Here in Portland, Oregon, we’re huge fans of Spring and Summer. Maybe it has to do with the fact that the Pacific Northwest has one of the rainiest winters in the United States (we got close to 26 inches of rain just in December last year!), or maybe it’s the cloud-cover from October to April, but when Spring hits, Pacific Northwesterners are up and at ’em, getting outdoors and soaking in as much sun as we can, whether it’s out and about in the city, hiking through the Columbia gorge or hitting the beach. GiftTree’s Marketing and Design departments got together to create this sunny list of our favorite Spring and Summer activities in Portland and its neighboring towns. If you ever visit the Pacific Northwest, we hope you can hit some of these Spring and Summer attractions. Onward!
Parks, Hikes and Outdoorsy Goodness
Columbia River Gorge and Mt. St. Helens Hiking Trails – As temperatures rise, rains ebb and the sun begins to peak out from behind the clouds, many people from the Portland area head out into the outdoors and surrounding forests to explore and have fun. Within an hour or two drive from Portland, there are numerous hiking opportunities, two great places to explore are the Columbia River Gorge and Mount St. Helens. If you’re looking for gorgeous views of waterfalls, the Gorge is a great place to go. Trailheads can be found on both sides of the Columbia River in Oregon and Washington, however most waterfalls will be found on the South side of the river in Oregon. The hikes range from easy to strenuous and range in distance from short to multi-day. Another great option is to head a couple hours north from Portland to Mount St. Helens. You’ll be treated to otherworldly views created by the 1980 eruption and the amazing rapidity of nature’s recovery after such devastation. As you head towards Mount St. Helens, you’ll see breathtaking views of the northwest flanks of the mountain. Each mile east takes you closer to views of the inner crater and the diverse landscapes that were created by the eruption. Map out your hike at the Columbia Gorge here, or plan your Mount St. Helen’s adventure here!
Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, Vancouver, Washington – Frenchman’s Bar because is less frequented than more popular parks, for those who enjoy the peace of less-than-rowdy crowd. With numerous playgrounds, volleyball nets in sand, plenty of picnic tables and lots of grass to lounge next to the lazy (looking) river, it’s the perfect spot for a picnic on a Spring or Summer afternoon. Head over to the Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park website to plan a flawless afternoon in the Summer sun with friends and family.
Mount Tabor Park, Southeast Portland – This gorgeous 197-acre park space is located right in the heart of Southeast Portland, making for a convenient retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. The “mount” itself is a dormant volcanic vent, covered in towering evergreens and rising above the city to become one of Portland’s most iconic destinations. Hit up the dog park first to wear out the pups, of course, so they’ll sleep for the picnic that was prepared to take to the top of Mount Tabor to enjoy the sunset with your choice of view: West, overlooking Portland’s cityscape, or East, watching Mt. Hood change colors with the fading light. Check out the Mount Tabor website for more details on this jewel of Portland.
Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, Woodburn, Oregon – Can you imagine 40 acres of vivid, breathtaking tulips, all organized by color, stretching out in a rainbow expanse before your very eyes? You’ll have to convince yourself you’re not in Holland here at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon, a short drive south of Portland. Stroll through the tulip fields, take a hayride, buy tulips and bulbs, taste local wines and bring the kids to enjoy a train ride and a little fair food. And did we mention it’s a photographer’s dream? We’d say it’s best to go from late March to mid-April, but the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival Website is really good at keeping everyone up to date on peak tulip season.
International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park, Portland – Exemplifying Portland’s “City of Roses” nickname, the International Rose Test Garden inside Washington Park boasts over 7,000 (yes – seven thousand) rose plants in over 600 varieties, from huge hybrid tea roses, to climbing trellises, to miniature roses in every hue imaginable. Founded in 1917, the garden’s primary purpose was to serve as a testing ground for new rose varieties, as the Pacific Northwest climate is just perfect for growing roses. Situated on 5 acres, the garden has several tiers that face downtown, and on a clear day, you can enjoy a view of Mount Hood as you get lost wandering through the rows and rows of intoxicatingly perfumed roses. You can also do a little shopping at the Rose Garden Store, a quaint shop at the entrance of the garden that features all things rose and rose-scented. (I know I’m supposed to be writing in third person here, but I just have to say that the International Rose Test Garden is not to be missed.) And did we mention it’s FREE? Head over to the Rose Garden’s website to plan a seriously stunning afternoon.
Eats, Drinks, and Shopping
Breakside Brewery, Northeast Portland – A sunny, summery outdoor patio, great burgers, and microbrews made onsite – what more could you want? Take a visit to this Dekum street gem and you’ll find an inviting outdoor seating area with long, communal picnic tables, plenty of bike parking, and a food menu packed with delicious choices, many of them local, seasonal and organic – from towering nachos to flavorful and unique burgers. Try the Lamb-wich, but watch out, it’s messy, and pair it with one (or several) pints of the refreshing, yet flavorful Lunch Break ISA. Fun Fact: Breakside recently landed silver medals in the Smoke Beer and in the International-style Pale Ale categories at the 2016 World Beer Cup! Check out what’s on tap and on the menu at Breakside’s website. And here’s an insider’s tip: afterwards, head across the street to finish the night right at Bushwhacker cider with a cider and whiskey pairing!
Portland State University Farmer’s Market, Southwest Portland – Spend a sunny Saturday morning at the Farmer’s Market at PSU with friends and family, and you won’t regret it. Enjoy a biscuit with butter and strawberry jam from Loretta Jean’s, a Cubano sandwich from Pono Farms, pretzels and beer bread from Fressen. Pick up plant starters from Sun Gold Farm, cheese from Goldin Farmstead, and fresh produce at the Winters Farm booth. There’s always live music to dance to, and the atmosphere is vibrant. Bring a blanket and picnic in the grass and let the kids run around! There is even a little playground at the end of the South Park Blocks where SW Park Ave meets Jackson St. Plan your visit to the PSU Farmer’s Market here!
Blackbird Wineshop, Northeast Portland – Sun Alert! When the bright, blinding, ball of sun makes its first appearance in Spring, a favorite destination in Portland is Blackbird Wineshop! Featuring a lovely section of outdoor seating (even though you may still be wearing your warm fleeces), room for your four legged friends, fantastic food and of course, Rosé, this is one of Portland’s most popular spots for casual sippers and connoisseurs alike. Visit Blackbird Wineshop’s adorable website for more information.
Tidbit Food Farm & Garden, Southeast Portland – Offering a curated selection of food carts that serve classics like wood fired pizza, to more adventurous offerings like octopus takoyaki, Tidbit is where many Portlanders head when the weather gets warm and they’re hankering for something tasty, but want lots of choices. How about a decadent candied bacon burger, or a huge bowl of smoky, savory Tonkatsu ramen? Tidbit has both and they’re crazy delicious. You can find food carts all over Portland, sure, but Tidbit brings the food cart experience to a whole different level with a local beer garden, plentiful picnic seating and a kid and dog friendly environment. We guarantee that Tidbit Food Farm and Garden is going to quickly become a favorite place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.
What are your favorite Spring and Summer destinations in your area? Tell us about it!