Day 1 You'll See:
Day 2 You'll See:
Portland is known for a lot of things, such as gorgeous mountain and forest-filled scenery, great coffee and downtown cafe vibes, and an amazing selection of public parks. On this 2 day tour we will show you all the best and most iconic park spots, each and every one perfect for people watching, sightseeing, culture immersion, and, of course, picnics!
Pioneer Courthouse Square - What better way to start your big Portland adventure than at Portland’s living room, aka Pioneer Courthouse Square. This spot is the city’s premiere public park, one of the most successful public spaces in the entire U.S. Known to be the world’s fourth best public square, this beloved urban park hosts over 300 different programmed event days each year, both truly impressive feats. The square itself first opened in 1984, a living homage to the Portland courthouse from 1875. You and your group can spend your time here exploring the food carts, outdoor art, impressive fountains, and sidewalk vendors, as well as the Visitor Information Center, KGW HD Studio on the Square, Theater, Pink Trolley, or famous Spellbound Flower Dutch Cargo Bike. If you are lucky you may just be here during any of the several scheduled events, with choices such as the Holiday Ale Fest, Portland Artisan Festival, or the Lights on the Mall festival.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park - Another Portland downtown staple is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is the perfect spot to people watch and catch a great view of the Willamette River, as well as take a rest and have a scenic picnic lunch. Named in honor of Governor Tom McCall, this gorgeous 36-acre park was created in hopes of making one really excellent public gathering spot, green space, and river walk, a feat that has successfully been done since 1978. At this park, you can walk the trails, bike, skate, picnic, fly kites, and partake in several other outdoor recreational activities, as well as explore the Esplanade, Bowl, Salmon Street Springs, and Central Lawn. Before you go make sure you go check out the historic Battleship Oregon Memorial, buried time capsule from 1976, or the sobering Japanese American Historical Plaza. The best part of this spot? The 185 water jet fountain that sits as the park's centerpiece.
Forest Park - Keep going on your trek through the best Portland Parks with a stop at Forest Park, one of the country’s absolute largest urban forest reserves available for public use. With over 5,100 acres, this mostly second growth forest will provide your group with over 70 miles of recreational trails and over 8 miles of scenic hillsides overlooking the gorgeous Willamette River. Sitting among the Tualatin Mountains just west of downtown, this park places a great deal of importance on conservation and recreation, aiming to protect wildlife and watershed health. You can spot over 112 bird species, 62 mammal species, ride horseback, bicycle, fish, hike, or just stroll along and take some really great photos (just be sure to wear your best hiking boots). While here check out the onsite information about Lewis and Clark and the Olmstead brothers, as well as the park’s philosophy of “protect, restore, inspire”.
Portland Japanese Garden - End your evening seeing just exactly how diverse and gorgeous the local landscape really is, and really can be, then you need to head over to the highly celebrated Portland Japanese Garden. This 5.5-acre garden holds 5 different distinct garden sections within, each representing peace, harmony, and tranquility, an authentic Japanese cultural practice. Walk through and explore the Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, Natural Garden, or Flat Garden, or perhaps just sign up for a docent-led Garden Tour or guest lecture. You will notice that stone is an essential element in the garden, every section dotted with pagodas, bridges, arbors, and stone lanterns. Most designs you will see are asymmetrical, reflecting nature in its most idealized form as is valued in Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. This is the perfect way to admire nature and experience a new culture all at once, especially when the sun is going down!
Washington Park - Wake up to Washington Park, the 410-acre Portland public urban park first established in 1909. This massive public park holds several different popular attractions within its boundaries, such as the Forestry Museum, International Test Rose Garden, Children’s Museum, Arboretum, Japanese Garden, Amphitheater, and Oregon Zoo, as well as several great eateries and picnic spots for breakfast. Before you make your choice on where you want to spend more time while here, you and your group can explore the actual park, filled with various memorials, soccer fields, archery ranges, tennis courts, and public art. There are acres of wild forest, nature trail, scenic vistas of the surrounding wooded hillsides, and even the iconic Chiming Fountain. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes while here and take advantage of the free park shuttle to get to your next destination, it’s extremely convenient!
Hoyt Arboretum - To continue with the parks theme your next stop will be the Hoyt Arboretum, the ‘tree park’ located within the boundaries of Washington Park. This wooded wonderland was established in 1928, founded by a collection of timber industry representatives, the U.S Forest Service, and Portland Parks and Rec. There are over 6,000 species of trees and shrubs from around the world within this arboretum, altogether representing over 2,000 species (65 being vulnerable/endangered). This entire space is a living laboratory, a beautiful place to enjoy local nature. Stop by the Visitor Center to learn more details about the trees, or perhaps just hike any of the 12 miles of trails, meadows, or picnic areas throughout the park and see them all for yourself. You will probably want your camera for this stop, and you’ll definitely want comfortable shoes!
Oregon Zoo - Also within Washington Park is the Oregon Zoo, the 64-acre zoo that features several different award-winning exhibits, summer concerts, and special events. Inside this zoo you can see animals from all around the world as you explore each different section, the entire park holding over 2,000 animals. Renowned for its conservation work and elephant breeding program, this zoo aims to be a model of sustainable conservation, making it easy to see why over 1.6 million visitors visit per year. Take a special zoo tour, ride the fun scenic train through the park, or perhaps just stroll around the interactive exhibits such as the African Rainforest or Predators of the Serengeti yourself. There are beautiful (and educational) botanical gardens throughout, as well as trails, gift shops, and five total different eateries! There will even be several season food trucks and carts throughout the park, the entire experience sure to satisfy both your hunger for food and for wild adventure.
Portland Children’s Museum or Portland Art Museum - End your day with your choice of one of two things: either the Portland Children’s Museum or the Portland Art Museum. Both museums are truly great choices, it all just depends on how much time you have left and what age group you are traveling with. If you are traveling with younger kids we suggest the Children’s Museum, within Washington Park, the spectacular interactive museum that treasures ‘playful learning’. This spot will use familiar materials to craft priceless opportunities for children to learn through play. On the other hand, if you have a more mature or sophisticated group you may want to take the m to the highly popular Portland Art Museum. This museum is the oldest art museum on the West Coast, as well as the seventh oldest in the U.S, and holds one of the most impressive permanent collections in the world. Enjoy exploring over 42,000 objects within the 112,000 square feet of gallery space, the entire experience one art lovers will never forget!