When stars align and a family of four all happen to have the exact same days open and free of major obligations, something must be done. And what my family did was at 3pm on a Monday bolt out of town and head North to the quirky + sensational city of Portland Oregon.
Seeing how we had a rather later start, and Google's directions were more fond of dark alley ways and round the block deals versus get on the highway, we made it into the city rather late. However, it gave us two solid days ahead for fun on Portlandia adventures...two kids in tow.
Now, I have a lot of parent friends who gasp and awe at my husband + I's constant travels and adventures having two younger kids along for the journey. We've had multiple flops that haven't turned out as planned, and we always know that on every trip each child will have one major melt down. But what we came to realize was this: our kids are going to have melt downs no matter where we are on the globe...whither it's at home, at the grocery store or in a foreign city/country or middle of the woods. The other thing we came to realize was our kids will learn to accept and appreciate language, culture, differences, places and the world the co habit ONLY if we let them experience it. So that's what we are doing allowing our kids to experience the world around them first hand.
Something that always is key when traveling with kids in tow is to plan things that they can do. So on our drizzly first full day in Portland we kicked it off with some breakfast and then we were off to the Children's Museum.
This allowed our kids to get traveling / road tripping wiggles out as they could run around the huge different play areas. Between rock walls, a vet hospital, a grocery store, a make up room (note the picture of my daughter above), a water exploratory room, a clay and craft rooms and a whole heave of other play areas, my kids were dizzy with excitement. There's even lockers to hold your valuable and a small cafe like spot upfront with multiple kid and adult snack and lunch options (also gluten free + vegetarian options as well!)
After a few hours playing and some lunch at the Children's Museum, the kids and my hubby indulged me by going to Powell's Books. If your not aware of this heaven on earth, it is one of the largest book stores on earth taking up three floors and a whole city block. *swoon* Now with kids my husband and I first bunkered our kids down in their section and read them a couple stories before I snuck away to explore for a bit while my hubbs held the fort down. There's a really good cafe + coffee shop inside, so my hubbs had no problem reading the Adventures of Elephant and Piggie and Star Wars while I drove myself in my love of books and literature.
After a couple hours in Powell's, we ventured over to the historic Mississippi Ave. that is littered with beautiful little shops, restaurants, pubs + bars. Though it was still raining, we found spring time in this beautiful little nursery called Pistile's. If you have any adoration and love for cacti, succulents and air ferns, this is the place to be. Reasonably prices with such a warm and welcoming feel, it was hard not to fall in love (and walk away with a couple goodies in hand!)
But one kids started to get hungry - that was my hubbs and I'd cue that it was time for food, then bed. We found this amazing (greasy, hole in the wall, but oh so good) pizza place, Mississippi Ave. Pizza+Bar. They allow minors as they have their bar in a separate area, and my family of four engulfed a 16" pizza in less then 45-minutes (which is record breaking.) It was then off to bed for us all.
The next morning we were greeted with sunshine and a slight breeze, which we took fully advantage of by starting off day two with a small breakfast and an early morning trip to the Japanese Garden's. With it still being off season (and in the morning) there was hardly any people and if your kids are 6 and under, Their FREE! They also have a wonderful (and tricky) scavenger hunt for the kids, which even had my husband and I scratching our heads.
The garden allowed my kids to explore and be outside, getting morning wiggles out. We told both of them that they needed to use inside voices because it was a very special garden where Buddha lived and took care of the plats...and it worked like a charm. Though they still ran around, understanding it was a special place they kept to their scavenger hunt and admiring all the blooms and koi fish.
After the garden's, it was snack time, and when on vacation we don't really follow any sort of "diet" other then, "Hey what sounds good" so ice cream (or penguins as our mom+dad code) it was.
If your an ice cream lover like my family is, Salt & Straw is THE place in Portland to go. With 20+ unique flavors, including blue cheese, rainbow, Stumptown Coffee (pictures above) it's hard not to fall in love. The workers are cheery and allow you to test taste any (or all) of the flavors. The environment was cozy and wonderful, and super kid friendly.
We bummed around this area for a while, before grabbing coffee at one of Portland's Staples, Jim and Patty's, where their slogan is, "good coffee, no back talk" and then drove around the residential area so the kids could nap and mom and dad could gaulk.
After nap time, it was time for Taber Park, a dormant volcano turned playground and hiking grounds. Once again, this was in slew of getting kids wiggles out and seeing a part of Portland we hadn't seen before. The key to this trip was we only went down town for a couple hours that night. Though the down town buzz is fun for adults the constant need to hold mom and dad's hands, busy streets, "please for freaking sake don't touch that" constantly being hammered, ends up making the trip miserable for both parents and kids. So this trip was spent in the suburban and residential areas where their quirky shops, indie everything and lots of good foodie places that are family friendly.
We ended our second, and last full day in Portland at Voodoo donuts which is a tradition and Portland staple. Always grab a dozen so you don't have to struggle choosing, and after picking out a few favorites, it's always a fun thing to let the cashier pick out the rest because it allows us to try new flavors we haven't had before.
In the AM we ended our time in Portland at a place I've been DYING to explore, Slappy Cakes. Where you get to cook your own pancakes with dozen's of toppings. I'm a huge breakfast junkie, and this was a kid friendly twist that I was so thrilled to get to explore.
It was the most perfect ending to our family time, spring break in Portland. Now it's onto our ending cap of spring break in Southern Idaho to get some family time in.