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What to do in Portland When it Rains

You were so excited to take your kids to Portland and see the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, and Washington Park.

However, the rain has left everything too soggy to enjoy. What kid-friendly indoor activities can you do in Portland?

Here’s how to make a rainy day in Portland fun:

  • Visit OMSI
  • See Pittock Mansion
  • Stop by the Portland Art Museum
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth at Voodoo Doughnut
  • Entertain at Electric Castle’s Wunderland
  • Play golf at Glowing Greens PDX
  • Step back in time at Kidd’s Toy Museum
  • Go retro at Ground Kontrol
  • Shop at SpielWerk Toys
  • Eat at Laughing Planet Café

As this list proves, there’s no shortage of activities for families in Portland who are looking for a fun on a rainy day. You’ll make just as many memories if not more than you would by enjoying Portland outdoors!

The Top 10 Attractions and Activities in Portland for Beating the Rainy Day Blues

1. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Portland, Oregon, USA – April 20, 2018 : OMSI, Museum of science and industry in Portland

Since 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry or OMSI has been a mainstay in the Portland area.

As the name implies, this museum is dedicated to all things technology and science.

In the Natural Sciences Hall, kids can explore these educational exhibits.

  • Paleontology Lab: Although the fossils in the Paleontology Lab aren’t real, they will teach children about what the duties of a real paleontologist entail. The diversity of the faux fossils includes dinosaur bones, shells, and plants.
  • Earth Lab: Why do volcanos erupt? Why has our climate changed so radically over the years? These are questions the children will be able to answer after a visit to the Earth Lab.
  • Beginning the Journey: The human fetus sure is an amazing thing, right? Now your kids can learn all about how humans go from tiny embryos to amazing children at the Beginning the Journey exhibit.
  • Science on a Sphere: The six-foot sphere at OMSI showcases all sorts of unique sights, from hurricane paths to images of Mars, the moon, and the sun.
  • Life Lab: Your kids can be pretend biologists at the Life Lab. Here, they’ll learn more about insects and reptiles.

Empirical Hall features the Empirical Theater, one of three auditoriums across the museum’s grounds. This area also has an exhibit about the USS Blueback, a real submarine that had 85 people live in it long-term.

Next, there’s the Turbine Hall, which features the following exhibits.

  • Physics Lab: Physics is so cool! Your kids will definitely agree after spending time in the Physics Lab.
  • Chemistry Lab: The children will put on their safety goggles and then play pretend scientist by stirring and experimenting with faux fluids.
  • The Curium: For kids ages four through eight, The Curium features windpower and music exhibits.
  • Designing Our World: The kids can experiment in a hands-on fashion in the Designing Our World exhibit, coming up with their own answers to real scenarios.
  • Innovation Stations: Another similar exhibit is Innovation Stations, which empowers kids to use their imagination.
  • The Epicenter: Is your family prepared for an earthquake? You will be after seeing The Epicenter exhibit!

You and the children can also witness a show at the Kendall Planetarium, learn more about the skies above us at the Space Science Hall, or get hands-on at the Discovery Lab.

Young kids can also tire themselves out at the Science Playground, which is sure to be the highlight of the afternoon.

When you inevitably work up an appetite, grab a bite to eat at the Empirical Café for quick meals or visit the Theory Restaurant and select from an assorted menu.

1945 Southeast Water Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97214

2. Pittock Mansion

Usually, I would tell you to gaze upon the exterior of the Pittock Mansion and appreciate its gorgeous architecture, but it’s raining, so you can’t exactly do that. You’ll want to get inside quick!

So what exactly is the Pittock Mansion? It’s a 16,000-square-foot chateau in a French Renaissance style.

Situated in Portland’s West Hills, Pittock Mansion was constructed in 1914 for the Pittock family, Georgiana Burton Pittock. and Henry Pittock, publisher of the Oregonian.

Today, the mansion is on the list of the National Register of Historic Places.

Children under six years old get into Pittock Mansion free, which is reason enough to visit!

Inside the home, you and the family can witness a slew of exhibits that take a deep dive into Oregon’s history.

The exhibits rotate out after so many months, but there is a permanent collection in the mansion.

Included in the permanent collection of artifacts from the 20th century is a masonic sword that belonged to Henry Pittock, fine china, a family desk, a Steinway grand piano that the Pittocks owned, and more.

Tours are available so you can learn as much about the mansion as possible! 

3229 Northwest Pittock Drive, Portland, Oregon 97210

3. Portland Art Museum

A long-time Portland institution, the Portland Art Museum will be sure to make a rainy day in the area less depressing.

The museum was established in 1892 and is 240,000 spacious square feet. Over 112,000 square feet of the museum are dedicated to art galleries.

On top of that, the Portland Art Museum also has the distinction of being one of the oldest West Coast art museums as well as one of the oldest museums in the entire country.

So what’s inside? That’s the fun part about visiting the Portland Art Museum, there’s always something different to see. The art exhibits rotate in and out.

Public tours are available between Thursdays and Sundays. You might also be interested in the public family tour, which starts promptly at 12:30 p.m. every Sunday. Don’t miss it!

Kids under 17 can get into the Portland Art Museum for free for public family tours, just to further incentivize you.

Be sure to check the events calendar, as the Portland Art Museum always has something interesting going on.

1219 Southwest Park Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205

4. Voodoo Doughnut

It’s time to turn those frowns upside down and cheer up the kids with a visit to Voodoo Doughnut, one of the most beloved donut stops in the entire country.

With two locations in Portland, in Old Town and Davis, no matter what’s on your revised itinerary, you can easily access this donut shop.

Feast your eyes upon over 50 artisan donut flavors and 25 vegan flavors.

Sure, you’ve got your classics like a maple old-fashioned, apple fritter, chocolate old-fashioned, glazed old-fashioned, blueberry cake, and double chocolate, but Voodoo also serves up some donuts you won’t find anywhere else.

The Memphis Mafia donut is fried dough with cinnamon and chunks of banana with a rich topping of peanut butter drizzle, chocolate drizzle, peanuts, chocolate chips, and glaze.

The Diablos Rex is a rich devil’s food cake with chocolate frosting, a vanilla frosting pentagram, red sprinkles, and chocolate chips in the center.

The family certainly won’t go home hungry here, that’s for sure!

22 Southwest 3rd Avenue | 1501 Northeast Davis Street

5. Electric Castle’s Wunderland

Banish any boredom on a rainy day by taking the kids to Electric Castle’s Wunderland in what was once the Sunnyside Theater.

As part of what is today the Avalon Theatre, Electric Castle’s Wunderland includes a full movie theater for catching the latest flicks and noshing on popcorn. It’s the perfect rainy-day activity!

The kids can also play, play, and then play some more with plenty of attractions and entertainment.

An escape room promises fun for the whole family as you strategize your escape. Hi’Iaka’s Revenge is a Hawaiian-themed mini-golf adventure.

If you’re into VR, there’s an attraction called Holgate as well as an XD Dark Ride offered at Wunderland.

Kids can also play laser tag and venture through the game rooms with all the arcade games you can ever want. 

Avalon Theatre, 3451 Southeast Belmont Street, Portland, Oregon 97214

6. Glowing Greens PDX

If not Electric Castle’s Wunderland, then you should certainly treat your kids to an afternoon at Glowing Greens PDX. They’ll definitely forget all about the rain!

Glowing Greens offers three attractions in one.

There’s the main attraction, which is the blacklight mini golf course.

Across 13 holes and about 45 minutes, you and the children can enjoy the 3D blacklight features as you see who can score a hole-in-one first.

If you’re up for more, the Mental Trap escape room is a multi-roomed escape room game that takes about an hour to get through.

For the older kids, Wicked Axe Throwing is sure to delight them to no end. Children must be at least 13 to participate, and any kids under 18 need a parent or guardian.

509 West Taylor Street, Portland, Oregon 97204

7. Kidd’s Toy Museum

Is Kidd’s Toy Museum the only toy-related activity on the list? Nope, so if your kids want to do more than see the toys, make sure you keep reading.

Kidd’s Toy Museum is named in honor of its founder, Frank Kidd.

Frank had always been interested in antique toys, and as an adult, he began expanding his collection. He had a whole automotive parts office to use, and fill it, he did.

He’s gone all over the world in search of antique toys, and as of today, has 15,000 pieces, including toys, transportation memorabilia, and mechanical banks.

All are on display at Kidd’s Toy Museum. When I say these are antique toys, I mean it, as many are from 1869 to 1939!

1301 Southeast Grand Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97214

8. Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and Bar

How many hours per week do your kids spend playing video games?

Even though they had to leave their gaming consoles at home for this family vacation, a trip to Ground Kontrol Classic Arcade and Bar ought to make them feel right at home.

This vintage arcade has classic video games and pinball machines that might harken back to your youth, Mom and Dad.

Depending on how old your kids are, they may recognize a few of the gaming titles too.

If not, then you can introduce your children to the classics like Space Invaders, Mario Bros., Bubble Bobble, Tetris, and Donkey Kong Junior.

Ground Kontrol is about way more than just the games! The arcade regularly hosts events like tournaments and free play days.

After your kids are through mashing buttons and twisting joysticks, they can partake in the huge food and beverage menu here.

Nosh on tacos, nachos, quesadillas, soft pretzel sticks, and carnitas.

115 Northwest 5th Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97209

9. SpielWerk Toys

Okay, here’s the toy store I promised, SpielWerk Toys.

SpielWerk isn’t your average toy store. They’re obsessed with healthy toys that “best meet the dynamic needs of growing kids.”

Pick up a souvenir that will make your kids utterly happy. The rain won’t put a damper on your vacation one iota when you come here.

3808 North Williams Avenue, #121, Portland, Oregon 97227

10. Laughing Planet Café

One of the most kid-friendly restaurants in all of Portland is the Laughing Planet Café. It just so happens to be a healthy restaurant too, so you don’t have to feel bad about indulging.

The food is paleo, low-carb, gluten-free, and vegetarian, and the space theme is a nice touch as well.

The menu includes dishes such as tacos, chips and salsa, burritos, salads, house-made soups, quesadillas, and bowls.

To wash it down, Laughing Planet serves homemade lemonade as well as soda and fruity smoothies.

If some of the menu offerings are a little too mature for your young kids’ tastebuds, there is a kids’ menu with simpler offerings like a mini quesadilla and a kids’ bowl with roasted yams and jasmine rice.

909 Northwest 21st Avenue | 3320 Southeast Belmont Street | 4110 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard


Rainy days don’t have to get you down. Although you’ve got to revise your itinerary, you and the family can still have an amazing time in Portland.

Even in sunny weather, these attractions and activities are worth doing, so I hope you will the next time you’re in the area!