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Best for Kids in Portland

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Introducing mesmerizing theater at its best! This non-profit youth theater has been entertaining the locals for over two decades and is still going strong. Some recent shows have included Shrek the Musical and Alice in Wonderland. Sign the kids up for enlightening courses, such as Introduction to Acting or Dance Moves, and register to receive discount tickets, preferred seating and more.

The largest professional theater for children in the United States, this Downtown Portland/City Center theater is known to wow audiences, parents included, with elaborate and exciting performances. Shows at the Keller Auditorium range from mainstays like Charlotte's Web and Stuart Little to more innovative works. Children must be at least four years old to attend. Shows can be seen year round, and the offered classes are sure to bring out the drama in anyone.

Winding roads flow through this almost prehistoric forest. Old growth trees and other plants make up the thick flora. Many of Oregon's native plants are labeled with both their botanic and common names. While seldom crowded, this peaceful retreat is just minutes from the heart of Portland and is easily accessible via bus and light rail. The on-site visitor's center offers valuable information about the various trees and plants that call this park their home, with all the makings for a fun-filled and educational outing with the kids. It is also located close to other attractions such as Portland's zoo, the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Gardens.

Set amid a scenic location of sloping, forested hills, Washington Park has a number of notable attractions, including the International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, Japanese Gardens and the Oregon Zoo. Plenty of different spots across the park offer sun, shade, and shelter from the rain, and views of the city. A brimming hive of activities like tennis, hiking and archery, this park is a brilliant, sprawling carpet of eternal and abundant natural beauty. A range of winding trails slice through acres of wild forests at this park, while motley jubilant fountains, plazas and memorials accentuate it further. An evocative canvas of vibrant wilderness, this sprawling park is a breathtaking nexus of nature, botany and recreation, being rather unsurprisingly, one of Portland's most beautiful symbols.

Jamison Square Park is named after William Jamison, who played an important role in the development of the River District. It is one of the three parks lying between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues, all designed by Peter Walker & Partners. Come summer, the park teems with action. The 40,000 square feet (3716 square meter) park becomes the center for loads of fun activities. You can spot lots of teenagers, tiny tots with their parents, even grandparents are regulars. Relax with a book on one of the many benches or stretch on the cool grass. A horizontal cascading fountain grabs a lot of attention. Live entertainment events are also frequently conducted at the venue. Escape from the bustling city atmosphere and unwind as you let your kids squeal with joy on a lazy summer morning.

Deeply embedded in Portland's rich history, Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) attempts to preserve the essence of the early transportation industry. Large steam rails, vintage passenger cars and other such paraphernalia make up the exhibits. The functional rails are used for various tours and offer a chance to experience some old world glory. Soak up some of the local culture for free at this aptly named the heritage center.

The Oregon Zoo houses animals from all parts of the world. Spread over 64 acres of land, there's always something to see. Here one can observe animals in their natural habitats, including elephants, bears, penguins and monkeys. Hop aboard the train for a zoo tour or rent a special stroller wagon for the kids. After a busy day of animal watching, enjoy a waffle ice cream cone from the snack bar, dine at the on site cafe or enjoy a picnic lunch on the lawn.

Nature is close enough to really enjoy in this metropolitan state park just minutes outside of downtown. Walking, hiking, equestrian and bicycle trails wind along the creek and through the canyon forested with native plants. Bird watching is also very popular at this 645-acre (261 hectare) arboreal oasis. Tryon Creek State Park is easily accessible to the disabled. The Nature House is filled with souvenirs and offers tours as well as day camps. Come spring, the park sees the plant-oriented Trillium Festival. Admission is free.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) offers halls dedicated to earth science, life science, computers, chemistry, traveling exhibits and hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, the Empirical Theater, a submarine to tour, a motion simulator ride and a cafe. Enjoy the palatial digs on the Willamette River. The museum, through its various games and interactive displays, offers an opportunity to exercise the grey cells and leave with more knowledge and information. Buy a full museum package, which includes admission to the exhibits, the theater and a sub tour at a reasonable price.

There are plenty of things for children to touch, grab, tinker and play with at the Portland Children's Museum. The museum's wondrous exhibits make use of the principles of cognitive science to create an environment that encourages healthy curiosity and a thirst for learning in children of every age. Through a variety of fun and engaging exhibits the museum appeals to the precocious minds of little ones and adults alike, creating an environment in which learning is anything but mundane. A day spent at the Portland Children's Museum promises to be a fun-filled one for the whole family.

With only 304 seats, The Dolores Winningstad Theatre, located in the Antoinette Hatfield Hall at the Portland'5 Centers for the Arts, is a fabulous way to see and hear Shakespeare. Tygres Heart Shakespeare Company produces and stages various plays at this venue. The three plays per season are presented as traditional performances and innovative interpretations. The 1993 season featured an all-female version of The Taming of the Shrew, set in a women's college. In the same year, this company was recognized nationally for its sign language-interpreting program. Taking its name from a line in Henry VI, Part 3, this company provides an unforgettable stage experience.

World Forestry Center is just a few steps away from the Oregon Zoo and is a fabulous place for families and groups to spend a day. Get to know the importance of forests in the world through their various displays and the various types of forests and trees that inhabit the planet. Check out the tree farms for a hands-on forest experience. Or explore the discovery museum to know forests, art and culture of the world. Interactive and fun, it will not only enthrall kids but adults too.

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