Get away without crossing city limits | Portland is considered a green city for a number of reasons, its landscape being the most obvious. The city—dotted with patches of trees and colored by scenic parks—is nestled between vast forests, mountains and rivers, making it an ideal playground for outdoor enthusiasts and the perfect backdrop for city enthusiasts who appreciate a good view.
Portland is considered a green city for a number of reasons, its landscape being the most obvious.
The city—dotted with patches of trees and colored by scenic parks—is nestled between vast forests, mountains and rivers, making it an ideal playground for outdoor enthusiasts and the perfect backdrop for city enthusiasts who appreciate a good view.
Portland is so beautiful, in fact, that not even the city’s cloudy reputation and annual rainfall statistics can keep people from arriving en masse.
So, while you’re here in the City of Roses with an adventure land at your disposal, you might as well grab a rain shell, pack a lunch and set out for an urban picnic in one of the city’s many outdoor settings.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Southwest Harrison Street and Naito Parkway
The closest outdoor lunch spot Portland State students should take advantage of—aside from the Park Blocks, of course—is Waterfront Park.
The Oregon Brewers Festival and the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival both take place on this stretch of park that runs along the Willamette River. With the backdrop of downtown behind you and the scenic spread of what lies beyond the bridges to Southeast in front of you, Waterfront Park serves as the textbook definition of an urban-picnic spot. It’s within walking distance of campus, so you have no excuse to not make the trek down to the water.
Tanner Springs Park
Northwest 10th Avenue and Marshall Street
In the Pearl District, modestly tucked between ritzy condos and fine dining, is Tanner Springs Park. After a first look at the Pearl, it would be hard to imagine the grimy and rundown industrial area it used to be. And if it weren’t for Tanner Springs Park, the area’s natural history would be doomed to obscurity.
Preserved in slightly less than an acre is a glimpse of the wetland that this part of the city once was. Now, park-goers can sit among the remnants of the marshy area and look out toward a stunning view of the Fremont Bridge arching over the Willamette. The park is super accessible from campus—it’s located directly along the Portland Streetcar’s North/South Line. All PSU students are granted free access to the streetcar with a flash of their student ID cards.
Lower Macleay and Forest Park
Northwest 29th Avenue and Upshur Street
Forest Park is the farthest from campus, but it’s worth the trek. And actually, it isn’t even that far away. If you catch the streetcar’s North/South Line up to Northwest 23rd Avenue and Marshall Street (the furthest point on its loop) you’ll have about a 20-minute walk to the entrance of Forest Park.
After that, it’s up to you to decide how far you’re willing to go: The park in its entirety spans 5,172 acres, making Forest Park the largest forested natural area within city limits in the U.S.
As soon as you step into this forested wonderland, you’ll immediately forget you’re literally blocks away from bustling city life. The seemingly endless trails and babbling creeks, all under the cover of the park’s massive tree canopy, make the perfect setting for a pseudo-“get out of town” day trip.