Guide to The Best Portland, Oregon Parks

Waterfront Park in Portland (Photo by dog97209 / Flickr)

Portland is home to a whopping 325 parks with nearly 90% of the city's residents living within a 10 minute walk of one (far above the national average of just 55%). The sheer density of parks and green spaces in the City of Roses is just one of the many charms this beautiful city has to offer. From one of the largest urban forests in the country to the smallest park in the world, we'll highlight the best parks in Portland no matter what part of town you're in or what you're looking to do.

Best Portland Parks

Northwest Portland Parks

Forest Park

Witch's Castle in Forest Park via Wikipedia

With more than 80 miles of hiking trails, 40 access points, and covering 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the country and largest urban park in the state. On any given day, you'll find the park teeming with Portlanders trail running, hiking, or just communing with nature.

Check out my favorite hike in the park that starts at Lower Macleay Park, passes by the Audubon Society, then ends at the breathtaking Pittock Mansion in the West Hills with great views of the city and Willamette River.

forest park
Photo via Pittock Mansion website

Tanner Springs Park

tanner springs park
Tanner Springs photo by Gregory Wilson via Google Local

NW 10th Avenue and Marshall Street

A true city park, Tanner Springs is one of the newest parks in Portland. Set in the trendy Pearl District, this hidden oasis is a great place to have a picnic, watch the ducks, or just sit on a bench soaking in the rays.

Northeast Portland Parks

Rocky Butte Natural Area

parks in portland
Rocky Butte photo by David Jankowski via Google Local

NE Rocky Butte Road

Rocky Butte is one of a small chain of volcanic cinder cones that stretch along Portland's east side. Until the 1980's this area was actually a jail, but now is home to a small park with awesome views of the city lights and space for picnicking, tossing around a frisbee, or walking the dog.

Kʰunamokwst Park

parks in portland
Kʰunamokwst park photo via

5200 NE Alberta St

Kʰunamokwst Park (pronounced KAHN-ah-mockst) isn't very large, but it has one of the coolest playgrounds in town with a great mix of natural and man-made structures with an interactive splash pad where kids can control the the flow of water and watch it cascade though dams and sluice gates. Plus, they have a skate park!

Irving Park

parks in portland
Irving Park photo by Yü Wu via Google Local

707 NE Fremont St

Irving Park is one of the larger parks in Portland and pretty much has everything you could want: tennis courts, basketball courts, baseball fields, playgrounds, splash pad, nature paths, picnic tables, an off leash dog area, and plenty of open grass for frolicking.

Southeast Portland Parks

Laurelhurst Park

parks in portland
Laurelhurst Park photo via

SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd and Stark Street

Laurelhurst Park is hands down one of the most beautiful parks in Portland with its spring-fed pond dotted with ducks, acres of towering trees, and expansive green lawns. Designed in 1912, this city park takes inspiration from New York's Central Park and is even on the National Register of Historic Places.

They also have a dog off leash area, picnic tables, and in the summer is host to Shakespeare in the park, movies, and concerts. It's also right in the heart of NE Portland so you can quickly hit up one of the city's hip restaurants or bars after enjoying a day in the park.

Sellwood Riverfront Park

parks in portland
Sellwood Riverfront photo by Christian G. Warden via Google Local

SE Spokane Street and Oaks Parkway

Sellwood Park sits right on the Willamette River and it is downright poppin' on a summer afternoon with swimmers, kayakers, and sun bathers escaping the city heat. It's also right next door to Oaks Amusement Park and Roller Rink and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, two of my favorite places in the city.

Mt. Tabor Park

parks in portland
Mt. Tabor photo by Renee Lau via Google Local

SE 60th Ave & SE Salmon St

One of the most popular parks in Portland and home to the always fun Adult Soapbox Derby, Mt. Tabor offers killer views if the city while walking the dog, going for a jog, or just killing time with friends. Plus, its prime location puts you only a handful of blocks to the quirky Hawthorne Blvd.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

parks in portland
Rhododendron Garden photo via Crystal Springs Garden website

5801 SE 28th Ave

As you might expect, the Rhododendron Gardens are filled with rhodies of every color imaginable as well as azaleas and exquisite, unique trees. The entire 9.5 acre park is stunningly beautiful even when the flowers aren't in bloom, but to view the park in its full splendor visit April through June. Note there is an entrance fee of $5 to enter the park, but Mondays are free.

Powell Butte Nature Park

parks in portland
Powell Butte photo by Chris via Google Local

16160 SE Powell Blvd

Powell Butte Nature Park is in deep SE Portland which can be a bit of a drive for most city dwellers, but it's the best park for those looking for wide open spaces with hiking trails, mountain biking, and even horse riding can't be beat. And at 603 acres you'll be able to get your nature fix at Powell Butte without feeling like you're crowded for space.

Southwest Portland Parks

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

parks in portland
Waterfront Park via Google Local

Naito Parkway between SW Harrison Street and NW Glisan Street

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is home to countless events throughout the year from big-name musical acts, beer and food festivals, and the much beloved Rose Festival. The park stretches the length of downtown along the waterfront with lush green lawns, plenty of benches, paved paths, fountains to run through, and the cherry blossoms in the spring will take your breath away.

Washington Park

parks in portland
Washington Park amphitheater via

400 SW Kingston Avenue

As a Portland local, there are some "toursity" attractions that you tend to avoid, but Washington Park is decidedly not one of these. Y'all, I never get sick of this place since there's just so much packed into on spot: the International Rose Test Garden, Oregon Zoo, Portland Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, and the Hoyt Arboretum. Honestly, one of the best parks in the Pacific Northwest.

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Hoyt Arboretum via Explore Washington Park

Council Crest Park

parks in portland
Council Crest Park photo by Nhan via Google Local

1120 SW Council Crest Dr,

Council Crest Park is the highest point in the city at 1,073 feet, and for a city that lays mostly just above sea level that's saying a lot. The views from the top let you see five peaks of the Cascade Range in addition to picturesque downtown Portland.

Mill Ends Park

parks in portland
Mill Ends Park via

56 SW Taylor St.

THE WORLD'S SMALLEST PARK! Also, legend has it that it's home to the leprechaun, Patrick O'Toole.

North Portland Parks

Cathedral Park St Johns

parks in portland
St Johns Bridge and Cathedral Park via

6635 N Baltimore Ave

The St. Johns Bridge is the prettiest in the city with its towering green spires and gothic arches underneath. Below the bridge is the equally beautiful Cathedral Park, backdrop of a gazillion wedding portraits and the setting for the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival in July.

Peninsula Park

parks in portland
Peninsula Park photo by Brad Lane via Google Local

700 N Rosa Parks Way

If you can't make it out to the International Rose Test Gardens in Washington Park, a great alternative is Peninsula Park in North Portland for their smaller (yet still huge) rose garden that was actually the city's first public rose garden. There's also a cool playground, seasonal pool, baseball fields, and community center.

Pier Park

parks in portland
Pier Park photo via Wikipedia

N Lombard Street and Bruce Avenue

The shade created by the towering doug fir, red cedar, and sequoia trees give Pier Park a somewhat eerie vibe, which is why it was chosen as a regular filming locale for the TV show, Grimm. This is my neighborhood park, and I can't say enough good things about it. There's a community pool, skate park, and one of the most popular disc golf courses in the state.