Last Gasp of Summer: Free Things to Do in Portland

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park

The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden at Grant Park in Portland. How have I never been here?!? From left: Ribsy, Ramona, and Henry.

I don’t mean to stress you out, but there’s only four more weeks of summer. Summer vacation, that is. At least, school starts for Sid August 29 (what the heck happened to school beginning after Labor Day?) and with our final weeks flashing before my eyes, I realized I needed to make a list. Of course. So here’s my curated list of free things to do in Portland this August.

Fountains

On a hot summer day, there’s nothing better than getting blasted by Portland’s fountains! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I think the best ones are here:

Downtown Portland

Salmon Street Springs
Waterfront Park, Naito Parkway at SW Salmon
The classic. Large, right on the waterfront, plenty of firepower (waterpower?).

SalmonSprings

Sid and his friend Ernie enjoying Salmon Springs Fountain last summer!

Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain
Keller Fountain Park, between SW 3rd & 4th Ave, Market & Clay
The large concrete structures make this a fun one. I got in trouble in the third grade on a Bible study field trip by walking through one of the waterfalls, fully clothed. In retrospect, I would have been in much more trouble if I had been naked, right?

Teachers Fountain
Director Park, SW Yamhill & Park Ave
This is a new park and fountain. Not a lot of excitement, but great for toddlers and small children. Also good for foot soaking. Near Nordstrom.

SE Portland

The Rose Petal
Stark Street Island Park, SE 106th & Stark
I have never been here, and I cannot help but wonder what SE Portland did to be denied any close-in fountains. Am I missing something?

NE Portland

Grant Park Fountain
NE 33rd Ave & US Grant Pl
This is also the location of the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden–and they’re part of the fountain! I will be going here immediately.

Holladay Park Fountain
Holladay Park, NE 11th & Multnomah
I have not personally been here, but the Portland Parks & Recreation site says, “The fountain has programmable nozzles and valves on several plumbing loops to create a playful atmosphere of surprise trajectories and timing sequences.”

Woodlawn City Park
NE 13th Ave & Dekum St
I played at this park with Sid during the first year of Trek in the Park (in 2009!). Four-year-old Sid highly recommended the water feature.

NW Portland

Jamison Square Fountain
Jamison Square, between NW Kearney & Johnson, and NW 10th & 11th Avenues
Extremely popular, was near a good ice cream place last time I visited.

N Portland

Dawson Park Fountain
Dawson Park, N. Stanton & Williams
I don’t wanna wait–for our lives to be over . . .

McCoy Park Fountain
McCoy Park, N. Trenton & Newman Ave

Suburbs

Beaverton City Fountain Park
12500 SW 4th St, Beaverton, OR 97005
Oh, this fountain is a lot of fun. The streams of water are so high! Plus it’s right across the street from the library.

Lake at the Commons Interactive Fountain
8325 SW Nyberg St, Tualatin, OR 97062
Full disclosure–I grew up in Tualatin, and they built the Tualatin Commons–referred to by my brother and me as the “fake lake”–while we were in high school, closing a major road and screwing up traffic. All for a lake you were not allowed to swim in, ringed by restaurants that would open with great aplomb and then slowly wither on the vine, quickly replaced with other venues that would soon do the same, mostly because–they closed the damn road and no one could see them while driving by! Ahem. The fountain was still pretty fun. Also, I think the wine bar finally stuck.

Tualatin Commons Fountain

Tualatin Commons Fountain. The only good picture I could find (from Wikimapia) was apparently taken on a cold, rainy day. Typical!

Movies

I’ve always loved the idea of Portland’s free movies in the park. Movies under the stars, where I can cuddle up to my husband and bring a lavish picnic! I think I’ve been to exactly two, and one was an accident. But I am determined to go at least once this summer. Depending on the location (either public park or private business), there’s usually pre-movie entertainment, and the films start at dusk (around 9 pm).

Here’s the full schedule from Thrillist, with my picks below.

August 3:
Office Space
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
This isn’t exactly free, as you will not be able to resist Pix’s exquisite desserts or excellent selection of wine. Mike Judge’s genius ode to passive-aggressive (leading to aggressive-aggressive) ins and outs office life, starring Ron Livingston. Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 6:
The Goonies
Wilkes Park (NE 154th & Beech)
You’re not too cool for this movie. Go see the source material for Netflix’s Stranger Things. Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 14:
Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens
April Hill Park (SW 58th & Miles)
I’m going to this one, by hook or by crook! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 18:
Jaws
Elizabeth Caruthers Park (SW Moody & Gaines)
True story: I lived on Martha’s Vineyard, where this movie was filmed, for several years. Pretty much every middle-aged denizen of the Rock was an extra in this movie! Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 20:
Best in Show
Sewallcrest Park (SE 31st & Market)
This movie gives me life! If for some reason you haven’t seen it, click the title for the trailer (I linked to all the trailers in the titles). Opens at 6:30 pm; movie starts at dusk.

August 31:
Rocky
Pix Patisserie / Bar Vivant (2225 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214)
ADRIAN! Opens at 7 pm; movie starts at dusk.

Multnomah County Library Locations and Events

I renewed my relationship last year with the Multnomah County Library last year after almost 20 years, and I’m so glad I did! There are 20 branches in the Portland area, and they’re all full of wonderful things for you–and the vast majority are free.

Did you know that you can put a hold on any book, DVD, or most any other library material online, and they will deliver it to your local branch? It’s amazing. Do that.

There’s still time to complete your Summer Reading game board, open to babies, children, and teens! There’s even a Bingo version for adults. Win prizes and read amazing books for free!

The storytimes at the library are wonderful–much better than the weak “singalong” class I paid for through Portland Parks & Recreation. There are events for babies, toddlers, young children, and families!

Want to brush up on your computer skills or get tech help with a device? Get it for free at the Multnomah County Library’s computer and technology classes.

Need your resume polished? The library has you covered.

Other events (and I’m just scratching the surface): arts and crafts classes that include making seed balls and an “all-you-can-make” art bar, book clubs, citizenship classes, and lectures and author talks that include a one-hour cheese class, a talk on Vanport, earthquake preparedness, Etsy basics, free-range poetry, and much more!

There are literally dozens of other fascinating events at the Multnomah County Library, see all of their events here!

Phew! I feel much more in control of my life with this list. What other free things have I forgotten? Post them below!

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