Favorite Outdoor Spots in Portland
I love Portland and hands down, spring and summer are the best seasons. Portland has been under gloom, mist and rain for months and the liquid sunshine starts to work its magic as leaves and flowers burst from the ground, bushes and trees. Restaurants throw open their windows and set up out door dining to take advantage of the beautiful days. My favorite restaurant for outdoor seating is Café Nell in NW Portland. The place is nestled in a residential section of The Alphabet District, so it’s slightly off the beaten path. The servers are great, the food is delicious and the drinks are strong. I love their happy hour and weekend brunches.
Speaking of leaves and flowers coming to life. Another great place in the city that’s a hidden secret and is a favorite place of mine is Lower MaClay Park in Forest Park. You can find this retreat of relaxation complete with a running stream at the dead end of NW Savier. You might find me hiding out down there during the summer working on a park bench.
Portland is beautiful this time of year and luckily the city has a large number of parks and outdoor areas to enjoy when the sun comes out. My favorite thing to do during the spring and summer is to explore the many hiking trails in and near the city. My handy guide 60 Hikes within 60 Miles sent me on one of my favorite adventures: McNeil Point Hike near Rhododendron. The hike goes through a cathedral forest into wildflower meadows and alpine ponds. The views of Mount Hood are spectacular!
My second favorite outdoor spot closer to Portland is Mt. Tabor Park because there are great views from the top looking back to the city. It’s an easy hike with lots of trees and a variety of plants. It’s fun to see the architecture of the open water reservoirs which are part of a historic district listed in the National Register that includes gatehouses, wrought-iron fences, walkways and lampposts!
Every year I look forward to spring and summer in Portland, We are fortunate that we have access to such beautiful nature right in the city. The flowers alone are something to behold. I love to go to the waterfront to see the cherry blossoms bloom in late March and early April. The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden has beautiful grounds to walk with bridges and waterfalls along paved paths. Although you can see flowers through July, it is breath taking to see all the vibrant flowers in full bloom in late April and early May. And I can't forget our city's feature, the International Rose Test Garden. This garden that has about 10, 000 rose bushes and 650 varieties draws people from all over the world while they are blooming April through October. The peak of for the roses is in June which is the time of the rose festival.
Another thing that makes Portland so special is the many parks and trails that blend into the urban landscape and give access to our natural resources such as the Williamette and Columbia rivers. I love to go for a jog in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. This park is fun to explore with the different paved, gravel and dirt trails. It meets with the spring water bike trail and is near Sellwood Park where dogs and people run free and enjoy the sun on the river. This is also a great area to launch a kayak or paddle board to tour the Williamette River. Its a great way to see Portland from a different vantage point. Make sure to paddle on the east side of Ross Island where it is quiet and serene. You will meet amazing wild life. As you float along you will see nesting Bald Eagles and Blue Herons. The best part of Portland is that you can explore and find new things every day. So enjoy!
Sellwood Park is a gateway to so many wonderful things in Portland. It’s a great place to play catch or splash around with kids in the summer. Venture west and you’re at the oak-lined banks of the Willamette River for sunbathing or canoeing. Head north a moment to arrive at Oaks Amusement Park with throngs of laughing and screaming kids. The Springwater Trail connects through that wonderland and the nature preserve Oaks Bottom, where you can see all kinds of wildlife. From the park, a brief walk east through the historic neighborhood leads to shopping and restaurants on a scale that’s uniquely Portland.