Portland is known by many names. Some call it the “City of Roses,” thanks to its stunning summertime botanical displays. Others refer to it as the “Queen City of the West,” though Denver competes for that name as well. Still others describe Portland as “Bridgetown.” And the city has plenty of less charitable nicknames, too, notably “Where young people go to retire.”
But Portland is also famous for another, very positive reason: It has an incredible wealth of outdoor resources within easy walking, biking or driving distance of the city center and close-in neighborhoods. (Some of the best outdoor resources are actually in those neighborhoods.) If you’re visiting Portland soon and the weather decides to cooperate, take in these five fun outdoor activities in or near the city.
- Council Crest Park
The highest point within Portland’s city limits is also one of the region’s most beautiful. From this perch in Portland’s beautiful West Hills, you can see for more than 50 miles on a clear day — straight to the slopes of Mount Hood. Much of the built-up zone of Portland is visible from here as well. Long story short, Council Crest is an unforgettable cap to a beautiful hike in Portland’s hilly western neighborhoods.
- International Rose Test Garden
Not to be confused with the Rose Garden, where the Portland Trail Blazers compete with their NBA rivals, the International Rose Test Garden is a multi-acre property that hosts a bevy of beautiful and strange rose species. Portland’s climate is just about perfect for rose cultivation, so growers from all over the world use the Test Garden to try out new hybrids and cultivars. There’s a not-insignificant chance that the rose bush in your backyard got its start here. The best part: The garden is free.
- Mount Tabor
Have you ever stood on the summit of a volcano? In Portland, you can.
Tucked into a residential area of southeast Portland, Mount Tabor is a cinder cone — a bulbous mass of cooled lava — that underscores just how seismically active this part of the world is. Fortunately, the lava field (the hilariously named Boring Lava Field) that created Mount Tabor has been extinct for hundreds of thousands of years; the closest active volcanoes to Portland are Mount Hood and Mount Saint Helens. Hike to the top of Mount Tabor and look back at the stunning view of downtown Portland and the West Hills.
- Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Washington, D.C., might have the most famous cherry blossom display in North America, but Tom McCall Waterfront Park’s is pretty impressive too. This downtown Portland park runs along the bank of the Willamette River and boasts stunning skyline views. On weekdays, it’s a great place to find food trucks.
- Tryon Creek State Natural Area
This expansive state park lies mostly within Portland. It harbors more than 600 acres of dense, natural woodlands, preserving some of the wildest tracts left in the Willamette River Valley. Spend an afternoon hiking through here or simply come to view the burbling creek that gives the park its name.
What’s your favorite thing to do outdoors in the Portland area?