The Best Holiday Activities for Kids in Portland

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so get out into our city and enjoy some holiday activities with your kids! There are plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy, no matter what your interests are.

Oregon Zoolights

Oregon Zoolights at the Oregon Zoo has a bigger and better light display this year, so don’t miss taking your kids! You’ll enjoy the tunnels and moving displays made out of over a million and a half lights. Of course, you can also enjoy all of your favorite animals that are always at the zoo, also, as well as the train. (In fact, seeing the lights by train is pretty magical.)

There are special treats available for sale during Zoolights, including light-up cotton candy. Performances of Holiday music and visits with Santa make the experience just about perfect. Parking for this event can be difficult, so think about riding the MAX! to the zoo.

Through January 5, 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Winter Wonderland at the Portland International Raceway

If you want to enjoy the festive holiday lights while also saying warm, take the entire family to Winter Wonderland at Portland International Raceway. It’s actually the largest lightshow west of the Mississippi, and it spans the entire track at the raceway. You’ll see over 250 large set pieces, many of them animated. There is plenty to look at this light show.

There are special nights, like a night to bring your dog for a walk and a night to ride your bike through the raceway. All the proceeds from the event benefit the Sunshine Division, which provides food and clothing to local families.

Through January 4th, times vary depending on the day

The Cinnamon Bear Cruise

Board the Cinnamon Bear cruise ship as the guests of honor on this two-hour cruise on the Portland Spirit. Fanciful characters entertain you with stories, holiday music, and an on-board treasure hunt. You can even have your picture taken with Cinnamon Bear himself, as well as get an autograph. The snack buffet includes fresh fruit, yogurt, cereal, and hot drinks.

Through December 27, times vary

Reindeer Meet & Greet at Gresham Station

Santa is coming to town with his reindeer, and he wants you to meet them all at Gresham Station! This free event takes place in the fenced area of NW Civic Drive and NW 12th. It’s the perfect place to have fun with Santa and his favorite animal friends. Enjoy complimentary hot cider or cocoa while you linger.

December 14 and 15, 2:00 to 6:00 p.m.

Tubing on Mt. Hood

Head to Mt. Hood to really enjoy the beautiful snow and the great Oregon outdoors at the same time. Classic daytime tubing is a lot of fun, but if you want something even more memorable, check out nighttime Cosmic Tubing. You’ll fly down the hill surrounded by over 600,000 LED lights, laser light shows, black lights, music, and more. There’s honestly nothing like it!

Through January 1, times vary

Annual Tuba Holiday Concert

Go on over to Pioneer Courthouse Square for a free tuba Holiday concert! Nearly 300 tubas play glorious Holiday music during this seasonal performance. There’s nothing like some vibrant Holiday tunes to get you in the holiday spirit!

Don’t forget to look at the huge tree, while you’re there for the concert. It’s quite the site to behold.

December 14, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

The Christmas Ship Parade

Portland’s Christmas ship parade began in 1984, and it’s been going strong ever since! Back then, it was just one sailboat from the Portland Yacht Club, but it’s much bigger now—there are between 55 and 60 boats in both the Columbia and Willamette River fleets combined.

Each boat is light with many bright lights and can be seen from each bank and each river. Don’t miss the festive show!

Through December 22, 7:00 p.m.

The Holiday Express Train

Join Santa and his hard-working elves for a special ride in one of Portland’s famous steam locomotives with the Holiday Express train ride! The train ride is about 45 minutes roundtrip, and all trains travel along the Willamette River in SE Portland. It’s a gorgeous route.

Coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cider, and cookies are available while you’re waiting to board the train. The cars are decorated with festive ornaments, garlands, and lights (The nighttime rides are more fun if you want to see the lights.) Santa will visit each train, too!

Zimmerman Heritage Farm

The old-fashioned Zimmerman Heritage Farm is a turn-of-the-century spot that’s truly a trip backwards in time. During the holidays, the WinterVille festival takes place on the grounds of the farm. You can go on a tour of the house, where each room has its own theme for the holidays.

Afterwards, go to the heated tent and enjoy food, drink, and plenty of vendors (so you can get some Holiday shopping out of the way). There’s also a children’s craft area for the kiddos to make some holiday creations to take home.

Through December 18, times vary

If you have a favorite Holiday activity to do with kids that I haven’t mentioned here, please tell me about it in a comment below!

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