Portland, Oregon, often referred to as the “City of Roses,” is a vibrant and eclectic city known for its natural beauty, cultural diversity, and thriving arts scene. From picturesque parks and gardens to unique neighborhoods and delicious food, Portland offers a multitude of experiences for visitors and locals alike. Here are some of the best places to visit and things to do in Portland:
1. Washington Park
Image Source: https://www.portland.gov/parks/washington-park
Located in the heart of the city, Washington Park is a must-visit destination. The park is home to several attractions, including the renowned International Rose Test Garden, the Portland Japanese Garden, the Oregon Zoo, and the Hoyt Arboretum. Spend a day exploring the park’s lush gardens, walking trails, and enjoying the breathtaking views of the city.
2. Portland Japanese Garden
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_Japanese_Garden
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and find tranquility in the Portland Japanese Garden. Considered one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, this serene oasis features meticulously landscaped gardens, serene ponds, and traditional tea houses. Take a stroll along the tranquil paths, participate in a tea ceremony, and immerse yourself in the peaceful ambiance.
3. Lan Su Chinese Garden
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lan_Su_Chinese_Garden
Step into an oasis of serenity at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, a classical Chinese garden located in Portland’s Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. Designed by artisans from Portland’s sister city, Suzhou, in China, this garden features intricate architecture, tranquil courtyards, and beautiful flora. Take a guided tour to learn about Chinese culture and traditions while enjoying the harmonious surroundings.
4. International Rose Test Garden
The garden is home to over 10,000 rose bushes, featuring more than 650 different varieties. From classic hybrid teas to vibrant floribundas and fragrant climbers, you’ll be treated to a kaleidoscope of colors, scents, and shapes. Take your time to wander through the carefully manicured beds and delight in the beauty and diversity of these magnificent flowers.
5. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
OMSI encourages hands-on learning and discovery. Many exhibits provide interactive elements that allow visitors to participate in scientific experiments, solve puzzles, and engage in immersive experiences. Build structures with giant foam blocks, manipulate robots, or investigate the properties of water in the chemistry lab. These interactive activities make science come alive and foster a sense of wonder and curiosity.
6. Portland Art Museum
The museum’s permanent collection spans a wide range of artistic periods, styles, and cultures. It features artworks from ancient times to contemporary pieces, including European, American, Asian, and Native American art. Explore masterpieces by renowned artists such as Monet, Picasso, Warhol, and O’Keeffe, among many others. From paintings and sculptures to photography and decorative arts, the collection offers a comprehensive view of artistic expression
7. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
The garden boasts an extensive and diverse collection of rhododendrons, showcasing their beauty and variety. From delicate pastel blooms to vibrant hues, you’ll be treated to a visual spectacle of these stunning flowers. The garden features over 2,500 rhododendron plants, including both hybrids and species rhododendrons, making it a paradise for rhododendron enthusiasts and nature lovers.
8. St. Johns Bridge
The St. Johns Bridge offers stunning views from various vantage points. From the bridge itself, you can admire panoramic vistas of the river, nearby Forest Park, and the surrounding landscape. The bridge’s arches and towers provide excellent photo opportunities, especially during sunrise or sunset when the warm light bathes the scene in a golden glow.
9. Laurelhurst Park
The park’s landscape is a harmonious blend of rolling lawns, mature trees, and a tranquil lake. The picturesque setting makes it an ideal spot for picnics, leisurely walks, or simply unwinding amidst nature. The park’s well-maintained lawns provide ample space for lounging, playing frisbee, or enjoying a game of catch with friends and family.
10. Mount Tabor Park
Mount Tabor is an extinct volcano that provides a distinctive and captivating backdrop for the park. The park’s landscape features scenic trails, wooded areas, and open meadows, all within the ancient volcanic cone. It offers a serene and tranquil environment that allows visitors to connect with nature and escape the urban surroundings.
11. Peninsula Park and Rose Gardens
Peninsula Park is the oldest public rose garden in Portland and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park’s design, influenced by the City Beautiful movement, features symmetrical pathways, formal gardens, a central fountain, and a grand gazebo. The historic architecture and carefully planned layout create a sense of elegance and timelessness.
12. Oregon Holocaust Memorial
The memorial’s design was created by renowned architect Stanley Saitowitz and landscape architect Peter Walker. It consists of several elements that work together to convey the gravity of the Holocaust. The centerpiece is a large granite and bronze sculpture depicting a group of emaciated figures representing the victims of the Holocaust. The figures are surrounded by stone walls with inscriptions of quotes, historical information, and personal stories, providing a powerful and emotional context to the memorial.
13. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
The park’s prime location along the Willamette River provides visitors with breathtaking views of the water, as well as the city’s skyline and bridges. Whether you’re walking, jogging, or simply sitting on one of the park’s benches, you can enjoy the tranquil atmosphere and the natural beauty of the river.
14. Council Crest Park
The main attraction of Council Crest Park is undoubtedly the stunning views it offers. From the park’s viewpoint, you can enjoy a sweeping panorama of downtown Portland’s skyline, the Willamette River winding through the city, and the majestic Mount Hood towering in the distance. On clear days, the views extend to the Cascade Range and Mount St. Helens. The sight of the city and its surrounding natural beauty from this vantage point is truly awe-inspiring.
15. Elk Rock Garden
Elk Rock Garden is a meticulously landscaped garden spread across 13 acres of lush greenery. The garden features a mix of formal and informal plantings, including rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, Japanese maples, and a variety of other flowering plants and trees. The diverse collection of plants provides a delightful sensory experience, with vibrant colors and fragrant scents throughout the seasons.
16. World Forestry Center – Discovery Museum
The museum offers a variety of engaging exhibits and interactive displays that provide insight into the world of forests and forestry. Visitors can learn about the different types of forests, their ecosystems, and the vital role they play in sustaining life on Earth. The exhibits often incorporate multimedia presentations, hands-on activities, and informational panels to create an immersive learning experience.
17. Ira Keller Fountain Park
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keller_Fountain_Park
he park’s centerpiece is the Ira Keller Fountain, an impressive work of art that spans an entire city block. The fountain is characterized by its dramatic water cascades, geometric shapes, and angular forms. The design was inspired by natural waterfalls found in the Pacific Northwest, creating a visually stunning and dynamic space.
18. Cathedral Park
Image Source: https://www.portland.gov/parks/cathedral-park
The park is home to the majestic St. Johns Bridge, one of Portland’s most recognizable landmarks. This Gothic-style suspension bridge spans the Willamette River and provides a stunning backdrop for the park. Visitors can admire the bridge’s intricate architecture, including its towering stone pylons and elegant steel cables.
19. Mill Ends Park
Mill Ends Park measures just two feet in diameter, making it truly minuscule. It occupies a small circular space in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway, near the intersection with Southwest Taylor Street. Despite its tiny size, the park is filled with charm and character that has captivated both locals and tourists alike.
20. Oregon Maritime Museum
The museum is home to several historic vessels that you can tour. These include the sternwheeler Portland, which was once a luxury steamship on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and the Lightship Columbia, which served as a floating lighthouse off the Oregon coast.
21. First Presbyterian Church
First Presbyterian Church has a strong music ministry and is known for its exceptional choral and organ performances. The church’s renowned pipe organ, with its majestic sound, adds to the uplifting and reverent atmosphere during worship services and special musical events.
22. Hawthorne Bridge
The Hawthorne Bridge is an example of a vertical-lift bridge, which was a groundbreaking design when it was constructed in 1910. It has a distinctive red color, and its elegant steel structure showcases the engineering marvel of its time. The bridge’s design and historical significance make it an interesting subject for photography and architectural enthusiasts.
23. Powell Butte Nature Park
Powell Butte Nature Park is known for its vibrant wildflower meadows, particularly during the spring and summer months. The park’s meadows burst with colorful blooms, creating a picturesque and serene setting. It’s an ideal spot for nature photography or simply enjoying the beauty of the natural surroundings.
24. Marquam Nature Park
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquam_Nature_Park
Marquam Nature Park is known for its lush greenery, diverse vegetation, and tranquil atmosphere. The park is home to towering trees, fern-covered slopes, and an array of native plants and flowers. Its serene ambiance provides a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city.
25. U.S. Bancorp Tower
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Bancorp_Tower
The tower primarily serves as a commercial office building, housing various businesses, law firms, and financial institutions. It has a modern and efficient design, providing spacious and flexible office spaces for tenants.
26. Kidd’s Toy Museum
The museum boasts an extensive collection of vintage toys, including dolls, action figures, model trains, tin toys, and much more. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits, which span multiple rooms and showcase a wide range of toys from different eras.
27. Macleay Park
Macleay Park offers a network of hiking trails that wind through lush greenery and forested areas. The most popular trail is the Lower Macleay Trail, which leads to the nearby Pittock Mansion. The trail features a tranquil creek, wooden footbridges, and a canopy of trees, providing a peaceful escape into nature within the city limits.
28. Director Park
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Director_Park
Director Park is known for its modern design and welcoming atmosphere. The park features an open plaza with a central fountain, ample seating areas, and a large lawn area. The architecture of the park incorporates sleek lines, concrete elements, and greenery, creating an aesthetically pleasing and functional space.
29. Eagle Creek Trail Park
The Eagle Creek Trail offers a scenic and moderately challenging hiking experience. The trail follows Eagle Creek, winding through old-growth forests, moss-covered cliffs, and a series of beautiful waterfalls. It’s known for its diverse and picturesque landscapes.
30. Sellwood Riverfront Park
Image Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sellwood_Riverfront_Park
The park features paved paths that are ideal for walking, jogging, or cycling. These trails wind along the river, offering scenic views and opportunities to observe wildlife. It’s a great place to enjoy a leisurely stroll or engage in outdoor activities while enjoying the refreshing riverside ambiance.
31. Kelley Point Park
Kelley Point Park offers a unique and scenic setting where the Willamette River merges with the mighty Columbia River. The park’s location provides stunning panoramic views of the water, nearby islands, and the surrounding natural landscape.
32. Lakeside Gardens
Lakeside Gardens boasts meticulously manicured gardens and lush landscapes, creating a serene and tranquil atmosphere. The gardens feature a variety of flowering plants, trees, and shrubs, providing a colorful and visually pleasing backdrop for your visit.
33. Gabriel Park
Gabriel Park is known for its vast open spaces, offering plenty of room for various recreational activities. The park spans over 90 acres, making it one of the largest parks in Portland. Whether you’re looking to play sports, have a picnic, or simply enjoy the outdoors, you’ll find ample space to do so at Gabriel Park.
34. Sellwood Park
Sellwood Park features spacious green areas and well-maintained lawns, perfect for picnics, playing catch, or enjoying a leisurely stroll. The park offers multiple playgrounds equipped with swings, slides, climbing structures, and other play equipment, providing fun and entertainment for children of all ages.
35. Leach Botanical Garden
Leach Botanical Garden features a stunning collection of plants, including a variety of native and rare species. The garden showcases diverse habitats, including woodlands, meadows, and wetlands. Visitors can explore the well-maintained pathways that wind through the gardens, taking in the beauty of the seasonal blooms and the lush greenery.
36. Westmoreland Park
Westmoreland Park is situated along Crystal Springs Creek, a picturesque waterway that flows through the park. The creek provides a serene and calming atmosphere, and visitors can walk along the creek’s edge, observe the wildlife, or simply enjoy the peaceful sound of running water.
37. Burnside Bridge
The Burnside Bridge is a steel truss bridge that was first opened to traffic in 1926. It is one of the most recognizable bridges in Portland, known for its distinctive green color and elegant design. The bridge features four bascule spans, allowing it to lift and accommodate river traffic.
38. Rose City Park
Rose City Park hosts various community events throughout the year, fostering a sense of unity among residents. These events may include neighborhood picnics, concerts in the park, or holiday celebrations, providing opportunities for neighbors to connect and enjoy the vibrant community spirit.
39. Fremont Bridge
The Fremont Bridge is a critical transportation link for commuters and travelers. It carries vehicular traffic in both directions on its upper deck, accommodating multiple lanes for cars, trucks, and buses. The bridge also includes designated bike lanes and pedestrian sidewalks, providing safe passage for cyclists and pedestrians who want to cross the river.
40. Overlook Park
Image Source: https://www.portland.gov/parks/overlook-park
The park features several picnic areas equipped with tables and benches, making it an ideal place for outdoor gatherings and family picnics. The picnic areas are shaded by large trees, providing a pleasant atmosphere to enjoy a meal or socialize with friends.
41. South Park Blocks
The South Park Blocks are characterized by their beautifully landscaped green spaces. The blocks are lined with mature trees, manicured lawns, and flowerbeds, creating a serene and peaceful environment in the heart of the city. The park offers a refreshing escape from the urban hustle and bustle, providing ample space for relaxation, picnics, and leisurely walks.
42. Willamette Park
Willamette Park provides direct access to the Willamette River, making it an ideal spot for water activities and riverside relaxation. You can launch your kayak, paddleboard, or canoe from the park’s boat ramp or enjoy a leisurely stroll along the riverbank.
43. Portland Police Museum
The Portland Police Bureau maintains historical records and archives that document the department’s history, including photographs, newspaper articles, and other artifacts. You can reach out to the bureau or visit their website to inquire about accessing these resources.
44. Jamison Square
The park features a well-maintained open green space, surrounded by trees, benches, and picnic tables. It’s an inviting area for picnics, sunbathing, or simply lounging and enjoying the outdoors. The expansive lawn provides ample room for relaxation and recreational activities.
45. Lovejoy Fountain Park
The park is centered around a stunning fountain that serves as its focal point. The fountain features a series of cascading waterfalls and pools, creating a tranquil and soothing environment. The sound of flowing water and the sight of the fountain’s graceful movements provide a calming backdrop for visitors.
46. Tanner Springs Park
Tanner Springs Park is designed to mimic a natural wetland habitat, providing a haven for native plants and wildlife in the heart of the city. The park’s landscape features a mix of wetland plantings, meandering pathways, and a central pond that serves as a focal point. The park’s design promotes ecological sustainability and biodiversity.
47. Skidmore Fountain
Skidmore Fountain is an ornate cast-iron fountain that was installed in 1888. It was designed by architect Olin L. Warner and was a gift to the city from philanthropist Stephen Skidmore. The fountain features intricate details, including a central column with four bronze drinking fountains and four spouting fish figures at the base.
48. Broadway Bridge
The Broadway Bridge features a distinctive steel truss design, with its towers and trusses painted a bright blue color. It is known for its unique aesthetic appeal and stands out among Portland’s bridge skyline. The bridge’s design is an architectural highlight, blending both functionality and visual interest.
49. South Waterfront Park
South Waterfront Park provides direct access to the Willamette River, allowing visitors to enjoy scenic views of the water and the surrounding natural landscape. The park’s location makes it a popular spot for leisurely walks, picnics, or simply relaxing while taking in the serene atmosphere.
50. Oaks Amusement Park
Oaks Amusement Park features a variety of classic amusement park rides that evoke a sense of nostalgia. From the iconic wooden roller coaster, the “Big Dipper,” to the spinning Tea Cups, the park offers attractions that cater to different thrill levels. Other rides include bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, a carousel, a tilt-a-whirl, and a rock wall.
These are just a few highlights of the many incredible places to visit and things to do in Portland, Oregon. Whether you’re a nature lover, a foodie, an art enthusiast, or simply looking to immerse yourself in the city’s unique culture, Portland offers a diverse array of experiences that will leave you wanting to come back for more.
Places and Things To Do