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Best Free Sites in Portland

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An oasis of greenery in the scenic environs of Northwest Portland, this municipal park's topography is defined by the slopes and opaque old-growth forests that are sustained by the Tualatin Mountains. A large establishment as far as urban parks go, these protected lands are spread over 5,100 acres (2,064 hectares) that are dotted with relatively-even pathways and trails for hiking and bicycling, which make virtually every nook and corner of the park easily-accessible. A landscape of diverse and complex ecosystems, these forests are home to the hairy woodpecker, Pacific jumping mouse, orange-crowned warbler, northern pygmy-owl among many others. A paradise for plant lovers, the park grounds are bejeweled with exotic Hooker's fairy bells, evergreen violets and English ivy.

Winding roads flow through this almost prehistoric forest. Old growth trees and other plants make up the thick flora. Many of Oregon's native plants are labeled with both their botanic and common names. While seldom crowded, this peaceful retreat is just minutes from the heart of Portland and is easily accessible via bus and light rail. The on-site visitor's center offers valuable information about the various trees and plants that call this park their home, with all the makings for a fun-filled and educational outing with the kids. It is also located close to other attractions such as Portland's zoo, the International Rose Test Garden and the Japanese Gardens.

Set amid a scenic location of sloping, forested hills, Washington Park has a number of notable attractions, including the International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, Japanese Gardens and the Oregon Zoo. Plenty of different spots across the park offer sun, shade, and shelter from the rain, and views of the city. A brimming hive of activities like tennis, hiking and archery, this park is a brilliant, sprawling carpet of eternal and abundant natural beauty. A range of winding trails slice through acres of wild forests at this park, while motley jubilant fountains, plazas and memorials accentuate it further. An evocative canvas of vibrant wilderness, this sprawling park is a breathtaking nexus of nature, botany and recreation, being rather unsurprisingly, one of Portland's most beautiful symbols.

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.

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.

This spectacular square is one of the best places to find all kinds of people, concerts, festivals, fund-raisers and everything else that goes on in the city. Once an address to Portland's first school, today visitors and locals come here to eat their lunch by the on-site waterfall, tall columns and wrought iron structures. Quite possibly one of the busiest blocks in town, it is a great place to people-watch and get an idea of what a typical Portlander looks like. In the blocks surrounding the square you'll find some of the best upscale shopping in the city. The square is also where you will find the Portland Visitor Information Center.

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