Washington Park Portland.

Washington Park Portland

Japanese Garden Photo © Paul VanDerWerf

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Washington Park Portland

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Washington Park - Washington Park
Washington Park - Washington Park Portland. Photo by Carmen
Washington Park is the signature park of Portland, Oregon. Covering more than 410 acres on wooded hillsides just two miles west of the city center, this vast park contains gardens; museums, a zoo; the magnificent Portland International Rose Test Garden, an amphitheater; an archery range, the Portland Japanese Garden; playgrounds, numerous sports fields; and many miles and acres of hiking and cycling trails. 160 acres of the park’s total surface area is city park land and is officially designated as ‘Washington Park’. Together with the 187-acre Hoyt Arboretum and the 84-acre Oregon Zoo, it makes up the Washington Park that is seen on maps and on road signs. The park is bordered by the enormous Forest Park, a 5,100-acre expanse of wilderness, which is in fact one of the largest urban wildernesses in the United States.


The park is one of the oldest, most used, and best loved green areas in Portland. It all started in 1871, when the city bought the park’s original 40.87 acres from Amos N. King for more than $ 30,000 USD , which was a very high price for a piece of land at a time when Portland’s population was only about 8,000 and the site was a tree- and brush-covered hillside where cougars roamed. The area was designated ‘City Park’ and consisted of only a few trails.

In the 1880s, the city hired a man named Charles M. Meyers as the first park keeper. He was a former seaman and a German native. Not having any landscape training whatsoever, Charles transformed the park based on his memories of parks in Germany and other European countries. By the turn of the century, there were landscaped areas, trails; roads, hedges; a zoo, and a flower garden. A few changes were suggested by John C. Olmsted in 1903 while traveling through the city. The park’s name was changed to Washington Park in 1909. The last major addition was made in 1922, with the transfer of the entire 160-acre County Poor Farm.

	Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by Ryan Stavely


International Rose Test
International Rose Test Garden
Washington Park is filled to the brim with attractions, sights and recreational areas. The amount of things to see and do is overwhelming – actually seeing everything properly would take several days.

International Rose Test Garden

The world-renowned International Rose Test Garden is the oldest, still-operating public rose test garden in the United States. It contains more than 700 different species and 10,000 individual plants, beautifully displayed in a 4.5-acre garden. Peak blooming season falls generally between late May and September.

Hoyt Arboretum

The fantastic Hoyt Arboretum, founded in 1928, is sometimes referred to as ‘Portland’s living classroom’. This 187-acre area consists of twelve miles of hiking trails, more than a thousand species of plants and almost 10,000 individual trees and shrubs.

Portland Children’s Museum

If there’s a place where children can learn by doing, it is the Portland Children’s Museum. This excellent museum encourages hands-on learning through more than a dozen exhibitions, including a theater room, a pet hospital, a baby’s garden and a so-called dig pit with shovels.

Oregon Zoo

Famed for its breeding program for Asian elephants, the Oregon Zoo (Wikipedia Article) is home to more than 2,000 animals of 250 species, including sea lions, African lions and polar bears.

Portland Japanese
Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

One of the greatest Japanese gardens in the world and the most authentic outside of Japan, the 5.5-acre Portland Japanese Garden is a highlight of any visit to the city. There are five unique gardenscapes, all set among cherry trees, Japanese maples, and azaleas.

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

This engaging science center allows visitors to learn about forests, forestry and all related subjects through educational exhibits. There are canopy rides, Jeep tours in African jungles and so on.

Recreational Facilities

Visitors can also relax or get their heartbeats up by using the numerous recreational facilities in the park. There are dozens of miles of walking, running and biking trails, soccer fields, tennis courts, and playgrounds, but also extensive lawns and picnic areas.

Visiting Washington Park

	up to Washington Park - Washington Park Portland
Staircase up to Washington Park - Washington Park Portland. Photo by ben jones
Washington Park is so big and so packed with things to do that it takes more than just an afternoon to see everything. Although it is a great to relax and unwind, most visitors do come back a second or even third time to see more of the attractions.

The park is free to visit and open every day from 5 a.m to 10 p.m. Some attractions do ask an entrance fee.

How to Get There

Washington Park is located on S.W. Kingston Avenue, about two miles from Downtown Portland. The most convenient way to get there is by the MAX light rail’s Blue and Red Lines. The MAX Washington Park station lies close to Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, and other attractions. TriMet Bus 63 runs from downtown to Washington Park as well, with stops near many of the area’s attractions. Getting to the park is also possibly on foot or by bicycle, a healthy and fun way to get around the city.

Similar and Nearby Landmarks

Other parks and gardens in Portland include the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Oregon Zoo and Providence Park. Historical and cultural attractions worth visiting are Fort Vancouver, the Pittock Mansion and the Portland Art Museum.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Feb 21, 2015

Pictures of Washington Park Portland

Washington Park Walk 24 - Washington Park Portland
Washington Park Walk 24 - Washington Park Portland. Photo by MarkMcClure @WalksInPortland

Forest path - Washington Park Portland
Forest path - Washington Park Portland. Photo by George Goodman

Washington Park Walk 16 - Washington Park Portland
Washington Park Walk 16 - Washington Park Portland. Photo by MarkMcClure @WalksInPortland

International Rose Test Garden - Washington Park Portland
International Rose Test Garden - Washington Park Portland. Photo by Matthew Bietz


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