Portland’s Top Neighborhood Parks – and Upcoming!
What makes a good park? For some, it’s the highlighting of historical and geologic features, for others, it’s the raw and unadulterated experience of nature. Portland parks also incorporate cultural events and stages, zoos and museums, special plantings like Japanese Gardens and Rose Gardens, and interactive elements like the giant chessboard downtown!
For most Portlanders, the most important feature of a park is that it’s not too far away. As in real estate, location can make or break a park! Fortunately, it’s all relative, and Portland Parks and Recreation works hard to ensure that there are parks in every neighborhood. Here are some of our favorite Portland parks, and a guide to their surrounding neighborhoods.
Washington Park: Family Friendly
In West Portland, just outside of Downtown, there’s a park you could spend days exploring: Washington Park. It’s home to Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center, and the Portland Children’s Museum — but that’s just the beginning. It’s one of Portland’s oldest parks and an example of the foresight of the city’s founders: Although the area was well out of city limits when it was purchased, they went ahead and designated it a park area anyway.
Area: Over 400 Acres
Star attractions: Check out 150’ Coast Redwoods, explore 650 rose varieties, make your own pottery, practice archery, or just have a picnic surrounded by green.
Neighborhoods to check out: If you like Washington Park, you’ll love West Portland! Drive the forested hills of Sylvan Highlands and Southwest Hills or the quiet, tree-filled streets of Maplewood and West Portland Park, and be sure to stop for lunch in the Pearl District.
Forest Park: Get in touch with your wild side
If Washington Park is too busy for you, definitely head north to visit Forest Park. You might want to bring your backpacking gear: the park’s longest trail is 27 miles long! Designated an “Urban Forest Reserve”, Forest Park is world renowned for the diversity of plants and animals that call it home. Five major streams run through the park, and its trails cover several types of landscape and eco-zones, from riparian to meadow and everything in between.
Area: 5,100 acres
Star attractions: Patches of old-growth trees as well as panoramic views of Portland, the Willamette and Columbia rivers, and five major peaks of the Cascade Range — if you’re willing to hike.
Neighborhoods to check out: Northwest Portland was one of the top-selling areas of the city last year, and there are a ton of desirable areas. From the luxury homes of Hillside and Forest Heights to the up-and-coming industrial district surrounding the Pearl District, there is probably something for everyone in this corner of the city.
Laurelhurst Park: A Classic Park
Looking for ducks, picturesque shady walks on wide, paved paths and, in fall, splendorous leaves? Look no farther than Laurelhurst Park in inner Northeast Portland.
Area: 27 acres
Star attractions: A three-acre lake featuring a variety of waterfowl, fish and turtles; massive Doug Firs; plenty of quiet places to stroll or sit.
Neighborhoods to check out: Laurelhurst itself is a historic neighborhood of undulating streets and vintage homes, which is definitely worth a walk-through. From there, all directions offer classic Portland neighborhoods and homes, from hip Irvington to quiet Mt. Tabor.
Overlook Park: Jock’s Paradise
Volleyball courts? Check. Baseball, softball and soccer fields? Check, check, check. Running track and basketball courts? You got it. Not only that, but your dog can get his exercise at the dog park too. Located at the southern tip of the Overlook neighborhood at Fremont Street & Interstate Avenue in North Portland.
Area: 11 acres
Star attractions: The Historic Overlook House, a climbing tree straight out of Swiss Family Robinson, views of the Fremont Bridge, the Willamette River and downtown Portland, with plenty of places to sit and enjoy.
Neighborhoods to check out: Overlook is one of the top Portland neighborhoods for young professionals and families. It’s one of many attractive North Portland neighborhoods, including Boise and Eliot.
Mt. Tabor Park: Portland’s Own (Extinct) Volcano
For a quick morning or evening hike that offers some good elevation gain, Southeast Portlanders head to Mt. Tabor. It’s a beautiful park sited on the mound created when Mt. Tabor was a volcano. The structures and water of the reservoirs are also interesting to check out, and — all the way up the 636-foot summit — great views of Portland and Hawthorne Boulevard.
Area: Nearly 200 acres
Star attractions: Concerts in the Park all summer, tennis courts, many trails and quiet spots to hang out and enjoy the views.
Neighborhoods to check out: Mt. Tabor is a quiet residential neighborhood, with hip Hawthorne district right next door, where trendy shops, good eats, and lively nightlife are in abundance. Easy access to all of Southeast Portland, from Laurelhurst to Mt. Scott.
Up and Coming Parks in East Portland
East Portland has long been in need of green, open space. A major park that opened at Northeast 127th Avenue and Fremont Street in October 2017 is filling that need. Luuwit View Park is a 16-acre park with views of Mt. St. Helens. It features multiple playgrounds, an amphitheater, picnic tables with barbecue grills, a soccer field, water and sand table, fields for kite flying or frisbee, a skate park, a dog park, a community garden and public ping-pong tables.
For homeowners in East Portland, this new addition is a definite potential property-value boost, and those searching for an affordable place to live in a good Portland neighborhood can also take heart. Luuwit View Park is located in the suburban Argay neighborhood, still in Portland but close to Gresham.
Still in the works is another East Portland park, Gateway Park & Urban Plaza. It will be a new 3.2-acre neighborhood park located on the corner of NE Halsey and NE 106th. Planned features include a paved plaza for performances and possible farmers’ market, open green space, a “nature playground”, skating and picnic facilities.November 10, 2017