Top Park Picks

Top Fall Colors

Bryan Aptekar Lands Stewardship Operations Coordinator for Portland Parks & Recreation  Bryan has worked for PP&R for 15 years, in various roles. He’s a former environmental educator, who currently works with park partner groups and helps to manage our treasured green spaces. For more of Bryan’s writing and his photography, see his website,  Edge of the Road Beauty .

Bryan Aptekar Lands Stewardship Operations Coordinator for Portland Parks & Recreation

Bryan has worked for PP&R for 15 years, in various roles. He’s a former environmental educator, who currently works with park partner groups and helps to manage our treasured green spaces. For more of Bryan’s writing and his photography, see his website, Edge of the Road Beauty.

By Bryan Aptekar

All photos © by Bryan Aptekar

Do you feel it?  You must have noticed the whiff of fall in the air.  The briskness of the breeze, the quick drop of the temperatures at night, and the hint of color around town. And of course, for those of you with your own deciduous trees to care for, the need to get the rake ready for the season.

I think fall is my favorite season in Oregon, with the colors, the smells, and the drop in temperatures. Our parks in Portland offer a place to enjoy the best of fall colors for everyone – from a rigorous hike or a stroll, to playing in a pile of leaves with the little ones.  Working at Portland Parks and Recreation has its perks – one of them being to get top notch advice from world class horticulturalists.  What follows are suggestions from myself and some of my colleagues about just some of the many places to enjoy the show that our urban canopy puts on for us. Many of these sites are also hosting Parke Diem work parties, so links to those efforts are included.

1.)  Starting our tour of fall splendor downtown, lets first stop at Chapman and Lownsdale Squares, also known as the plaza blocks, which were Portland’s first parks.  They feature several large old elm and gingko trees, both of which turn a brilliant yellow in the fall. The gingkoes in these parks bear fruit, a small cherry-like yellow berry. While some cultures find the seeds inside these both tasty and medicinal, the fleshy part of the fruit has a pretty strong smell, similar to what one might step in at a dog off-leash area. So, watch where you step.

2.)  Also downtown one can enjoy strolling through the South Park Blocks. These parks feature a large number of old elms, among other species, that provide some great fall colors. Check out the landscape beds across from the Portland Art Museum to see the great work of our staff and the Friends of the South Park Blocks.  Or join them for a volunteer Parke Diem project.


3.)  There’s a good reason that the Pittock family perched their mansion in the west hills.  The views from the Pittock Mansion are simply stunning, and this is a great place to enjoy fall colors.  Up close, you can enjoy a variety of maples and other showy fall plants on the grounds of the mansion. Then wander out to the overlook and see the riot of color that blankets the landscape across the valley all the way to Mt. Hood. Parke Diem project information.

4.)  One other west side place that has to be visited for a dose of fall color is the Hoyt Arboretum in Washington Park. This tree museum has literally 2000 species of trees from around the world, so there are many places to enjoy fall here. Our curator recommends the Japanese larch grove along Fisher Lane, for a walk or a drive. These are deciduous conifers, so they lose their needles each season, but not before turning yellow then orange.  There are many trails that feature various tree families, each with their own delights to discover. For more information, visit the (free) Visitor Center, run by the Hoyt Arboretum Friends.  There are two Parke Diem projects at Hoyt, one on Friday, and another on Saturday.

Laurelhurst 2.jpg

5.)  Moving across the river to the east side, one could start at Laurelhurst Park, built in the Olmsted tradition of meandering paths through large trees. A visit to the south side is where you can find the black tupulo trees, famous for their brilliant fall display, ranging from purples to scarlet reds. Check out the fall colors reflected on the pond, or follow your nose to find the fragrant smells of the fall-blooming sweet osmanthus, or fragrant olive, an evergreen shrub found on the north side of the park. Parke Diem project information.

6.)  Irving Park in NE Portland has lots to discover for the whole family.  The splash pad will be off at the end of September, but the playground, off-leash area, tennis and basketball courts, ballfields, and many paths take you on a nice stroll through a variety of oaks, maples and other trees that should give a good show. Look for the golden yellows of the Norway maples.

7.)  Traveling further north, a must visit spot is the Columbia Children’s Arboretum. This site is a favorite with our environmental education staff as a place to celebrate fall color with the little ones.  So, grab the kids (or let loose your inner child) and come kick up the leaves, have a picnic, and enjoy some fresh picked apples from the trees that harken back to this park’s orchard days. Parke Diem project information.

8.)  Still further north, Pier Park offers a range of recreational opportunities from ball fields and picnicking, to a skatepark and Portland Parks & Recreation’s only disc golf course.  It’s near station # 4 that you’ll find a whiff of cotton candy or burnt sugar smell as you walk by the katsura trees that have a showy apricot color when they change colors. Try crushing the leaves for a stronger scent. Parke Diem project information.


9.)  You can also find (and smell) the katsura trees at the Leach Botanical Garden, as well as many other showy fall colors. Look for vine maples, ginkgoes (without the berries!), and other great specimens around the Manor House and on the trails. Here too you can learn and shop at a (free) Visitor Center, managed by our nonprofit partner. Stop by to learn about their educational programs for people of all ages and hear about the exciting Upper Garden Development Plan. Parke Diem project information.


10.)               For a more global view, consider heading up to Rocky Butte, a natural area, the summit of which is called Joseph Wood Hill Park.  Whether you hike or bike up, to get your blood pumping, or you drive up, the reward will be the same. The views from the summit of Rocky Butte offer a great perspective across the landscape, particularly north and east across the Columbia River. Parke Diem project information.



Top FREE Summer Swimming

Thanks to PP&R for the information and Instagram followers for pictures - see their handles at the bottom.

When the weather finally gets hot in Portland, parks have got you covered. 14 Splash Pools, 7 interactive wading fountains, and 7 open outdoor swimming pools make for many days of summer fun for you and your family.  We’ve highlighted 10 of our favorites below; making special mention of the outdoor swimming pools that have free admission times for the public.

Whilst researching this blog, we came across some interesting Portland history.  The Parks Department first started developing the outdoor swimming pools as public bathing facilities.  In the early 1900s few people in Portland had bathrooms or could afford running water to bathe.  A private company ran a series of floating bath houses on the Willamette for many years, but after they turned over the keys to the newly formed Parks Department in the early 1900s, department officials found the facilities unsanitary due to public sewage flowing into the river often right next to the bathhouses.  Most pools at the beginning were ether separated by sexes with one pool for men and one for women, or hosted alternate bathing days for women and men.

1. Bill Naito Legacy Fountain: [Pictured Above] Operates 6:30am - 8pm Monday-Friday in warm months    
The Bill Naito Legacy fountain is named after a revered Portland business and civic leader whose name is also on the street that borders the Willamette River through downtown.  A poem etched on the fountain honors Portland’s immigrants and diverse cultural influences that have shaped the city. “. . . a port city harbors their hopes – and a fountain flows here in their memory.”

2. Creston Outdoor Pool: Free Swim Time – Mondays from 1-4 pm
This SE Portland pool enjoys a whole host of summer activities to keep adults and children active and swimming.  Children with good swimming skills can sign up for the summer swim league, and on August 20th at 7:30, Creston will host one of the Dive-In Movies. See the full schedule of dive-in movies here.

3. Dawson Fountain: Visitors just need to push the button at the picnic shelter to turn on the fountain
Installed in 2014 as part of the renovation of Dawson Park, the fountain includes 21 spray nozzles sequenced with a timer to allow interactive movement of the water and water saving capabilities. A series of seed-shaped seating elements are inscribed with the unique history of the neighborhood.

4. Jamison Square Fountain: Operates 8am - 10pm in warm months
As from an underground spring, water flows between stone joints into shallow pools in this fountain.  Surrounding art pieces and grassy areas make this fountain one of the most beautiful and playful fountains in Portland.

5. McCoy Fountain: Operates 11am - 9pm in warm months
McCoy is the first decorative municipal fountain in north Portland. The playful “guessing” water feature sits at the south end of McCoy Park in the New Columbia neighborhood. The fountain sprays at random intervals from different jets making it a fun fountain for all ages.

6. Montavilla Outdoor Pool: Free Swim Time – Tuesdays from 1-2:30 pm
Montavilla is filled on most hot summer days with families and fun. Teenagers are welcome to enjoy FREE swimming Monday-Friday throughout the summer from 1-4pm.  Montavilla is also reaching out to offer FREE Teen Beginner swimming lessons this summer as well.  Families can sign up for swimming lessons by contacting the pool directly.

7. Peninsula Outdoor Pool: Free Swim Time – Thursdays from 1-2:55 pm
Located at the first community center of Portland, the Peninsula Pool has served the northeast Portland community for over 100 years.  The pool also hosted Humboldt Penguins in 1957 when they arrived from Antarctica before the zoo was ready with their new home.

8. Pier Outdoor Pool: Free Swim Time – Fridays from 1:45-4:30
Located in one of Portland’s best parks, Pier Pool will offer a special Water Safety Day on July 28th from 2-3:30 to teach kids and parents alike boat and swimming safety practices and life vest fitting.  The afternoon will finish off with a splash contest and prizes.

9. Sellwood Outdoor Pool: Free Swim Time – Wednesdays from 7:20-8:50 pm
Set in the serene and historic Sellwood Park, this pool was the first pool built by the Parks Department and has been in continuous use by the public since 1910.  In the pool’s modest beginnings, women and men alternated days that they used the pool. Now everyone can swim and splash together every day of the week.

10. Teachers Fountain: Operates 8am - 10pm in warm months
Teachers Fountain is Portland's newest municipal fountain. It is "Dedicated to all who educate and inspire." The fountain is a playful but elegant display of arching jets and low burbles that run downhill into a shallow pool.

Photo credits - find these folks on Instagram:
1. @lemongingertea
2. @lydialauer
3. @zeus_71
4. @tk421_m
5. @scowlinginpdx
6. @melmaemay
7. @sarahherbold
8. @mscrican
9. @smakbarnett
10. @lawrencetravels


Top Summer Camps

Photos courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Got a little behind on that summer camp planning? Not to worry – Portland’s Parks Bureau has you covered.

This is the first ‘Top 10’ blog that was nearly impossible to narrow down to just 10. The 350+ options I had to leave out (Mandarin Camp, D.I.Y. Nature Camp) of this list looked fascinating, fun and educational. Portland Parks & Recreation really outdid themselves providing Portlanders with affordable and amazing experiences for children this summer. My picks below and the 350+ others can be found on the easily searchable activities database here:

1.    Daily Destinations [Pictured in header]
Make every day a field trip! Use public transportation to explore & investigate the beauty of the region around us. Discover new places & experience familiar ones while increasing your knowledge of our area through tours, games and other activities. Let's go!

2.    Adaptive Recreation
Summer is for everyone in PP&R’s great adaptive recreation programs. Learn to skateboard, go hiking and enjoy all that Portland’s parks provide in these fun and engaging camps all summer long.

3.    GirlStrength and Skate Like A Girl
Power up this summer with girl-focused camps on self-defense techniques, self-confidence strategies, and skating skills.

4.    Kindergarten Readiness Camp
If your little one is starting school this fall, you might think of this camp as a good refresher of all those skills they need to become a great part of their new classroom.

5.    Capture the Flag, Pickleball and Other ‘Traditional’ Sports
Portland Parks & Recreation really knows how to get kids to be active.  Multiple sports camps across the city mix it up and teach students different sports each day and every week.

6.    W.I.L.D. Camps
Wilderness Insight Learning & Discovery - W.I.L.D. Get your little ones out into the urban forest to learn more about rocks, trees and the wildlife that call our urban parks home. Great for that adventurous soul who loves our nature parks.

7.    Jr. Lifeguard, Swim Instructor, Camp Leader and Babysitter Trainings
Nothing better than making a little extra money during the summer. Get your teenager ready for future job success in these job training sessions for pre-teen and teenagers.

8.    Carnival of the Orchestra and Other Music Camps
The Community Music Center never ceases to make music discovery fun and interactive. Your child will be tooting their own horn by the end of the summer with the music skills they’ll learn here.

9.    Finger Painting to Choreography
Look no further than the Multnomah Art Center for inspiration and instruction for your little dancer or artist. All mediums and forms can be explored this summer at the MAC.

10.    SUN Community School Camps
Expanding the service area beyond Portland Parks & Recreation facilities, the SUN Community School camps provide opportunities to explore cooking, theater, arts, environmental adventure and sports recreation.  There is something there for every kid in every neighborhood this summer.

Now go out there and get into some fun before summer is over!

Top Portland Park Views

Long days and warm nights make for fine evening picnicking opportunities in Portland.  Below are our favorite Portland views in alphabetical order that afford plenty of exploring or dining opportunities. Pack that basket, hop on your bike and head out to a vista near you!

1. Clatsop Butte [pictured above]: Clatsop Butte and neighboring natural area make this a perfect afternoon exploration.  Whether viewing Mt. Hood from the green grass or walking the wooded paths, this park will provide a feast for the eyes.

2. Council Crest: This former amusement park location boasts one of the best views of the metro area and beyond.  On a clear day, one can see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Rainier from this park.

3. Dickinson Park: This tucked away SW Portland Park displays sunset views silhouetting the hills facing westward.  Long meadows provide plenty of space to and enjoy the dusk colors.

4. Joseph Wood Hill Park – a.k.a Rocky Butte: This historic park at the top of another cinder cone is well worth the breathtaking views of the Columbia Basin, Cascades and beautiful stonework done by the WPA in the 1930s.

5. Kelly Butte: This rustic wonder on the East side of Portland is worth the visit for those that are courageous and aren’t afraid of explorations off trail.

6. Powell Butte: The varied landscape of this butte is topped by a spectacular view of the Cascade Range and neighboring foothills. Well worth the hike to the top.

7. Mocks Crest – a.k.a Skidmore Bluffs: Part of a geologic form called Willamette Escarpment that runs from Milwaukie through North Portland; this spot is one of the best along the way. The location of this park right on the edge of the escarpment makes it a perfect sunset viewing location.

8. Mt. Tabor: This Portland favorite hosts a little of everything within its boundaries and boasts one of the best views of the Portland cityscape.

9. Pittock Mansion: Just a few feet in elevation below Council Crest, Pittock Mansion’s views of Portland and the Cascades fill photo books of most tourists and locals alike.

10. Terwilliger Boulevard: With 6 identified viewpoints of the river, city and beyond, Portland’s 100+ year-old parkway is worth a visit by foot or bike.

Thank you to all of the Instagram friends that helped make this blog possible.  Follow us on Instagram to see park photos that will beautify your day! Photo credits in order:

1. @osu4hicyi
2. @kdulong
3. @emburns88
4. @cara.jack
5. @ckbilsborrow
6. @thebeerdedrunner
7. @gabrieltrieger
8. @fat.rob
9. @carafernandez
10. @nikkelley1

Portland Wanderings

Oregonian Reporter Jamie Hale on a Hike

Oregonian Reporter Jamie Hale on a Hike

If you follow the Oregonian travel section you’ve probably noticed some excellent articles this spring giving a ‘behind the scenes’ look at some of the best walks and hikes in Portland.

We reached out to the reporter, Jamie Hale, to learn more about his experiences in Portland’s parks. 

What was your motivation for the series?

I love all the hiking opportunities within Portland proper, so I wanted to create a comprehensive and user-friendly guide that compiled them in one place. Too often when we talk about “Portland hikes” we’re talking about places outside of the city, which is great, but that ignores all the places you can get to without taking a day trip.

What was it like to hike around Portland?

. . .there’s something about wandering that gives feast to the soul.
— Jamie Hale

The process of putting this together was very hands – or rather, feet – on. I went out on about a dozen hikes in the span of three weeks, taking photos, notes and learning about the history of each place. I wanted to write individual in-depth posts on each, because so many of our local parks have such fascinating historical backgrounds. I’m the kind of person who likes to be as thorough as possible, but I had to back off a little on this one and not expect myself to know every detail about every trail in the city. Besides, that leaves some hidden gems around town too.

Any especially wonderful or frustrating experiences while writing the articles?

The wonderful thing was spending my work days out on the trail, of course, and learning some bits and pieces about our city’s history in the process. The most frustrating piece was figuring out how to cover Forest Park, which is simply too expansive to write about in one, two or even three different articles. Readers will have to explore, and make their own hikes out there.

Anything else about your urban hiking adventures we should know?

While I highlight these regimented hikes, I always like to encourage people to find their own trails as well. You get such a richer experience out of nature when you make your own personal connection with it. Following directions is fine, but there’s something about wandering that gives feast to the soul.

Summer Free For All Picks

Pull out the picnic baskets because it’s time for Summer Free For All (SFFA) season again in Portland.  SFFA combines 250 concerts, movies, daytime playground activities and lunch, and swimming lessons in parks - all for free, all across Portland. The goal of the program is to . . . “empower Portlanders to create and cultivate community by providing free, accessible, family-friendly summer activities that celebrate our city’s growing cultural diversity.”

The full schedule of events with locations can be found here and our ‘top pics’ below can be accessed by clicking on the map below. In addition to the free summer events, there are many other low or no cost recreational activities scheduled in parks across Portland this summer like the 5k running series, or the free fitness classes in parks. These summer activities cannot happen without community support, and the Portland Parks Foundation is the place for individuals to donate to these wonderful programs.  Please consider donating here today to keep this Portland tradition alive.

PPF's Top 10 Movies and Concerts this Summer

See all 250 at the Portland Parks & Recreation's website

Top Flower Displays

Spring is an enchanting season in Portland.  April showers bring May flowers that fill our parks this time of year, and behind every bursting azalea are hundreds of Portland Parks & Recreation staff and dedicated volunteers that make these beautiful blooms possible. Below are our top Portland Parks flower displays (in no particular order) that will leave your heart singing and camera full of pictures. Thanks to the volunteers at the Portland Garden Club for helping compile this list!

1. Lilac Gardens in Duniway Park [pictured above]: Over 225 plants grace the Lilac Garden in Duniway Park and are cared for by the Portland Garden Club.  Blooming from late March to early May, the fragrance of the flowers wafts throughout the park. 

2. Portland Memory Garden: One of a few memory gardens on public land in the nation, the garden is designed specifically for people who are experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and other memory problems.  It includes many beds of flowers that bloom throughout spring, summer and fall.

3. Powers Marine Park: Driving along Macadam Avenue south of the new Sellwood Bridge, you may notice swaths of white toward the Willamette River.  These are dogwoods planted by volunteers in the Portland Garden Club on this strip of park land near the water.

4. Leach Botanical Garden: This best-kept secret garden in SE Portland includes such a profusion of greenery; it is sure to please any time of year. Touted as a library of plants, the volunteers at this garden post garden highlights on their website each month.

5. Pittock Mansion: You may visit Pittock for the spectacular view of Portland or the historic house tours, but you’ll stick around for the beautiful garden. Volunteers help make sure the gardens are picture-perfect this time of year.

6. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden: The Azaleas and Rhododendrons at Crystal Springs are so beautiful this time of year it is almost hard to believe.  A feast of tangerine, fuchsia, red, yellow and purple delight your eyes in this garden at every turn.

7. Lan Su Chinese Garden: Where Crystal Springs is the picture of overabundance, Lan Su is the champion of the perfectly placed flower.  If you especially enjoy the rare and small things in life, the blooms at Lan Su are sure to please!

8. Peninsula Park Rose Garden: This historic garden in NE Portland was Portland’s first rose garden and the volunteers at this garden carefully tend each bloom.  Early blooming roses turn into hillsides of blooms by June.

9. Tom McCall Waterfront Park Japanese American Historical Plaza: The celebrated cherry blossoms lining the paths in this historical plaza along the Willamette provide the perfect cure to the winter blues and bring promise of sunnier days ahead.

10. Washington Park International Rose Test Garden: Last but definitely not least are the renowned rose gardens in Washington Park.  While the roses are the star of the show later in the year, there are plenty of other flower beds woven into this park to please early spring visitors.

Photo credits – visit these groups’ websites linked above for more beautiful photos!
1 Portland Garden Club
2 Friends of Portland Memory Garden
3 Portland Garden Club
4 Leach Botanical Garden
5 Pittock Mansion
6 Portland Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society and the Friends of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
7 Lan Su Chinese Garden
8 Friends of Peninsula Park Rose Garden
10Portland Parks & Recreation


Native Plants in our Natural Areas

Photos courtesy David Grandfield

Spring has sprung around Portland and it is the time of year to emerge from the house and get outside.  Whether it be just in your yard or out for a hike, Portland is home to natural areas that can help you get your wilderness fix.  We asked David Grandfield, a Horticulturist working seasonally with Portland Parks & Recreation, and regular Portland Parks Foundation Instagram follower (see David’s beautiful pictures @davidgrandfield), to share some of his favorite natural area parks and native species that you can pick up at local nurseries this spring.

          David Grandfield

          David Grandfield

One of the benefits of living in Portland is our access to natural area parks. ‘Natural area parks’ are the wilder cousins of our typical neighborhood parks; they are larger, have a wild aesthetic, and are managed to promote growth of native plant species.  They are also great showrooms for displaying the native trees and shrubs that could work in the little piece of nature in your front or back yard.

Why plant natives? Native trees and shrubs provide food and refuge for wildlife, and best of all pad your pocketbook because after establishment do not require water in hot summer months. Here are a list of 5 Pacific Northwest native shrubs and where you can see them growing in their natural habitat at Portland natural area parks:

Red Flowering Currant [shown above]

This fragrant shrub is one of the first to bloom in late winter, it's pink flowers attract hummingbirds and bumblebees. It can grow up to 8 feet, and will survive in full sun with little to no water in the summer. This is one of the most widespread plants in Portland natural area parks, and can be found in Southeast Portland alongside walking trails in Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge.

Douglas Spirea

This shrub usually stays about 5 feet tall and has deep pink blooms in midsummer. Although this plant can handle dry landscapes, it does best in wet areas in full sun. Its brown seed heads add texture to landscapes in winter months. It can be found in East Portland growing at Tideman Johnson Natural Area and near Powell Butte Nature Park.

Indian Plum ­or­ Osoberry

This versatile shrub can grow in full shade or full sun and has drooping white blooms in early February. It’s small, raisin sized fruit are a favorite food for birds in late summer. Whitaker Ponds Natural Area in Northeast Portland is a great place to see Osoberry shrubs.

Blue Elderberry

This large shrub is widespread in Pacific Northwest landscapes. Its large clusters of creamy white blooms emerge in early spring and then turn into small powdery blue berries toward late summer. Although it naturally grows up to 30 feet tall, it can be kept around 10 feet tall in home landscapes with regular pruning. One great place to see Blue Elderberry is Foster Floodplain Natural Area in Southeast Portland.

Big Leaf Lupine

This plant is not as large as the others listed above, it stays about 1­2 inches tall and produces a tall spike of purple flowers in late spring. It does best on stream banks and open meadows in full sun. Many species of lupine can be found on the hillsides of Madrona Natural Area Park in North Portland.

Portland Parks Foundation encourages you to visit your Portland natural areas and sign up to volunteer for the many planting and clean-up parties throughout the year or at Parke Diem.  It is amazing that we have such wild areas that provide recreation, habitat and solace so close to the city, and we need your support to keep them beautiful!

Kid-Tested Spring Break Playgrounds

Photos courtesy Keri Hepner on Instagram at klhepner

Spring break is around the corner, so we asked local 9-year old park expert, Josh Hepner, for his top 10 park destinations for your Portland staycation.

Josh became a park expert when he set a goal in 2015 to visit as many parks as possible.  PPF followed his adventures on Instagram when he used the #parklandia hashtag.  Josh said, “One day after school we wanted to go to a park to enjoy the nice weather and play – but we had been going to the same neighborhood park over and over and decided to go to a different park. My mom picked Peninsula Park because the roses were blooming. This started our journey to try and visit every park in Portland.”

We asked Josh what he would do if he had unlimited money for parks. He said, “I would put a skate park and water feature in every park. I would also invent something to make swings keep swinging once you hit the ultimate height.” That might take some time for PPF and Portland Parks & Recreation to achieve, so in the meantime here are Josh’s top 10 parks picks (in no particular order):

10. Senn’s Dairy Park: This one was so fun!! I could have played at this one all day; it’s always fun to sit inside of a rocking chicken.

9. Glenhaven Skatepark: Some of my first skateboarding was done here, this one is close to my house, so it doesn’t take too long to get there.

8. Northgate Park: It was a really hot day when we went to this park, it was fun to climb on the spider web thing and the water feature was really awesome.

7. Pendleton Park: I liked the old merry-go-round the best; my little brother loved the big rabbit that is off to the side.

6. Wellington Park: This one is in my neighborhood and close to my school. I can walk there so I go there a lot. There’s a great view of Mt. St. Helens on a clear day.

5. McKenna Park: The monkey bars were awesome, and there were guys playing a basketball game that I watched.

4. Ivon Street Park: This small little corner park was actually a lot of fun. The slide was fun to go down on my belly, and it had cool swings.

3. Patton Square Park: We were driving by and just decided to stop at this one, and I’m glad we did. We didn’t spend too much time there but plan on going back again because those things that twist up and down while you sit on them were fun.

2. John Luby Park: This park was nice a shady when it is hot, and really big! And again, the monkey bars were awesome.

1. The Fields Park: [Picture in banner] We had a picnic in this park, and even though I hurt my elbow in this park, we got to play in the sand until the sun went down.

Thank you to Josh and Keri Hepner for this totally awesome list of kid-tested parks. We’ll continue to follow you on Instagram and watch for more fun park visits!

Romantic Park Picks

Do Valentine’s Day the Portland way by taking your significant other outside in a park this year.  Here is a list of our top romantic park spots to get you in the mood.

Photos courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Photos courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

1.      Chinese Garden New Year Celebration: gardens illuminated by hundreds of lanterns and traditional music and performances combine for an unforgettable evening.

2.       Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden: The pathways and bridges guiding you and your sweetheart around this spring-fed oasis are romantic any time of year.

3.       Leach Botanical Garden: The quiet paths and magical plants spanning Johnson Creek in this historic botanical garden will enchant your valentine.

Photos 5 and 6 courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Photos 5 and 6 courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

4.       Tanner Springs Park: Renew your love at the site of an unearthed wetland pond once buried beneath the industrial landscape.  While small, this park allows plenty of space for quiet reflection and sweet nothings.

5.       Washington Park Rose Garden: This park always has a way of blooming love in the hearts of Portlanders and visitors alike any time of year. Step into the Shakespeare garden and recite your favorite sonnets for an added romantic effect.

6.      South Waterfront Park: If you haven’t been to the new park space along the south waterfront it is a perfect date night destination.  Get in early for a waterfront dinner and then digest on alcove seating surrounding garden planters and pools. Skip stones from the south waterfront beach to round out the experience.

Photo 7 courtesy Metro; Photos 8 and 9 courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

Photo 7 courtesy Metro; Photos 8 and 9 courtesy Portland Parks & Recreation

7.      Broughton Beach: Romance is in the air at this beach.  A sandy beach and sailboats slicing through the majestic Columbia River makes for a perfect stroll arm-in-arm.

8.      Laurelhurst Park: The weeping willows and paths around the lake in Laurelhurst Park are a picturesque backdrop for a budding romance.

9.     Peninsula Park: Over 10,000 crocus blooms will delight you and your date in this historic park known for its summer rose displays. If it is drizzling during your visit, the National Heritage designated pavilion is a great place to sip hot chocolate and overlook the gardens.