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Portland, Oregon: Out and About in the City of Roses
Home to some of the region’s most picturesque gardens and parks, the city of Portland, Oregon may just be the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. Visitors to the city marvel at its tranquil green spaces, vibrant city centre and friendly and forward-thinking locals, remarking that there really is no other city in the country just like this one.
Exploring Washington Park
Lying due west of downtown Portland, OR, Washington Park doubles as one of the city’s most attractive destinations and one of its most popular. The park, which comprises of more than 150 acres of land, is home to picturesque gardens, insightful museums, and even a zoo.
One of the park’s must-see features is the International Rose Test Garden, which houses some 550 species of roses. Portland is known as the Rose City and one trip to this garden and you’ll quickly see why. Portland Japanese Garden is another popular destination within the park. This immaculately-manicured garden may be the most peaceful corner of the city.
Oregon Zoo is home to nearly 2,000 animals, ranging from lions and leopards to condors and penguins. More than a million visitors pass through the zoo’s gates every year, many of whom enjoy a ride on the narrow-gauge railway.
If you’re looking for an easy way to get to Washington Park from your hotel, the Portland MAX Light Rail (red and blue lines) will drop you off in the park, right by Oregon Zoo.
Portland’s Other Gardens and Parks
Elsewhere in the city, you’ll discover an assortment of other gardens and parks, while the scenery and terrain outside of the city limits is not to be shrugged at either.
Forest Park is considered the largest wilderness park to be found entirely within a U.S. city. With trees, bushes and shrubbery growing naturally, you’ll feel like you’ve fled the city as you trek along one of its many walking trails.
At the other end of the spectrum is Lan So Chinese Garden, an intimate and well-pruned garden that stretches just one block. Appropriately located in the Chinatown district of Portland, this park is a little slice of tranquillity in an otherwise hectic neighbourhood.
Hikers, mountain bikers and would-be explorers will find plenty of opportunities to enjoy the Great Outdoors during their time in Portland. Ideal destinations in the area include: Columbia River Gorge National Park, located on the Oregon-Washington border; Mount Tabor Park, which is situated on an extinct volcano; and Mount Hood, a wintertime favourite with skiers. Each one promises stunning scenery and fresh air.
The City Experience
In addition to its many attractive parks and gardens, Portland, OR also offers a lively city experience. Many of the city’s most popular amenities and attractions, including hotels, guest houses and other accommodation options, are to be found downtown or in the Pearl District and Chinatown. Here you’ll discover a friendly, energetic and sometimes weird atmosphere.
The Pearl District is home to the renowned Powell’s City of Books, which claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. With a million new and used books said to be contained within the store, it’s hard to argue that point.
Whilst a bookstore might seem normal enough, not everything in Portland is as ordinary. The city, which prides itself on “being weird”, offers an array of left-field amenities and attractions. Be sure to keep an eye out for Dr. Who, H. P. Lovecraft, and circus-themed bars, while it’s almost illegal not to stop by Voodoo Doughnut, a 24-hour specialty shop that sells sweet and sticky doughnuts in all shapes and sizes. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, head to the Shanghai Tunnels and explore subterranean Portland.
Of course, not everything in the city is a little kooky. You’ll find an almost endless supply of shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, nightclubs, and all the other typical trimmings that come with big city life.
Situated at the end of the Oregon Trail, the city of Portland dates back to the 1830s. Subsequently, you’ll find a small number of historic buildings around the city.
Constructed in a number of stages between 1869 and 1903, the Pioneer Courthouse is technically the oldest building in Portland. Self-guided tours are permitted, giving you the chance to see this historic gem up close and personal. Located near to the business, retail and entertainment districts, Pioneer Square, in which the courthouse stands, also serves as a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike.
The Pittock Mansion, which was built in 1914, is another of the city’s historical sights. The mansion, which once belonged to the publisher of the Oregonian newspaper, features scenic gardens and phenomenal views over the city.
Theatres, Museums and Sport
When it comes to entertainment, Portland, OR serves up a steady mix of historic and contemporary attractions, all within minutes of most of the city’s hotels. History buffs will get a kick out of the likes of Portland Art Museum, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Portland Children’s Museum. Meanwhile, the likes of Avalon Theatre, Lurelhurst Theatre, Hollywood Theatre, and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall offer the chance to catch a movie or play in an historic setting.
For sports fans, the Moda Center arena (formerly the Rose Garden) regularly hosts professional basketball and ice hockey, while Providence Park is home to the Portland Timbers, the best-supported team in Major League Soccer.