“One thing Portland does really well,” I told my friend after our awesome dinner at Pembiche, “Is parks.”
“Parks?” She said, the look on her face curious and befuddled. “Like, Central Park?”
I laughed. “Well, nothing quite that grand. But, we have our points of pride.”
It’s true. I wouldn’t lie to my friend. I wouldn’t lie to you, dear reader. If you experience nothing in Portland except the parks, you have experienced a whole lot of wonderful. I won’t bother listing all of them. I mean, drive a hundred yards and you’ll find a park. We even have the world’s smallest park in Downtown Portland, which I’ve written about previously. But, that’s just a quirky little Portland Park.
No, we have parks all over this great city—some massive, some small. Some have lush vegetation, others are more spare and quaint. Depending on the season, you’ll see roses and tulips and hydrangea. There’s off leash dog parks, there’s on leash dog parks, parks with paved walking and running trails, parks with dirt paths and little to no manicuring, parks made entirely of sculpture and metal.
It’s not just the sheer number, it’s the quality. Portland Parks and Recreation takes pride in these escapes from the urban life to the mundane by keeping them clean and fresh. It’s really quite amazing that you can be honking your horn and sitting in traffic one minute and be in the serenity of nature only minutes later. They are true escapes.
So as I spoke with my friend, she wanted to see some. I had some time to kill and it was a beautiful late winter day, so we made out journey. We hit up Sellwood Park with its wide open spaces and ubiquitous mountain views. Dogs, here, run, often free and wild. It was off to Laurelwood Park on SE Foster, with it’s more urban vibe, a true retreat from nature with tall oaks and dirt trails. And, of course, we hit up downtown and the Keller Fountain Park. This park, of course, was made famous on Jackass when the Jackasses from Jackass rode their kayaks down these large fountains. This is not a park for getting lost in nature but, rather, an impressive example of form and function in an urban landscape.
Whatever your style, Portland has the park for you. Waterfront Park with its long view of the east side and plethora of joggers is the unofficial welcoming park for Portland. It’s all here. My friend checked out as many as she could and left thoroughly impressed. It made me so proud to live here.