Portland’s dedication to play for all is producing creative, accessible playgrounds for kids of all ages and abilities.
It all began in 2009 when two Portland parents, G Cody QJ and April Goldberg, took matters into their own hands in an effort to create a play space where their then-five-year old daughter, Harper, could play without her walker getting stuck in wood chips. Working hand-in-hand with Portland Parks & Recreation, and their new foundation, Harper’s Playground, the Goldbergs and the city set new standards for play in Portland neighborhoods.
In 2012, the city unveiled Arbor Lodge Park’s inclusive playground, aptly named Harper’s Playground. Since then, PP&R has been working with partnerships to create and renovate playgrounds that go above and beyond for all kids of all abilities and all ages.
What makes a playground inclusive? Designed to be enjoyed by children and caregivers of all abilities, inclusive playgrounds eliminate barriers to play. Synthetic, accessible surfaces take the place of bark chips, curbs are minimal, and structures, slides, sandboxes and features are easily accessed. In addition to physical play, inclusive playgrounds feature sensory elements to engage and nurture, including interactive music installations and tactile elements.
Many playgrounds in Portland are being retrofitted with adaptive and inclusive elements, while others are undergoing full renovations to meet the design standards of inclusivity.
Discover new favorites with our list of inclusive playgrounds in Portland.
⇔ Designated inclusive play area
⇪Improved accessibility including synthetic surfacing instead of bark chips, adaptive swings or slides, and ramp accessible features.
⟿Under construction / future plans
In 2013 Dawson Park underwent an improvement project, delivering synthetic surfacing for universal access as well as an easy-access splash pad to the popular neighborhood spot. The play area features two accessible swings, merry-go-round and see-saw, in addition to balance and coordination components. Insider tip: Plenty of street parking, but be aware of the no parking zones adjacent to the park itself. N Stanton St. and N Williams Ave.
The park that started it all. The entire play area is universally accessible, with highlights including musical interactive instruments, climbing walls, adaptive swings and ramp-accessed double slides. It also has one of the coolest sand and water play areas in town, echoing a waterfall where kiddos can build and create dams, castles and moats. Insider tip: If you’re headed somewhere other than home after visiting the park, bring a change of clothes and shoes as the sand/water play area is a perennial favorite. N Bryant St. and N Delaware Ave.
Northeast / East Portland
With its grand opening in 2018, Gateway Discovery Park has plenty of room to romp, roll and enjoy. Fully stocked for all things play, it includes ramp-accessed double slides, smooth entry sand play area, musical sensory interaction, adaptive swing, including a parent swing with attached child seat and a merry-go-round. An accessible splash pad compliments the rolling astroturf hills, climbing features and interactive design. Insider tip: The trees are still young and the park lacks shade, so plan accordingly for sun exposure. NE Halsey St. and NE 106th Ave.
Opened in 2015, Khunamokwst features an accessible synthetic turf surface, adaptive swing and ramps into the play areas. The splash pad resembles a river, with accessible water sprays. When the kids need a break, follow the smooth, paved path to the skate park to watch the action. Insider tip: The tale of the Mouse and the Fir Tree is portrayed in the giant fir cone in the middle of the play area. 5200 NE Alberta St. (NE 52nd Ave. and NE Alberta St.)
Before you’re even out of the car, the kids will be clamoring to explore this wide open, futuristic-looking park. Formerly known as Beech Park, Luuwit View’s inclusive amenities feature smart, synthetic surfacing, smooth paved paths and a rubberized surface to an accessible merry-go-round and adaptive swing. Inspiring sensory play features musical instrument installations, ramp-accessible slides and nature paths through the expansive property. Insider tip: Don’t miss the artistic mosaic sundial atop the small hill – a paved trail leads to the vista point. NE 127th Ave. and NE Fremont St.
The new and improved Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park Playground features a synthetic play surface, adaptive swing, and wheelchair access. Children can play on balance and climbing structures, and a slide is built into the topography of the park. SE 165th Avenue and Market Street.
Nestled in southeast, Lents Park received a facelift in 2017. The brightly-colored synthetic play surface meanders throughout the playground, leading to accessible slides, interactive musical installations, an adaptive swing and sensory skill-building components. The large, diverse park is also home to the Portland Pickles collegiate baseball team. Insider tip: For such a well-used park, bathrooms are limited. It’s smart to pack some TP for the restroom “just in case.” SE 92nd Ave. and SE Holgate Blvd.
Renovated in 2017, the updates at Ventura Park playground make it a favorite for adults and kids alike. In addition to synthetic surfacing, a large group swing and inclusive merry-go-round, the design includes interactive musical play and a water play area, complete with dams. It even boasts an astroturf hill, perfect for simulating sledding, and plenty of open space to set up basecamp for the day. Insider tip: Ventura Park has plenty of shade and is a good option for sun-scorching days. 460 SE 113th Ave. (SE 113th Ave. and SE Stark St.)
While not as extensive as other inclusive playground areas, Westmoreland is not to be left off our list. The nature play park features an accessible large slide and ramp access to the play areas. A large sand area allows for sensory and tactile experience. Insider tip: The play area surfacing is bark chips, but the paved path allows for maneuvering and access to the nature trail, bridges and model boat pond. SE McLoughlin Blvd and SE Bybee Blvd.
Couch Park features safety and synthetic surfacing, adaptive and group swings, a ramp-accessible play fort and more. There’s also a plaza and Portland Loo. NW 19th Ave. and NW Glisan St.
Southwest / West
Thanks to its central southwest location, Gabriel Park is now home to an inclusive playground. Easily accessible by public transit, Gabriel Park is an inclusive destination for the entire Portland Metro area. The new park includes an in ground trampoline you can wheel or walk onto! SW 45th Ave. and SW Vermont St.
Nestled in Washington Park, the extensive playground features universal access to the maze of ramps, castle-esque play structure, slides, seated rockers, bridges and more. Insider tip: When tummies start grumbling, head up to the food cart by the International Rose Test Garden, an eight-minute walk away, for yummy frozen bananas. SW Kingston Ave.
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