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What are the best things to do in Arlington Heights in Portland

What are the best things to do in Arlington Heights in Portland?

As locals, let us tell you a secret: if you know where to look, the city of Portland can quickly transform from a vibrant city to a nature-filled haven! 

This is especially true if you pass by Arlington Heights. It’s one of the best places to experience wildlife because of the dense populations of parks in the area tucked away in unsuspected places. 

Want to know more? Read on to see what you can do in Arlington Heights and make a day out of it! 

1. See the animals at the Oregon Zoo

Image from Oregon Zoo
ADDRESS4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-226-1561
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 9:30 AM – 5:30 PM 
PRICEAdult (12 and up): $24Child (2–11): $19Infant (under 2): Free

One of the best things to do in Arlington Heights is to go to the Oregon Zoo. 

Oregon Zoo is just one of the many zoos out there that truly care about the animals’ welfare. In fact, they have several conservation and education programs that educate the masses, making a bigger impact on larger scales. 

The zoo stands on 64 acres of land, so there’s plenty of room for discovery. 

The animals you can find here are Amur tigers, American Black Bear, Polar Bears, Red Pandas, and much much more. If we were to enumerate each one, we’d run out of space! 

They’ve also categorized the area into several habitats. Again, there’s plenty to see so we’re just going to tell you about our top 3 favorites – the African Forest Aviary, the Penguinarium, and the Polar Passage. 

  • The African Forest Aviary consists of species that are African and Old World native. We love going here because the colorful flamingos are an eye-catcher – they stand out from the sea of greens and browns. Other animals you can spot are the Hadada Ibis and the White-faced Whistling Duck. 
  • We recommend the Penguinarium because seriously, who doesn’t like admiring cute Penguins? At the Penguinarium you’ll be able to see them dive into the waters, just like what they do at the Peru and Chile coast. You’ll also be able to see them waddle through walkways. 
  • The Polar Passage gives you a glimpse of the arctic as Polar Bears enjoy the snow and take a dip at the pools. 

At each of the habitats, there are educational signs on how to better preserve them. They also  further teach the masses on the importance of preserving wildlife to the environment. 

The zoo does a lot of proactive efforts, which you can help with by giving it a visit. 

Pro tips:
Expect to stay around 3 to 4 hours, especially if it’s your first time. However, if you’ve been here before, 2 hours might be good enough. 
There’s a great place nearby called Thai Bloom that we can’t help but recommend. We love their Crab Pad Thai the most. We love their curry options too, but we haven’t tried them all. However, we suggest you try the Panang Curry. It’s just an 8-minute drive, so it’s not much of a detour! Know how to get there via Google Maps

2. Achieve mindfulness at the Portland Japanese Garden 

Image from Portland Japanese Garden
ADDRESS611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-223-1321
OPERATING HOURSMonday, Wednesday – Sunday 10 AM – 6 PMTuesday Closed
PRICEAdult: $21.95Senior (65+): $18.95Student (with ID): $17.95Youth (6-17): $15.95Child (5 and under): FreeMembers: Free

Who knew that in the middle of Portland, you can actually experience a piece of Japan?

Portland Japanese Garden is an oasis, an escape from the colorful city life for interested visitors. It transports you to a tranquil space that can help ease your mind when you need to ponder life and meditate to achieve mindfulness. 

Since we are creatures of habit, most of us already have routines we follow religiously. Because of this, we don’t even notice that most of the time, we do our tasks mindlessly. 

We find that this garden is the perfect place to reset that programming and just be present. 

There are a lot of things to see in the garden, but for this article, we’ll suggest two of our favorite spots! This is so you’ll also know what to look out for. 

  • The Strolling Pond Garden is the largest garden here. The moon bridge and the heavenly falls after the zigzag bridge are the most popular sights. 
  • As you can tell from the name, the Tea Garden is built around the tea house in the Portland Japanese Garden. It’s a great spot for an authentic feel of a Japanese tea ceremony. 
Pro tip:
Since you’re already there, we suggest taking a break at the Umami Cafe after you see all the sights. We made it a habit to do this whenever we go to the Portland Japanese Garden. 
For light snacks, we recommend their Matcha and Hojicha brownies. Both are not too sweet, but they’re quite flavorful! Of course, you also have to try their Matcha drink especially if you want to know what an authentic one tastes like!

3. Explore wildlife at Hoyt Arboretum 

ADDRESS4000 SW Fairview Blvd, Portland, OR 
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-865-8733
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 5 AM – 10 PM 

Dubbed a living museum of trees, Hoyt Arboretum is another spot in Arlington Heights that makes it a Portland hub for wildlife and adventure. 

In the 12 miles of hiking trails, it’s possible to see up to 2,300 species of shrubs and trees! This includes 67 endangered and even rare species.

Locals go here to hike, jog, and attend classes. The latter is because Hoyt Arboretum pushes education to the masses by providing field trips, youth and family programs, guided tours, seasonal activities, and many more. 

If you have free time and want to work up a sweat or you just want to feel more grounded and connect to nature, going here will do you wonders!

Pro tips:
Do note that bikes are not allowed on the trails. If you want to grab a quick bite with delicious coffee after your excursion, we suggest going to Fehrenbacher Hof. Their breakfast sandwich is one of the most popular things on their menu, and rightly so. It’s so good and filling! For drinks, our favorite is the Honey Latte. 

4. International Rose Test Garden 

ADDRESS400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR
CONTACT DETAILS+1 503-823-3636
OPERATING HOURSMonday, Tuesday, Thursday – Sunday 5 AM – 10 PM Wednesday 10 AM – 10 PM

Another thing you shouldn’t miss when you’re in Arlington Heights is the International Rose Test Garden. 

It’s one of the places Portland is really proud of because as you know, Portland was once called the city of flowers. You could say it’s a landmark that displays the city’s identity!

It’s quite well-maintained and visitors flock to it to take photos and admire the flowers, of course. You know what they say, stop and smell the flowers – well, you can definitely do that here. 

There are more than 10,000 roses that bloom in this garden. Additionally, there are 610 rose varieties to be found. 

If you’re in the city during the right time, you will see the flowers paint the garden in vibrant colors! 

Pro tips:
We find that staying here for an hour is more than enough. However if you really want to take the time and appreciate the variety of roses as well as take a lot of photographs, we suggest planning for 2 hours. 
The best time to go here is from late May to October to see the roses in full bloom. 

5. Forest Park 

ADDRESS2960 NW Upshur Street
OPERATING HOURSMonday – Sunday 5 AM – 10 PM 

In Arlington Heights also rests this 5,200 acre park where locals usually go to walk the 80-mile trails. 

Moreover, there are also 25 miles of roads in Forest Park for those who want to cycle. This includes Saltzman Road, Leif Erikson Drive, Springville Road, and more. 

Forest park is also home to numerous wildlife and plant species, so naturally, this park is cared for by the city and many volunteers. 

The most common trail here is the Wildwood Trail. It runs for 30 miles from W Burnside Road to the south where a lot of popular areas are. 

This includes the Pittock Mansion, the Stone House, and the Balch Creek Canyon. So, if you want to make it a day of exploration, the Wildwood Trail is a great place to start. 

Pro tip:
Along the trails, you’ll be able to find the perfect spot to appreciate the view of St. Johns Bridge. 
You can bring your dog as long as they’re on a leash. 
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