13 Nights on the River Concert Series -FREE!

If you drive about 30 miles north of Portland on Hwy 30, you will wind up in my hometown of St. Helens, Oregon.  If you just happen to make that drive this Thursday, June 6th, you will be rewarded with being able to enjoy the first of a series of concerts called 13 Nights On The River. This family-friendly, outdoor summer event happens every Thursday all summer long, starting June 6th and going until August 29th, and, it’s completely FREE!

Flyer graphic art designed by Steve Johannsen, http://steves-art.com
Flyer graphic art designed by Steve Johannsen, http://steves-art.com

Held at Columbia View Park on the Columbia River ( it’s a fenced park, a safe distance from the water, btw), the concert also offers an open air market with vendors selling food and refreshments, jewelry, art, crafts, and more. Grab the kids, load up the car, grab dinner at one of the booths and kick back to watch some great family-friendly bands and enjoy the river.  You can also pack up your own dinner for a picnic in the park. Bring along blankets, chairs, and maybe an umbrella if the weather is having a moody day 🙂

Here’s the schedule ( * note: I provided a link to their page, but the concert schedule is not yet posted. Concerts schedules are subject to change or cancellation at any time, so try checking their site frequently before heading out!).

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Flyer graphic art designed by Steve Johannsen, http://steves-art.com

I have been attending these concerts since they began a few years back, and I can honestly say that they are always enjoyable. They usually have a great selection of food, and, as long as the weather holds out, it makes for a fabulous evening, kicking back in the grass, watching little kids twirl  and couples dance. Do yourself a favor, and head out, at least once, early in the concert season. You might just wind up with a new Thursday evening tradition for your family!

Fun For Pennies Tip: Just go to the concert. It’s fun. Ok? and FREE. What more do you want?

UP NEXT: More festivals and events!

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Playdate PDX. When the fun must be contained indoors.

I was pretty skeptical about Playdate PDX the first time I took my kiddos there. I much prefer being outside, roaming free in the open, as opposed to an indoor play park, packed full of screaming kiddos. I also balked at the price, especially for what I saw as a glorified McDonald’s playplace. I mean, I can take my kids to play there for the price of a medium  fry. But I was wrong. So very, very wrong.

Playdate PDX looks tiny, from the outside. And, on a crowded day, it even feels kind of tiny and cramped on the inside. But, there were a few redeeming qualities of this place that finally won me over. Let me highlight those point for anyone who has yet to step foot in this wonderful oasis of kiddy fun.

  1. It’s always open, rain or shine.  Can’t go to the park? Fine. Playdate PDX it is.
  2. The kids eyes, upon seeing this colorful monstrosity for the first time, is just magical. Have your camera ready, cuz this will probably be the last time you see them as anything but a blur of motion for the next few hours.
  3. Adults can play too. SWEET. Seriously, don’t you sometimes miss climbing around that smelly McPlayplace, with all those tunnels and ball pits and windows to wave incessantly at your mom and dad?
  4. Air cannons. You can shoot foam balls at people. At your own kids, even. SCORE.
  5. Their slide is literally the fastest, craziest, most adrenaline inducing slide I have EVER been on. Just watch out for the bump at the bottom, it’s a pain in the butt. Seriously.
  6. THEY SERVE ALCOHOL.  No, I am not messing with you. Wine and beer, people. It’s liquid sanity in these kinds of places. These people are geniuses.

One thing that I always appreciate is the willingness of establishments to allow outside food or drink. Playdate PDX doesn’t really allow this, but to make up for , they do serve some  pretty tasty and health-conscious choices for snacks, like hummus and veggies,  and  everything from paninis to pizza to sweet potato or green bean fries. Not to mention coffee from Stumptown Coffee and and baked goods from Gabriels’ Bakery.

They even have a dollar deal menu with small snacky items like GoGurt, Hardboiled Egg , Mozzarella String Cheese , Banana, Orange , Apple Sauce , Apples Slices , Baby Carrots , Slices of Cucumbers, and Snap Peas.

I already mentioned that I thought the admission was kinda spendy. But after spending an entire afternoon there, and leaving with happily exhausted kids, I was a bit less put off by all the mula I had forked over. For all the fun and running they had, and the actual kicking back I got to do,  it was well worth the cost.  I even made a couple of mom friends while hanging out on the couch watching our kids run around like monkeys!

Plus, there was wine.

Admission: Toddlers 3 and under are $5 on Saturday and Sunday, and also on school holidays, $4 all other days. All other ages ( kids) are $10 sat/sun/school holidays, and $8 all other days.  I didn’t have to pay to play on the jungle gym with the kiddos, so that was great.

Hours are 9-8 Sunday- Thursday, 9-9 Friday and Saturday

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( Photo courtesy of Summer Balcuns)

 

Fun For Pennies Tips: 

  • Wild Wednesdays offer free admission for each child bearing 2 cans of food to donate to the food bank.
  • Make sure to wear or bring socks! Kids will not be allowed to play without them. They can be purchased at the counter, though, if you do forget.
  • Fridays feature a complimentary performance/reading by the Dragon Theater Puppets.  These will start at 6:30 p.m.

 

 

* Featured photo is courtesy of Playdate PDX.

NEXT UP: Outdoor festivals and events!

 

 

 

For some seriously serious fun – North Clackamas Aquatic Park

The number one rule for my kids? If they are crabby… PUT THEM IN WATER! ASAP! Bathtub, creek, pool, mud puddle, doesn’t matter. There’s just something about water that kids’ brains immediately respond to, saying, ” Oh, hey, it’s fun time now! WOO-HOO!”

And now that the sun seems to be coming back (ssshh… don’t jinx it!), it’s the perfect time to hit the water. But since it’s not exactly HOT out there yet, an indoor swim is just the ticket.

So, of course, the Clackamas Aquatic Park is an obvious choice. Water slides? Check. Wave Pool? Check. Fountains? Check. Happy Kids? Checkity-Checkity-Check-Check!  

BONUS: HOT TUB FOR MOM AND DAD!  It just doesn’t get any more winning than that.

They even have a rock wall, cuz, you know, mixing wet slippery kids and heights is apparently a genius idea! ( just kidding, obviously there are safety measures in place! This could be great for if/when the kids need a break from the water)

They also offer a cafe for refreshments, so bring some extra cash, cuz there are no outside food or drinks allowed.

RATES:

Under 3 yrs- free, up to two 3 yr olds per paying adult

Ages 3 and up, $5 for residents, $8 for non-residents

Tube rentals are $1, and  rock wall climbing is $2 ( resident) and $3 ( non) or $6 ( resident) or $10 ( non)  for all day.

Fun for Pennies Tips:

Sundays are family discount days. Get 2 adults and up to 4 kids in for $12 ( for residents) or $24 ( for non-residents)

* now get out there and have fun!* 

Coming up next I will be posting about Playdate PDX, local area parks, fountains, and summer festivals and events. Comment and let me know which you would like to read about first! 🙂

Portland Aquarium

The new Portland Aquarium has lots of people talking. With it’s many exhibits of amazing marine life, you’d think  that would be enough to keep everyone’s interest, but Portland Aquarium takes the experience even further by offering many other activities for families. From story time with mermaids, to summer camps and ‘Sleep With the Sharks’ over-nighters, they certainly have plenty to for kids and families to take part in!

Yellow Tang, photo credit: Wikipedia

Yellow Tang, photo credit: Wikipedia

Open 365 Days A Year

Sunday – Thursday 10am – 7pm
Friday – Saturday 10am – 8pm

General Admission

 Children under 2……………………. FREE

Children 2-11 ……………………….. $7.95

Ages 12 and up ……………………. $10.95

Senior (55+)/Military …………… $9.95

Fun For Pennies Tips:

  • If you head there on the first Tuesday of the month, beginning 6/4/13, admission is only $5 per person! Children under 2 are still free.
  • The Portland Aquarium offers 50% off  children’s admission on weekdays, if they bring in a colored drawing. Why not have them draw what they think will be at the aquarium, then have them compare to the real thing?
  • If you are a foster parent, Portland Aquarium offers free admission for foster children. Just be sure to bring state issued I.D.
Crown of Thorns, photo credit: Wikipedia
Crown of Thorns, photo credit: Wikipedia

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

So it looks like we are stuck with this rain for a bit…. SURPRISE, OREGONIANS! Oh, wait, no, we’re not shocked at all. I don’t know about you, but I might still be just a wee bit unprepared….I was so ready for summer!

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Enter my Rainy Days Pinterest ideas board! Chock full of ideas other people came up with to keep your lil ones busy and cabin-fever free. ( You will have to figure out your own game plan for sanity for yourself, however. Sorry, we can’t do ALL the work!)

Here’s some of my favorite ideas, by age:

babies/toddlers: Punch holes in the top of a LARGE cardboard box, push christmas lights through holes. Throw in some pillows, cozy blankets, favorite stuffed animals, and some books, and TA-DA! Insta-toddler hide-away!

Art: Tape mini markers or fat crayons to the back of toy cars, lay out lots of paper, and let them “drive and draw”. This is super fun and makes for really cute colorings.

School Age Kiddos: My boys, who are 12 and 8, LOVELOVELOVE science experiments, kits, and projects. HERE  is a great site with  plenty of different science experiments for kids. Our favorite is the ol’ stand-by of vinegar and baking soda. My youngest, Henry, likes to turn my kitchen sink into his “lab area” with jars and cups and pitchers of baking soda, vinegar, and  food coloring. Then he spends hours mixing and stirring and “blowing stuff up”.

Of course, rainy days are also good for the classic soda and mentos explosion. Test out how different kinds of sodas react differently to the mentos. Which ones explode more? Which ones just fizzle out? Make sure to do this outside, as it is quite messy, and when you are all done, the rain will just wash it all away!

Another favorite for this age group – so easy and you wouldn’t BELIEVE how long it entertains them! Take a large dish ( baking dish, large shallow bowl, etc) ad warm water and a bit of dish soap. Give kids straws and tell them to blow. See how high they can make

Bubble Tower Science Project
Bubble Tower Science Project

the tower of bubbles before it collapses,  test it out with cold water to see if it works as well, ad other ingredients like sugar, salt, baking soda, etc, just to see what happens, Have them form theories about why it reacts the way it does. Then have them blow more bubble towers. It is simple, enchanting fun at it’s best!

Older kids: Pre-teens, with their newly developed sense of privacy, will love the Invisible Ink project. All you need is stuff you probably already have;

  • Half a lemon
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Bowl
  • Cotton bud
  • White paper
  • Lamp or other light bulb

 Follow the directions on the site and they can create secret messages to give to their friends!

Art: you can tie die shirts, curtains, or anything else that mom approves of, with sharpie markers and rubbing alcohol. Click HERE for directions.

For even more ideas, here’ s the link to my Rainy Days Pinterest page again. And, if all else, fails, boot up the kiddos and go puddle jumpin’! Might not be the warmest, cleanest, or most convenient way to have fun, but they will have a blast, and I guarantee they will remember it forever!

In the meantime, I hope everyone holds tight to their sanity, and don’t worry, the sun will be back! I think. 🙂 In the meantime, keep an eye out for rainbows!

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My son admiring a rainbow after a big spring storm

Weekend Fun, May 24/25/26

I know I promised that the next post  would be the Portland Aquarium, but I wanted to get a post up for those of you planning your weekend as well. There is ALWAYS a multitude of things to do in the Portland area on any given weekend, but here are a few fun, easy, and cheap or free things to keep you and the family entertained!

English: Nature center and shelter at Tryon Cr...
English: Nature center and shelter at Tryon Creek State Natural Area in Portland, Oregon, United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Nature Classroom Discovery Day at Tryon Creek. Bones, animal pelts, live animals and all sorts of other cool stuff. Saturday 10am-1pm. Free!

Pinkalicious Party! Friday at 10:30 am at Piccolo Mondo Toys Progress Ridge Location, join the Pinkalicious Party! Make beautiful tiaras, read Pinkalicious stories, and enjoy tasty , fancy snacks! Pre-registration is required, call (503)579-8100. Free!

Sofia the First Extravaganza at Clackamas Town Center. Join Radio Disney AM1640 for a royal extravaganza! Listen to the story of Sofia, learn some royal manners, and do some royal arts and crafts. Kids 16 and younger can enter to win a Sofia the First Prize Pack. Dress up for the royal occasion and be crowned by the royal Radio Disney Road Crew. Saturday 10-11:30am. Free!
Dino Party at the Children’s Museum. Opening weekend of the Museum’s newest exhibit, Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice.  Join them for  storytime, puppets and clay. Saturday 11am-2pm. Free with museum admission.

Steve’s Creature Feature at St. Johns Library. Explore the amazing world of reptiles with Steve Lattanzi. Kids will be able to safely see, hear and touch some of the most amazing creatures on earth. Saturday 11am-noon. Free!

Multnomah County Fair at Oaks Park. Snowcap food drive, mutton bustin’, barnyard fun, walk on the wildside, alpaca pavilion, petting zoo, pony rides, thrill rides, miniature golf, roller skating and more! Saturday, Sunday & Monday 12-7pm. Free admission, activity costs vary.

Creature Cabins at Tillamook Forest Center. The animals of the Tillamook State Forest have made themselves at home. They occupy nests, holes, dens and more. Come and learn about the special places where animals live. Saturday 1:30pm and Sunday 11:30am. Free!

Morning Bird Walk.  Saturday  8a.m. to 11 a.m. Join a Park Naturalist for Morning Bird Walks at Wapato Access Greenway on Sauvie Island. These informal walks will focus on bird identification, behavior, and exploring resident bird populations. Great for all ages, but dress and pack accordingly, bring binoculars and water/snacks.  Pre-registration  is necessary. Call 503-636-9886 .  For more events like this, visit their events page.

Ladybug Nature Walk: Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Walk through parks, gardens and natural areas with your youngster (2 – 5 years old)  and a nature guide. All walks begin at 10am rain or shine, $3 per child*, no charge for adults. Friday 10am.

Rose Festival CityFair at Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park. A must do for Portlanders!

Waterfront Village in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfro...
Waterfront Village in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park at the 2007 Portland Rose Festival. The Willamette River is at right. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The metropolitan fair features live exotic animals, a wide variety of shopping, carnival rides, special attractions and a customized fireworks show choreographed to your favorite classic rock hits on May 24 at 10 pm. Weekends May 24-27, May 30-June 2 and June 6-9. $7 ages 7 and up.

The Alphabeticians at Mississippi Pizza. Let the kiddos rock out, and get worn out! Saturday 4-5pm. $10/family.

Mo Phillips Rocks Out for Kids at Flying Cat. Fun, rockin’ music for your little ones. Sunday 10-11am. $5 suggested donation.

OMSI Star Party: Planet Parade. May 25 – May 25 at 7:30 p.m. at  Rooster Rock State Park and Stub Stewart State Park, Corbett, Or.  For all ages.  Celebrate Astronomy Day with an opportunity to view the stars and other celestial objects up close and personal through telescopes. Viewing highlights include the planet Jupiter and Saturn. On the day of the star party, it is suggested that interested visitors call the OMSI Star Parties Hotline, 503 797-4610 #2, or check the OMSI Star Parties website for weather-related cancellation. Warm clothing and a flashlight with red light are recommended. Personal telescopes and binoculars are welcome. Free, $5 parking per vehicle.

With Monday being memorial day, Skateworld in Hillsboro is offering an all day skate for just $5.75, 10 a.m – 6 p.m.

So  there you have it, a small sampling of what’s on the table this weekend in Portland! For even more tips, I suggest you visit one of these sites:

PDX kids calender                                                                                                                                                               Redtri

And HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND, EVERYONE!

OMSI. Go Ahead. Geek out on science!

OMSI is a great destination for some hands on learning fun. Their upcoming exhibit is the Mummies of the World exhibit, opening on June 14th. They have ongoing tours of their submarine, a state of the art planetarium, laser light shows, and the OMNIMAX theater. Tickets for these are sold separately.

Omsi Turbine Hall, Photo credit : Wikipedia
Omsi Turbine Hall, Photo credit : Wikipedia

The rest of the museum has five halls of(over 200) different  labs and exhibits. The Science Playground, The Earth Hall, The Turbine Hall, The Life Hall, and The Science Labs all exist for kids to experiment, explore, and test the world around them, in areas such as renewable energy, global climate, health and wellness, chemistry, engineering, technology, and more.  OMSI has even has the forethought to add a separate room for the toddler crowd.

Omsi Science Playground, photo credit : Wikipedia

Omsi Science Playground, photo credit : Wikipedia

OMSI SS-581 Submarine, photo credit: Wikipedia

OMSI SS-581 Submarine, photo credit: Wikipedia

                     Regular museum Admission ~ Submarine ~  OMNIMAX® ~ Planetarium / Laser light

Adult $12.00 $5.75 $6.00 – $8.50 $5.75 – $7.50
Youth (3-13) $9.00 $5.75 $5.00 – $6.50 $5.75 – $7.50
Senior (63+) $9.00 $5.75 $5.00 – $6.50 $5.75 – $7.50
Member (Join OMSI) FREE! $4.75 $4.00 – $7.50 $4.75 – $7.50

OMSI is another one of those great places that can, and probably will, take you all day, and you STILL won’t be able to see or do everything. If you and the kids really enjoyed it, I highly suggest buying the membership pass. Then you can come back again and again! Also, you get amazing discounts on admissions to all OMSI features and exhibits, AND it’s considered a charitable donation on your taxes, to boot! Definitely worth the money!

Fun For Pennies tips:

  • OMSI discount Sundays are the first Sunday of each month. Regular museum admission for each individual is just $2! Admission for additional features such as OMNIMAX, planetarium, featured exhibits, and submarine tour, are separate, but also sold at a discount on the first Sunday discount day. A great time to spend the day checking out all that OMSI has to offer before buying a family membership!
  • This is also another one of those wonderful places that allow you to bring your own food and drink in. Pack in a cooler with good foods for lunch and snacks, store it in one of their lockers provided ( for an extra small fee) and save some money! Or, you can hit up their cafe if you prefer not to bring your own.

UP NEXT: Portland Aquarium!

*( featured photo front of OMSI building. credit: Wikipedia)

Portland Children’s Museum – great for too rainy, or too hot, days!

The Portland Children’s Museum is a wonderful, interactive museum of exploration and learning for the younger crowd, ages 10 months – 10 years. With creative and hands- on activities from painting, to puppet shows, to making music, to  dress up, to building inventions, there is plenty to keep little bodies, hands,  and minds occupied and busy! Exhibits do change from time to time ( photo below is from their Sesame Street Exhibit), so check the Children’s Museum site frequently for updates. Starting May 25th they will have  an Exhibit called ” Dinosaurs: Land of Fire and Ice”.

Portland Children's Museum entrance. The Child...
Portland Children’s Museum entrance. The Children’s museum is located in Washington Park, Portland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Museum Hours from March 1st- Labor day are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Admission Rates:

Under one: free

Ages 1-54: $10

ages 55 up and military: $9

There is a $4 parking fee per car.

Fun For Pennies Tip: 

  • The first Friday of every month is Free First Friday, with free admission for all , between the hours of 4 and 8 p.m. *( they stay open 3 hours past their normal business hours on this day)
  • Pack your own lunch and snacks, outside food it totally allowed! They do have some vending machines with limited healthy choices available.
  • YAY, COUPONS! $2 off admission ( good til 6/30/13) AND $15 off of Summer Camp Tuition ( good until 5/31/13)

Hours, admission, and discounts subject to change. Please check back on their site HERE frequently for updates and current info. Thanks!

UP NEXT: OMSI

Oregon Zoo for the win!

The Oregon Zoo is a great fun-filled place to take the whole family.  It’s best to plan to be there the whole day, especially if you want to see ALL the animals (as most children are as ambitious as that). Feel free to pack and bring your own lunch and snacks in a cooler, or you can buy food and refreshments there.

Photo of a Bald Eagle taken at the Toledo Zoo.
Photo of a Bald Eagle taken at the Toledo Zoo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Hours change seasonally, so check online  here for spring/fall/winter hours. Summer hours are below.

SUMMER HOURS ( May 25 –Sept 2nd) are 9 a.m. -6 p.m.

Admission rates:

Adults ( 12-64): $11.50

Children ( 3-11) : $8.50

Seniors( 65 and up): $10

2 and under are free

Parking is $4 per car.

My oldest son at the Oregon Zoo

*My oldest son at the Oregon Zoo* Don’t forget your camera! The zoo is a GREAT place to take pics!

Fun For Pennies Tips:

  • Use public transportation to get there, show your receipt at the window and get $1.50 off admission.
  •  If you visit the Oregon Zoo on the second Tuesday of each month, it’s only $4 admission!

BONUS FUN! Pick up a “Zoo Key” for only $2.50, and unlock the secrets of the zoo! Use your zoo key in the animal talk boxes located on the zoo grounds. You can learn more about bats, black bears, chimpanzees, bald eagles, elephants, giraffes, mandrills, mountain goats, naked mole rats, otters, penguins, polar bears, rhinos and zebras.  This is a great interactive way for kids to explore the zoo.

* Hours, admission prices, and discount days are all subject to change. Please check online HERE before your zoo trip!

( Tiger photo courtesy of Lawrence Jackson  through stock.xchng.com )        

NEXT UP: The Portland Children’s Museum