If you’re four years old — and not quite ready to fully appreciate Portland’s celebrated beer, bikes and arts culture — we also have a large number of slides and swings that may appeal to your tastes and high spirits. This article lists some of our favorite spots, but consult the Portland Parks and Recreation site for the comprehensive list of over 100 playgrounds in the city.
Washington Park’s playground
Conveniently situated next door to the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Garden, Washington Park‘s playground offers Portland’s largest play structure, two sets of swings, a sand pit and at least three slides.
A popular spot for wedding photos and family picnics, Peninsula Park has a fantastic playground for children with a variety of structures to clamber over, climb through, spin around and slide down – plus a sprinkler for the summer months. The southern end of the park also has a beautiful fountain area, surrounded by brick pathways and a rose garden – truly one of Portland’s hidden gems.
One of the largest parks in the city also has the largest playground. Self-contained and surrounded by tall trees and rhododendron bushes, the Sellwood Park playground stays cool in the summer and has large selection of swings, slides, see-saws etc.
Nestled by trees, just southwest of the top of Mt. Tabor, lies the Volcano Playground, which is not nearly as dangerous as the name suggests. A trip to this play area combines well with some gentle hiking around the park’s many trails, and some great views of the city from the dormant volcano’s summit.
Harper’s Playground was designed to give kids with mobility challenges a place to play without being hindered by the physical requirements of typical playground equipment. Here, spongy grounds soften any skids near mini-climbing walls and nets, and wheelchair- and walker-navigable paths wind past accessible swing sets, slides and see-saws to create a safe, inclusive playground for kids of all abilities to explore and enjoy together.
Just steps away from the Alphabet District’s bustling N.W. 23rd Ave is Wallace Park, a fun-for-all-ages, multi-use green space featuring basketball courts, an enclosed dog park, children’s playground, a large field for soccer or baseball, and ample picnic tables with shaded benches, perfect for summertime lunches beneath the trees.
This nature-based play area is filled with loads of natural features, including Crystal Creek, which meanders near the park. Kids can scramble up mounds of boulders and construct forts from a pile of sticks. Whether you’re a sports fan or a nature buff, Westmoreland Park’s multiple fields (there’s one for football, baseball, soccer and a few basketball courts too) won’t stop you from enjoying the peaceful walking trails and scenic ponds while the kids tire themselves out on the giant log playground.
Fields Park was once an industrial area in a recently revitalized section of the Pearl District. With easy Portland Streetcar access, this urban gem satisfies the need to run, with a play structure that riffs off the nearby Fremont Bridge. An off-leash dog area makes it a favorite for animal-loving kiddos. Now it’s a sprawling lawn dotted with whimsical sculptures, a kids’ ropes course and playground, all encircled by a paved path that’s perfect for walking or biking to the nearby pond.
If it’s raining and the children are beginning to suffer from cabin fever, you might want to swing by Playdate PDX. Not only does it offer a huge indoor play structure close to the heart of the city, but parents can sit back in the cafe and sip on coffee (or even beer) while the kids burn off their excess energy.
This interactive expansion of the Portland Children’s Museum puts the great outdoors on permanent display. Build a damn on a gently cascading creek, climb ADA-accessible gravel and wood trails and explore a tunnel-like sculpture woven from vine maple branches.