If you’re in search of the best parks in Portland then you’re in the right place.
I never fully appreciated Portland’s greenery until I started traveling to other cities only to notice a lack of trees.
Little did I know how fortunate I was to grow up in a city with more than 279 parks!
With so many parks to choose from, it’s hard to go wrong. But if you find yourself looking for the absolute best viewpoint, or merely a spectacular picnic spot, I’d like to share my personal list of the best parks in Portland.
Fun fact: Did you know that Portland is home to both the smallest park in the world (Mill Ends Park) and the largest urban park in the United States? Read on to learn more, I hope you enjoy!
Quick tip before we start: Remember that you + sunscreen = best friends (forever). So remember to pack it before you leave the house. Here’s the only sunscreen I use.
Best Parks in Portland
#12. Council Crest Park
Allow me to share my ignorance for a second – it took me way too long to visit Council Crest Park. What was I thinking? If you’re looking for a park with great mountain views, look no further than Council Crest.
At 1,073 feet, Council Crest is the highest point in Portland, so you can bet the views from this park are glorious (especially during sunset).
You’ll see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and even Mt. Rainier.
So if I may offer some advice, head to the park for sunset as soon as you see a clear day in the forecast. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
Grab a picnic blanket and a good friend and make an entire evening of it. We saw so many couples picnicking on the lawn. Not only is it romantic but it may restore your faith in humanity, even if only for a second.
Further Reading: 10 Jaw-Dropping Viewpoints in Portland
#11. Fields Park
Fields Park is located in the lively Pearl District, a neighborhood that perfectly blends modern design while still exuding a relaxing Portland vibe.
This Portland park is a great place to spend a weekday morning catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee from Ovation & Tea.
Grab a delicious brew and plop down on a bench or spread out in the lawn.
Just know that the the lawn is an off-leash dog park, so you’re bound to see many cute pups during your visit.
It’s not uncommon for folks to picnic in the lawn and find themselves interrupted every few minutes by an excited dog.
Two-legged kids are not forgotten — there’s a great new children’s playground as well, tag the family along!
#10. Overlook Park
Overlook Park is absolutely lovely, especially on a crisp fall day. A patch of grass is shaded by a handful of trees, enticing visitors to linger with friends while lounging on picnic baskets and watching the sunset.
I suggest following suit during a warm summer night because the views of Portland are spectacular. You’ll get unparalleled views of the Fremont Bridge, which is especially beautiful at sunset.
There’s plenty of great restaurants nearby, if you’d like to swing by for a bite after the sun sets. Here’s a mini-guide on N Mississippi Avenue.
#9. Tanner Springs Park
Tanner Springs Park is yet another park in the heart of the trendy Pearl District. The park is comprised of 368 railroad tracks and includes 99 pieces of specially-made fused glass.
But all that pales in comparison to the healthy population of Koi fish swimming below.
This is one of the more artsy parks in Portland and speaks to our pride in recycling and caring for the planet.
I sitting down and watching the random jumble of folks that pass through, especially the kids mesmerized by the Koi fish below.
Local’s Tip: Grab a delicious cup of coffee from Sister Cafe and stroll around the neighborhood, you’re sure to find something interesting. Lovejoy Bakery is a great option if you’re hungry.
#8. Peninsula Park
If you’re looking for an iconic Portland park to visit then Peninsula Park will fit the bill. Unlike most of the other Portland parks mentioned on this list, Peninsula Park is “formally designed” 16-acre park (typical of the 1900’s).
In fact, the first time I saw Peninsula Park, I was taken aback by the layout — it reminded me of carefully manicured gardens I’ve toured in Europe.
Layout aside, this Portland park is full of firsts — the city’s first community center, public rose garden and is home to Portland’s second oldest playground.
So grab a comfortable blanket and your favorite novel, find a shady tree and relax the afternoon away.
Try to visit Peninsula Park when the roses are at peak bloom (June-July). It’s one of the best places in Portland for roses. Peninsula Park have more than 5,000 rose bushes and boasts over 60 varieties of roses!
#7. Pittock Mansion Park
Pittock Mansion Park has the best view of downtown Portland, so it should come as no surprise that this Portland park is swarmed with locals and tourists alike during the summer and fall months. The views are worth the crowds though, trust me!
The park’s high elevation makes it an ideal spot to catch a great view of Mt. Hood on a clear day. There’s four picnic tables at the viewpoints, so bring a snack and enjoy your time.
You may also notice a lot of hikers in the area, that’s because the trails surrounding Pittock Mansion are very popular.
#6. Laurelhurst Park
When my family first came to America, they moved into the neighborhood closest to Laurelhurst Park. I spent so many childhood evenings exploring the park, so of course it has a special place in my heart!
I also remember being amazed by the number of weddings in the park — every weekend newly married couples were taking photos! But I get it now, the park is stunning.
Fun fact: In February 2001 Laurelhurst Park was named to the National Register of Historic Places, the first city park ever listed on the national register.
#5. Cathedral Park
Cathedral Park’s claim to fame is the STUNNING (and photographic) St. John’s Bridge.
Can you imagine a better picnic spot in Portland? Considering how beautiful the area is, it may surprise you to learn that Cathedral Park was an afterthought — the park was constructed 50 years after the bridge was built!
If you’re looking for beautiful parks in Portland, it doesn’t get better than Cathedral Park.
Don’t miss: Cathedral Park hosts an annual jazz festival (dating back to 1981) — it’s the larges and oldest free blues and jazz festival west of the Mississippi.
#4. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is named after Oregon’s revered governor. The park swells with locals during lunch hour and you’ll be dodging bikers, walkers, skateboarders and love birds along the paved path.
All this to say, this is a great spot for people watching! Sit on a bench for a few minutes and watch the world go by — families on bikes, young couples walking hand-in-hand, runners, bikers and out of town tourists. So much fun to see the world in motion!
If you need to restore your faith in humanity, this Portland park might fit the bill.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is sections into five regions: The Esplanade, The Bowl, Salmon Street Springs, John Yeon Building and the Central Lawn.
Local’s Tip: Tom McCall Waterfront Park is the BEST spot for cherry blossoms in Portland, Oregon. Here’s PROOF.
#3. Forest Park
Portland’s Forest Park is the largest urban park in the United States. But that’s not all, my favorite part about Forest Park is the dark mystery that surrounds a structure nestled safely within the park — the infamous Witch’s Castle! Is it tied to a wicked past? See for yourself.
Bonus Points: During your visit, make sure to cross the Barbara Walker Crossing. It’s an award-winning new bridge that provides a safe pedestrian crossing over busy Burnside Street. Go during fall for spectacular color.
#2. Mt. Tabor Park
Portland is one of four American cities to have an extinct volcano within city limits. The culprit? Mount Tabor.
Since volcanoes sit at a higher elevation, they offer great vantage points of the beautiful city skyline. You can bet that Mt. Tabor Park has one of the best views of Portland.
Fret not, Mt. Tabor is a dormant volcano, so it’s all perks, no scare.
The area around the reservoirs is landscaped beautifully for public enjoyment – there’s plenty of green spaces, benches and hiking trails to choose from.
It’s hard to find a better spot for a summer picnic with friends. So pack your favorite picnic basket, or better yet, grab a pizza from Apizza Scholls (one of the best pizza places in Portland) and watch the sun fade over downtown Portland.
Local’s Tip: Pick up a pizza from Apizza Scholls and have a picnic in the park during sunset. Whenever I find myself doing so, it always reminds me why I love living in Portland so much.
P.S. If you’re curious, the other three cities in the United States that have extinct volcanoes are Bend, Oregon, Jackson, Mississippi and Honolulu.
#1. Washington Park
400 acres of unparalleled beauty with six cultural institutions tucked into the park boundary – what’s not to like? In terms of spring blooms and fall color, Washington Park is hard to beat.
As a Portland local, I can confidently say that Washington Park takes the cake as the BEST park in Portland. I’ve visited the park well over 50 times and I still find myself amazed by the beauty!
Fun fact: The rose garden at Washington Park is the oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States. How cool is that? To read more on the history, check out this post.
Best Parks in Portland Oregon (Post Summary)
In sum, these are the best parks in Portland, Oregon based on firsthand experience.
- Washington Park
- Mt. Tabor Park
- Forest Park
- Tom McCall Waterfront Park
- Cathedral Park
- Laurelhurst Park
- Pittock Mansion Park
- Penninsula Park
- Tanner Spring Park
- Overlook Park
- Fields Park
- Council Crest Park
Map of the best Portland parks
And there you have it my friends – a quick roundup of the best parks in Portland, Oregon. I hope you enjoyed the post!
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Until next time,