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Portland

Perfect destination for affordable family trips

By STEVE FRENZL

Really now every getaway doesn't have to be just for romance, does it? In fact, this one may well be to entertain the aftermath of romantic weekends you enjoyed a few years back. And now you're looking for places to take the family.

Well, we found it and were here to tell you that Portland has plenty to please kids of all ages (yes, mom and dad, you will enjoy these outings, too). In fact, it must have been official "Family Week" during our Portland getaway because virtually every place we visited, hundreds of happy families were there enjoying the sights and excitement of this delightful city.

Safe, Close, Convenient, Affordable Family Fun

Ask Portland visitors (and we did) why they come here and their responses will be one of these:

"It's safe here. We can be anywhere anytime and not have to worry."

"Almost everything we want to do is so close usually just minutes away and the public transit system is easy to use and cheap, even free!"

"Portlands half-size city blocks make it a perfect walking city. It's a very pedestrian-friendly place."

"Eating out doesnt cost an arm and leg in Portland. Even the best places are more affordable compared to other cities."

"Portlands got big-city excitement with small-town charm. We love coming here and experiencing both!"

"There are lots of good hotels here that are clean, comfortable and convenient to everything. And they don't cost a weeks pay to stay."

With so many things to see and do during a getaway to Portland, you could literally spend weeks sampling all the attractions here. So our recommendation: pick a few family-style favorites and enjoy them to the fullest. Based on our personal observations, these are very popular with most families.

Washington Park

Stretching across 320 acres of forested hillside on the western shoulder of the Willamette River is beautiful Washington Park. From the sense of deep wilderness you feel driving or walking through its wooded landscape, youd never think its just minutes from downtown by car or public transit (on weekends we recommend taking the bus or MAX light rail to spare the angst of waiting for a spot in an overflowing parking lot). These are some of the attractions your family can enjoy together at the park. Admissions are charged.

OREGON ZOO. It's 64 acres of worldwide adventure travel! You won't just see animals from the Pacific Northwest. You'll swear you're in Africa, the jungles of Southeast Asia, the Peruvian coastline, the Arctic, Borneo. And along the walkways you'll come to appreciate why we humans are just another player on the stage spotlighting Earths many creatures. After a few minutes of animal observation, you'll realize were less talented than many of the other runners, swimmers, singers, fliers and entertainers on the planet. Open every day at 9AM.

PORTLAND CHILDRENS MUSEUM. Designed for kids from birth up to 10, it offers hands-on exhibits and lots of opportunities to let young imaginations run wild! Its a great place to show little kids theres more to life than TV.

WORLD FORESTRY CENTER. You'll never look at a tree the same way aftervisiting this fascinating "discovery museum." Kids of all ages will enjoy the films, and interactive exhibits like virtual smoke-jumpers, harvester simulator,river raft adventure and many more. The curators really had fun putting thisplace together! Events and exhibits change regularly so check schedules often.

Downtown

POWELLS CITY OF BOOKS. Believe it or not, one of Portlands top three attractions is a bookstore. But not just any bookstore. Powells is the largest independent newsstand and bookstore IN THE WORLD! It covers a full city block four stories high and holds twice as many books as there are people in Portland proper! Thats over 1,000,000 volumes. The place is packed every day of the year so go see it and see why.

Eastside

OREGON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE & INDUSTRY (OMSI). What an amazing place! Located in ultra-modern facilities on the east bank of the Willamette River, between the Ross Island and Hawthorne bridges, I believe you could stay here for days and not do everything. The "brain-teasers" alone are worth the price of admission, but many other offerings will tempt you including exhibit halls and science labs guaranteed to have you shaking your head in awe and amazement. Then theres the Omnimax Dome Theater, planetarium, a submarine tour (the last diesel-powered sub built by the US Navy), a science playground for kids 6 and under, plus a great gift store and café I wish every city had a museum like this one!

WILLAMETTE JET BOAT EXCURSIONS. Located on the dock behind OMSI is a boat ride like you've never had before. Frankly, its not for everybody; I wouldn't take my five-year-old on this one. For those of us, however, with a steady stomach and waterproof clothes, these 1200 horsepower boats are worth hanging on to (literally). Famous "infamous" may be more accurate for their spinning, splashing stops which happen with regularity on a very entertaining 2-hour narrated cruise up and down the Willamette River, you'll hear the history of the area between 5 mph trolling and 50 mph dashes and sudden surging stops. Whooaaa! At the turn-around point you'll nudge up to Willamette Falls and swear it looks like Niagara of the Northwest. These boats are a blast we haven't seen so many toothy grins on one place in a very long time. Seasonal schedules; reservations recommended.

Other Sightseeing Options

If you can sneak some time away from the kids, here are a few other places sure to please your eyes, nose and palette.

PITTOCK MANSION. Near Washington Park, it was the residence of Portland's newspaper magnate, Henry Pittock, and is now a splendid example of early 1900s architecture and period antiques. Completed in 1914, the elegant 22-room sandstone structure rests atop a 1000-foot mountain and commands spectacular views of the Willamette Valley and Cascade Range.

INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN. Located in Washington Park, its the oldest of 24 AARS public rose test gardens in America, and quite possibly the reason Portland is known as the "City of Roses." This lovely five-acre hillside garden is adorned with the spectacular color and heady fragrance of 8000 rose bushes. The citys best-known panoramic views are photographed from here overlooking downtown and magnificent Mt. Hood. Always open.

BRIDGEPORT ALE HOUSE. This is the popular brewpub for the oldest of Portlands craft breweries among 34 brewers in the metro area (more than any other city on earth!). This 1880's one-time hemp rope factory is located on SW Hawthorne on the trendy northwest side of the city. Each of the dozen beers they craft is a work of olfactory artso try the "sampler" and taste/smell their surprising variations in flavor and character. Better stay for a tasty lunch, dinner and sweet treats, though, because 12 mini-beers will definitely get to you!

AT A GLANCE

WHERE: On I-5 in northern Oregon near the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers.

WHAT: A compact, cosmopolitan city in a river/seaport and wooded hills setting. Portland is a short, scenic drive from the ocean, wine country and the mountains.

WHEN: Year-around. With a mild "temperate forest" climate, you can visit anytime and enjoy a wide range of activities and events. Sure it rains during the winter, but thats why great coffee houses, brewpubs and bookstores were invented!

WHY: Portland has something for everyone. It offers a wide range of cosmopolitan and country experiences without busting your budget. And if at home you don't already have the most comfortable bed ever, heres your chance to sleep a night or two on one at La Quinta.

HOW: Portland Visitor Information Center, SW Sixth Avenue between Morrison and Yamhill in downtown Portland. (877) 678-5263 (www.travelportland.com)

Photos from top: Portland skyline (courtesy POVA); Washington Park (courtesy POVA); downtown Portland (courtesy POVA); Willamette Falls (photo by STEVE FRENZL); Mount Hood and Portland skyline (courtesy POVA).

All around Portland there are great lodging possibilities. A timeshare is another option that allows you to do whatever it is you want to do in Portland. Because timeshares are located in various places around the city it is not only convenient, but easy to stay near your favorite parts. Not many people know this, but you can also find a timeshare rental if you want.

OTHER DESTINATIONS: If you're looking for other Northwest travel ideas, be sure to check out other Northwest Travel Advisor articles on Wine Country, Snoqualmie Falls, Northwest history and western theme towns.

Here is a list of Hotels in Portland based on user reviews from across the web



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