Washington Park#1 in Best Things To Do in Portland, OR
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.
Recent visitors said even with all the attractions, the park never feels crowded and gives visitors the perfect opportunity to experience nature in the middle of the city.
Washington Park is located in the Southwest Portland, between West Burnside Street and U.S. Highway 26. You can pay to park or take advantage of several public transit options. TriMet's Blue and Red MAX Light Rail lines serve the Washington Park MAX station. From May to September, the park offers a seasonal free shuttle that stops at all of the park's major attractions. If you're coming to the park via light rail or bus, you can catch the shuttle on the plaza level of the Washington Park station.
Washington Park is open every day from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., and while entry is free, specific attractions within the park may charge admission. For more information check out the Explore Washington Park website, the nonprofit that maintains the park.
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#2 International Rose Test Garden
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.
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