Portland Children’s Activities Weekend Round Up: April 1- 3, 2016

Kid's playing in a Portland Park

Easter is over and next weekend is quickly approaching! We thought we would take the time to highlight some of the upcoming kid’s events for this weekend in the greater Portland Area.

Friday, April 1

  • Messy Art Drop In at Sparks Art Center in Portland: 9am – 12pm: Come by with your preschool children, ages 2 to 5 (older siblings are welcomed too) to participate in a free-for-all art session! Kids can come and make any art they choose using the variety of supplies and materials available to them. Cost is per child, and it is free for adults to participate along with their children. The cost for the activity is on a per hour basis, $7 for one hour, $10 for 2 hours, and $12 for a 3 hour art session. The Sparks Art Center generously offers a “10 minute grace period”, where if your child becomes uninterested within the first 10 minutes, they will refund your money and let you try again on another day. This is perfect for those creative kiddos in your life!
  • Free First Friday at Portland Children’s Museum: 4pm – 8pm:  All ages are welcome to come explore the Portland Children’s Museum for Free on the “Free First Friday”, a monthly event. For the first Friday of every month, the museum secures a sponsor so that families can enjoy all the museum has to offer at no cost. This month is sponsored by Target Corporation. The Portland Children’s museum includes permanent exhibits such as “Building Bridgetown” and “Pet Hospital“, where kids have the opportunity to play real life professions. The museum is also exhibiting a temporary attraction, “Run! Jum! Fly! Adventures in Action” until May 15, 2016.  The exhibit focuses on “Action Training” and promotes healthy living and activity for kids.

Saturday, April 2

  • Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn: 9am – 6pm: There is so much to do at this Festival! No need to Rent a Bounce house when there are so many better options at a nearby festival. In addition to the 40 acres of beautiful countryside vineyards, flowers, and mountains, there are countless family activities.  The event includes train rides, bounce houses, portable climbing wall, zip line, and archery tag. For adults there is wine tasting, paint balling, and more.  Following in their namesake, there will also be wooden shoe making demonstrations. Costs for activities in the area run from $1 up to $10 depending on the activity. If you plan on eating, plan on bringing at least $20 per person to enjoy some of the activities along with the food. The Tulip Fest is open daily until May 1, 2016, but best to check their website for details on which activities are available on the day you plan on attending.
  • Pacific Northwest Reptile and Exotic Animal Show in Hillsboro at the Washington County Fairgrounds: 10am – 5pmThis great all ages event is the largest all ages exotic animal show in all of the Northwest.  Perfect for kids of all ages and their families, this show could even send you home with a new member of the family! They offer daily raffles that include thousands of dollars worth of equipment and new reptile pets. Admission is free for children under 5 years of age, $5 for kids ages 6-10, and $9 for children 10+ and adults.  It’s not every weekend that your kids will have the opportunity to hold a giant snake!

Sunday, April 3

  • Family Open Play at Upper Westside Play Gym in Portland: 12pm-1:30pm:  This gym promotes healthy living and family fun with cheap weekend drop- in hours for kids of all ages. In addition to a fully loaded gym, there are kitchen and play room areas stocked to the brim with different sensory activities and arts and crafts. Cost is $5 for the first child, and $2.50 for subsequent siblings. The Upper Westside Play Gym also offers a punch card if you are a frequent visitor that grants you a 20% discount per visit.

Do you have an upcoming Oregon or Washington event that you would like to have featured in our blog? Let us know in the comments below or email us at [email protected] Happy Playing!


Guide to Portland Park Party Planning

Portland Park events

If you are hosting a corporate picnic, public event, or children’s birthday party at a Portland Park, there are a few things you need to know prior to showing up on the day of your event. Portland parks and recreation department has many rules, restrictions, and fees to consider when you start the event planning process.  Make sure you understand all of the following requirements and restrictions before sending out invites to your guests!


The first thing to check when you start planning your Portland park party is if the site you want is available. The Portland Parks & Rec website has an online reservation tool that can be used for both parks and other venues owned by the department.  In addition to being able to see what parks and venues are available, you’ll be able to access tools like maps, venue descriptions, and maximum capacities.  With Portland’s vast inventory of parks and venues, you should be able to find a location that fits your party, even if your primary choice isn’t available. As always, the earlier you start planning your event, the more options you will have.


There are a several different park fees that you should know going into the planning process. Parks are expensive to maintain, and there is additional liability the city takes on by letting you host a party at a Portland Park. The fees can vary by park location and what type of event you are hosting, but here is the basic rundown,

  • Park Site Reservation Fee: Starts at $21 for simple parties (like a birthday party) but can go much higher depending on the park and amount of space being requested
  • $100 Special Use Fee: If you are planning on your party being more than a simple barbecue, you can count on a special use fee. This is a fee that they will charge you for pretty much anything beyond the simplest of parties.
  • $176 Inflatable Usage Fee: If you are planning on having an inflatable or bounce house at your event, be prepared to pay the City of Portland $176 for each inflatable you have at the park.  This can get pretty pricey depending on how many inflatables you have, so make sure you prepare your event budget accordingly.
  • $66 Vehicle Access Pass: If you have any vehicles or event vendors that need to access the event location, each vehicle will need to have a $66 vehicle access pass. Again, if you have several vendors or a lot of equipment to be brought in, make sure you schedule these costs accordingly in your event budget.

Event Liability Insurance

For any event requiring the use of inflatables, bounce houses, or other specialty equipment, Portland Parks require that you carry a $1 million umbrella insurance policy and list the City of Portland as an additional insured on the policy. This is a simple enough task as long as you select a reputable event rental company.   Most established and licensed rental companies will far exceed the $1 million insured requirement.

Event Layout and Maps

Often there can be gas pipes, electrical, and sewage running beneath park sites. To avoid surprises on event day, send the parks department a layout map of your event ahead of time. The more detail your map has the better. This way, if there is an issue, the parks department will let you know ahead of time what needs to be moved. If you leave this detail to fate, you run the risk of a Park Supervisor telling you to move or shutdown an inflatable ride or bounce house on the day of the event.

Event Hours

Most Portland Parks are officially open from 8am to 9pm. Uless you do something about it, your event will need to end by 9pm.  Failing to evacuate the park by 9pm may result in a Park Supervisor asking you and your guests to leave at the peak of your celebration. To avoid this party pooper outcome, schedule your event earlier in the evening, or work with the parks department to request an exception to their traditional closure rules.

Alcohol at your Event

If you are planning on having alcohol at your event in a Portland park, the city actually has some pretty reasonable rules in this department. If your event is less than 50 people and everyone is bringing their own alcohol, you do not need to do anything. If your event has more than 50 people and/or the alcohol is being served or provided by a single entity, then you will be required to provide proof of insurance to the parks department.


If all of this is confusing in anyway, you can always consult the Portland Parks and Rec picnic guide or just give them a call with any questions you might have. We have found the representatives to be extremely helpful and knowledgeable in our conversations.  As long as you follow this simple guide and Portland Park rules and guidelines, you should have a successful event to add to the books!



Encourage Healthy Living! Check out YMCA’s Healthy Kid’s Day

Kid Preparing a bunch of healthy food for immediate consumption.The YMCA is an incredible non-profit that has been serving communities for a very long time.  A few years ago they rebranded their organization with the motto “For youth development, For healthy living, For social responsibility”.  They stay true their motto by hosting events such as Healthy Kid’s Day.  Their event page still needs to be updated for 2014, but we decided to go ahead and give you the scoop a little early. This year’s Healthy Kids Day is being held on Saturday, April 26, 2014 form 10am to 1pm. The event is free and open to the public, and does not require a YMCA membership to participate. YMCAs from all over the greater Seattle area participate in this event in a number of different ways.

In addition to YMCA hosted activities they bring in members of the community that support their healthy living mission. Meredith Matthews YMCA typically has horse mounted Police officers, Jamba Juice, and a giant obstacle course for the kids to play in. In past years the West Seattle YMCA sports inflatable rides, a dunk tank, and a even a giant climbing wall! No matter the specific activities, every YMCA promises a fun, active, safe, education event to families in Seattle. Our company helps to support this event by providing ‘in-kind’ donations that substantially decrease the cost of the event rentals for the YMCA. We believe that these types of events help support community health, which aligns with our own goals for event production and fun. See you on April 26th!

Do you have an upcoming public event that you would like help promoting? Email us at [email protected] with as much information as possible pertaining to your event and all related activities. We would be delighted to inform the masses regardless of whether we are helping to host your event.


Wacky Whirligig Indoor April Fun!

Kids have a blast at this indoor inflatable bouncy house event.

Seattle is not know for it’s sunny Spring weather, and the phrase “April Showers brings May Flowers” couldn’t be more true for the beautiful Northwest.  Fortunately for those with cabin fever, several industries have adapted to the notorious rain by bringing their entertainment into the dry safety of the indoors.  Whirligig is one particularly great multi-week event hosted by the Seattle Center.   It starts a month from now, on Friday April 4th, 2014 and runs through Sunday April 20th. This annual event has been hosted by the Seattle Center for more than a decade. The event is hosted from 11am to 6pm and prices are extremely reasonable, $7.50 for an unlimited ride pass. There is a ticketing option as well, but if you plan on staying more than 20 minutes, your best bet is the pass. This well priced activity grants you access to 11 inflatable rides including inflatable slides, bounce houses, combo rides, and obstacle courses.  There is also a free Thursday option that allows unlimited use of the rides at no cost to participants, though be prepared to wait in lines.

In addition to the bounce house entertainment, there are a number of other close by paid and free activities. For free activities, there is typically an art station for children, and periodic entertainment on the main armory stage. The entertainment can range from school choirs, dance troops, magicians, and more. There a number of other exciting activities on the Seattle Center campus.  The Seattle Children’s Theatre is a great option for watching great renditions of classic plays and books. The Seattle Children’s Museum is located downstairs from Whirligig and in past years has offered a $1 discount to those that have purchased the Whirligig all day pass. The Pacific Science Center is located a short walk away from Whirligig and has both consistent and rotating exhibits on their large campus. There is an IMAX theatre as well that typically play stunning exploratory documentaries (as well as great theatrical movies) that are best viewed in this mind-blowing theatre.

The Whirligig Event is located on the main floor (Floor 2) of the Armory and is also the location of a newly remodeled Food Court. There are tons of great food options to choose from including my personal favorite, Skillet Street Food (try the Fried Chicken Sammy). There are also caricaturists, balloonists, and face painters around, with prices starting at $1. Make sure you check out the Whirligig Information Page prior to heading downtown. All this great fun will probably cause you start thinking about renting a bounce house this coming summer. Make sure you remember who brought you all the great Whirligig Fun!

Do you have an upcoming public event that you would like help promoting? Email us at [email protected] with as much information as possible pertaining to your event and all related activities. We would be delighted to inform the masses regardless of whether we are helping to host your event.