Is it worth visiting the Portland Childrens Museum?

The last stop on our two-week USA road trip last year was Portland. I’ve spoken before about why we wanted to visit Portland but one of the aims while there was to have some down time after a lot of driving and to spend some quality time together as a family, out of the car. Our plan was to find fun things to do in Portland with kids, so BattleKid could have some fun, and one things on our bucket list for the city was visiting the Portland Childrens Museum.


Now I’ll admit that I had never come across the idea of children’s museums until I started looking into things to do in Portland with kids. I did some searches and asked some lovely people in some travel Facebook groups I am a member of what there was to do in Portland with a toddler, and the children’s museum cropped up several times.

I also discovered that the childrens museum in Portland is located right beside Oregon Zoo in Washington Park, one of the other places on our Portland bucket list. We could combine the two and so a lovely family day out was decided.

Our first port of call was Oregon Zoo and we had a brilliant time there, in what has to be one of the best zoos we’ve ever visited. Once we had finished at the zoo, we did the short walk around to Portland’s Children Museum to see what it was all about.

The Portland Children’s Museum, as mentioned, is located in Washington Park on the old site of OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, another place we visited while in Portland). It was founded in 1946 by Dorothy Lensch. Having moved to their new site in Washington Park, the museum was able to expand their programs and to open a school as well. The children’s museum now hosts more than 300,000 visitors each year.

We arrived after lunch, having refuelled in the zoo and we paid our tickets and entered what can only be described as a kids paradise.

We were first greeted by a crocodile on his back with his mouth open, the idea being you brushed his teeth. It’s a chance to get involved with your kids and to explain why brushing your teeth is important.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

From Mr Crocodile we moved onto the Water Works room and this was by far BattleKid’s favourite section. Having learned my lesson from visiting the water discovery section during our visit to OMSI the day before, I had brought spare socks for BattleKid to change into after this room. He spent ages in this room. We even had family fun at a table where you could build channels for a boat to run down. You could create both fast and slower moving channels and watch the effect of each by letting a toy boat run down them.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

After the water room we moved onto the Groundworks area and BattleKid had great fun trying to figure out how to work the diggers in the room. He spent ages filling buckets and moving “soil” from one end of the room to another. And there were even hard hats for the budding builders.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

There was also a pet hospital in the next room but BattleKid wasn’t interested so we moved on to the Treehouse. Although a small enough room, the treehouse was great and there was a tunnel for kids to crawl through. Next up was the theatre room. In here was a wall with coloured holes into which you placed an opaque tube which took on the colour of the light. This wall was awesome, and I could have played with it for hours, had I been let that is!PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

There was a Clay Studio in which classes were run at different times during the day. Kids can make something from clay and come back and collect their masterpiece at a later time.

The Maker Studio was BattleKid’s second favourite section. A room filled with things to use to create anything you like, he made a beeline for the hammering table. Safety glasses on, he grabbed a hammer and got banging. And because it’s a children’s museum, no one batted an eyelid at the noise he was making.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

There was every kind of craft supplies you can imagine for children to use. And it was evident they were by the large creation hanging from the ceiling!

Having hammered all the nails he had the energy for, we moved onto the Vroom Vroom section. And you guessed it, it had cars and trains for little ones to enjoy. There was a ramp in this room down which two cars could race. BattleKid and another little boy thoroughly enjoyed their races on this ramp. And when it was time to move on, there was an almighty tantrum from our boy!

Before making our way back to the exit we visited a room with slides, climbing walls and other games, all designed for some fun and exercise. BattleKid did really well on the climbing wall. We stopped by the gift shop on our way out and found a small Curious George teddy which we couldn’t leave behind.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

And even though we were finished inside, we weren’t quite finished. There was a piano for kids to get musical at, a train to drive and even a pretend wooden ambulance.PORTLAND-CHILDRENS-MUSEUM

Things to note if visiting the Portland Childrens Museum

  • The Portland Children’s Museum hours are from 9am to 5pm, 7 days a week.
  • Various activities are held during the day such as story time and pottery glazing. For full details see this section of their website.
  • There are different admission prices depending on whether you are a member or not. Non-members will pay $10.75 each, with under 1’s free. Museum members have free entry.
  • There is a Portland Children’s Museum free day, and this is generally the first Friday of each month, but can change.
  • Exhibits include Building Bridgetown, Clay Studio, Maker Studio, Water Works, The Market, Groundworks, Outdoor Adventure, Pet Hospital, The Theatre, Twilight Trail, Treehouse Adventure and Vroom Vroom.
  • The Outdoor Adventure is a large 1.3-acre outdoor space, although I cannot comment on it as we didn’t get a chance to visit it.
  • The museum has a café that serves nutritious meals and snacks. And you can use the café tablets to east your own food which is welcomed too.
  • Portland Children’s Museum is fully wheelchair accessible indoors and they also welcome families with members with disabilities and learning difficulties too.
  • There is parking in front of the museum in the public car park of Washington Park and costs just $4.00 per day, ideal if you plan to combine a visit to the zoo with the children’s museum as well.
  • The main toilets for the museum are located in the café at the front of the building.
  • There are stroller lockers located beside the toilets as the general policy is no strollers on the museum floor.

PORTLAND CHILDRENS MUSUEM - Is it worth visiting

So, is it worth visiting the Portland Children’s Museum? Absolutely. BattleKid had a brilliant time just being a kid and got to do things he wouldn’t normally such as play with water, dig “soil” and hammer nails. The museum is designed for kids between the ages of 0 and 12 years of age in mind, and it shows.

My only gripe is that it is the same entrance price for both adults and children. This is the first time I’ve come across this and felt there should have been a slightly smaller price for children’s entry. That said, if your child and you want to spend all day there, it’s worth it. Either way, a visit to the children’s museum in Portland is worth it, particularly if you combine it with a visit to Oregon Zoo next door.

Have you heard of, or come across children’s museums before?

Cath x

*We were not asked to write this review. All prices are correct at the time of writing this post (Jan 2018)




5 Things to Do in Missoula with a Toddler in Tow

Last year, as many of you know, we embarked on our biggest trip to date with BattleKid. It was a two-week USA road trip taking in the stunning Yellowstone National Park, smoky Missoula in Montana and the hip and vibrant city of Portland. Missoula is a place not many people will have heard of, us included before our trip, but is definitely worth a visit. And today I’m going to share with you 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow, should you be visiting yourself with a toddler or young kids.Missoula with a toddler - blog graphic

Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Now, we chose Missoula, which is in the state of Montana, as it was roughly the halfway point between Yellowstone and Portland. Stopping there would enable us to break up the driving and have some down time with BattleKid during our road trip. We also chose it because there was a town called Lolo right beside it and also Lolo National Forest. Lolo is the nickname my Dad got from his first grandson and it stuck. So naturally we needed to visit the town that shares his name.

We also intended to visit Lolo National Forest but alas it was not to be. Montana was cloaked in smoke due to widespread forest fires, some of which had reached Lolo National Forest, causing it to be closed to the public for safety. But it gives us a reason to return. With the forest no longer an option, we needed to find things to do in Missoula with kids.

Our first port of call was Google. We searched for things to do with kids in Missoula. These had to include fun activities for kids as we had BattleKid with us. We were also fortunate that our AirBnB host had left a few magazines in the apartment one of which had articles about things to do in Montana with kids. The articles proved so useful to us. They not only showed what to do with kids in Missoula and the wider Montana area, they also gave some ideas of free things to do in Missoula.

Armed with as much information as possible, we set out to discover Missoula and other nearby things that we otherwise would have missed had the forest been open. And as a result, I am able to share with you 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow. All of these are fun things to do in Missoula and the slightly wider areas around it.

5 Things to Do in Missoula with a Toddler in Tow

Have a Picnic in Caras Park Missoula

Caras Park is located in Downtown Missoula along the Clark Fort River. It is a lovely area and the Park Pavilion plays host to a variety of events throughout the year including music concerts, festivals and even a type of Oktoberfest, which was being set up the day we had our picnic in the park.

We visited one day during our time in Missoula after being in the wider Montana area, and I had packed a picnic. We found some picnic benches near the Pavilion and enjoyed our lunch in the sun. Other families soon joined us on the adjacent benches for their own picnics. And if you don’t want to sit on the benches there are plenty of lovely grassy areas for picnic blankets too. Afterwards, you can enjoy one of the following two things.

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Picnic time in Missoula

Have a Ride on the Carousel for Missoula

Located in Caras Park, the Carousel for Missoula was opened in 1995 and was the culmination of the labour of many volunteers and over 100,000 construction hours. Featuring 38 hand-carved ponies, two chariots, 14 gargoyles, mirror frames and the largest band organ in continuous use in America, it is somewhere kids, young and old, can enjoy. You need a token per ride, which costs just 75c, and if you, as a parent, want to ride and share a pony with your child (as I did), it will cost you two tokens.

There is also a chance to win free rides by collecting rings from a chute as you pass by, but you need to be on an outside pony to try your luck. BattleKid and I enjoyed two rides together and he didn’t want to get off. The Carousel for Missoula is really one of the fun things to do in Missoula with kids that shouldn’t be missed. It is open 364 days of the year between 11 and 5.30.

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One the Carousel for Missoula

Let your toddler run wild in the Dragon Hollow Playground

Also located in Caras Park, right beside the Carousel for Missoula, the Dragon Hollow playground is a brilliant place to visit with toddlers and kids. It was designed by artists and consultants after getting advice and ideas from local school children. It is a very safe playground which is enclosed by a picket fence and has chip bark flooring. Featuring a huge Dragon themed play house with tunnels, stairs and slides, BattleKid had a great time weaving his way through to the biggest slide he could find!

There are also swings, musical play features and an area for smaller children. It is suitable for kids from 18 months to 12 years of age, is open all year round and is free to use. There are seats around the playground for parents to take a breather. One thing I will point out is that once your child enters the dragon, you cannot easily see them until they emerge from a slide. So just be cautious. But it is one of the best wooden playhouses I have ever come across and BattleKid thoroughly enjoyed himself here.things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit dragon hollow playground

Visit the National Bison Range

Established in 1908 as a sanctuary for the American bison, the National Bison Range is located approximately an hour north of Missoula. It was one of the places featured in the magazines that our AirBnB host had left in the apartment and somewhere we might have missed. It is home to a herd of between 350 and 500 bison but is also home to other animals such as coyote, black bear, elk, bighorn sheep and pronghorn deer.

There are two routes you can drive at the Bison Range. The short Prairie Drive is open all-year round while the longer Red Sleep Mountain Drive is only open from mid-May to early October. We did the Red Sleep Mountain Drive and it was challenging. It has sharp switch-backs and steep declines and I’d recommend you do this in a 4×4 car due to the roughness of the road. Note, this drive is closed during the winter months.

Although we had seen bison in Yellowstone, we were hoping to see other animals and saw elk and pronghorn deer during our visit. A day pass costs just $5 (you can get an annual oass valid from your first visit for just $15), and the gates are generally open from 7am to 7pm. The visitor’s centre, where you pay, has plenty of information about the range and also has toilets too. Although we only spent a few hours there it was worth the drive from Missoula.

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Visiting the National Bison Range, Montana

Visit Ewam Buddha Garden, the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas

This was one of the most surprising places we visited in Montana. Situated in Arlee, about 40 minutes north of Missoula, the Ewam Buddha Garden has to be one of the most peaceful and tranquil places we’ve ever visited.

In the centre of the garden lies a 24-foot tall statue of Yum Chenmo. One thousand Montana-made images of Buddha are arranged in the shape of an eight-spoked Dharma wheel, which encircle Yum Chenmo. 1000 additional stupas surmount the two exterior throne walls, creating the outer rim of the Dharma wheel. And it is a mesmorising sight to see.

5 things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit the Ewam Buddha Garden
A view of the Ewam Buddha Garden from the hill of prayer flags. See how smokey it is!

The gardens also have a small lake hosting fish and surrounded by large Buddha statues. The garden is open all year round from dawn until dusk and is free to visit (with donation boxes at various points throughout the garden). It was designed for people to enjoy the space, flowers and serene surroundings. Guided tours are available and there is also a gift shop and ample parking.

Once we found out about the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas we knew we had to visit it. A dear friend of ours in Wales introduced us to Buddhism. BattleKid enjoyed our walk around the garden, stopping here and there to admire certain Buddha statues and to say hello to the fish. I’m just sorry we didn’t know there was a prayer flag mount there before we went, or we would have created our own to add. You wouldn’t think this is a place to visit with kids but BattleKid really enjoyed it, so I’m sure your kids would too. And as it is on the same route as the Bison Range you could visit both in one day.

5 things to do in missoula with a toddler in tow - visit the garden of one thousand buddhas
The central buddha in the Ewam Buddha Garden.

Missoula with a toddler - Facebook graphic

I can hand-on-heart say we enjoyed each and every one of these activities in Missoula and Montana. And in hindsight the forest fires and resulting smoke were a blessing in disguise. We might not have visited any of these sights had it not been for the fact that Lolo National Forest, our original reason for visiting Missoula, was closed. Our sudden change of plans worked out for the best and we got to visit places even BattleKid enjoyed.

So, if you are wondering what to do in Missoula and Montana with toddlers and young children, I hope I’ve given you some ideas of both paid and free things to do with my 5 things to do in Missoula with a toddler in tow.

And if you are considering visiting the USA with kids and not sure what there is to do with them in certain cities, these posts might help decide for you!

20 Things to do  in Oklahoma City with kids (or without) – Parenthood and Passports

How to do a weekend trip to Sarasota, Florida with kids – Our Globetrotters

My perfect 24 hours in San Francisco with kids: itinerary – Learning Escapes

5 Things to do in New York with a Toddler in Tow – BattleMum

Cath x

Missoula with a toddler - pinterest graphic Missoula with a toddler - twitter graphic

Our Visit to OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Those of you who have read our USA Road Trip Holiday Diaries will know that we visited the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI as it is known, while we were in Portland. This had been recommended to us and was on our Portland Bucket List. In this post I’ms haring with you our visit to OMSI as well as some useful information should you plan a visit there yourself.Our Visit to OMSI

The day after we arrived in Portland we decided to head there. I was quite excited as I had found out they had a Pompeii Exhibition on at the time of our visit to OMSI. BattleDad is a huge fan of Roman History and we’d love to visit Pompeii at some stage so to see the exhibition was an unexpected bonus. Our only reservation for our visit to OMSI was whether BattleKid would enjoy it. We need not have worried.

OMSI was founded in 1944 and was originally located in Washington Park at the site of the Portland Children’s Museum. However, as visitor number grew, and exhibitions got bigger, a new location was found for it on the east bank of the Willamette River.

The OMSI building is huge and houses no less than 3 auditoriums, a planetarium and numerous exhibition halls. They also have a submarine exhibit in the form of USS Blueback which was used for the film The Hunt for Red October before being towed to its current location at the pier adjacent to the main OMSI building.

Exhibition halls include the Featured Hall for special touring exhibits and the Turbine hall with exhibits for engineering, physics, chemistry and space travel. There is also the Life Sciences Hall which is all about biology, and includes talks and demonstrations with live animals. The Earth Science Hall features geology-oriented exhibits with two specialised laboratories. The Planetarium holds astronomy and laser light shows. And there is the Science Playground which we spent the most time in.

We arrived shortly after 9.30am after driving from our hotel and once we’d bought our tickets for the Pompeii Exhibition (including museum admission) and planetarium tickets, we made our way to the café for a quick cuppa and bite to eat. There I had my very first peanut butter and jelly sandwich, which was quite nice.

After we had eaten, we made our way upstairs to explore the exhibitions halls. As soon as we entered this area, BattleKid made a beeline for some giant cubes and dived right in. He and I had great fun at a giant pinball machine which was designed to educate children about food groups. Although he was too young to understand these, he still had fun trying to whack the balls!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid falling into soft bricks
Giants soft cubes!
Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing with the food pinball machine
Fun with the pinball machine

There were exhibits about recycling and garbage, exhibits about animals where we saw a Dire Wolf skeleton and saw live animals, and my personal favourite, an exhibit about fluorescent materials. This brought me back to my science background.

Our Visit to OMSI - Fluorescent Minerals at OMSI
Fluorescent Minerals
Our Visit to OMSI - A Dire Wolf skeleton
A Dire Wolf Skeleton

Next, we moved onto the Science Playground. And BattleKid had a whale of a time in the Science Playground. This area has been designed for families with newborn to children of six years of age. Fully enclosed and designed so that children are visible and secure at all times, it encourages children to discover through play and imagination. It has various experimental stations including

  • a stimulating infant area
  • a giant sandbox
  • a water area
  • a reading area and
  • a physical sciences area.

First stop was the water area of course. Only, we hadn’t quite planned for the wet floor. We had to take BattleKid’s shoes off as we entered but forgot to take his socks off. Wet feet were the result for spending so much time having splashy fun in the water area. It also meant he couldn’t really go into the giant sandbox as his feet were still wet and I didn’t fancy trying to get sand off his feet!

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid having fun with the water area at omsi
Fun in the water area

Next BattleKid had fun at the physical sciences area and was playing with other children, putting balls through holes and down ramps.

Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid playing at the physical sciences area
Fun at the ball wall

We moved into one of the rooms off the main one and he and I did a fun game with magnetic balls in a maze. I ended finishing it when he got bored!Our Visit to OMSI - BattleMum helping BattleKid with a magnetic game

As were we getting close to our 12pm time for the astronomy show in the planetarium, we had to drag BattleKid away from the Science Playground. This was the first time BattleDad had been in a planetarium and he and I enjoyed it. It was great being shown some of the star constellations we can see above our house in Portugal, although I couldn’t tell you their names, apart from the Plough now. BattleKid got a bit restless before the end but stuck it out thankfully.Our Visit to OMSI - BattleKid pretending to be an astronaut at omsi

After the stars show we made our way to the Pompeii Exhibition. They allowed entry at timed intervals, which was to allow them to show the short video at the start of the exhibition. This gave some background about Vesuvius and Pompeii and the build up to that fateful night in 79AD.

Once you had watched the video, you were let into one of the main exhibition halls which featured artefacts from Pompeii including urns, gladiator clothing and weapons, mosaics and frescoes. Between this hall and a second one, there were over 200 artefacts on loan from the Naples National Archaeological Museum.Our Visit to OMSI - One of the Pompeii displays at omsi Our Visit to OMSI - Roman vases from Pompeii at omsi

It was amazing to see how well preserved some of the items were and the level of detail in them, particularly metalworks such as jewellery and coins. After the main hall, we were led upstairs where there was another short video. However, it was advised that it was unsuitable for young children and we were allowed to skip this video and were let into the next exhibition hall by a member of staff. #

The video we didn’t see was a 4D one in which you could experience the fury of Vesuvius in an immersive theatre with vivid sights, sounds and shaking ground. I think it was very helpful of OMSI to allow families with younger children to skip this part.

The last room of the exhibition had more artefacts and also body casts of people from Pompeii. It was a sobering place, especially seeing the body casts of children. We didn’t stay long in this room with BattleKid.Our Visit to OMSI - The Pompeii Exhibition was at omsi during our visit

Before we finished our visit to OMSI we visited the gift shop which is well stocked, and BattleKid got a little space ship souvenir with his name on it for his room. Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit to OMSI and highly recommend it. Had we known how good the Science Playground was going to be we might have booked a later showing in the planetarium and let BattleKid enjoy it even more. I am so glad it was recommended to us and made it onto our Portland Bucket List.

Visitor information for OMSI

  • There is a large car park adjacent to the OMSI building with a charge of $5. WE were there early on a Wednesday morning in September and there was plenty of parking.
  • OMSI is served by public transport. The OMSI/SE Water Ave Station connects to the MAX, bus and Portland Streetcar lines.
  • The museum is open from 9.30 to 5.30 Tuesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays.
  • The café is open from 8.30 to 5.30 Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday and from 8.30 to 8.00 on Friday and Saturdays.
  • Submarine tours are from 9.50 to 4.30 and you can even do sleep overs!
  • Entry to the museum costs $14.50 for an adult and $9.75 for a child (3-13 years).
  • Entry to the submarine costs $6.75. For the Empirical Theatre, which we didn’t go to, an adult costs $7-8.50 and a child is $6-6.50. Entry to the Planetarium costs between $5.75 and $7.50.
  • The Pompeii Exhibition ended in October. To see up-and-coming events, please visit the Events page of the OMSI website.

Our Visit to OMSI

We can highly recommend visiting OMSI if you are ever in Portland, Oregon. There is plenty to see and do for children and adults alike. Children will particularly like the Science Playground, so give yourself plenty of time in there.

Cath x

*Prices are correct at the time of writing.

**We were not asked to write this review.Our Visit to OMSI

Our Visit to OMSI

Apartment in Astoria – New York AirBnB Review

Last September, the Battle Family finally visited New York for the first time. I had originally booked an apartment in Lower Manhattan via AirBnB but just two months before we were due to fly out, our host got in touch to say the booking was cancelled as they no longer had the apartment. Cue panic. We needed to secure somewhere and fast. I went back onto AirBnB and scoured ‘Book Now’ places to find us somewhere, and reasonably priced, and stumbled upon a fabulous apartment in Astoria.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnbNow, Astoria wasn’t our first choice of areas to stay in. We had ideally wanted to be on Manhattan itself but with so little time before we travelled, the available apartments were silly money. I read the reviews of this apartment in Astoria and decided they were good enough for us. We booked it immediately and, although it was a little over budget, we were at least guaranteed our booking. Lesson learned. Always go for the ‘Book Now’ option, not the ‘Contact Host’ option.

We flew to New York on September 18th and although we arrived before the check in time, our host Jada allowed us to drop our bags off. She went through the building and apartment rules before we took our keys and headed straight for Times Square. I’ve written all about our New York holiday, but thought I’d let you know what our apartment in Astoria was like.

New York CityPASS

We booked a 2-bedroom apartment, mainly so that I could sleep with BattleKid as he had only just moved into a big bed. It also let me escape my husband’s snoring!

Located in Astoria on Astoria Boulevard, this modern 2 bedroom apartment will sleep up to ten people. Initial thoughts were it was a very clean, modern apartment, well decorated and would set a New Yorker back a fair few pennies to buy it!

You enter a lovely little hallway which leads into the open-plan living room, dining room and kitchen. The living room is comfortable, although only had one sofa which would seat three people. Additional people would have to use the dining chairs, although you couldn’t be spending a lot of time in the apartment. The living room also had air conditioning and cable TV.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb
The living room and kitchen – spot BattleKid

The kitchen was well equipped, with everything you’d need for a city break. There was even a kettle, which Jada said previous guests had insisted she get. We’d have been happy boiling water for our tea on the hob.

There are two bedrooms in this apartment in Astoria. The main bedroom had a queen size bed with a sofa beside it. We made this up as a bed and pushed it beside the queen bed for BattleKid. The main bedroom had a small built in wardrobe and gorgeous floor to ceiling windows which lead to a balcony. You could see the Manhattan skyline from the balcony.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb
Two bedrooms and a lovely bathroom

The second bedroom had not one, not two, but three queen beds, with an additional queen air bed in the huge walk-in wardrobe. The three beds were configured in a bunk-bed type style and I’d never come across anything like it before, but was brilliant. This bedroom also had floor to ceiling windows and a balcony on which to view the Manhattan skyline.

The bathroom was modern and had a huge shower. There was also a cupboard with a washing machine and dryer, handy if staying longer than a few days. You also have access to a lovely roof terrace for viewing the Manhattan skyline!

The apartment in Astoria was also well located near an underground station with a direct line to Times Square. That ride takes less than 20 minutes. There are bars, shops and diners nearby for food and drinks, and plenty of take-aways around which will deliver to your door via apps such as Seamless or Yelp Eat 24. My personal favourite was the Starbucks on the corner of Astoria Boulevard and 21st Street.

As for our host, Jada, she was lovely. She was very welcoming and accommodating. As we’d arrived early, as mentioned, she let us drop our bags off and collect the keys before we headed to Times Square. When we got back she had kindly put our bags in a wardrobe and hung up our coats! When one fire alarm kept beeping all night (the battery was going), causing BattleKid and I to take solace in BattleDad’s room, she responded to my message very quickly and helped us sort it out. Jada was a lovely host.

Overall, the apartment in Astoria turned out to be the perfect location for us. Getting to and from JFK airport was easy via Uber, and was less than a 30-minute ride. With a terrorist attack which occurred in Jersey the day before we arrived, we were happier staying outside of Manhattan. Although not completely child-friendly in terms of some glass tables, the AirBnB apartment in Astoria was brilliant for us and I’d highly recommend it should Jada list it again as available.*

Our stay cost us £213 per night. This is quite expensive but as we were let down so close to our trip, it was the least costly option short of staying in a hotel room. And hotel rooms are not an option for us. They are a last resort for us or booked out of necessity! Here’s a tour of our apartment in Astoria.

As an area to stay when visiting New York, I’d never considered Astoria but would definitely stay there again as its location for both Manhattan and JFK airport was ideal.

Have you visited New York, and if so, are there other areas we should consider for our next visit?

And if you are planning a visit to New York with your kids, why not check out my post about 5 Things to Do in New York with a Toddler in Tow and the Manhattan Top 10 with Kids by Our Globetrotters. And if they don’t convince you to visit New York, then check out the amazing pictures in Sorry About the Mess’ Winter in New York post. And you might want to consider getting a New York City Pass too!

Cath x

*The listing for this apartment is no longer on AirBnB at the time of writing this review.

**I was not asked to write this review.

To remain fully transparent, this post contains two affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase after clicking through the link I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. This helps support my blog. Thank you.

apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb apartment in astoria - review of a new york airbnb

New York CityPASS

Our Visit to Oregon Zoo – Review and Tips

While we were in Portland at the end of our USA road trip holiday, we were kindly given complimentary entry to Oregon Zoo in order to review it. During our research on things to do in Portland with kids, a visit to Oregon Zoo came highly recommended so we were thrilled to be invited to review the zoo during our trip. We arrived in smoky Portland on the Tuesday afternoon and had decided to do our visit to Oregon Zoo on the Thursday. So, after breakfast in our hotel, we drove along I-26 from Hillsboro, where we were staying, to Oregon Zoo, which is in Washington Park. It was easy to get to and there was plenty of parking, despite what I had read online.Our visit to Oregon Zoo - blog post header

We arrived before their opening time of 9.30am to collect our tickets and the gates opened just as I exited reception. As you enter the zoo initially you pass through the Entry Plaza where there is the main gift shop, a restaurant and where you can get your photo taken. our visit to oregon zoo - entry ticketsWe decided to go clockwise around the zoo and the first area we visited was the Great NorthWest. Boy, were we blown away by this zone. Set among the trees and forest, this area is simply stunning and houses animals and birds that can be found across the Great North West of the North American Continent. Many of these we wouldn’t have seen in other zoos we have visited.our visit to oregon zoo - Great Northwest Zone of Oregon Zoo our visit to oregon zoo - Great Northwest Zone of Oregon Zoo

It was absolutely beautiful among the trees and waterfall, almost peaceful. We saw gorgeous Black Bears, beautiful Bobcats and the symbol of North America, the Bald Eagles. These are majestic looking birds and an easily recognisable bird.our visit to oregon zoo - black bears From there, we carried on and saw River Otters that were very playful and BattleKid was quite taken by them. We didn’t manage to spot any beavers, I think they were hiding on us. Next up were the Cougars and BattleDad absolutely loved these cats. There were two that we could see and they were beautiful creatures.our visit to oregon zoo - playful otters our visit to oregon zoo - Cougars in Oregon Zoo

From the cougars, we passed by the Petting Farm where we saw a few goats but the gates were locked so we couldn’t go in and pet them. It was a shame as I am quite fond of goats and always enjoy meeting them like at the Small Breeds Farm in Kington.

Just passed the farm and barn is the Carousel. Having been on one in Missoula just a few days before, BattleKid was most definitely not going to let us pass this without at least one ride. So I joined him. We were very lucky as the lady had just opened the carousel at 10.30am so along with one other boy, we were first on.

After our ride, we continued our visit to Oregon Zoo by visiting Nora, the Polar Bear. She was in a very playful mood, sticking her head into an orange bin. We were very lucky to see her as we later discovered she was being moved to a zoo in Utah the following week to be paired up with a male polar bear.our visit to oregon zoo - Nora the Polar Bear

Next, we visited the Primate Forest before going to see the Lions and my personal favourite, the Cheetahs, in the Predators of the Serengeti area. We also came across an animal we had never heard of, let alone seen before; the Caracals. These medium-sized cats are native to Africa, the Middle East and parts of Central Asia and were beautiful looking creatures. BattleKid also had great fun at the meerkats!

our visit to oregon zoo - BattleKid pretending to be a lion

our visit to oregon zoo - my favourites, the cheetahs

After the Predators of the Serengeti, we walked past the rhinos and hippos and BattleKid was fascinated by the hippos as they were making a lot of noise! Off Rainforest Plaza, we saw the giraffes, which we always enjoy, before we decided to stop for some refreshments at the Coffee Crossing in the Discovery Zone. The price for a tea, coffee, 1 cake, 1 cookie and some crisps (or chips as they are called in the USA) was only $14, which I think is reasonable.our visit to oregon zoo - Giraffes

We enjoyed our pit stop and afterwards, BattleKid had fun in the playground next to the café, even making friends with a little girl. It was good to let him stretch his legs and burn off some energy after the mammoth hours and miles he had just done in the car.our visit to oregon zoo - discovery Zone palytime

While we were enjoying a break, BattleKid also spotted the zoo train. Before we went on the train we finished off visiting the rest of the animals which included BattleKid’s favourites, the penguins, and the seals which seemed to be playing with BattleKid at the glass. They would swim away, turn back, swim directly towards him and turn at the last minute. He found this all very funny.our visit to oregon zoo - Laughing at the Penguins our visit to oregon zoo - Seals playing with BattleKid

Satisfied we had seen everything we wanted to during our visit to Oregon Zoo, it was time to take the train, or Spencer as BattleKid called him (from Thomas the Tank Engine). The train meanders through parts of the zoo including the Great Northwest and the Elephants Lands, which we had visited after our ride on the carousel. It was a lovely way to end our visit to Oregon Zoo.

our visit to oregon zoo - waiting for the zoo train
Patiently awaiting “Spencer”
our visit to oregon zoo - BattleKid wearing an explorers hat
Our little explorer

As we passed through Entry Plaza on our way out, we stopped by the gift shop to buy a magnet (something we always do on our travels) and got BattleKid a small toy. Overall, we absolutely loved our visit to Oregon Zoo. It was a great way to spend some time together as a family outside of the car. Dare I say it, BattleDad and I think Oregon Zoo tops even Chester Zoo which has been our firm favourite since our visit last year!

Facts about Oregon Zoo

  • Oregon Zoo was formerly known as the Washington Park Zoo, mainly due to its location.
  • It is set among 64 acres and houses no less than 1955 animals from 232 species.
  • Founded in 1888, it is the oldest North America zoo west of the Mississippi.
  • It’s exhibits include the African Rainforest, Savannah and Predators of the Serengeti, as well as Elephant Lands, Amazon Flooded Forest, Bears, Condors of the Columbia and the Great Northwest (our favourite).
  • Oregon Zoo has species survival plans for 21 endangered or threatened species and has successful breeding programs for the California Condors, Asian Elephants and African Lions. 

Things we discovered during our visit to Oregon Zoo for you to consider if visiting the zoo

  • The zoo opens daily in peak season from 9.30am to typically 5.30pm. During off peak season, the zoo closes at 4.30pm.
  • Oregon Zoo is not as big as some we’ve been to but there are plenty of areas and zones to explore so a stroller/buggy would be advisable for young kids.
  • There is a zoo train and carousel (additional costs for these). We went on both and enjoyed them, although the train more so than the carousel.
  • Oregon Zoo has 4 main restaurants/cafes, serving drinks and food which varies from snacks and cakes to full meals. As mentioned we had two hot drinks, a cake, cookie and crisps/chips and the total was $14, which was reasonable compared to other zoos we have visited. There are also smaller drinks huts around, mainly during the summer and on busy weekend.
  • Picnic areas are available.
  • There is a big gift shop at the entrance.
  • Toilets are dotted all over the zoo. We were actually surprised by how many, certainly more than some other zoos I won’t mention.
  • Information signs are really good and animal signs are informative. For kids, there is a zoo key available from the admissions kiosks which unlock secrets of the zoo, costing $2.50. We didn’t get one but they would be brilliant for older kids.
  • There are a few play areas around the zoo and we tried two of them at the primate area and discovery zone. BattleKid enjoyed both.
  • Parking is available beside the Zoo and Children’s Museum and is payable. It costs $1.60 per hour or a maximum of $4 in off peak season and $6.40 during peak season. We arrived at 9.20am on a Thursday morning after the summer and there was plenty of parking but I’ve heard it gets very busy during the summer so arrive early!
  • Baby changing facilities are available around the zoo.
  • The zoo is fully accessible and wheelchairs, strollers/buggies and electric scooters are available for hire.

Oregon Zoo prices**:

March 1st to September 30th:       Ad £14.95            Child £9.95

October 1st to February 28th:        Ad £9.95               Child £4.95

Child prices are for children aged between 3 and 11 years of age. Children aged 2 and under are free. There are discounts available for senior citizens (65 and over) and military personnel. Discounts may also be available, check the Oregon Zoo website for details. Tickets are available for purchase online.

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I am so glad we had the opportunity to visit Oregon Zoo. We were especially blown away by the Great Northwest zone and had the chance to see many animals we wouldn’t normally see in European zoos. Oregon Zoo is easily doable in one day and children of any ages will thoroughly enjoy it. I highly recommend you visit it if visiting Portland.

Cath x

*We were kindly given complimentary entry to Oregon Zoo for the purpose of this review. However, as always, these are my own honest thought and opinions.

**Prices correct at the time of writing this post.

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