Surrounded by the beckoning mountain slopes, what would Portland be without skiing? The area is served by many resorts on nearby Mt. Hood: Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows, Ski Bowl, Ski Bunny, and Cooper Spur. Timberline is one of only two resorts in all of North America to feature year-round skiing.
Southeast Portland features Mt. Tabor, an extinct volcano. Volcanic cinders were discovered in 1912 in what is now the city park. Mt. Tabor has become an exhibit of its own making, featuring a permanent display of the volcanic cone from which the original cinders were obtained.
And for nature lovers, the City of Portland most definitely hasn’t forgotten its “roots” – both literally and figuratively. Forest Park is one of the largest wilderness parks within city limits in the United States, with more than 5,000 acres to wander.
Portland is also home to Mill Ends Park, which is actually the world’s smallest park! This circular “park” is only 2 feet in diameter and a much-beloved city “landmark.” Washington Park, just west of downtown, is home to the Oregon Zoo and a lovely Japanese Garden.
Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park runs the length of downtown, along the banks of the Willamette River. The 37-acre park plays host to several large events throughout the year, including the Waterfront Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, Bite of Oregon, and several Rose Festival events. One thing is certain: No matter where you go in Portland, you’ll never be far from the natural lush, bucolic landscape that Portlanders have always worked hard to preserve.
Forest Park, encompassing 5,000 acres, is the largest forested urban park in the nation. The park has over 74 miles of hiking, jogging, mountain biking, and equestrian trails. The Portland Audubon Society’s Nature Store, located adjacent to the park, sells maps and guides that promote the appreciation of nature.
Located on a hillside in Washington Park is the Japanese Garden, which is considered to be the most authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan. The 5.5-acre garden has five traditional gardens. The serene Tea Garden surrounds the ceremonial Tea House that was actually built in Japan.
Portland Classical Chinese Garden
Located at NW Everett Street and NW Third Avenue, the beautiful Portland Classical Chinese Garden, located at NW 3rd and Everett, is an authentic Suzhou-style garden designed and constructed by architects and artisans from China. The garden is a balance of serpentine walkways, pavilions, and exquisite plant life, narrated by symbolic poetry.
North and South Park Blocks
The North Park Blocks were dedicated to Portland in 1869 and is one of the oldest parks in the city. The 2.43-acre park includes statues, including one designed by William Wegman, as well as playgrounds and restrooms. The South Park Blocks are adjacent to Portland State University and stretch across twelve city blocks in downtown Portland. The South Park Blocks are considered to be the cultural district of the city and includes the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Art Museum, the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the Oregon Ballet Theater.
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Waterfront Park runs along the west bank of the Willamette River in downtown Portland and was named for former Governor Tom McCall, who proposed creating the public park. Waterfront Park hosts many of Portland’s largest festivals, concerts, and events, including the Rose Festival and Cinco de Mayo. This park is also a great place for joggers, bikers, and people-watchers. Several landmarks are located in Waterfront Park. On warm days, children love to frolic in the Salmon Street Springs fountain’s ever-changing water patterns.
The International Rose Test Garden
The International Rose Test Garden was established in 1915, and is the oldest official test garden in the world. From the garden visitors can see over 8,000 different roses as well as the best view of the skyline of Portland, the “City of Roses”, as well as Mt. Hood.
The Portland Streetcar stops just across the street from Jameson Square in the Pearl District, Portland’s trendiest neighborhood. The square boasts four totem sculptures designed by Kenny Scharf, play structures, and a fountain.
Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade
The Esplanade is a 1.5 mile urban riverfront walkway/bike trail that is also wheelchair accessible. It extends from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge and features a 1,200 foot floating walkway – the longest floating walkway of its kind in the United States. The Steel Bridge RiverWalk connects the Esplandade to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the west side of the bridge. Each marker along the walkway explains the history or an interesting story about the area.
One of Oregon’s oldest parks is Washington Park, which was acquired in 1871. It is a favorite of Portlanders and visitors alike. Included in this 129.5-acre park are playgrounds, restrooms, picnic areas, hiking trails, several tennis courts, and a soccer field. The park features a central fountain, known as the Chiming Fountain and several statues of notable Oregonians of the past, including a memorial to Lewis and Clark. Also located within Washington Park are the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and Hoyt Arboretum.