If you are planning a trip to Portland, Oregon you will discover there’s a lot more things to see and do than you might think. Not only have I traveled there many times, I once lived there for many years, so I pretty much know what are some of the best things to do and see. As you already know, I’m big on gardens and parks and trust me, Portland will not disappoint, it’s considered one of the greenest cities around and that’s not a lie when it comes to nature and it’s beauty.
One of the top attractions that you must put on your list of things to see would be The Grotto. This is not only a Catholic Cathedral to visit but it is an incredible peaceful woodland sanctuary that has a total of 62 different botanical gardens. There’s no way you can see them all in one day, so you might want to consider giving this stop a couple of days. If you are looking for both a traditional forested park and some meditative bliss, The Grotto offers it all. There are two levels to this complex the lower and upper levels. The lower level is free and includes a pretty imposing cave that’s carved right out of the cliff and has a replica of Michelangelo’s depiction of Mary cradling the crucified body of Jesus. There are lovely trails to walk and a visitor’s complex, art gallery, gift shop and a chapel. The upper level will take you on an elevator ride up to the top for just $5 and this is where you will discover all the different botanical gardens. The Grotto is a must see for anyone of faith or not.
Another great place for both beauty and a tranquility would be the Portland Japanese Garden. There are five different gardens to explore, the Flat Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden and the Sand & Stone Garden. Right now they are expanding this lovely and tranquil place by adding seven new garden spaces and will be building new structures and spaces that will look like Japanese fronted villages that are surrounded by spiritual areas in order to enhance the cultural enrichment of the gardens.
Portland’s signature park is Washington Park and it is just loaded with huge trees and many picnic tables making it an ideal spot for those who love to picnic. It’s just two miles from downtown Portland but you would never notice that because of all the beauty that surrounds you. It’s also really close to the Japanese Garden and it’s boarded by yet another park called Forest Park, where a lot of scenes from the TV series Grimm is often filmed. For the kids Washington Park offers a nice zoo that is the home of the oldest Asian elephant born in North America, they lovingly call him Packy. Washington Park also has a playground for kids just south of the Rose Garden. Yes, there’s a lovely rose garden there that you can visit and it is comprised of over 10,000 different rose bushes that offers 722 different kinds of roses. So if you love roses, this is the ideal place for you.
There are over 200 parks in Portland so it would be impossible to list them all right now but I didn’t want to leave out the smallest park in the world called Mill Ends. Believe it or not this park is just 24 inches in diameter and it’s located in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway at Taylor Street. The story of this little tiny park began when a journalist for the Oregon Journal, got tired of looking at an ugly pothole that was located just below his office window, so he decided to plant flowers in the hole and he named it Mill Ends Park. The way he got people to be interested in this little park of his is that he started writing some newspaper stories about the adventures of a fictitious park resident, a little leprechaun named Patrick O’Toole.
Some other things you you should check out while visiting Portland would be the Portland Saturday Market which is the nation’s largest weekly open air arts and crafts market. Pittock Mansion soaring 1,000 feet above the skyline of Portland, it has beautiful views of the rivers, forests, bridges and mountain tops. It has 23 rooms for you to explore and discover a variety of historical treasures in. OMSI is one of the nation’s top science museums and it’s not just for kids, I’ve gone there many times and always found it fascinating. Finally, a trip to Portland would not be complete if you didn’t make a stop at Voodoo Doughnut. It has even been seen several times on the Travel Channel and has some pretty unusual doughnuts like Captain Crunch and Oreo ones and let’s not forget their maple doughnuts with bacon strips.