International Rose Test Garden#2 in Best Things To Do in Portland, OR
Not until you visit these sprawling gardens will you fully understand the reasoning behind one of Portland's nicknames, the City of Roses. Established in 1917 by the American Rose Society, it began as a sanctuary for European grown hybrid roses during World War I and is now the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States.
Home to more than 10,000 roses, the site also offers the special Shakespeare Garden, which is filled with roses that are named after the characters in William Shakespeare's plays. To get a peek at smaller versions of your favorite roses, check out the Miniature Rose Garden. The award-winning roses are found in the aptly named Gold Award garden. If you have your heart set on seeing the roses in full bloom, plan an early summer visit.
If navigating the nearly 5-acre park seems overwhelming, volunteers lead daily free tours at 1 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. Meet the guide at the Rose Garden store 10 minutes prior. Recent visitors were awed at the beauty of the gardens and at the price for enjoying the gardens (free!).
The garden is open from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. You can drive to Washington Park, though parking can be tricky (especially in the summer) and expensive. You can view the parking availability within the park online. TriMet bus No. 63 offers service to the garden and connects to the MAX stations at Oregon Zoo and Providence Park. You can also take the Red or Blue line MAX train to the Washington Park stop (the zoo) and then take a free Explore Washington Park shuttle to the garden. For more information, visit the Portland Parks and Recreation website.
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#1 Washington Park
Many critics, travelers and locals agree that of all of Portland's parks (and they are numerous), Washington Park is perhaps the best. Home to such notable landscaping feats as the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden, as well as the World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum and several memorials dedicated to pivotal points in Oregon's history.
There are also family-friendly attractions like the Oregon Zoo and Portland Children's Museum along with a large playground, soccer fields, tennis courts and an archery range. Just make sure you save plenty of time for a leisurely stroll down one of the many shady paths, which are often decorated with flower displays and fountains.
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