My boys were on Spring Break last week, which we spent in one of our all time favorite cities, New Orleans! There’s just something about it, a vibe that we just can’t get enough of! While I’m sorting through my photos and notes from last week, I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane and share our visit to another great city which also has a vibe all its own: Portland, Oregon!
Portland, is just a three hour drive from Seattle (where I’m from), and with so many family friendly activities, great restaurants, and shopping opportunities it makes a pretty great weekend destination! Having spent quite a bit of time in Portland as a youth, It had been years since my last visit, and I was eager to show my kids around. With only two days to explore we wouldn’t be able to see everything, but we did our best to at least scratch the surface!
A large portion of our visit was spent in Washington Park, which covers over 400 acres, and includes the Portland Zoo, The International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Gardens, multiple museums, playgrounds and picnic areas.
We really enjoyed the Portland Zoo, which has a very Pacific northwest feel about it. The forested areas, natural habitats, and lots of interactive exhibits made the entire experience fun and immersive for the entire family. My younger son really enjoyed the children’s area and petting zoo.
A highlight of our weekend was our visit to the gardens in Washington Park. We had time for both the International Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Gardens, which are conveniently located next to one another.
Opened in 1917 the International Rose Test Garden is home to over 7,000 rose plants and 550 varieties. They bloom from April through October depending on the weather. Roses are sent here from around the world to be tested for color, fragrance, resistance to disease and other attributes. We loved walking up and down the rows stopping here and there to smell the roses, and reading all the different names. Our visit took place in June, which is the height of the blooming season.
Having loved our visit to Japan, we are excited at any opportunity to visit Japanese gardens, so as soon as we heard Portland had one we were in! We were not disappointed, and since our visit three years ago, extensive renovations and additions were completed, which I’m sure have only enhanced what was already a spectacular place.
Completed in 1967 the idea for Portland’s Japanese gardens was first conceived in the 1950s as a way to create a healing and cultural connection to Japan after WWII. Since that time, they’ve received repeated accolades from visiting Japanese dignitaries, and are justifiably a popular tourist destination.
If you enjoy a bit of shopping and dining, you’re in luck because Portland has plenty of both! The Pearl District and 23rd Street are great places for poking and in out of shops ranging from one of a kind boutiques to the main stream as well as art galleries, coffee shops, wine bars and more!
We loved our meal at Andina a Peruvian restaurant in the Pearl where the food, service and ambiance were all perfect!
Tips & Advice:
- The Rose Test Garden is open from 7:30 am – 9:00 pm daily and offers free public tours daily at 1:00pm, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
- Check the website for the information on the Japanese Garden as the hours vary throughout the year. Complimentary tours are included with your admission.
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