By Anne Taylor Hartzell, on May 7, 2013

Hipster family fun in Portland, Oregon

My hometown of Portland, Oregon has long been a popular destination for families. Over the years, downtown Portland has developed a cool, hipster vibe with great restaurants, shopping, and places to stay. Here’s where we love to stay, eat, and play in downtown Portland with our family.


Hotel Monaco Portland

This Kimpton property is our favorite place to stay in downtown Portland. The rooms of the Hotel Monaco are spacious and pet-friendly, and the optional one-bedroom suites have separate doors for privacy. My husband and I enjoy the complementary wine reception in the lobby nightly from 5:00 – 6:00 p.m., featuring local microbrews and wines by the glass. Our kids love how Kimpton rolls out the red carpet for them with the Kimpton Kids welcome package. After a long day sightseeing, the kids get all snuggled up in their pint-sized animal print robes and cozy in for one of the many family-friendly movies Kimpton has available to borrow at the front desk. If you ask, Kimpton will also let you borrow a signature pet goldfish. 

RiverPlace Hotel

A new renovation in the spring of 2013 brought hip décor to this sister Kimpton property, Hotel Monaco. RiverPlace has a large variety of room types suitable for families, from one-bedroom suites, to condo-style units with kitchens. For those without a car in Portland, complimentary bicycle rentals are also available. We love the location of this property and have found joy in early morning walks and a stop for Stumptown espresso with our labradoodle Roxy along the Willamette River. On one warm late summer afternoon, our family took a leisurely stroll for ice cream and stopped to watch the boats that cruise down the river. These are the moments we cherish as a family.


Mother’s Bistro

A quintessential Portland dining experience, Mother’s Bistro serves up homestyle comfort food. This place can get busy, especially on weekends, so go early to avoid the crowds. Our kids found it pretty easy to stay occupied in the little alcove play area while my husband and I sipped our coffee. 

Voodoo Doughnut

The experience of visiting Voodoo Doughnut is almost as fun as deciding what crazy doughnut to eat. Our youngest loves the bacon-topped maple bars, while our oldest opts for a bubblegum doughnut with a piece of bubblegum stuck on top. Voodoo is a must-eat experience for families like ours with a sweet tooth.

Portland Food Carts

Fast and affordable, Portland food carts allow you to sample great cuisine at affordable prices. During a day I was busy shopping with my mom in Nob Hill, my husband texted me pictures of the family grabbing lunch at the Portland’s food carts. He found one of the pods of food carts downtown and the kids loved choosing their own meal, taking the food to go, and finding a spot on the waterfront park for a picnic lunch. 

Viewfinder Tip: Grab and go at any one of the over 400 food carts in Portland.


Shopping in downtown Portland is fun and tax-free. No trip to Portland would be complete without a visit to Powell’s City of Books, the largest used and new bookstore in the world. Grandma just happens to work there and our family loves to get lost for hours in the shelves of this fun, independent bookstore. 

Nob Hill

Named “One of America’s Best Shopping Streets” in 2012 by US News & World Report, Northwest Portland’s 23rd Avenue is lined with fun boutique shops, consignment stores, and neighborhood restaurants, perfect for an afternoon stroll. My mom and I recently spent an afternoon there and enjoyed a quick lunch, some shopping, and even a stop in the Hip Hound pet store to pick up some treats for Roxy.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Located just across the river from downtown Portland, kids and parents will love The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The museum offers fun traveling exhibits and camps and classes for kids and families year-round.  

What are your favorite things to do when traveling with your kids?