“Spring is when you feel like whistling, even with a shoe full of slush.”

-Doug Larson

There are few times of year in Oregon more delicious than the last, wintery shiver of February. After months of muddy boots and soggy…everything…suddenly Oregon decides she’s had enough and shakes out her hair. The flowering cherries burst into a delicate show of pink and white. Magnolia buds, silvery-green, begin to appear and prepare for their summer glory. Beneath the trees, and pushing up through the frost, purple and yellow crocuses shyly announce they’re sick of hiding in the earth.

And aren’t we all? By this time of year, Oregon parents are so ready to get their families out in the sunshine there is a certain desperate flavor to family outings. Will it rain? (Bring the galoshes) Will it hail? (It did yesterday for fifteen minutes) The weather app says it’s going to be sunny from 3-4 today followed by light showers (Bring the sunscreen) Oregon weather in the spring is nothing if not unpredictable, and unpredictable can be challenging with young children.

The obvious solution for all of this wacky weather is having a plan. And a back-up plan. And maybe a back-up plan for the back-up plan, should it the weather lurch from torrential rain to spring-time brilliance in the course of a few hours. Which it most likely will, because – Oregon. Fortunately, there are a multitude of family-friendly activities during this time of year which can save a weekend family outing. Portland in particular is a city which embraces the unpredictable. On any given day, there is generally a host of things to do with children of all ages if you are willing to sleuth them out. Here in this column are a few suggestions to make your sleuthing easier in the next coming weeks: 

Vine Gough Artist Bar and Studio: 6802 SE Milwaukie Ave, Portland, OR 97202

Vine Gough is one of Portland’s original sip-and-paint studios catering to amateur artists who want to explore their creative side under the guidance of an experienced studio painter. Adult classes are available in the evenings (with the option of purchasing adult beverages while painting) but additionally Vine Gough offers a children’s studio schedule for children 6+ who attend accompanied by an adult. This is a lovely, light-filled spot where children are led in an organized individual painting project. Painting slots can be booked online, and classes can fill up, so make sure to book beforehand. Upcoming sessions include:

Saturday March 7,11:00-12:00 Sea Otter

Friday March 13, 11:00-12:00 Elephant

Saturday March 14, 11:00-12:00 Starfish

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry: 1945 Water Ave, Portland OR 97214

OMSI is a staple of Portland parent’s family outing diet. Offering an incredible (though not always cheap) indoor museum for kids to explore, there is an ever-changing lineup of rotating exhibits and performances for children of all ages and abilities. Additionally, one can find Summer Camps and classes here to encourage learning and exploration of the natural and scientific world. An event calendar can be found online, and like most kid-friendly events in the area, the purchase of tickets in advance is recommended.  

Sunday March 8, 11:00: Red Yarn, Portland’s famous folk-rock puppeteer

Oaks Amusement Park: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland OR 97202

Oaks Amusement Park in historic Sellwood is truly one of Portland’s nostalgic family gems. Built in 1905, it’s the last “trolley park” of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Offering miniature golf, rides, games, and a roller rink, it’s a pretty good bang for your buck and in the summer months is a lively place to picnic, bar-b-que, and spend a day eating cotton candy and riding bumper cars. Parking is free and outside food is permitted on most of the grounds. While the rides and games don’t officially open until March 20thOaks Park Roller Rink is currently open to the public Tues-Sunday and offers fun and inexpensive specialty sessions for children of all ages, as well as “Open Skate” family sessions and evening adult sessions. It’s a fun and historic place to spend a rainy spring afternoon doing something active and inexpensive.