Portland is the largest city in Oregon. It straddles the Willamette River, having been founded in 1844 on the west bank. Much of the town was destroyed by a great fire in 1873, but after rebuilding, it developed into a thriving port city.
Portland Visitor Information Center
701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204
Portland's Washington Park contains a number of tourist attractions, including the famed International Rose Test Garden, a zoo, and museums. A one-time wild land first purchased by the city in 1871, it is located to the west of the city center. Visitors can spend a day exploring the park's attractions, and another strolling through the unusual gardens.
The well-known International Rose Test Garden is where new varieties of roses are grown. In the city's mild climate, roses continue to flower into autumn, though visitors can catch an annual Rose Festival in May and June. Another escape, the Portland Japanese Garden, is one of the largest outside Japan and is landscaped on the grounds of an old zoo. Other popular draws in the park include the present-day zoo, the Portland Children's Museum, and Hoyt Arboretum.
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
The Columbia River marks the Oregon-Washington state border, and its entire length is a remarkable sightseeing region ideal for leisurely drives and enjoying the outdoors. A day trip destination from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area covers an immense 292,500 acres along North America's second largest river. The trip takes in locks, viewpoints, and hiking trails. Many visitors like to stop and photograph the waterfalls that edge the route, including the towering Multnomah Falls (which flows year-round), lovely Oneonta Gorge, and Latourell Falls in Guy W. Talbot State Park.
Official site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa
Just west of downtown Portland, this grand home was built in 1914 by Henry Pittock - founder of the Oregonian newspaper. Pittock lived here for only five years until his death in 1919 at the age of 80. The house, set for demolition in the 1960s, brought the community together as they persuaded the City of Portland to purchase the home. Through private fundraising the mansion was restored to its full glory, and it is because of the forward thinking of local residents that visitors have a chance to tour this impressive and eclectic home today.
Especially for its day, the Pittock Mansion had many impressive features including a central vacuum system, intercoms, and indirect lighting. The home is set on 46 acres and at an elevation 1,000 feet above Portland. This allows for exceptional views of the city on clear days. During its heyday, the home was also known for the impressive gardens. That trend continues today, plus the house is mid-way between Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum, and the many trails of expansive Forest Park
Official site: http://pittockmansion.org/
International Rose Test Garden
The Rose Test Garden in Portland's Washington Park was founded in 1917 and is the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. Developing new rose varieties and even miniatures, the grounds are divided up into several sections with many interesting plants and spaces to explore. Award winners are planted in what is known as the Gold Medal Garden, which also features a lovely gazebo. It's best to visit during the late spring bloom. Another lovely Portland rose garden - Peninsula Park Rose Garden - is set in a sunken landscape on the other side of the river.
Official site: http://www.rosegardenstore.org/international-rose-test-garden.cfm
Waterfront Park lines the west bank of the Willamette. The parklands and its riverfront trails start at the Portland Steel Bridge in the north. Continuing south along the river, it passes Skidmore Fountain where a colorful Saturday market is held. Further sightseeing near the park includes the Oregon Maritime Museum, fittingly housed in the sternwheeler Portland, and boats that offer dinner cruises along the waterway.
Powell's City of Books
Bibliophiles will love exploring more than a million books at this legendary used bookstore. Shelves mix new titles with used copies for a slightly haphazard but welcoming feel. This shop on Burnside is one of a number of the independent chain's locations in Portland.
Official site: http://www.powells.com/
Portland Japanese Garden
Portland's Japanese Garden is located on the grounds of an old zoo. Though covering an area less than six acres, the gardens are so beautifully laid out in a variety of styles that they offer a uniquely peaceful environment for visitors. Garden spaces include the picture-like Flat Garden, the Strolling Pond Garden, and the zen-focused Sand and Stone Garden, among others. There's also a lovely ceremonial teahouse.
Official site: http://japanesegarden.com/
Portland Art Museum
The seventh oldest museum in the United States, the Portland Art Museum was founded in 1892 and has since amassed a substantial and varied collection. The number of items exceeds 42,000 and only a small portion is displayed in more than 112,000 square feet of gallery space. Highlights include Native American artifacts, graphic arts, English silver, Asian art, photography, and Northwest art. One of the Portland Art Museum's most notable pieces is Vincent Van Gogh's Cart with Black Ox. Also part of the museum is the Northwest Film Center School of Art and the visual-arts focused Crumpacker Family Library.
Official site: http://portlandartmuseum.org/
Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden opened in the year 2000 to shed light on Chinese culture and history after the city developed a relationship with its sister city of Suzhou, China. This tranquil environment blends rocks, plants, trees, gardens, and a lake on about 40,000 square feet, roughly a city block, of land in central Portland. Artisans came from Suzhou to construct traditional buildings and walkways, and native Chinese plants were imported. Completing the garden is a lovely tea house.
Official site: http://www.lansugarden.org/
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The OMSI complex in Portland includes a theater with four-story screen, a planetarium, a US Navy submarine, and educational hands-on displays. Among the galleries, visitors will find colorful, entertaining, and educational exhibits for young children, as well as hands-on and interactive displays for all ages. Some of the fields covered may include energy, the environment, health, chemistry, engineering, and technology. Docked just outside the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is the USS Blueback, a non-nuclear submarine which was in use for over 30 years. This submarine was featured in the movie Hunt for Red October. Today visitors can climb aboard for a guided tour.
Official site: www.omsi.edu
Located in Washington Park, Oregon Zoo features hundreds of species including many birds and marine animals like Steller sea lions and sea otters. There are animals from all over the world, from the African savannah to the Amazon and Arctic. One man, Richard Knight, put together a private collection of animals and began the zoo in the late 1800s. Visitors may also want to take the time to learn about the Oregon Zoo's conservation programs and research as one of the primary focuses is on preserving the species of the Pacific Northwest.
Official site: www.oregonzoo.org
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Beyond the Pacific Northwest's rhododendrons, this Portland garden also contains azaleas, Japanese maples, dogwood, and magnolias on almost ten acres of land. While the main attraction is, of course, the spring blooms, when the colors are simply incredible, the spectacle continues into early summer. In winter, admission is free and the garden becomes a more peaceful place to spend some time. The many lovely features include waterfalls and ponds along with many coniferous trees.