Ryan F. Johnson

True Parent 6

Build A Better Parent

A Very Blended Family

Embracing the Worst Holiday Ever

Ask the Parent!

An iPad to Remember

The Secret Weapon

Parent to Parent

Christmas Comes but Twice a Year

A Mother Inside

Everyone talks about how great it is to get fresh air, and the importance of taking kids outside every day—even in the off-season. But you know what? It’s cold and icky out, and I don’t want to. There, I said it.

The problem is, your kid is out of school. Again. So many days off in the winter. And most of the indoor play places are disgusting petri dishes of plague. Mark my words, visiting them will lay your entire family out for a week. So I’ve done you a solid and am sharing my handy list of places where you can have fun indoors, minus the throngs of adorable biohazards (AKA other people’s kids).

Oregon Zoo

Fun fact: Nearly half the zoo is indoors and heated, because it turns out tropical animals hate winter! And while all the other suckers are whooping it up and catching staph infections at OMSI, you’ll have the whole place to yourself. If it’s not raining sideways, you can stroll around a little, and the animals are actually chill and milling about casually, because there aren’t hordes of screaming children freaking them out. Our family favorite is the African crocodile exhibit, which is warm and muggy and has spa-like simulated rain showers over the tank. 4001 SW Canyon

Fubonn Shopping Center

Remember when you were little and you’d shrilly beg your mom for a quarter to go on one of those rides in the grocery store? Do you ever wonder what happened to those? I’ll tell you where they went. THEY ARE ALL AT FUBONN. Do a little quick shopping in the grocery store or get a cheesy hot dog roll at the bakery, and then pop little Timmy onto any of the various cartoon-themed kiddie rides in the shopping center. And during the weekday, Fubonn is such a ghost town that no one will raise an eyebrow if you just sort of hang out there all day. 2850 SE 82nd

Småland at IKEA

Once your kid is potty trained and over four years old, he or she gets to romp gaily in Ikea’s Swedish fairytale forest and you have one delicious hour of freedom. Sure, the little Olive Garden-style buzzer might light up within 10 minutes of dropping little Buffy off into that sea of balls, but that doesn’t meant you can’t finish perusing affordable lampshades in peace. Then enjoy a little lunch together while gazing out the windows at flags and airplanes. 10280 NE Cascades

Milwaukie Bowl

If you have another parent or two to hang out with and want to make a play date that doesn’t suck, go to Milwaukie Bowl. I swear, it’s the last surviving bowling alley in the tri-county area that looks like it’s from The Flintstones. The ladies’ room is a pink baby boomer-era time capsule, and vintage bowling etiquette posters grace the walls. It’s kitsch perfection. Plus there are bumpers and ball-ramps for novice bowlers, a new arcade in the back, and you can day-drink a variety of domestic and/or microbrewed beer. 3056 SE Harrison, Milwaukie