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Visiting Portland: a single ma with a 1 & 4 yr old

We urbanMamas just love to help people plan their visits to Portland.  Here is a Seattle mama coming into town soon, and wants your advice on the following:

We are staying at the Red Lion Convention Center. (Single mom & 5 y.o. plus me & my brood; we hotwired and got the room for $54, word!)  Some things we want to do include definitely hitting up the Children's Museum (son hearts dinosaurs), curious about an easy walk/hike in the area (see your site has resources, excellent), exploring the Pearl District (Powell's, Jamison Square, Sip & Kranz).

 
According to Google Maps from our hotel to Jamison Square it's only 1.4 miles (!) but is it a walkable 1.4, or too busy (I have an excellent street warrior-like double)?  Not sure how realistic MAX is when schlepping 2 kiddos, you know?  Are our destinations walkable? Or drive & park somewhere & walk? Not sure about strollers on MAX.

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Walk a couple blocks over to Multnomah street and catch Bus 77. It's Fareless Square and will take you over the Broadway Bridge, dropping you right at the cusp of the Pearl and Jamison Square. If you want to walk, walk down towards the Rose Quarter and take the esplanade over the lower part of the Steel Bridge.

The childrens museum is great, but if you are going there for the dinosaur exhibit- go to OMSI instead (I think their exhibit is still on display-better to double check).

The Zoo has a dinosaur thing going on right now. Anyone been to it? Not sure what it is all about as my son is only two. Both the zoo and the Children's Museum are easy to get to by MAX. They are across the parking lot from each other. Strollers are not a problem on the MAX unless it is massive (the stroller not the MAX). I would say to do one of them per day.
The Esplanade is a great City loop if you are looking for an urban hike, though the full loop will be too long for a four year old. It goes north/south along the river and over a couple bridges to do both the east and west side of the river.
You can call Trimet to find out what buses or MAX lines will get you from your hotel to Jamison Square. 238-RIDE is the number I think, someone should correct me if I am wrong. Have a great visit!

I agree that OMSI's dinosaur exhibit is better than the children's museum's (has a few hands-on dinosaur-related activities that my 4 yo likes but otherwise it's lots of reading that I think would be better for a 6+ yo), especially if you want to see dinosaur skeletons. That said, we love the children's museum. From there you can also do some hiking in Washington Park--go as long or short as you want. Strollers on MAX shouldn't be a problem; you might want to try to avoid rush hr when the trains will be more crowded.

We did the dinosaur exhibit at the zoo, and it was awesome, but a bit gruesome for my 2 year old. There are dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs and the sound effects are dramatic. He liked it, but seemed a little shaken. Older kids would probably love it. There are places to exit if it is too overwhelming. The OMSI dinosaurs were a bigger hit, but a much smaller exhibut. They are not nearly as scary.

We've been to see the dinosaurs at OMSI and the zoo, but not the Children's Museum. My 3.5 year old son likes them both, but for different reasons--OMSI is more of a "scientific" look at dinosaurs with skeletons, digging, etc. while the zoo is a separate little loop through the zoo with moving dinosaurs that are much more dramatic. The T-Rex is especially loud! But both are fun and satisfy the dinosaur obsession that we're currently going through.

Mamas, dont you think MAX is easier to navigate with a stroller than the bus? And MAX would take you pretty much door to door from Loyd Center to the zoo or children's museum. And to get to the Pearl, you could take MAX to Pioneer Courthouse Square and either walk, or take the streetcar up to the Pearl.

One thing about MAX from Aug 2 - 24, it won't be going over the Steel Bridge so it would be almost easier to walk across from Rose Quarter (on the lower deck of the Steel Bridge) or take the 77 as suggested.

Also TriMet is doing a shuttle to OMSI from Rose Quarter right now for the summer (so another vote for OMSI - not just for overall coolness but convenience)

Thanks for all the advice! I've done so much research you'd think I was traveling to Croatia, not scooting down I-5 from Seattle to PDX...but I am hoping to explore the PDX-area more.

Since this trip is just a few days, I think I will go for the OMSI vs. CM- for a few reasons (fossils, etc) but also b/c I just learned w/my Pacific Science Ctr membership, it's free admission (same w/the zoos!).

other than the Pearl (via Powell's/Jamison Square/SipnKranz) anyone have a vote for a good neighborhood to check out? Like a post-nap afternoon stroll (shops), ending up a park w/either a picnic or stopping casual for dinner (3 adults, 3 kids ages 1, 4, & 5). (Food: Pizza, Mexican, Italian...or?)

Love hiking/urban hikes but may not be able to squeeze it all in this time. We're back in Sept & oct for business-related trips :)

THX!
Alison (happy to reciprocate w/Seattle or SF info!)

Take MAX! It's great with kids and strollers. We take it from Sunset to the Zoo or downtown 2-3 times a month with the kids. Plus, if you MAX to the zoo right now you can ride the zoo train for free. Just walk accross the bridge and catch MAX downtown. You'll have to pay for a ticket for yourself, but kids don't need tickets until they're 6. Have fun!

I would reiterate that you DO NOT want to drive to the zoo on the weekend. You will end up parking a mile away and taking the shuttle anyway! On MAX you can keep the kids in the stroller, on the bus you have to collapse the stroller and sit with the kids. No MAX across the river in Aug as was said before, so a bus to downtown is the best bet. You could take the MAX yellow line up to the Kenton neighborhood and eat at Pizza Fino on Denver which has VERY reasonably priced italian food and pizza and is kid friendly. (There is a park very nearby).

As far as another neighborhood to check out I'd head to Hawthorne!

Another huge vote for OMSI over the zoo or CM's dinosaur exhibits. Also, post-nap you could/should head over to Mississippi avenue. You could grab the max north up Interstate, then walk over to Mississippi. Cute shops, Unthank Park, then dinner at Laughing Planet.

Yes, I would check out Hawthorne/Belmont. Many parks (Laurelhurst, Sunnyside) tons of coffee, food and great shops. Don't miss Kids at Heart toys on Hawthorne.

Hawthorne/Belmont area with lots of parks. My personal favorite is Laurelhust. Also check out Division/Clinton street area too. Oh and go with MAX for transportation over the bus, but if you do any traveling at dusk or at night on TriMet, sit in the MAX car where the operator is for safety.

Close to where you're staying would be Irvington/Broadway area for shops, restaurants, etc.

From there, you could walk to Irvington School which has a park & water feature, I believe. Irving Park is a longer walk but has a GREAT water sprinkler feature. My 2 year old loved it while playing with 4 year old friend of the family.

If you do go to the NE Broawday area Pastini's is cheat and yummy and kid friendly ( although noisy) and is walking distance from the irvington school playground.

Hi- I'm the one who was visiting PDX and was looking for suggestions-- I'm searching through the site now b/c we're going to Portland again this weekend (now my boys are now 4 & 7). I've been a few times over the years and love it-- We did the OMSI dinos over the others and that was perfect. We did the Pearl District, the park with the Ramona water feature, Mississippi...and a few other things. Haven't been to the Zoo yet- not sure it's high on our list since we go to the Zoo here all the time (same with the Children's Museum). Thinking of exploring Washington Park (Rose Garden/Hoyt Arboretum) as we've never been & it seems like the last real nice weekend! Haven't been to Sellwood/Oak Park BUT I'm trying to kept a tight budget so...we're actually staying w/my parents (visiting from CA) at a hotel in Hillsboro but I'd like to do something in Portland Friday. That World Forest Institute seems cool but pricey :/

Sellwood/Oaks Park is a great option for a day full of fun! It's wise to check the calendar, now that school is back in: http://oakspark.com/calendar/index.shtml Most weekdays are rink-only hours.

I would also recommend Rose Garden and the big playground there, though it wouldn't necessarily fill a day. Look out for the weekend warriors that will come out later today to see what other activities are coming up this weekend.

I have been to the World Forest Institute as part of a field trip. I am not sure I would choose it as my first choice for a one-day-only visit on a budget.

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