Posted by on Aug 22, 2015 in Gallery, Oregon, Travel | 23 comments

As long time Oregonians, we’ve been to Portland many times, sometimes for a long weekend, and more often for a night or two as we travel up and down the I-5 corridor in route to other destinations in the Pacific Northwest. I’m always delighted when we find ourselves in Portland when the roses are in bloom—from May till September, the city is lush with blooming roses, and there’s no better place to revel in their beauty than in the Portland Rose Garden.

At any time of year, though, Portland is an interesting and vibrant city. Green in both appearance and politics, Portland boasts more than 10,000 acres of parks and a liberal, environmentally conscious vibe. Throw in interesting neighborhoods, unique shops, independent bookstores, appealing museums, and beaucoup offerings of local and organic foods—we always find plenty to keep ourselves occupied when we’re visiting “The City of Roses.”

Our most recent stop in Portland was in late June on our way up to Lopez Island for the summer. We spent a delightful three days with Eric’s sister Peggy, and enjoyed a few of our favorite Portland attractions during our stay.

• Portland Rose Garden

Established in 1917 as a safe haven for hybrid European roses during World War I (rose fanciers feared that bombings might wipe out their favorite plants) the Portland International Rose Garden has since expanded to showcase more than 500 different varieties spread over 4.5 acres. The gardens serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties—Portland offers the ideal climate for roses, with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters.

It’s a heady experience to stroll through at the height of bloom—as an avid gardener with only a dozen rose bushes, it’s overwhelming to think of the amount of deadheading required to keep 10,000 rose bushes looking their finest. The rhythmic ‘clip-clip-clip’ of volunteers pruning accompanied our morning walk in the gardens. The Rose Garden is open daily and admission is free.

• The Japanese Garden

Hike straight uphill from the Rose Garden and you’ll find yourself at the gates of what is considered to be the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan. Founded in 1963 as a symbol of healing after World War II, the Portland Japanese Garden offers a peaceful respite in the city.

A stone path meanders through a landscape carefully planned for contemplation, with gorgeous Japanese maples, moss covered rocks, waterfalls, burbling streams, a koi pond, lovely tea house, and Zen influenced sand and stone gardens raked into intricate patterns. Much of the beauty is found in the small details. If you go, don’t miss the guided tour—it’s helpful for understanding the underlying meanings of the garden elements (for example, stone implies strength, water suggests life force, and plants represent the tapestry of seasons and life).

• Northwest District

We like to get out on foot to explore neighborhoods, and Portland has plenty of interesting neighborhoods to wander. This time we found ourselves in the Northwest district, a neighborhood of restored Craftsman and Victorian homes and narrow streets lined with a variety of unique independent shops. We enjoyed a delicious lunch at Ken’s Artisan Bakery, browsed the shops (including a bookstore that featured titles like “A Brief History of Underwear” and “A Complete Guide to Things That Can Kill You”), mingled with the locals, and treated ourselves to gourmet ice cream at award winning Salt & Straw, which offers unusual flavors like pear and blue cheese ice cream (we opted for coffee and chocolate, our all-time favorites).

• Farmers’ Market

If you find yourself in Portland, don’t miss the Saturday farmers’ market at Portland State University campus. It’s one of the best that we’ve found anywhere. The market is a lively event with hundreds of purveyors displaying the finest of Pacific Northwest homegrown and handcrafted foods—we filled our shopping bags with pastured eggs, an assortment of berries, smoked salmon, artisan goat cheese, artichokes, and more. It’s a shaded, lovely venue and a fun place to shop while enjoying the musical offerings of talented locals.

The City Of Roses: Portland, Oregon

Thousands Of Fragrant Roses

Strolling Through The Rose Garden

Pruning The Roses

On The Trails In Washington Park

The Japanese Garden

Patterns In The Sand

Pond In The Japanese Garden

Crane Sculptures In The Garden

Peggy And Eric In The Garden

Enjoying The Garden With Peggy

Ceramic Exhibit In The Japanese Garden

Japanese Folk Pottery

Portland Skyline From The Japanese Garden

Quirky Independent Bookstore

Delicious Lunch At Ken's Artisan Bakery

Gourmet Salt, Chocolate And Flower Shop

In Line For Salt and Straw Ice Cream

Ready To Shop The Farmers' Market

Portland Farmers' Market

Homegrown Music At The Market

Summer Fruit At The Market

Fresh Lavender At The Market

The City Of Roses: Portland, Oregon
Thousands Of Fragrant Roses
Strolling Through The Rose Garden
Pruning The Roses
On The Trails In Washington Park
The Japanese Garden
Patterns In The Sand
Pond In The Japanese Garden
Crane Sculptures In The Garden
Peggy And Eric In The Garden
Enjoying The Garden With Peggy
Ceramic Exhibit In The Japanese Garden
Japanese Folk Pottery
Portland Skyline From The Japanese Garden
Quirky Independent Bookstore
Delicious Lunch At Ken's Artisan Bakery
Gourmet Salt, Chocolate And Flower Shop
In Line For Salt and Straw Ice Cream
Ready To Shop The Farmers' Market
Portland Farmers' Market
Homegrown Music At The Market
Summer Fruit At The Market
Fresh Lavender At The Market
The City Of Roses: Portland, Oregon thumbnail
Thousands Of Fragrant Roses thumbnail
Strolling Through The Rose Garden thumbnail
Pruning The Roses thumbnail
On The Trails In Washington Park thumbnail
The Japanese Garden thumbnail
Patterns In The Sand thumbnail
Pond In The Japanese Garden thumbnail
Crane Sculptures In The Garden thumbnail
Peggy And Eric In The Garden thumbnail
Enjoying The Garden With Peggy thumbnail
Ceramic Exhibit In The Japanese Garden thumbnail
Japanese Folk Pottery thumbnail
Portland Skyline From The Japanese Garden thumbnail
Quirky Independent Bookstore thumbnail
Delicious Lunch At Ken's Artisan Bakery thumbnail
Gourmet Salt, Chocolate And Flower Shop thumbnail
In Line For Salt and Straw Ice Cream thumbnail
Ready To Shop The Farmers' Market thumbnail
Portland Farmers' Market thumbnail
Homegrown Music At The Market thumbnail
Summer Fruit At The Market thumbnail
Fresh Lavender At The Market thumbnail