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The Top 15 Parks in Portland (and What to Do in Them!)

The Top 15 Parks in Portland (and What to Do in Them!)

You will never run out of places to go to in Portland. One great example of this is the ample number of parks the city has to offer.

Can’t think which one you’ll go to? Choose among the top parks in Portland we’ve listed below!

1. Forest Park

Forest Park is the largest urban park in the country, with more than 70 miles of wooded trails. The park stretches for over seven miles along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains, with views of Northwest Portland and the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.

It’s easily one of Portland’s best parks, especially for hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders. You could spend days exploring the forest and still not see everything. 

And because it is so large, it truly has something for everyone.

Things you can do at Forest Park

  • Forest Park’s location along the Willamette River is one of its best features. This waterway offers spectacular views and an abundance of kayaking opportunities in Portland.
  • If biking along the Willamette River is your idea of a perfect day in Portland, you’ve come to the right place. Forest Park provides breathtaking views of downtown Portland as well as a scenic waterway ideal for cycling.
  • Forest Park has an open space park. This means you can pack a picnic and dine in nature without leaving the city.

2. Waterfront Park

Tom McCall Waterfront Park stretches along the Willamette River from the Steel Bridge in the north to the Hawthorne Bridge in the south. The park offers scenic walks along its paths, as well as easy access to public transportation and a beautiful view of Mount Hood. 

During the summer, the park is ideal for large outdoor events like the Oregon Brewers Festival. However, the park is most beautiful in the spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.

Things you can do at Waterfront Park

  • You can take a walk along one of the trails that wind through the lush green landscape.
  • Take a trip on the Willamette River by boat.
  • Enjoy a picnic lunch on one of the many benches or tables available.
  • See a performance at the arena and free music and light shows at the theater.
  • Tom McCall Waterfront Park is also an excellent place to jog, walk your dog, ride your bike, or even swim.

3. Tanner Springs Park

Tanner Springs Park in the Pearl District is a local favorite. This park has been in existence since 1986, when it was built to aid in the cleanup of an abandoned industrial site. 

The amenities, which include sports fields, courts, picnic areas, and active recreation areas, make it ideal for families with children. Tanner Springs Park is the place to go if you want to have this kind of fun.

Things you can do at Tanner Springs Park

  • Enjoy nature’s beauty by strolling around one of Tanner Springs Park’s ponds. You can also go fishing if you want.
  • Wander through the park’s gardens, admiring the various types of plants and flowers.
  • Bring your kids to play on the playgrounds or eat at Bokey’s Fine Street Food.
  • Stop by Tanner Springs Park and watch an outdoor movie in the park’s amphitheater.
  • Play any type of game with your kids on the park’s sports field.
Tanner Springs Park

4. Mt. Tabor Park

Mt. Tabor Park, the city’s second-best park, offers views of Hawthorne Boulevard from an extinguished volcano cone and is a popular spot for ‘Concerts in the Parks’. Its summit provides an impressive view of the cityscape, making it one of Portland’s most romantic spots.

Today, this park is a popular tourist destination with something for everyone. Don’t hesitate to visit if you’re looking for a great place to spend a day outdoors and give your body a quick workout!

Things you can do at Mt. Tabor Park

  • Take in a breathtaking view of Portland’s skyline. Numerous hiking trails meander through the park, making it a great place to go for a hike.
  • Take your children to the ‘Children’s Playground’. You will have a great time with them as they have a lot of swings, slides, and climbing apparatus. It’s one of the park’s most popular attractions.
  • Enjoy a picnic with your family. The park has a picnic area that is ideal for this activity, with plenty of tables and benches.
  • Bring your four-legged friends with you when you visit, as Mt. Tabor Park has an off-leash area. This section of the park is ideal for dogs to have fun.
  • Consider visiting one of the gardens near the Lower Summit Area. This section of the park is at the bottom of Mt. Tabor, with a winding walking trail leading to Council Crest Park.

5. Council Crest Park

Council Crest Park is located at the highest point in Portland’s West Hills. This is one of those spots where you can get a great view of the city without climbing any tall buildings. 

The Oregon Zoo, located in Council Crest Park, is one of the best zoos in Oregon. This park is also ideal for a bike ride.

Also, don’t forget to bring your camera and take amazing photos of the spectacular views!

Things you can do at Council Crest Park

  • A breathtaking view of Mount Hood and the Cascade Mountains can be seen from there. It’s truly a must-see work of art from nature. 
  • Visit the Oregon Zoo. This zoo has around 300 animals and is one of the best in America. It has everything from elephants to giraffes, so you’re bound to find something you enjoy.
  • Play and have fun at their playground. There are numerous activities for you and your children to enjoy, so don’t forget to visit that section of the park.
  • Attend a performance at Council Crest Park’s amphitheater. There are often different events going on here, so check the schedule to see what’s going on.
  • Cycling is also a great activity in Council Crest Park. You can explore a variety of trails in this area.

6. Laurelhurst Park

Laurelhurst Park is a beautiful, clean park with tall trees, lush green grassy hills, park benches/tables, and a lovely duck pond. It’s on SE Division Street, between Bybee and Hawthorne Boulevards. 

Along with playing fields, a playground, tennis courts, basketball courts, and a swimming pool, the park also has a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and the Laurelhurst Clubhouse.

Let your hair run free as you engage in various activities. You can worry about your hairdo later!

Things you can do at Laurelhurst Park

  • Fishing is permitted in the park on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from sunrise to 11 a.m. However, before you go, make sure to obtain fishing permits.
  • Visit the Laurelhurst Clubhouse. There is a restaurant there with stunning lake views. Year-round, the clubhouse is open for lunch Monday through Friday.
  • You can go cycling in the park. However, the lawn is off-limits to bicycles.
  • Watch a movie in the park. Every Friday night during the summer, there is a free family movie event.
Laurelhurst Park

7. Rocky Butte

The Rocky Butte Natural Area is part of Portland’s Northeast district. If you’re looking for exciting outdoor activities, this is the place to go. 

You can run, hike, or drive up to the top, looking for panoramic views of the city to the west and the mountains to the east. The park (technically named Joseph Wood Hill Park) isn’t particularly large, but there’s plenty of space for a picnic or a game of catch.

Things you can do at Rocky Butte

  • Hiking is definitely possible here. This area’s hiking trails provide some of the best views in Portland.
  • If you enjoy photography or nature, this is an excellent location for you. Take out your camera and capture the best views Rocky Butte has to offer.
  • If hiking isn’t your thing but you still want to do something fun at Rocky Butte, check out Sunset Vista. You can have a picnic there while admiring the breathtaking views.
  • There’s also an amphitheater where you can watch movies that are shown during the summer.

8. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge

This 163-acre park has numerous trails for birders and nature enthusiasts to explore the city’s wetlands and meadows. The Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a great place to go for an afternoon stroll or just to stop and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

If you’re lucky, you might even see a beaver. As one of the city’s best-kept secrets, this park has something to offer everyone. There are plenty of activities available here.

Things you can do at Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge 

  • You can see the beavers at work every Saturday morning from January to March.
  • Learn more about the animals that live at the refuge by participating in “Wildlife Talk,” which takes place every other Saturday afternoon.
  • Participate in bird walks to learn about the various bird species that live in the refuge.
  • Volunteer to help out at the refuge.
  • Enjoy activities and entertainment whenever the refuge hosts family fun days.

9. Powell Butte

One of the best and largest parks on the east side, with more than 500 acres of green space and trails that go all the way to the top of the butte. Although Powell Butte is a little bit farther from the city center, it makes for a convenient pit stop if you’re in the area or returning to the city.

Powell Butte is a fantastic park to visit with your family if you’re in Portland. Whether you decide to visit a nature center or go on a hike, there are plenty of opportunities for family bonding.

Things you can do at Powell Butte

  • The trails available at the top of the butte, which offer breathtaking views in all directions, allow for hiking in this park. If your dog is on a leash, you can take them along.
  • Participate in the park’s annual Winter Festival, which includes live music and entertainment, family-friendly activities, and food booths. It is completely free, so it is unquestionably a go-go.
  • Go on a picnic as there are several picnic areas with playgrounds available in the area.
  • Take in the scenery. The park has an observation deck at the top of the butte with great views of Portland.
Powell Butte

10. Washington Park

This park, which is located in Northeast Portland, is the ideal place for locals to unwind for the day. There is no better way to spend a day than taking in the breathtaking scenery since it was created with nature enthusiasts in mind.

You should be aware that there are many amenities in the park that will keep you entertained. You can even eat at the zoo’s restaurant if you’re hungry.

Things you can do at Washington Park

  • Visit the gardens, particularly the Japanese Garden, which is the park’s main draw.
  • You can watch or participate in a game at the park’s sports facilities (athletics track, soccer fields, and tennis courts)
  • Bring your child to one of the park’s inclusive playgrounds, which are built for kids of all abilities.
  • Take advantage of the fact that this park has some of Oregon’s cleanest water by swimming in it.

11. Pier Park

Pier Park is located in the St. Johns neighborhood. It’s the best in the city when it comes to free disc-golf courses. 

Don’t be fooled by the name; it’s not on the water, and there’s no pier to speak of. The park was named after Stanhope S. Pier, a popular city commissioner and a mayor who worked to expand the city’s park system in the 1920s and 1930s.

Things you can do at Pier Park

  • Go for a hike on the Pier Park loop hike.
  • Swim in the community pool available here or skate at the park’s 85 acres of open space.
  • Enjoy the frisbee golf courses with your friends.

12. Peninsula Park

This is your best alternative if you can’t visit the International Rose Test Gardens. 

The most well-known attraction in Peninsula Park is the smaller (but no less impressive) rose gardens, which were the first official rose gardens in the city. There are over 800 rose bushes and over 100 different varieties of roses in the garden.

Things you can do at Peninsula Park

  • Join the North Portland Sunday Parkways, a series of free neighborhood bike rides that take place in this park throughout the year.
  • Peninsula Park hosts a free, family-friendly movie series. The movies are shown on a large screen outside, and popcorn and other refreshments are available for purchase.
  • Sing along with the Peninsula Park free concert series. It features live music from a variety of genres performed by local talent.
Peninsula Park

13. Tryon Creek State Natural Area

Tryon Creek State Natural Area provides visitors with an escape from the city and is accessible to people of all ages. 

The state park has over 2,000 acres of land and numerous trails for hikers to enjoy nature’s beauty. But there is so much more to do if you come here.

Things you can do at Tryon Creek State Natural Area

  • You can, of course, go for a hike. The Beaver Creek Trail, which features views of two waterfalls and wildlife, is one of the most popular hiking routes in the area.
  • When you visit the Nature Center, you can learn about the plants and animals that live in Tryon Creek State Natural Area.
  • Buy a book from the Visitor Center’s onsite bookstore.
  • Picnic with your friends and choose from plenty of areas with tables and grills.

14. Mills End Park

The area known as Mill Ends, which is in the middle of a busy city between Southwest Taylor Street and Park Avenue, has long been a favorite of both tourists and residents. 

Despite being the smallest park in the world, Mills End Park is well known for playing a significant role in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Things you can do at Mills End Park

  • Join the party at this park every St. Patrick’s Day as the leprechaun statue there is dressed up in green.
  • Take a walk either by yourself or with someone special, and enjoy the park.
  • Have a picnic with your family and friends.

15. The South Park Blocks

The South Park Blocks are three blocks in downtown Portland, Oregon, and are essentially one long park. The first block contains an outdoor amphitheater that hosts numerous concerts. 

The Oregon Historical Society Museum and a small children’s amusement park are located on the second block. The third block is filled with food carts and restaurants with open-air seating.

Things you can do at The South Park Blocks

  • See all the exciting places at the South Park Blocks such as the Outdoor Amphitheater, Portland Saturday Market, Oregon Historical Society Museum, Portland Children’s Museum, etc.
  • Participate in the events the park hosts.
  • Grab a bite at one of the restaurants with outdoor seating that surround the South Park Blocks.
  • Shop around at the local boutiques in the area.

Have you been to one of these parks in Portland? We’d love to hear your thoughts on our top picks!

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