If you’re in search of the best parks in Portland then you’re in the right place.
As a lifelong local, 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!
The best part? Portland doesn’t fall victim to the folly of quantity over quality — Portland constantly ranks as one of the top 10 best cities in the country for green spaces.
Since I’ve lived here by entire life, I’ve had an opportunity to accumulate a personal list of the best parks in Portland. Because let’s face it, not all parks are created equal.
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
#13. Powell Butte
Powell Butte is located in Southeast Portland and is worth the drive from downtown, especially if you need an escape from the city.
As if the panoramic mountain views weren’t enough, the nature is spectacular. In terms of hiking, this is one of the best parks in Portland for nature trails.
So bring a pair of hiking shoes and come during sunset for a spectacular and colorful display of Mt. Hood on a clear day.
Local’s Tip: Parking at Powell Butte is a bear. Swing by during weekdays or early in the morning to avoid crowds.
#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 covers one city block but feels bigger in size thanks to the greenery and koi pond.
Likewise, you’ll see that the park is comprised of 368 railroad tracks and includes 99 pieces of specially-made fused glass. This is one of the more artsy parks in Portland and speaks to our pride in recycling and caring for the planet.
I enjoy sitting down and watching the random jumble of folks that pass through, especially the kids mesmerized by the Koi fish.
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
Peninsula Park is a formally-designed 16-acre park best known for the 5,000 roses that hit peak bloom between July and August (one of the best places to see roses in Portland). In fact, the rose garden at Peninsula Park is older than the International Rose Test Garden.
The layout of the park is unique for Portland and more reminiscent of European parks. But let me tell you, when the fragrant roses hit peak bloom you wouldn’t want it designed any other way — the park’s glory is on full display!
Likewise, this beautiful 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
In a lot of ways, Laurelhurst Park feels like Portland’s living room. On warm days you’re bound to find locals walking the paved paths, picnicking in the lawns, throwing a frisbee or enjoying the playground.
This Portland park is where everyone comes together to enjoy the beautiful nature in Portland and the fact that the park is located in one of the best neighborhoods in Portland doesn’t hurt either — there’s a plethora of great restaurants nearby!
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 has two claims to fame: The stunning St. Johns Bridge and the epic (FREE) jazz festival held every July.
Even if you can’t make it for the jazz festival, don’t miss an opportunity to have a picnic under this iconic bridge while watching the sun go down.
I mean, can you imagine a better picnic spot in Portland? Considering how beautiful the area is, it may surprise you to learn that the actual park was an afterthought — it was constructed 50 years after the bridge was built.
Today, this is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Portland and it’s inevitable that you’ll run into photographers practically every weekend of the year.
Also, since Cathedral Park isn’t located in the heart of downtown, it offers a peaceful escape from the bustle of the city. Hard not to like that!
Don’t miss: Cathedral Park’s annual jazz festival dates back to 1981 and is the larges tand 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 it’s inevitable that you’ll be dodging bikers, walkers, skateboarders and young couples walking hand-in-hand.
The park hugs the Willamette River and spans from the Steel Bridge to the Hawthorne Bridge. There’s a plethora of benches peppered along the path, so sit on a bench for a few minutes and watch the world go.
In October 2012, Waterfront Park was voted one of America’s ten greatest public spaces by the American Planning Association.
Local’s Tip: Tom McCall Waterfront Park is the BEST spot for cherry blossoms in Portland, Oregon. Here’s PROOF.
#3. Forest Park
Portlanders take outdoor recreation seriously and nowhere is this more evident than the busy trailheads at Forest Park, one of the best parks in Portland for hiking.
Spanning more than 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the country. With more than 70+ miles of trails, you’re bound to find a trail you love.
If you need a starting point, I highly recommend hiking the Lower Macleay Park to Pittock Mansion trail so that you can spot the iconic Witch’s Castle. It’s beloved by locals for its fascinating (and haunting) past, read more.
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
Sitting atop an (extinct) volcano, Mt. Tabor Park offers one of the best views of Portland. This is a great spot to bike, hike or simply enjoy a sunset picnic amidst other locals.
This lively park is beloved by visitors and locals alike and an argument can be made that it’s the best park in SE Portland by a mile.
Get your heart pumping by hiking to the top of the water reservoir before plopping down with your picnic basket and best friend in tow for a relaxing evening.
Local’s Tip: You’re only a stone’s throw from Apizza Scholls, the BEST pizza in Portland — swing by!
#1. Washington Park
Washington Park is often considered the crown jewel of Portland’s robust park system and it’s not hard to see why.
The breathtaking park spans 400 acres and houses six cultural institutions — like the beloved International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Oregon Zoo and Hoyt Arboretum.
You can easily spend an entire day hiking the trails or popping off at the various institutions for a quick bite.
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,
What do you think?