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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.
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.
Formed by a volcano that erupted around 40 million years ago, this gorgeous island is known for its jagged rocks. Explore this natural wildlife habitat and stroll along its hiking trails that wind around the bay, where blue herons feed and sturgeon swim in some of the deepest waters of the Willamette River. The island has seven different habitats, including Emergent Wetland, Riparian Forest, and Willamette Valley Grassland. See if you can spot a bald eagle's nest in one of the trees!
Resembling a community garden you would find in Suzhou, Portland's sister city, Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful green space near the bank of the Willamette River. The garden is complete with winding pathways, gorgeous plants, a lovely tea-house and a gift store. You can take a tour to get insider knowledge of the garden and try to come during one of their many interesting events, including exhibitions and lectures. This place is a must-visit for its unique beauty. You can even hire this garden for private events such as weddings and receptions.
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.
Stroll through a forest of old and majestic trees, play frisbee on the expansive grassy fields or just sit back and watch the wildlife from a comfortable bench. Park visitors should pack a lunch and picnic under one of the shady trees. In addition to a man-made lake, you will also find a large children's play area, more than 30 acres (12.14 hectares) of grass and trails, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, restrooms and more. Laurelhurst Park has graced the City of Roses since 1911.
The fifth largest waterfall in the United States, Multnomah Falls cascades more than 600 feet into the Columbia River Gorge below. When you begin your hike, the paved walkways allow for relatively easy climbing. Rest on the bridge part of the way up and snap some great pictures. The climb becomes more strenuous as you continue from here. However, several benches are scattered along the way. Check out the Multnomah Falls Lodge restaurant, snack bar and gift shop before leaving.
Nature lovers will find their own piece of wild in the city when they visit Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. Located on the east bank of the Willamette River, adjacent to the Sellwood District, this 163-acre (65 hectare) wildlife refuge attracts a variety of ducks, blue herons and raptors. Hiking trails lead you through the refuge where you can observe these birds in a natural setting. It is hard to believe that part of this refuge sits atop a sanitation landfill. The birds do not seem to mind and you will not either once you catch a glimpse of this scenic natural area. While you are in this area you may also want to visit Oaks Park. There are no fees to use this refuge.
Portland Japanese Garden includes waterfalls, koi filled ponds, a wisteria arbor and even a tea-house that was built in Japan with ancient construction techniques. It features five unique gardens. The Strolling Pond contains the five-tiered stone pagoda lantern given to Portland in 1963 by Sapporo, Portland's sister city in Japan. Many events are observed in the gardens, including Children's Day, the Tanabata Star Festival and the Obon Spirit Festival. Garden curators also offer classes in Japanese culture and gardening techniques.