Hit List

All in the Family

Summer fun that’s kid tested, parent approved

By Kaitlin Johnson May 21, 2009 Published in the June 2009 issue of Portland Monthly


From training wheels to tandem bikes, there’s an event for every tire size at Portland’s Pedalpalooza. At the three-mile “Kidical Mass‚” ride, mom and dad can line up their custom-made Vanilla bikes beside junior’s pimped-out tricycle and pedal through downtown or Southeast Portland. June 11-27; shift2bikes.org

Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts
In our music-loving town, even the critters know how to rock. The longest-running outdoor music series in the Northwest kicks off its thirty-first year with performances from Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, the B-52s, and Sly & Robbie and the Taxi Gang. Bust a move to “Love Shack” and you’ll be the hit of the animal kingdom. June 17, 19, 24; oregonzoo.org

Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Tryon Creek’s hands-on courses let you brush up on your camping skills without embarrassing yourself in front of the kids. The park offers free Saturday guided hikes with a variety of themes, like ‘Northwest Hiking Essentials’ or ‘Springing Plants.’ Or try the ’Let’s Go Camping’ program, where for $25 a ranger will walk you through each step of the camping process, from raising the tent to lighting a campfire. oregonstateparks.org

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Beacon Rock

Beacon Rock State Park
Just forty miles from Portland, Beacon Rock’s intimate $19 campsites go quickly, but this Washington gem with myriad hiking trails will reward early birds. Short, leafy paths, such as Doetsch Trail (a one-mile loop), hug the Columbia River and are great for tiny legs, while the Hamilton Mountain Trail—a strenuous four-mile hike to the peak’s summit—features a nest of powerful, hair-blowing waterfalls. How’s that for getting in touch with nature? parks.wa.gov

Lincoln City Kite Festival
Forget high-tech entertainment like the Wii; the simple pleasure of watching fabric ride the wind still gives us the chills, especially if the fabric is a giant multicolored kite in the shape of an octopus. Lincoln City’s Summer Kite Festival brings enormous kites and dexterous flyers—and we’re betting a few ooohs and ahhhs—to Oregon’s central coast for a day of spectacular swoops and dives. June 27-28; oregoncoast.org


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Lincoln City Summer Kite Festival

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Oregon Country Fair
This forty-year-old festival is more than just your typical orgy of corn dogs and cotton candy. Set in the woods west of Eugene, rides are replaced with live music, vaudeville actors, jugglers, puppets, and lots and lots of tie-dye. Outrageous costumes are encouraged, as is being green: 40 percent of the fuel required to run this year’s fair will be biodiesel. Think of it as Burning Man with foliage. July 10-12; oregoncountryfair.org

Fourth of July at Blue Lake Regional Park
Public fireworks displays tend to be more hassle than they’re worth: crowds, limp explosions, traffic. But just a few miles east of downtown, this one-hundred-acre oasis bucks the trend. Besides the eye-popping thirty-minute display of big bangs, there are ample grassy knolls for picnicking, a “spray ground” of fountains to cool off in, and a beach for self-roasting. And when the smoke has cleared and the last of the fried chicken is gone, your Independence Day backdrop will be a sky glittering with stars instead of a sea of taillights illuminating I-5. oregonmetro.gov

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St. Paul Rodeo
Saddle up, city slicker, and witness some of the country’s best bronco busters and bull riders as they descend on St. Paul, a tiny town thirty miles from Portland with a serious love for cowboys. Inside the ten-thousand-seat Rodeo Grandstands, some of the toughest riders around—including world champion Trevor Brazile—will compete for a purse worth more than $300,000. And at the Great Western BBQ Tri-Tip Cook-Off, fifteen “cowboy poet(s) of the grill” will battle for your taste buds. June 30-July 4; stpaulrodeo.com

Hood River Cherry Picking
There are U-pick fruit orchards, and then there’s Draper Girls’ Country Farm. With a mouthwatering glut of fruits like apples, pears, blueberries, peaches, and cherries, Draper Girls’ is open every day of the year, but July marks the beginning of cherry season. Bring a lunch, pick some juicy treats, and then settle into the garden for some unpasteurized apple cider.

For more Hood River activities, check out our Getaways


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Image: David Owen

Bite of Oregon
For a few days each August, the Portland waterfront takes on the look and smell of a giant backyard cookout as the best in local food, wine, craft beer, and entertainment come together to make one of the city’s most appetizing traditions. Menu options range from smoked pork ribs and corn on the cob to fresh Dungeness crab cakes with lemon aioli. Once you’re stuffed, pick up a pint of Henry’s Blue Boar Ale, let the kids play tag on the enormous lawn, and watch the setting sun turn the Willamette impossible shades of orange. August 7-9; biteoforegon.com

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Big Screen on the Green, Portland Parks Series
Forget the drive-in; Portland’s got the sit-in. Each summer, Portland Parks and Recreation brings movies to various parks throughout the city. The parks are equipped with high-definition screens and outdoor speakers that will make you feel like you’re skipping down the yellow brick road right beside Dorothy. Even better, the entire event is free, including the popcorn. portlandonline.com/parks

Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock tide pools
Sure, your budget may be tighter this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend the summer with your head in Hawaii and your feet in the backyard kiddie pool. Take a day trip to Cannon Beach, a speedy hour and a half from downtown Portland, and enjoy an afternoon milling around Haystack Rock’s rich tide pools, all packed with sea anemones and bright-orange starfish. cannonbeach.org

(For more Cannon Beach activities check out our Getaways)

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The Woods Stage at Pickathon

Image: Pickathon

Rafting the Clackamas River
Summer can be the season for lounging and languishing. Sometimes, though, you need a good, hair-raising rush. River-rafting guides like Oregon River Experiences take groups down the Clackamas River for a three- to six-hour family-size adventure. Tackle Class III rapids like ‘Powerhouse’ and ‘Slingshot.’ Just be sure to pack a change of dry clothes for the return trip home—a sense of adventure is one thing, but a sopping wet seat is quite another. April 1-September 7; oregonriver.com

Pickathon Roots Music Festival
Portland’s music scene tends to be more about skinny jeans than straw hats, but by bringing a fierce lineup of local bands to the lush eighty acres of Mount Scott’s Pendarvis Farm, Pickathon has successfully upped the ante for what a music festival can be. This year, Blitzen Trapper, Dr. Dog, John Doe and the Sadies, and others will rock the wilderness. July 31-August 2; pickathon.com

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