Portland is called the "Rose City" for a reason. These public gardens were established in 1917 and set above the cityscape of Downtown Portland. They are the oldest official public rose gardens in the United States and the only place in North America that can officially issue recognized awards for hybrid roses grown around the world. The best time of the year for viewing is during the summer, when the fragrant blooms begin to appear and continue until frost.
Henry Pittock, founder of Portland's Oregonian newspaper, built this spectacular mansion in 1914 and lived there until his death in 1919. This stately mansion was created in the style of a French Renaissance chateau and boasts three floors plus an incredible view of the city. The mansion is now a museum and showcases local history through artifacts and exhibits. Guests can tour the mansion and even book space for private functions.
A serene sanctum lying to the east of downtown Portland, this picturesque city park is unusual in more ways than one. Built on the grounds of an old volcanic cone, the park is a natural wonderland where trails and paved pathways wind through rolling meadows and dense forests. The park is also home to an amphitheater, a dog park, a horseshoe pit and courts used for various other sports. A delight for the avid hiker, Mount Tabor affords splendid views of the city's diverse landscape. Although much of the volcano's cinder cone has been paved, a part of it still remains, letting visitors in on the long-standing history and geological marvel it cradles in its depths.
For more than 75 years, The Grotto has held a special place in the hearts of the locals. The 62-acre (25.09 hectares) site is a Catholic sanctuary that also features beautifully kept botanical gardens. Visit the shrine of "Our Lady's Grotto," which is not only spiritual, but a geological marvel since it's a cave carved into the base of a cliff with a replica of the Pietà sculpture in the center of the rock cave. After admiring the shrine, take the time to tour the grounds and marvel at the beautiful plants then visit the spectacular gift shop. Visitors are also welcome to attend mass. If you want a real treat visit during annual Festival of Lights. While the lower grounds and gift shop are free to visit, there is a small fee to enter the upper levels of The Grotto.
Deeply embedded in Portland's rich history, the Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC) attempts to preserve the essence of the early transportation industry. Large steam rails, vintage passenger cars and other such paraphernalia make up the exhibits. The functional rails are used for various tours and offer a chance to experience some old-world glory. Soak up some of the local cultures at this aptly named the heritage center.
Pearl District will enthrall you with its local legends, thriving art scene and more. Many consider this part of town to be the heart of the art scene since it is home to galleries and boutiques. But the former warehouse district after its urban renewal, is among the best shopping districts in the city. Walk down the cobblestone streets of this neighborhood and take in the sights. Explore its markets, specialty stores, unique boutiques and eateries.
Relief columns grace the formal entrance of this solemn site located at the south end of the Japanese Memorial at Waterfront Park. Haiku-engraved broken stones and 100 cherry trees line the walk. The plaza recalls the 110,000 Japanese-Americans who were put in internment camps during World War II, and the broken stones represent the broken dreams of these people. Although the stroll or bike ride is a sobering journey, the year-round beauty of the memorial is a testament that we may still learn from our mistakes.
Officially named Tom McCall Waterfront Park, but known to Oregonians as just Waterfront Park, this is often the center of activity in Portland. Festivals, parades, performers and more make it truly a taste of Rip City. Walk along the Willamette River at lunch and you're sure to brush shoulders with the city's workers. There is always something interesting to see here at Portland's answer to Venice Beach in California. There are basketball courts and lots of open, green spaces along the west bank of the Willamette River. The need for additional parks and green spaces in the city led to construction of the park.
Before Pioneer Place, there was this plaza. The original center of downtown Portland, the plaza was alive with business and entertainment and had a spot on the National Register of Historic Places. It got a facelift in the 1980s when MAX, the local light rail, made tracks. The square is busy on weekends now, thanks to the Saturday Market, a city flea market and bazaar. The square, complete with Skidmore Fountain circa 1888, still has a bit of an historic feel.
Skidmore Fountain was willed to the city by local legend Stephen Skidmore for "horses, men and dogs." Inspired by his 1878 trip to France for the Paris Exposition, he returned with a vision of creating a fountain in Portland with the same beautiful appeal. Truly a fixture of the city, it is now a popular place to find Portlanders buzzing about or even cooling their feet in the summer.
Mild-mannered Portland was once one of the toughest ports of the Pacific. In the 1890s, it was known for being a trafficking hub. Although historians have questioned the veracity of these claims, the tunnels remain a source of intrigue. The Shanghai Tunnels are open for tours every week, so be sure to get the right date and time to explore this nugget of Portland's dark history.
Finished in 1926, this double-leaf, drawspan bridge replaced another bridge that was originally built in 1894. The grand piers sit on timber pilings and are topped with turrets for the bridge operator to see up and down the river. Since the Willamette River is the West-East boundary and the Burnside the North-South divider, the 2,308 feet (703.478 meters) span marks the center of the city. On the West bank is Waterfront Park, where you will find many of Portland's festivals.