Magnolia Park – Hillsboro

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What’s to Love:  Magnolia is a very cute little park in a semi-residential area of Hillsboro.  I say “semi-residential” due to the fact this area of Hillsboro has a combination of planned residential areas surrounded by retail/businesses.  I’m not sure how this city plan works for Hillsboro.  I will say with confidence that Hillsboro has one of the most comprehensive park systems you’ll find anywhere. You could spend weeks (or more) exploring all the various options for parks.  Check-out the map!

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Kenton Park

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Kenton Park, North PortlandWhat’s to Love:  North Portland – so many parks, so little time!  Yes, Columbia Park is awesome, and it has a pool.  Pier Park has a pool, an 18-hole disc golf course, and an amazing skatepark.  Of course, there is Peninsula Park, Smith & Bybee WetlandsKelley Point Park, and many other little gems scattered across “the Gateway to Nature.”  How does Kenton Park rate?  Well, if they were to add a new playstructure, Kenton Park would be right on-par with the many beautiful parks in North Portland.  Chances are, if you don’t live in North Portland, Kenton Park isn’t even on your radar – until now!

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Pier Park: Disc Golf, Skateboarding and Swimming

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Pier Park is yet another excellent North Portland Park featuring an challenging 18-hold disc golf course, an outdoor skate park, and an outdoor pool! This destination park has a little bit of everything for the whole family. If you have yet to visit, I suggest heading up to St. Johns before the rainy season hits in North Portland.

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Columbia Park

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Columbia Park is located in the Portsmouth neighborhood in North Portland. It has one of the new water/spay features for kids to play in. It also has a nice indoor pool.

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Beaverton City Park Fountain

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Beaverton City Park FountainWhat’s to Love:  Beaverton City Park is located right next to the city library.  We first visited on a very hot day when my son was around 3 years old. As you can see in the first video clip below, he was pretty spooked-out by the vertical row of spraying jets, so he just hung out on the fringes. I literally had to pick him up and run with him through the spray. This is your basic fountain with nothing too fancy, but it certainly can cool you off on a hot day. Plus, it’s a good fountain for all ages.

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Happy Valley City Park

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Boardwalk through wetlands at Happy Valley City ParkWhat’s to Love: Surrounded by large-scale condo/housing developments that all look the same, Happy Valley City Park offers a bit of a reprieve from its chaotic surroundings. The park has some well kept athletic fields, green spaces, picnic areas/shelters, playgrounds, and even offers recycling receptacles! Sounds like a pretty decent park, but is it worth the 8-10 mile drive from Portland?

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Peninsula Park

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Rose Garden at Peninsula ParkWhat’s to Love:  A stunning park in north Portland, Peninsula Park offers the whole family something to do with both indoor and outdoor activities.  The rose garden is certainly on-par with the rose garden at Washington Park.  This is my favorite park in north Portland, and it’s definitely worth a drive or bike ride to get there.

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Memorial Park – Wilsonville

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Open green-space with paved-paths at Memorial Park Wilsonville, OregonWhat’s to Love: I visited this park twice with my son in June, 2008, and I know we’ll be back again soon.  I was looking for a park with plenty of open green-space to launch our model rocket (see video below).  I noticed that Memorial Park looked like the biggest park in the Wilsonville area, so we headed over to check it out. I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked by the quality and design of a park.  I highly recommend visiting this park!

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Salmon Street Springs

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Salmon Springs FountainWhat’s to Love: Salmon Street Springs is located in downtown Portland right next to the waterfront. The fountain has some nice features including a circle of spraying jets operating in several different patterns. There is plenty of room to run around, even if you don’t want to get completely soaked.

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Salmon Creek Park/Trail

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Salmon Creek TrailWhat’s to Love: When we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999, we couldn’t find affordable rent in Portland, so we ended-up in Vancouver. After hanging out in Portland, we realized that it was a much better match for us. Thus, we left Vancouver after about 3-4 months with a pretty unfavorable impression of the area. Indeed, Vancouver (the ‘couv’) takes quite a bit of punishment from Portlanders. However, in terms of outdoor recreation (specifically bicycling on paved-paths), Vancouver has many opportunities that mirror Portland’s excellent reputation as a “biking town.”

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Jamison Square – Water Fountain

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What’s to Love: Jamison Square is well-designed, city block in the heart of the Pearl District. The center piece being the water fountain, which attracts pretty big crowds in warm weather. There is a nice patch of green grass for sunning and picnic lunches and/or dinners. Of course, the square is surrounded by shops and restaurants (cheap eats – Hot Lips Pizza), Powell’s Books is close, as well as REI and Patagonia. If you’re not careful, your afternoon at the fountain can end up costing you hundreds of dollars!

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