On days 5 and 6 of our I-5 road trip, we spend two nights in Portland. We have family and friends in the area so a lot of our time is spent with them, but we still get out and explore the city–even though it’s raining most of the time. Here are the highlights:
On the second Tuesday of the month, the Oregon Zoo charges only $2 admission for kids and adults. Perfect for our budget!
But you get what you pay for…
We arrived at 10 a.m. and a line of cars wound up the road to get into the parking lot.
There was also a line at the entrance to buy tickets and then a line to actually get in.
When we finally got into the zoo, we couldn’t find any animals. The polar bear house was under construction. The monkeys were hiding, and the bears were sleeping.
And then we came upon the elephants…
The elephants are the stars of the Oregon Zoo. There are six of them and they seem happy cavorting around their spacious areas. We enjoyed watching an adorable baby elephant named Samudra, “Sam” for short, jump into a pool of water and swim around.
2) Happy Hour, Downtown Portland
Portland is known for its Happy Hours. In fact there’s a guidebook with an accompanying Web site, Happy Hour Guidebook, dedicated to tracking down all the restaurants that serve drinks and food at a reduced price in the evening.
We hit up the happy hour at the Daily Grill, a swanky 1930s style restaurant with big booths and a bar paneled in dark wood. By sitting at the outdoor tables with our kids we were able to order one of the $5 drinks. We especially liked the fruity Prime Collins (pictured) made with Bombay Sapphire, lemon juice and strawberry.
My parents met us in Portland and some of you might think that accepting free food and alcohol from them is cheating on our $200-a-day budget, but how could we resist their offer to pick up the bar tab?
3) Food carts
I’d heard about the food carts in Portland, but I had no clue that there were so many.
Little trailers dishing up waffles smothered in whipped cream and strawberries, grilled cheese made with gruyere and Dijon, and bowls of steaming pho are everywhere. They line the streets and have taken over parking lots. And the food is good, often fabulous.
Brett Burmeister, one of the bloggers behind Foodcartsportland.com, says there are some 200 carts serving food at any time in Portland. Burmeister tipped us off to the collection of 25 carts on the west side at SW 10th and Alder. Here we sit on patio furniture on the sidewalk and savor freshly made crepes from Snow White Crepes. My kids love the pizza crepes stuffed with sweet tomato sauce, melted cheese, and pepperoni.
With over 400 acres of trees, gardens, attractions and playgrounds and 15 miles of trails, this is an oasis of green space just minutes from downtown Portland.
Unfortunately, it was pouring down rain on the day we visited but we still got out of the car to stroll through the rose garden (pictured) with over 6,800 rose bushes. It’s free!
This museum in Washington Park aims to teach people about the sustainability of forests and trees of the Pacific Northwest and around the world. It’s loaded with exhibits that allow children to learn about the natural environment and experience the great outdoors–indoors. This worked out well for us since it was raining.
My kids had fun rafting down the Clackamas River. A real rubber raft set against a movie screen playing scenes of roaring rapids made the experience quite real. They also rode in a convertible Jeep through the subtropical woodlands of South Africa and explored the Amazon in a canopy crane.
What to do on a rainy day in Portland? Go to Powell’s, a book store that spreads over a full city block in the Pearl District. Seriously, you can get lost in here. Tables and benches are everywhere and invite you to sit down and read.
We did just that in the children’s section, where it’s fun to pick reading material from the shelves highlighting the newest and best books, many which are highlighted with hand-written employee reviews. We also bought two books from the well-stocked sale section: Rumpelstiltskin and the Country Bunny and the Golden Shoes, $3.98 each.
Does it seem like our list is missing some of Portland’s most popular attractions? OMSI? Oaks Amusement Park? Check out this list of 10 things to do with kids in the Rose City.
Trip details: Days 5 and 6
Hours in car: 1
- Food: $50 (We cheated: Lots of free food provided by family and friends.)
- Entertainment: $29
- Books: $8
- Parking: $4
- Hotel: $236 (two nights; Best Western Pony Soldier)
- Miles: 770
- Hours in car: 14
- Expenses: $871.13