KATU's guide to inexpensive summer fun

Even if your kids are still recovering from that exhausting last week of school, energetic children itching for something to do will likely be in your hair soon. Instead of swatting them away, push your family to try one of KATU's summer ideas. Created with a tight budget in mind, these ideas will keep your children and your wallet happy.

Summer Free for All by Portland Parks and Recreation

  • Free Rock Climbing: Get out some extra energy by climbing your way to fun on a rock wall, June 17th-September 16th.
  • Free Playground Programs: Bring your children who are 18 and younger for a free federal lunch five days a week, June 18th-August 24th.
  • Free Movies in the Park: Cozy up with the kids at a free movie in the park. Pre-movie entertainment starts at 6:30pm and movies begin at dusk, June 29th-September 8th.
  • Free Concerts in the Park: From blues to jazz to hip-hop to Latin, these free concerts are a great place to dance along or sit back and relax on a summer evening, July 9th-August 7th.
Nature Events with Friends of Tryon Creek
For those hungry for the outdoors, try out free activities at Friends of Tryon Creek State Park such as Story and Stroll, Stewardship Saturdays, Junior Ranger Program events, evening nature walks and more.Bowling, Pool, and Video Games at Portland State University Viking Gameroom
If the weather has left you feeling rained out, have some fun bowling, playing pool, or gaming at the Portland State University Viking Gameroom, each for less than $5.00.
  • Billiards: $4.80/hour on Sundays-Thursdays before 6pm
  • Bowling: $2.00/game + $1shoe rental on Sundays-Thursdays, and before 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays
  • Gaming: $3.60/hour on Sundays-Thursdays, and before 6pm on Fridays and Saturdays
Tour of Elk Ranch and Petting Zoo at Rosse Posse Acres
If you've never seen elk up close or played with pygmy goats, miniature donkeys, or deer, try something new at Rosse Posse Acres for only $5.00.Portland Aerial Tram
Get above the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a beautiful view of Portland on the Portland Aerial Tram. A round-trip ticket is $4.00, 6 years and under ride free.OMSI
  • Enjoy $2.00 Sundays at OMSI on the first Sunday of every month.

Council Crest Park and Hike
Earn your way to a breathtaking view from the highest point in Portland by hiking the 5.8 mile Marquam Trail to Council Crest.

Eastbank Esplanade
Walk, bike, or skate for free along the 1.5 mile long Eastbank Esplanade. The waterfront walkway overlooking Portland includes boat docks, a canoe launch, vista point, biking and hiking trails, and statue or public art. Disk Golf at Milo McIver State Park
Play a competitive game of disk golf with three extra friends at Milo McIver State Park. Parking is $5.00/vehicle and four disks can be rented for $10 total.Portland Twilight Criterium Bike Race
Roll in and watch the Portland Twilight Criterium Bike Race for free. Also, check out the hand built bike exhibit, enjoy the music and race announcements, and meet the Rose City Roller Derby Girls. There's even free bike parking.Portland Audubon Club
Become a member of the Portland Audubon Club for free and then enjoy free events that enhance birding and environmental knowledge.

County Fairs

  • Clackamas County Fair and Rodeo: Animals, carnival rides, and talent shows, oh my! Come to the Clackamas County Fair on Children's Day, Tuesday August 14th, where children under 12 get in free all day.
  • Marion County Fair: Cheer on your favorite car at the demolition derby, watch huge draft horses compete, see a Little Miss Beauty Pageant, or rock out at Battle of the Bands concert at the Marion County Fair. Parking is free, children 5 and under are free, and general admission is only $4.00 with the printable coupon found on the Marion County Fair website.
  • Washington County Fair: Everything from trick roping to hanging out with a huge alligator is at Washington County Fair. There is free admission every day for everyone, with parking costing $5.00/vehicle.
Pioneer Courthouse Square Events
  • Flicks on the Bricks: Tired of watching movies on your own TV? Try out the free Flicks on the Bricks movies when Pioneer Courthouse Square transforms into Portland's biggest living room.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square Event Schedule: Yoshida's Sand in the City free event held in Pioneer Courthouse Square offers sand sculptures better than any sandcastle you've ever seen. Other exciting free events at the square include the Dairy Farmers of Oregon Ice Cream CHURN-A-MENT, the celebration of electric vehicles and more.

Sauvie Island

On a sunny day, revel in the beauty of Sauvie Island's wildlife and the view of five mountains. Parking is $7.00/vehicle. Oregon International Air Show
Look up to amazing flying and exciting fireworks at the Oregon International Air Show. With a school supply donation on Community Kids night, one child can "fly free" with every paying adult.


  • Oregon Zoo: Get into the zoo for only $4.00 on the second Tuesday of every month.


  • Washington Park near the International Rose Test Garden
  • Ibach Park on SW Ibach Street in Tigard
  • Pirate-themed park off a pathway on NW Graf Street in the Bethany section of Washington County.
  • And don't forget to seek out a park with a water fountain on hot days like Jamison Park in the Pearl District, Salmon Street Springs in Downtown Portland and the Commons fountain in Tualatin, or a public pool.


  • Oaks Park: "Like" Oaks Park on Facebook and get the free password that lets you skate for $5.00 on Wednesday nights.

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