Here Comes the Sun (Doot n do doo)
It’s happening. Finally! If you live in Portland, then you know what I’m talking about. Spring is on its way. Sure, we’re still having plenty of blustery days, some rainy spells, and a few outright gloomy mornings, but every now and then, we’re getting beautiful weather – the kind of weather that reminds you that spring in Portland is a most beautiful thing.
And what better place to celebrate the coming of the Vernal Equinox than one of the Portland’s many breathtaking neighborhood parks? Let’s take a tour of some of the best parks around, from the well-known to the hidden gems.
When driving past Creston Park on SE Powell Blvd, it’s easy to miss it. That’s because it’s quite a ways below the busy street, and the main entrance is tucked away on SE Francis Street. If you’re feeling stressed out, this dog-friendly green space is just what the doctor ordered.
There’s an expansive knoll where you can frolic with Fido, a criminally underutilized tennis court, and a modest but fun playground your youngsters will love. When school’s out at nearby Creston School, you can practice your moves on the basketball court. And don’t forget about the pool. Come summer, it’ll be the most happening place in the neighborhood.
If you’ve never been to Laurelhurst Park, then you’re seriously missing out. This lauded and long-standing (since 1912) public space has it all: basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, a playground, a dog park, a horseshoe pit, and a stage.
There’s also a gorgeous duck pond, plenty of picturesque walking paths, and a canopy of stunning, old-growth fir trees. Be sure to check out the summer programming on offer in the park when the weather turns – it’s pretty stellar entertainment under the stars!
Clackamas Aquatic Park
OK, so it’s not what you might typically picture when you think of the word “park,” and it’s a bit of a drive if you live near the city center. But it’s a trip worth taking, especially when you need to beat the heat. At the Clackamas Aquatic Park, you’ll find several thrilling waterslides, a climbing wall, and an honest-to-goodness wave pool, just like you’d see at a big water park (only this one’s in miniature).
Yes, we know. Everyone knows about Forest Park. But it’s big enough for everyone, so that’s OK. Just how big is it? Well, to give you some idea, back in 2004, Portland police discovered a man and his daughter living in the park, and they had been there for four years.
It’s basically like a huge forest in the middle of Portland. Wildlife enthusiasts hankering for a short-notice great outdoors escape need look no further. The park is home to more than 170 animal species, including elk, bobcats, flying squirrels, owls, and salamanders. There are also more than four miles of trails to explore, each with its own special charms.
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Just around the corner from Portland’s famed Reed College, you’ll find the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Really, it’s a beautiful place anytime of year, but spring here is especially magical, naturally. That’s when the rhodies are in full bloom. Breathe deep. Fill your lungs with that intoxicating aroma. Go for a stroll around the duck pond, but don’t get too close to the geese. Those things do not mess around!
Other Amazing Parks and Green Spaces in Portland
As recommended by our fantastic team of agents!
Ray Massini - Forest Park is my favorite park in the city. The amount of green space, old growth trees, hiking/running trails and the fresh air. Plus the actual size of it is impressive to be within the city.
Elizabeth Wren Shiffler - Fernhill (in NE) and Creston-Kenilworth (in SE) are my favorite off-leash dog parks on the East side. They both have many other wonderful attributes, as well. Great for families, picnics, and dogs!
Denise Wolfe - Mt. Tabor!
Haley Overton - I love Chimney Park dog park in NoPo. It's fully fenced and offers a very large area for dogs to play, chase balls, etc. It's also accessible by the beautiful Pier Park, so you can take a stroll on their walking paths as well.
Annie Rose Shapero - Not exactly a park, but the Lone Fir Cemetery. Great old growth redwoods, creepy old graves, history, epic engraved new gravestones. Win!
Liz Getty - Laurelhurst! Olmstead - reminds me of home - Louisville also had an Olmstead designed park as well! (Knowing him and loving his parks was also was one of the little tidbits of "sharing" that helped me sway the owner to lower his price and sell me the lizard back in 09! He was an Olmstead fan, and makes mosaic art around town!)
Holly Burton - Laurelhurst and Irving, both beautiful and well used city parks. Colonel Summers, where all the cool kids hang out in the summertime. Grant Park, center of the universe for NE Portland kids. But Forest Park is the grandmama of them all, a real gem.
Rachel Freed - Elk Rock Garden at Bishop's Close, 11800 SW Military Lane in Dunthorpe is the loveliest, most relaxing place to spend time. It was created by Peter Kerr, a Scott who came to Portland in 1898. The 13-acre parcel sits on the cliffs above the Willamette River. A Scottish Manor House sits in the center of the English-style gardens that cover 3.3 acres of the property.
Munir Henry - I love Grant Park, especially with kids! It's got a nice large play structure, picnic tables, benches where you can sit and watch the kids, and a great water feature for those hot summer days. And the best part is that, even though it's a big park, it's in a safe neighborhood, so I don't feel like I have to know exactly where my kid is every second.
Spring Has Sprung!
Yeah, we know. It won’t officially be spring until Sunday, March 20th but, in Portland, the real beginning of spring is the day we can take a walk in a T-shirt without having to throw on a hoodie.
[Photos Via: Forest Park Conservance; Yelp; The Intertwine]