10 Best and Most Stunning Parks in and around Portland, Oregon
By Meagan Shamy
Portland Local Expert
Oregon is known for its enchanting landscape and Portland parks stayed true to this by encompassing that beauty within all of their parks. Not only are Portland parks beutiful, but they are unique and most times quite large. The city of Portland has taken time into planning their parks and perfecting them. Even in areas of nothing but sky high buildings Portland has placed the most delightful parks. You could visit Portland and plan an entire trip just around the parks. All of the parks on this list are great for whole families. No matter what age you are or activity you seek Portland has a park just for you. Our park list will help you decide where to feed ducks, go biking, have a picnic, smell the roses, get wet, or just relax. We have included parks with fun water features, like Jamison Square in the Pearl District and parks with extra-large playgrounds like Washington Park next to downtown Portland. We've included parks that host large events like Tom McCall Water Front Park. We've included parks that have become iconic themselves like Forest Park. Portland even has the Springwater Corridor, a 21 mile paved trail one way that connects many of the parks in Portland and throughout the suburbs.
Forest Park is Portland's own enchanted forest. Forest Park is well known for being the largest urban forest in the country located within a city. Forest park encompasses more than 5000 acres full of dense trees, rivers, waterfalls, and bridges. It has more than 40 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Most trails are wide and well taken care of, making them good for runners and bicyclist. The park can be found on the eastern portion of the Northwest Hills and is only 10 minutes from downtown. Taking even a short hike through Forest Park allows you to truly appreciate Oregon's beauty. Deciding where exactly to enter can be confusing. McCleay Park at 29th and Upshire is a good place for entry. (503-823-7529)
Blue Lake Regional Park
Blue Lake Park is a large recreational park located in Fairview, OR less than twenty minutes from downtown Portland. There's a small admission fee of $5 per car to enter the park. Inside the park there's an exciting splash pad for kids that's open any time it's over 70 degrees. Near the spray ground is a sandy beach on the man-made lake, Blue Lake. A small section of the lake is marked off for swimming. This area is shallow, but only for those over the age of five. Sometimes there is a lifeguard on duty. Also found at Blue Lake Region park is playground, picnic tables, a Frisbee golf course, archery ranch, and a nature area. ((503) 665-4995)
The Springwater Corridor is a multiuse trail that runs from SE Ivan St. in Portland all the way to Boring, OR. The trail is currently 14.2 miles one way. The Springwater Corridor connects many parks including Tideman Johnson Nature Park, Beggars-tick Wildlife Refuge, the I-205 Bike Path, Leach Botanical Garden, Powell Butte Nature Park, and Gresham's Main City Park. These parks are the best places to access the trail. The entire trail is at least 10 feet wide and paved, making it ideal for walkers, joggers, bicycles, strollers, and wheelchairs. East of I-205 and at the end of the trail in Boring there are separate soft surface paths for equestrian use. (503-823-7529)
Director Park is a public piazza right in the heart of downtown Portland. This park sits on top of an underground parking garage. Here they have a large fountain feature that doubles as a splash pad for kids on hot days. Director Park offers free activities for all ages year round like concerts, art events, trivia nights, chess, plays, cooking, and more. It's a great place to spend your lunch break. They have plenty of sitting with chairs and tables sprinkled throughout the piazza. There is also concrete benches to sit on. Elephants Café has a location here that serves lunch and dinner.They also sell drinks and ice cream. (503-823-8087)
Jamison Square is an outdoor park in the Pearl District hidden among high rise condominiums. During the warm months kids can play in the tiered fountain that runs continuously. As the fountain runs it forms a shallow pool and then drains itself, recycles the water, and then starts forming the pool all over again. This makes the fountain safe for even young children to play in and clean. In the evenings they drain the fountain and have free concerts. Jamison Square has small tables and chairs available. It's a great place to have lunch or just relax and read a book (503-823-7529)
Laurelhurst Park is 31 acres near SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd and Stark Street, in the neighborhood of Laurelhurst. This park has a little bit of everything including a duck pond, dog area, basketball courts, picnic areas, playgrounds, horseshoe pits, walking paths, volleyball court, soccer fields, and tennis courts. The restrooms, picnic areas and playground are disabled accessible. This is a great place to take a walk, feed the ducks, or take the kids to play. Dog lovers enjoy this park because of the large off leash areas. Laurelhurst Park is also the home of Laurelhurst Studio which typically offers dance classes. (503-823-2525)
Arbor Lodge Park
Arbor Lodge Park in north Portland near N Bryant St & Delaware Ave includes accessible restroom, baseball field, dog off-leash area, horseshoe pit, paved paths, picnic tables, playground, soccer field, softball field, statue or public art, tennis court, a lighted tennis court, and universal access play area, Harper's playground. This nationally recognized playground is located within Arbor Lodge Park. Harper's Playground features include an elevated sand table with a water pump, a xylophone, climbing walls for ages 2-5 and a separate wall for 5-12 year olds, and a pair of universally-accessible adaptive swings. There are even ramps to ensure everyone can use the slide. (503-823-2525)
The Fields Neighborhood Park
The Fields Park is a 3.2 acre urban greenspace in the Pearl District part of Portland spilt into four segments: The Yard, the Dog Park, the Children's Playground, and the Dry Creek Garden. The playground has newer equipment for children to play on and a sand play area. There is a free public toilet next to the playground. The dog park has a fenced in playground with three foot high fences. The Yard is a large open space of grass where they have events like concerts and movie nights. Around the Yard is a soft walking path. The Dry Creek Garden boosts 100 trees. (503)
Washington Park is next to downtown Portland and home to one of the best playground in the city. This park offers residents and visitors 130 acres of lawns and gardens, with trails that connect to Forest Park and the Pittock Mansion. The park is also home to the Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, Vietnam Veteran's Memorial, International Rose Test Gardens, Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center and the Children's Museum. Additional park amenities include ball fields, lighted tennis courts, picnic areas, historical public statuary and fountains, a large and fully accessible children's playground, and the Rose Garden Store. Public restrooms are located at the Rose garden and the playground. (503-823-7529)
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Although Pioneer Courthouse Square and Powell's Books are often referred to as Portland's "living rooms," Tom McCall Park could also be named as such. Even in bad weather, a multitude of people congregate along the riverfront, and on nice days, families, bikers, bladers, and joggers all find a way to coexist peacefully. The park is also the site of many of the city's big events, including the Blues Festival, the Oregon Brewers Festival, and many events associated with the Rose Festival. It was under Governor McCall's leadership that Harbor Drive was demolished and replaced by this park in the mid-1970s. (503-823-7529)
About Meagan Shamy
Meagan Shamy is an Oregon resident by choice and thinks Portland is a tremendous city that everyone should visit. Originally a Texas girl. She has lived all around the United States, compliments of the US Air Force. After living in Texas, Mississippi, Oregon, Idaho, Florida, and Nevada, she chose to return to Portland, OR and make it home. Meagan graduated with a History and English degree from the University of Texas. Being a military wife has led her on adventures around the world, including two of her favorite places Honduras and Scotland. Her work can be found on several websites including 10Best.com and TravelingMom.com.
Read more about Meagan Shamy here.