“Going green” isn’t just an eco-friendly term around Portland. “Green,” in the form of abundant natural spaces, is what makes the city one of America’s most livable places and enjoyable to visit. A perfect example of urban green is Washington Park. Perched on a hill overlooking downtown, beautiful Washington Park encompasses a zoo, forestry center, traditional Japanese gardens, an arboretum, and miles of forested hiking trails. The International Rose Test Gardens are here, too, giving Portland the nickname “The City of Roses.” For over a century, the Rose Test Gardens have featured more than 7,000 roses bushes in 500 fragrant varieties. The park is even more delightful on a clear day when snowy Mount Hood backdrops the city below.
The green doesn’t stop there. It’s easy to miss, but the world’s smallest dedicated park space, 24-inch Mill Ends Park, is near 2-mile long Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. In addition to walking, biking, and watching ships sail the Willamette River, visitors will also enjoy the park’s many fountains, statues, and memorials. Waterfront Park is also home to lively Portland Saturday Market— where you can shop ‘til you drop each weekend from March through December. Portland Saturday Market has been the largest outdoor arts and crafts market for over 35 years, and features only locally-made products.
Neighborhoods are what really give the city of Portland its character. Diverse choices for restaurants and shopping, such as those found in the newer Mississippi area, earthy Southeast Hawthorne, and trendy Pearl District, are a short Tri-Met ride away from downtown. Tri-Met is the city’s efficient public transportation system, and preferable to driving your RV when exploring neighborhoods. Nob Hill, especially the area around Northwest 23rd, is an eclectic mix of national chain stores and local shops. The Portland Aerial Tram connects the Oregon Health & Science University campus on Marquam Hill with the South Waterfront neighborhood. Hospital employees use the tram as transportation to and from their jobs. Tourists will love it for the views!
If you enjoy museums, you’re also in luck. The Portland Art Museum, Oregon History Center, and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) are fun and interesting for all ages. Kids have so much fun at OMSI that they don’t even realize they’re learning! Another Portland must-see is Powell’s Books, the nation’s largest independent bookstore. Bibliophiles should grab a map at the front door; you’ll definitely need it to navigate the color-coded rooms that contain over one million new and used tomes.
When you’re ready to start your new book or just people-watch, take a break in Pioneer Courthouse Square— an open-air plaza in downtown that locals use as an urban living room. If you time your visit just right, you can watch the Weather Machine make its quirky prediction each day at noon. No matter the weather, though, you’ll enjoy how Portland balances its big city conveniences with green spaces and a small town feel.Research Campgrounds, Plan RV Safe Routes & Turn your phone into an RV GPS.
Try the RV LIFE Pro Bundle FREE for 7 days
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com