Park features the Oregon Zoo, Rose Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, museums
Ride the train at the Oregon Zoo, hear a concert in the Rose Garden, stroll the Japanese Garden or visit the World Forestry Center at Washington Park in Portland, Oregon.
If you’re planning a trip to Portland, plan to spend time at the city’s 400-acre Washington Park. Spring and summer are the park’s seasons to shine with roses blooming in the International Rose Test Garden, trees flowering in Hoyt Arboretum and the Japanese Garden, concerts on tap for the park amphitheater, and animals from across the globe soaking up the sun in the lavishly landscaped Oregon Zoo.
Six separate attractions claim portions of the park, all surrounded by grassy expanses for picnicking and kids’ play, plus forested areas for nature walks and hiking. It’s just minutes from downtown in the hills that border the central city.
Here are the attractions you’ll find:
Almost every continent is represented at this zoo with themed areas like the Africa Savannah, Amazon Flooded Forest, and Lorikeet Landing. Bears splash in pools, elephants roam their enclosed fields and leopards stretch out on shaded tree limbs. Two displays bring visitors up close with the wildlife of the Pacific Northwest: The Great Northwest display features eagles, black bears, cougars, mountain goats and elk, while Pacific Shores features aquariums of sea otters, seals and sea lions, a kelp forest and a pool of colorful tidal life. The Zoo Train takes riders through forested ridges to the Rose Garden and back. The Zoo, the Forestry Center, and Children’s Museum (below) are served by the Portland MAX Lightrail. In summer, a shuttle ferries visitors between the Zoo and Rose Garden with stops at other park attractions.
World Forestry Center Discovery Museum
The world of trees is celebrated in this museum of interactive exhibits. Displays introduce visitors to forests of the Pacific Northwest and the globe that provide resources for people and wildlife. Visitors young and old can discover animals living beneath the forest floor and inside a nurse log, learn about sustainability, try planting a tree, and experience smokejumping. Virtual tours explore boreal, temperate, tropical, and sub-tropical forests. Temporary exhibits feature world cultures, history and art.
Portland Children’s Museum
Adjacent to the Zoo and World Forestry Center, the Children’s Museum lets kids try their hand at molding a masterpiece in the clay studio, helping out at a stage production at the Play-It-Again Theater, sending water through shoots and spouts at the waterworks, making the old new in the recycling garage, shopping at the kids’ grocery, or joining a construction crew to build a house. There’s a special Baby’s Garden for the youngest visitors, plus daily storytime.
Portland International Rose Test Garden
One of the largest rose gardens in the nation, this meticulously designed and maintained garden displays thousands of rose bushes of every color, tint, and scent, plus offering spectacular views of the city. This is one of Portland’s signature attractions. Read more about the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden (below) at Portland’s Public Gardens.
Portland Japanese Garden
Designed for authenticity, this garden offers a green haven of tranquility on five-and-a-half acres adjacent to the Rose Garden. Frequent events include ikebana and art exhibits, traditional tea ceremony demonstrations, plus the autumn full-moon celebration when the garden is lit with lanterns.
Trees from across the globe fill this 175-acre expanse. Each season offers the green of one of the world’s most diverse conifer collections. Spring and Summer add the blooms of magnolias and other flowering trees, while fall brings fruits, berries, and brilliant color to deciduous leaves. Miles of walking and hiking trails wind through the collections. The Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial occupies the southwest corner of the arboretum and features a collection of dogwoods and winter-blooming witch hazels. It can be reached from the Zoo/Washington Park MAX station. Read more about the arboretum at Exploring Portland’s Natural Areas.
The Washington Park amphitheater, where summer concerts are held, is next to the Rose Garden, while just to the south of the garden is a children’s playground. Next to the Rose Garden parking lot, you’ll find tennis courts.