Things to Do with Teens in Portland
Family trips usually mean someone has to compromise (mom doesn’t like rides, but she’s in a theme park; dad loves beer but there’s no good breweries in the area; your teen doesn’t really like anything anymore…), but Portland Oregon has a little something for everyone in the family. Whether it’s sampling local food, scooting through town, or just taking killer Instagrams, it’s a prime West Coast destination for families with teens.
- ALSO SEE: Our Summer 2019 Outdoor Adventures Guide
On Saturdays and Sundays, the waterfront of the Willamette River near the Burnside Bridge crowds full of craft and food vendors. Over 350 different painters, potters, jewelry-makers and food stands gather for the largest open-air arts and crafts market in the country. This is the place to go for quirky Portland souvenirs, funny t-shirts and all manner of local food.
All your kid really wants to do is get a killer Instagram, right? The White Stag sign (which is conveniently located right near the Saturday Market at 70 NW Couch St.) is a classic Portland photo spot. While it might not be worth taking a trip over on its own, definitely snap a pic after you’ve hit all the stalls in the market.
If you’re looking for classic Portland weirdness to take home with you, walk through the Mississippi/Williams and 23rd Street neighborhoods of the city. They’ve got all manner of oddities: taxidermy (from Paxton Gate), kitsch, witchcraft, and more.
While you might think you can take a pass on this one (will your teen even be caught dead on an electric scooter?), you’ve got to try it. You’ll notice quickly that there are electric scooters all around the city, either being zipped down bike lanes or perched on the corner waiting for someone to claim them. It’s ridiculously easy (and cheap, only costing about $6 for 30 minutes) to download the app, scan a scooter, and start flying down the street.
Powell’s City of Books
Most people who’ve been to Portland will recommend stopping at Powell’s. That’s because it’s the world’s largest independent bookstore, and you can spend at least a full day browsing what seem like endless shelves. This means overhearing things like “we drove all the way from Seattle just for the day to come to here,” while you’re there. They boast new, used, rare, and out-of-print titles, to satisfy even the snobbiest book nerd.
The tram is admittedly a super short ride, so it’s great if you have literally only 15 minutes to kill (one way only takes four minutes). That said, it has some killer views of the city once you get to the top.
This voodoo-themed doughnut shop is quintessentially Portland, and a must-do while in the city. Their namesake doughnut is shaped like a screaming voodoo doll, and it oozes raspberry jelly when stabbed with the provided pretzel stick. You’ll also find funky flavors like mango, hibiscus, and guava, with a range of toppings from Froot Loops to crispy bacon.
Portlanders take their coffee seriously, so do them a favor and don’t go to Starbucks while you’re there. Stumptown is just one of the awesome coffee franchises in the city, with smooth and strong brews, and really cute merch if you’ve got a coffee-holic back home that needs a souvenir.
Salt & Straw
There is simply not enough praise for Salt & Straw’s handmade ice cream. Their flavors, while you might be taken aback by some combos, are spot-on. Think: buttermilk pancakes, bacon & eggs, rosewater & saffron, and pear & blue cheese. Plus, they don’t skimp on the vegan flavors if you’ve got a lactose intolerant person in the group. Oh, or a vegan.
While there are so many restaurants to eat at in Portland, the food truck game is just as awesome. There are a bunch of cart “pods” where multiple vendors gather pretty permanently, and they cover a wide range of cuisines in each one. Matt’s BBQ is a pretty famous spot (located in the Prost! Marketplace pod) for delicious BBQ meats and sides you won’t want to miss.
The Editor in Chief of Bon Appétit called Olympia Provisions the “best charcuterie in America,” so yeah, you could say it’s worth a visit. All their meats are made with antibiotic-free, high-quality pork with only the ingredients necessary: salt, garlic, spices, and fat. Plus, even their dishes that don’t center themselves on pork (octopus la plancha with potatoes, chorizo & olives; shaved vegetable salad with chèvre & walnut vinaigrette) are equally drool-worthy.
WorldMark Portland Waterfront Park
This new spot in town is perfect for travel with family. It’s just across the street from the Willamette River (and a three-minute walk from the Saturday Market) is comprised of condo-style suites, perfect for families.