You know all those lovely songs devoted to big cities in the springtime? Well, it seems like the City of Roses is mistakenly overlooked! But don’t let it fool you, after living here for 20+ years, Portland in the spring is as lovely as it gets.
Spring brings the promise of warmer (and longer) days, picnics in the park, bright Saturday mornings at an outdoor cafe and city streets adorned with blushing trees. It’s not hard to see why so many locals eagerly welcome spring in Portland with arms wide open.
Portland Spring (Weather)
Portland’s spring weather makes a subtle (and very welcome) entrance mid-March and lingers thru May. The average temperatures range from 55 to 65 and the famous adage of April showers holds true. Don your coziest fall sweater in the mornings and evenings until and you’ll fit right in.
Does it rain in Portland in the spring?
Yes, the spring season in Portland is pleasant, albeit wet — average rainfall is 2″ – 4″ per month. Regardless, Portlanders wait ALL year to get outside (nature is a big perk of living here), so you’ll find us outside come hell or high water (and at this point, I don’t know which is more likely).
Spring in Portland (Things to Do)
There’s no shortage of things to do in Portland any time of year, but spring adds an extra ounce of beauty the other seasons don’t compare with.
I mean, sure — fall is stunning, but I’ll take delicate flowers and spring blooms any day of the week! Plus, summer is just around the corner and winter feels ages away, does it get any better than that?
Read on for some great things to do in Portland in the spring.
#1. Chase the cherry blossoms at Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is beloved by both locals and visitors alike for good reason. To see the cherry blossoms, you will want to head toward the Steel Bridge. This area is technically called the “Japanese American Historical Plaza at Tom McCall Waterfront Park” but Portlanders simply call it Waterfront Park.
The 100 Akebono cherry trees that line the waterfront were gifted by the Japanese Grain Importers Association in 1990. This spot gets very busy during the spring season so make sure to go early if you want photos without crowds.
Take a lovely stroll along the Willamette River and take in the views of all the bridges that give Portland the unofficial title of Bridge City.
#2. Visit the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
If you dream of frolicking through never-ending fields of tulips, you can’t afford to miss the ultimate Portland in spring experience — the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival!
Every year, like clockwork, my husband and I make the 45-minute drive from Portland, Oregon and arrive at the doorstep of this beautiful farm.
To make the most of your visit, try to visit the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival during peak bloom. Exact peak times vary from year to year, but, generally speaking – the first few weeks of April are a safe bet.
#3. Stop and smell the roses
The Portland Rose Garden is not only the largest rose garden in America, but it’s also the longest running public rose garden in the country. This impressive garden houses 10,000+ rose bushes (over 650 varieties) and is completely free for the public to enjoy, so take advantage!
The history of the Portland Rose Garden is my favorite part of the visit, make sure to read about it here: Local’s Guide to the Portland Rose Garden
Portland Rose Garden Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
#4. Visit the Japanese Garden
Visiting Japan during sakura (cherry blossom season) is a bucket-list item on many traveler’s lists (for good reason). If you can’t make it to Japan this year, the Portland Japanese Garden is the next best thing!
Few know that Portland’s Japanese Garden is often referred to as one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan – reason alone to visit. This garden has something beautiful to offer every season of the year, but there’s something exceptionally beautiful about springtime.
#5. Explore the Saturday Market
Think crafty locals selling everything from birdhouses to paintings, food, jewelry and musical instruments. Visiting the Saturday Market is on most peoples to-do lists because it’s quintessential artsy Portland.
Address: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204. The Saturday Market is open Saturdays from 10 to 5 and Sundays from 11am to 4:30pm.
#6. Visit the PSU Farmers Market
Ah, one of my personal favorite ways to start a Saturday morning. Pick up some fresh fruits and veggies, stroll around aimlessly, or grab breakfast at the PSU Farmers Market (the Pine State Biscuit stand has a line a mile long for good reason). If nothing else, just go to explore!
This is yet another thing to do in Portland that reminds me of living a European lifestyle — picking up fresh, local and seasonal fruits and veggies to kickstart the week!
Address: 1803 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97201. The PSU Farmers Market is open every Saturday, rain or shine.
#7. Explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is lovely, especially during spring. You won’t find cherry blossoms here, but you will be impressed by blooming magnolias, orchids, daphne and camellias. Oh, but the indulgent spring fragrance of daphne is reason alone to visit!
Best time to visit: Early March
#8. Enjoy the Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden
The Crystal Spring Rhododendron Garden is a sight to behold and the spring season is when they really shine — the garden comes ALIVE with pops of color! There’s 7 acres for visitors to explore. The best time to visit is April and May, when the flowers hit peak bloom.
#9. Visit the Duniway Park Lilac Garden
The Duniway Park Lilac Garden is a lovely piece of Portland in the spring because it’s tucked into a serene green space that completely removes you from the hustle and bustle of the city.
This is a local gem that is seldom shared. Lilacs remind me of my mom, so this garden has a very special place in my heart.
This lilac garden has 225 lilac plants with more than 125 varieties. One clear standout is the large Japanese Lilac Tree that blooms in June.
Best time to visit for lilacs: Late April to early May
#10. Take a hike!
What better way to enjoy spring in Portland than up close and personal with a hike? Head toward Forest Park (the largest urban park in America) and pick from any of the 80+ miles of trails.
Did you know that Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the country? Oh Portland, at this point I have to ask — who are you trying so hard to impress? I’m hooked enough as it is!
Or, if you’d prefer another option — I suggest hiking at Hoyt Arboretum. The varieties of spring blooms at Hoyt Arboretum include Shogetsu and Shirofugen cherry trees. Since they bloom later in the season than other blossom trees, the best time to visit is mid-April!
#11. Picnic at Mt. Tabor Park
Here’s a cool fact, Portland is one of only two American cities with an extinct volcano within city limits. The view of downtown Portland from Mt. Tabor is incredible, especially during the spring (and summer) months.
Grab some friends and bike over to Mt. Tabor for a picnic during the warm summer months. Or pick up a pizza from Apizza Scholls, considered one of the best pizza places in Portland.
#12. Go wine tasting at the Gorge
Does it require a 45-minute drive? Sure. Is it worth it? Absolutely! I must admit, it took my far too long to discover the magical world of Oregon wines but now I’m hooked. In fact, during the summer of 2020, my husband and I made an effort to visit all the wineries in Hood River.
The result? This quick list of the 10 best wineries in Hood River.
But back to wine — there’s nothing better than sipping away all stress and responsibility with a chilled glass of chardonnay on a Saturday afternoon in the springtime.
That’s why I can’t recommend a day trip to the wineries of the Columbia River Gorge enough — you’re going to love it.
#13. Go whale watching at the Oregon Coast
The Oregon coast is renowned for whale watching year-round, but the winter and spring months is when these beauties really shine. Visiting in late March will increase your chance of seeing whales.
Spring in Portland (Summary)
- Cherry blossoms at Tom McCall Waterfront Park
- Visit the Portland Japanese Garden
- Visit the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
- Explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Hit the trails!
- Smell the roses at the Rose Garden
- Explore the Duniway Park Lilac Garden
- Visit the PSU Farmers Market
- Visit the Portland Saturday Market
- Picnic at Mt. Tabor Park
- Visit the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
- Visit a winery in the Columbia River Gorge
- Go whale watching at the coast
And there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this quick list of things you can do in (and near) Portland in the spring. Feel free to reach out with questions!
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Until next time,
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