Historic Belmont Firehouse
To learn about fire safety and the history of Portland, head on down to the Historic Belmont Firehouse. Families can see the Fire Engine Experience emergency response simulator and educational exhibits such as the Destructive Power of Fire and the Greater Alarm Dispatch Board exhibits. You tour the antique firefighting equipment dating over the last 150 years, such as the antique hose cart from 1860. You can even slide down a real firehouse pole! For a larger group, you can schedule a private tour, or you can simply stop by any of their open house times, Wednesdays from 9 am-3 pm or every second Saturday of the month from 9 am-3 pm.
Spend some time among nature by touring the Hoyt Arboretum. Located on 189 acres of natural land in Washington Park, the Hoyt Arboretum features over 6,000 trees with more than 12 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can drop in to take a hike or come for one of their drop-in guided tours from a naturalist to learn about the kinds of trees and plants the arboretum houses. If you’re not the hiking type but would still like to visit, you can stop in for any of their free events, such as educational programs for kids and youth, or take one of their free outdoor yoga or tai chi classes.
Oregon Rail Heritage Center
If you have a train-obsessed little one, the Oregon Rail Heritage Center is the place for you. Come and take an up-close look at the three beautiful historic locomotives they have on display and tour their machine shop. As a working museum, visitors get an up-close look at the machine shop in action as the all-volunteer crew does welding and machining work. Visitors during the holiday season get the special treat of riding the Holiday Express and visiting Santa’s Enginehouse!
Performances at the Pioneer Courthouse Square
If you’re looking to take in a show without the admission charge, take the kids down to an afternoon show at the Pioneer Courthouse Square. The wide pedestrian courtyard is a hotspot for regular live musical performances, all free to the public. The Pioneer Courthouse Square also houses many beautiful public art exhibitions. It is surrounded by lots of local spots to get some lunch or a drink, or you can bring a picnic for yourself to sit and eat while you take in a live performance.
The International Rose Test Garden
It isn’t called the Rose City for nothing! The International Rose Test Garden features over 10,000 individual rose bushes in over 600 different varieties in Washington Park. Classics fans will especially appreciate the Shakespeare Garden, which specifically includes the herbs, trees, and flowers mentioned by name in the plays and sonnets of the Bard and the gardens of miniatures roses, tea roses, and the scientific test garden, among many other beautiful display. For a free tour of the entire garden, visit at 1:00 pm any day between Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. While the garden is open year-round, make sure to visit between May and October to be there while the roses are in bloom!