It has been a long, cold winter. If you’re like us, you’re anxious to get outside. Do you know about all the great places you can enjoy the sunshine (OK, and sometimes the rain!) in our own backyard? Here are some of our favorite spots for Portland outdoor activities (in North Portland and the surrounding area).
Did you know that Forest Park is one of the biggest parks in the United States? But it’s actually more than that. It’s an urban forest with over 5,000 acres of land.
It’s got eighty miles of trails and forest roads that stretch along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains. It overlooks Northwest Portland and the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Here are online guides to the trails, which range from easy to challenging, so there’s something for every interest level.
And you can experience this forest without ever leaving Portland’s city limits, which is truly remarkable.
The park is open from 5:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day. There’s an easy entrance right off St. Johns Bridge on Germantown Road.
Cathedral Park is one of the most picturesque spots in North Portland (even in all of Portland, if we say so ourselves)! It’s frequently filled with parties and photographers, but there’s plenty of room for everybody.
Be sure to head down to the riverside dock and watch boats go by (and maybe feed the ducks). There is also an off-leash dog area and plenty of benches to sit down and enjoy your coffee or a good book. (In fact, one of our owners, Whitney Petersen, likes to hang out at Cathedral Park, so wave if you see him.)
Columbia Park is a 35-acre complex with a large indoor swimming pool, sports courts (including multiple tennis courts) and fields, and a splash pad. It’s also full of gorgeous, mature trees, if you’re looking for some shade to relax under. And there are plenty of trails for walking or running.
Rose Garden at Peninsula Park
The historic Piedmont neighborhood is home to this horticultural gem. The rose garden at Peninsula Park was Portland’s original rose test garden and the site of the city’s rose festival activities. It just can’t be beat for beauty! It’s also home to Portland’s official rose, Madame Caroline Testout, which helped Portland earn its reputation as the City of Roses.
Enjoy the garden’s fountain and bandstand, which are more than a century old. There are also wide brick walkways and ramps, plus many smooth, grassy paths. It’s just a great place to relax!
Portland International Raceways Cruise-Ins
Wednesday night cruise-ins start on June 7th this year (they’re in their 22nd year). Pre-1974 cars, trucks, and exotics are welcome to the raceway’s show field. Free parking outside the gate. $9 spectator admission, $5 per car or motorcycle.
Baseball at the University of Portland
Want to take in a good baseball game on a slow spring evening? The University of Portland’s team is going to be playing some highly-ranked college teams, so you’re sure to have a good time. Plus, campus is absolutely gorgeous this time of year!
This is a little different than the other things on our list, but there aren’t Portland outdoor activities better than walking down good old Mississippi Avenue. Some of our area’s best restaurants and shops are on Mississippi. You can walk, eat, shop, and enjoy the gorgeous old architecture, all at the same time.
Lombard Food Carts
Don’t feel like cooking? There’s a great food cart space right on Lombard, next to the Kroger Farmers Market. There are 7 to 10 carts, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from, all in one convenient spot.
Sauvie Island is a beautiful collection of beaches, farms, and parks. It feels like it’s far removed from the hustle and bustle of Portland, but it’s just about 10 miles away. It’s the largest island in the Columbia River and one of the largest islands in the United States.
In the summer, go to the farms and pick your own produce, including strawberries, blueberries, peaches, corn and other fruits and veggies. You can even buy Christmas trees in the winter. In the fall, enjoy a pumpkin patch and a corn maze with the entire family.
Plus, there’s a public beach on the Columbia River with year-round access, if you’re inclined to try some swimming. It’s also a great place for some gorgeous bike rides!
Smith and Bybee Wetlands
The Smith and Bybee Wetlands area is surrounded by warehouses and industrial buildings, so it’s one of the best-kept secrets in the area. It’s nearly 2,000 acres and is currently in the process of being restored. It’s actually one of the largest protected wetlands in an American city.
You’re sure to see lots of animals like beavers, deer, otters, turtles, and all kinds of birds just walking along the trails. Don’t forget to bring some binoculars. And from mid-April to June, you can hop in a kayak or a canoe and look at the lakes up close.
Portland Outdoor Activities
What are your favorite spots in our area for outdoor activities? Make sure to leave a comment and tell us about them so we can check them out!