time. Eat your way through some of Portland’s best restaurants and food carts, gaze at the local wildlife, browse the shelves of the city’s most famous (and largest) bookstore and wander through a Chinese garden before you call it a night or fall in love and stay the night!

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Good Morning Portland!
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 Voodoo Doughnut Portland
Photo by Giles Clark 

The line outside of Mother’s Bistro and Bar is no joke, but according to many, it is well worth the wait. The Scrambles are a must and the kids will love the corn flake dipped French toast. If you are short on time, and the line isn’t too long, pop over to Voodoo Doughnut for one of their famous confections. Many claim the bacon maple bar is the best, but your kids might prefer the Cap’n Crunch version the best.

Powells Books- Portland- Photo Credit- Keryn Means
Photo by the author 

Once your belly is filled, take the whole family to Powell’s Books, the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world. Stocking both new and used books on the same shelves was (and still is) a revolutionary concept when it first opened in the 1970s, but is one reason why it’s still so popular today. They have an amazing children’s section that your kids will fall in love with.

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A Sweet Afternoon
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Kenny and Zukes- Portland- Photo Credit- Keryn Means
Photo by the author 

Now that your arms (and car) are laden down with books from every genre imaginable (manga and travel memoirs anyone?), you are probably a bit hungry. Hop across the street to Kenny and Zuke’s for a NY-style deli sandwich. Sit down to eat or grab an order to go before you drive over to Washington Park. The Oregon Zoo, located inside the park, will let the kids explore the animals they have on display.

Lan Su Chinese Garden- Portland- Photo Credit- Keryn Means
Photo by the author 

Round out your afternoon with a trip to the Lan Su Chinese Garden. The garden, which takes up one entire city block, was built by artisans from Portland’s sister city of Suzhou, China. Local volunteers and garden enthusiasts are on hand to answer any questions you might have, but the real magic is walking the paths that make you forget you are in the heart of the city.

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When evening falls…
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Food Cart- Portland- Photo Credit- Keryn Means
Photo by the author 

Creating your own food truck tour on the fly will allow you to devour the foods you love and mingle with the locals. Food Carts Portland is a great resource for all the latest happenings, openings, closings and hours for the food cart scene across the city. If you still have energy, head into one of the local neighborhoods to grab dessert (Salt and Straw is a must for ice cream lovers) or check the paper for family friendly concerts and show times. There is never a dull moment in Portland, after all one of the city’s mottos is “Keep Portland Weird.” Time to find out why and show your kids why this is a good thing!