Parks of Portland, Oregon

By Rachel Puryear

If you love nature and the outdoors, but also enjoy city life; Portland, Oregon is an exciting place to visit. With hundreds of parks and green spaces within the city and its surrounding areas, it offers beautiful natural scenery within a thriving urban scene. Portland has plenty to offer, and a visit here would not be complete without seeing some of its many parks.

Here are just a few of them:

Washington Park, Including the Japanese Tea Garden and Rose Garden

Washington Park is not only one of the largest urban parks in Portland, or even in Oregon; but it’s one of the largest urban parks in the USA. You can hike lush, wooded trails; visit the serene and famously authentic Japanese Tea Garden, stop by the fragrant rose garden (in bloom during Summer months), take the kids to the playground, play tennis, shoot arrows at the archery range, and ride the free shuttle around the park and relax while you sightsee.

Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, big green meadow with lush, flowing trees.
Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, trees with bright, colorful flowers.
Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, trail with big green trees.
Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, flower bushes with brightly colored flowers.
The Japanese Tea Garden in Portland, Oregon, colorful trees over green pond.
The Japanese Tea Garden in Portland, Oregon, rock garden with lots of moss.
The Japanese Tea Garden in Portland, Oregon, zen garden, view from above.

Mt Tabor Park

Ever played in a volcano crater? This park includes a volcano crater, which now has a grassy playing field placed on it. The park also features many more paths to walk or drive, and many of the walking paths are paved and at least partially wheelchair-accessible. Some roads go enough uphill that you can get great views of the city from up there (including driving paths). You can also walk around a reservoir.

Mt. Tabor Park in Portland, Oregon, city view from a high hilltop.
Mt. Tabor Park in Portland, Oregon, green trail with lots of trees.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park, With Cherry Blossoms

A stroll by a nice waterfront is always great. But with rows of beautiful cherry blossoms lining the path? It’s fantastic. Such scenery can be enjoyed at this park (cherry blossoms tend to come into bloom in early Spring in Oregon, though this can vary from year to year). Since there are also paved paths, much of it is accessible by wheelchair.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland, Oregon, cherry blossom tree.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

In the heart of Portland’s Chinatown, this tranquil, traditional Chinese garden allows a walk through a gorgeous and intricately detailed garden with ponds. You can download a guide to listen to as you go through. The paths are paved, though some of the exhibits along the way have a step without a ramp.

Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon, bridge over a pond and waterfalls, with lots of trees.
Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland, Oregon, Chinese-style buildings, ducks swimming on a pond, lots of colorful trees and flowers.

The Grotto

This outdoor church altar, with dense forest trails surrounding it, offers a peaceful and contemplative walk. A local Catholic church maintains the grounds, and holds mass there on Sundays – which are outside during the Summer. Whether you’re religious/Catholic or not, the altar built inside of a wet cave is a pretty unique sight, and the gardens are lovely.

The Grotto park in Portland, Oregon, outdoor altar carved into rock cave.
The Grotto park in Portland, Oregon, forest trail with dense trees.

There’s Plenty More…

Of course, while Portland’s parks are awesome, there’s plenty more to do in this city.

It’s also known for its many restaurants and breweries, and a diverse array of food trucks. Foodies and beer lovers will delight in Portland’s offerings.

If you enjoy reading, check out one of the multiple Powell’s Books locations for a huge selection of new and used books. We visited the downtown store on a weekend night, and it seems to be a popular date/pickup location, too! That speaks well of any city.

If you like, check out the many LGBTQ+ resources and events happening in Portland. Portland is a popular city for LGBTQ+ people and families, with a good reputation for being welcoming.

My husband and I also both found Portland to be more ethnically diverse than we expected, which was a pleasant surprise. We are an interracial couple (I’m white and he’s black), and we are based in the San Francisco Bay Area – it seems that Portland is gaining more of the diversity that we’ve seen disappearing from our hometown over recent years. It was nice to feel like much less of a rarity while visiting. Good for Portland.

Portland is also a popular destination for young families, unsurprisingly, as housing prices are more affordable there than in most West Coast cities – a quick browse of listings suggests that homes go for a fraction there of what they do in the Bay Area.

If you’re visiting the Pacific northwest, or looking for a West coast city to consider moving to that has a lot of nature and friendly vibes to offer, Portland, Oregon is definitely worth checking out.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading, following, and sharing. Here’s to beautifying urban spaces with plentiful parks.

Got a question you want answered through this blog? Submit your question to me here – and if you don’t already, please request to subscribe to the Free Range Life bimonthly newsletter while you’re there!


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