5 of My Favorite Portland (and Beaverton) Playgrounds

5/16/2016

5 of My Favorite Portland (and Beaverton) Playgrounds — a Modern Mrs.
Since we first moved to Portland (Oregon), every weekend we try to explore a new area of the city, and we especially try to frequent the many parks and playgrounds available. Portland is such a family-friendly city, and they have gone to great lengths to ensure beautiful, functional, and multi-age-appropriate greenspaces. Most playgrounds have two separate play structures; one for the little guys (E's age), and one for the older kids (L's age). This means no kid is bored, or resentful the other one has more to do. This also means less headaches for us parents. Winning!

Currently we're renting in the outskirts of NW Portland, which means we're close to both Beaverton and Hillsboro. While we haven't spent a ton of time exploring Hillsboro, we do get out into Beaverton often, so that's why you see a mix of both areas on this list. I also think it's helpful for those families living in SW Portland, who may find themselves in Beaverton more often than Portland proper. Speaking of Portland proper, we have visited a handful of other parks in the area, but I didn't include them because they either had play structures tailored toward one age group of kids only, or they weren't as convenient to navigate. Also, keep in mind, there's many we haven't yet seen! So, if you have a favorite, please share in the comments below! We'd love to check them out.

All that said, here are five of my favorite playgrounds in Portland and Beaverton, Oregon!

*This list is not ordered in a most-to-least-favorite fashion. I couldn't possibly choose which playground I like better over another — they're all amazing!*

1) Sabin Hydro Park in NE Portland

Nestled in a residential area, protected by old water towers and the shade of plentiful trees is Sabin's Hydro Park. This spot feels like a hidden gem to me, and I hesitated to mention it at all for fear it would be changed. There's a swing set, a play structure that's easily manageable for a toddler (with a parent close by) with multiple slides, and a climbing wall all on a mulched surface. Picnic tables sit beneath the shade, and there's plenty of grassy area. While my oldest (now 11) is happy to play there, the structure is better suited for a younger crowd.

A short walk away is the Alberta Arts District, which offers an eclectic mix of eateries, coffee shops, bars, and more. Salt & Straw has a location there, so if your kids work up an appetite at the playground, head over for a dip of their homemade, one-of-a-kind ice cream! (See flavor list here.)


2) Mount Tabor Playground in SE Portland

If hanging out on an extinct volcano is your idea of a good time, then definitely visit Mount Tabor Park! The views are spectacular, with three different 'levels" of trail, one of which will take you to the very top for one of the best views of the city. You can drive around most of it, and it features water reservoirs, a picnic area, a basketball court, an off-leash dog area, and (of course) a playground. The playground is near the parking lot and restrooms, and is shaded by the mature trees all around. It's so peaceful there, and there's so much to do as well!

With play structures, swing sets, seesaws, monkey bars, and more, on a mulched area, among magnificently tall trees, with a nearby skyline view of Portland, it's a must-see even if you're only in town for a short while. Kids of all ages will have a great time, but make note, little guys can't navigate the play structures alone, but parents will have no problem making their way along and down the slides.

A 15-minute drive away is OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, which is a science and technology museum (as the name would suggest) offering interactive exhibits, but it also has a planetarium, IMAX theater, and its own submarine (with tours)! Famished after a day of fun and science? Fret not... OMSI has a restaurant on-site!


3) Rose Garden Children's Park in SW Portland

Also referred to as the Washington Park Playground, the Rose Garden Children's Park is one of the best playgrounds in the Portland area. Located on the same grounds as the Oregon Zoo, Children's Museum, Rose Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and hiking trails, this playground boasts the most serene ambience with its forest locale and Topiary. It features one enormous play structure with ramps, slides, tic tac toe, and more, as well as an additional, smaller structure, a swing set, sandbox, and covered picnic area. The ground is padded to break falls, and there's a decent restroom nearby.

Neither play structure is suitable for an unattended toddler, as there are several spots where they could fall through/off. However, parents can comfortably navigate the larger structure. The smaller structure is fine for parents, as long as you aren't planning on going down the windy slide. It's a tight squeeze, even for my 5'2" slender self.

While you're there, do visit the Zoo and/or Children's Museum. They're right around the corner, and so worth it!


4) Pirate Park in NW Portland

Formerly known as Bethany Meadows Park, Pirate Park is a "large, adventure-style playground" located along the Rock Creek Greenway. Nestled among the hills and a residential neighborhood, this playground is another hidden gem, featuring a pirate-themed play structure, as well as two other structures, two swing sets, and a sandbox on padded ground. There are picnic tables and benches, and a portable restroom. The pirate-themed structure is most suited for toddlers through early elementary, but I would suggest a parent accompany toddlers until they're about three-years-old. (E is almost two, and is still at risk to fall off/hurt herself.) The middle structure is up a hill, and offers a lookout and longer slide. The other structure is suited for the big kids, and offers the ability to jump and climb.

While there isn't much within walking distance, if you happen across this playground via the Greenway, there's a nearby pump station, and the views are so relaxing. There's a rolling creek, wildlife, and peace and quiet for miles. We love to walk to this park from our rental, but if you're in the area, you can park in the nearby neighborhood and walk in along the trail. It's definitely not convenient for out-of-towners, but if you're in the Bethany area, are hiking along the Rock Creek Greenway, or are in nearby Beaverton, stop in!


5) Howard M. Terpenning Complex Playground in Beaverton

Located behind the Tualatin Hills Athletic Center (one of the Park & Recreation locations), the Howard M. Terpenning Complex Playground is a covered playground offering two play structures, two swing sets, picnic tables and benches along a mulch-covered ground. The smaller structure is amazing for toddlers — E can navigate all by herself with no risk of falling off! The larger structure is great for olders kids (even for my 11-year-old). The smaller structure also offers a rock climbing wall, and a steering wheel off the back side with a pretend shifter, which my E just adores. She spends more time sitting in the mulch, pretending to drive, or drawing in the mulch with sticks than anything else. But, it's the peace of mind that she doesn't require my hovering, and the shade that makes this one of my latest favorite spots. We are a pale family, folks. Shade is our dearest friend.


Honorable Mention

I just couldn't leave this park off the list, even though it's not in Portland nor Beaverton.... It's just so much fun, and there were so many creative features added to this park that it has to be mentioned!

George Rogers Park in Lake Oswego

Lake Oswego is a popular tourist destination located south of Portland, and within its downtown area is the George Rogers Park Playground. With several play structures, standalone slides, swing sets, spinning flower petals, a sandbox, and a covered picnic area, there is also a hand painted "Twister" area, and a hand painted hopscotch area. How cute! L had so much fun playing Twister, and E couldn't decide which she wanted to do more — go down the standalone slide, play in the sandbox, or pretend to go hunt for Moby Dick on the S.S. George Rogers. Whether you're in/visiting the Lake Oswego area, or are willing to drive 30-minutes outside of Portland, George Rogers Park is a great spot for the whole family.


Have you been to any of the playgrounds featured today? Are you from the area and have a playground you'd like to share? Let's hear it!

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