Regarded as “The Rose City,” Portland, OR is filled with delicious food, stunning scenery, and a vibrant culture. It’s no wonder why around 640,000 people choose to call this city home. With so much to do and see, you may be wondering what locations you need to check out as a local. Whether you own a house in the Northwest District, are renting an apartment in the Pearl District, or just moved and want to know what it’s like living in Portland, we’ve got the list for you. We reached out to local experts to share the most beautiful places in Portland, and here is what they had to say.
Columbia River Gorge
East of Portland, you’ll find the Columbia River Gorge, which has some of the most incredible scenery. It is an 80-mile-long river canyon that is the largest designated National Scenic Area in America.
Samantha Shannon, a Portland local specializing in fine art family photos raves, “It’s completely worth the quick 45-minute drive. The best spot is Beacon Rock, where you’ll find great views of the gorge and plenty of hiking.” Some other great hikes in and around the area include Angel’s Rest, Ponytail Falls, and Munra Point.
Another spot just outside of Portland is the waterfall corridor which is located within the Columbia River Gorge. KMT Photos notes, “I would definitely recommend going to see Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, and drive up to Vista House. This is really a 30-45 minute drive outside the city, and I think it is completely worth it. The beauty of the PNW is unmatched.”
Powell Butte Nature Park
Powell Butte Nature Park is an extinct cinder cone volcano managed by the Portland Parks and Recreation Department. The park is home to open meadows, hawthorn trees, and a number of wildlife including ground squirrels, foxes, and raccoons.
“It’s a great place for bike riders, birders, hikers, photographers, and an easy family picnic spot,” shares Posy Quarterman, a local family photographer. “There are paved paths, plenty of opportunity for wildlife sightings, and a gorgeous view of several of our mountains on a clear day.”
Washington Park is an urban park with an arboretum, rose garden, Japanese Garden, zoo, and more.
“My favorite beautiful place in Portland is Washington Park,” says local photographer Elizabeth Hite. “It is nestled in the forest and in the gorgeous Southwest neighborhood of Portland. At Washington Park, you can spend a day hiking miles of beautiful trails, visit the Zoo with your family, or enjoy a scenic picnic at the Rose Garden.”
She also recommends spending a day at the Hoyt Arboretum in Washington Park. From there you can take the Wildwood trail up for a beautiful hilltop view or hike down, deep into the forest to visit the Hoyt Arboretum Redwood.
Kristal Passy, a local Portland photographer adds, “One of my favorite places in Portland is the Hoyt Arboretum because it has many trails to wander along and discover a mix of forests, hillsides, and creeks. What I love most about this hilltop nature preserve is that it has a range of activities just minutes away in all directions. To the south, is the Portland Zoo and to the north the Pittock Mansion. Also, just a few minutes drive down the hill to the east is the Rose garden, Japanese garden and Washington Park.”
Fritz Liedtke of Fritz Photo shares, “One of our favorite beautiful places in Portland is Macleay Park and trail. It is part of Forest Park, and it follows a beautiful little stream up a forested ravine. Along the way, you’ll pass the ‘Witch’s Castle’ (a graffiti-covered old stone building), and you’ll end up at Pittock Mansion, a historic mansion and grounds with astounding views of the city and distant mountains. It’s a great place for a walk, trail run, or portrait photo shoot.”
Located under one of Portland’s most iconic bridges, this Cathedral Park venue is one of the best places to go for Portland’s unpredictable rainy weather.
“With the bridge protecting a small pavilion, this space makes for the perfect rainy day. Grab a coffee and a great book to read under the bridge and walk around the park to see the gorgeous Willamette River, only a few steps from the park,” notes Lana of Auburn Photography.
Columbia Children’s Arboretum
Located in the Northeast area of Portland, The Columbia Children’s Arboretum contains a tree from every state in America.
“One of my favorite places in Portland is a little park tucked away in the North Portland Industrial area called Columbia Children’s Arboretum,” boasts Beth Olson, a local creative. “This gorgeous sanctuary has it all – a walking path, flowering plants in bloom during the spring and summer, dazzling fall foliage, open meadows, a small grove of old orchard trees, a creek, and even the occasional deer. Take a stroll early morning or just before sunset for some really epic light that makes the field grasses glow.”
The Eastside Esplanade-Waterfront provides stunning views of Portland’s skyline.
“My favorite beautiful place in Portland is the Eastside Waterfront. It’s a beautiful view of downtown and has the best sunset views in the city, complete with the river, bridges, and buildings. In the summer my family loves to go for a bridge loop walk, often starting with Tilikum Bridge and circling back on either the Hawthorne or Steel Bridge depending on our schedule. The mix of city and nature make it one of our favorite places in town,” shares Nate Meeds, a wedding photographer in Portland.
Photo courtesy of Nate Meeds
“Kenton is an up-and-coming neighborhood in Portland that has my heart,” reveals Alexandra Celia. “If you stroll down Denver, you’ll find a small strip of eateries, like Posie’s Bakery which has freshly baked goods daily, and is always packed with locals. Or Presso Cafe which has the best avocado toast. There’s also the iconic 31 foot tall sculpture of Paul Bunyan and the rolling hills of Kenton Park which host little league games on the weekend, romping dogs, and picnic goers.”
Encompassing around 300 acres, the Pearl District is a lively neighborhood that features many bars, restaurants, breweries, coffee shops, and small stores.
“One of my favorite places to wander around Portland is the Pearl District. It is so full of fun shops, cute eateries, and historic buildings as well as innovative new architecture. Most of the restaurants have outdoor seating areas which have been wonderful during the pandemic for going out to support local establishments,” says Ambient Sky which specializes in wedding photography and videography.
Wildwood Hiking Trail
Wildwood Hiking Trail is a 29.5 point-to-point urban hiking trail that features diverse views and foliage.
“My favorite spot in the greater Portland area is on the Wildwood hiking trail in Forest Park. I’ve always loved just how peaceful it is. It is so unexpected to find such a lush and green landscape within city limits. I enjoy how easy it is to feel like you’ve instantly been transported into the wilderness,” remarks local wedding photographer Marcela García Pulido.