When the sun shines, Portland's a magical place. But hurry, you don't know how long the good weather will last. Here are some of the best outdoor activities:
- Willamette Jetboat Excursions. Hold on to your hats! You'll be cruising the Willamette at speeds up to 40 mph on this two-hour, narrated tour. Not only that, but your pilot guide will probably show off, doing spin-arounds and sprays. Boat buffs in your family will enjoy touring the shipyard and its giant cargo and military ships. The tour also comes within yards of Willamette Falls and its gloriously cascading waters. Take along a camera (an underwater one is best).
The Oregon Zoo, copyright
- Oregon Zoo. This 64-acre zoo, five minutes from downtown, simulates nine exotic locales throughout the world. In the African rainforest, tropical thunder, lightning, and torrential downpours occur even on sunny days. At the Alaskan Tundra exhibit, catch sight of grizzly bears, gray wolves, and snowy owls. Or swing by the primate center, where you can watch chimps, mandrills, and golden lion tamarins entertaining the crowd.
The zoo's long-time claim to fame is its top-rated elephant-breeding program. Since the birth of its first elephant, "Packy," in 1962, 27 more have been born here. Make sure to say hello. And don't miss the insect zoo with its creepy crawly bugs, including Mexican Red Kneed Tarantulas, Emperor Scorpions, Giant African Millipedes, and the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach. Eeeww! Plan to spend at least a half-day here.
- The Oaks Amusement Park. Since 1905, this 46-acre park has been a favorite gathering place of Portland families. The 26 attractions run the gamut from a high-intensity roller coaster called "Looping Thunder" to low-key kiddie rides. When you're ready for a breather, hop onboard the open-air train for a scenic ride along the Willamette River. Or head over to the skate rink -- the largest on the West Coast.
- Portland Saturday Market. Located in Portland's turn-of-the-century Skidmore District, this open-air market features more than 270 craft booths, all kinds of foods, and live entertainment. If you're looking to buy unique gifts or souvenirs of the Pacific Northwest, this is the place. The best part: You won't pay sales tax.
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