Portland Japanese Garen

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What’s to Love: My wife and I visited the Japanese Garden when we first moved to Portland around 1999-2000. It was nice…pleasant for sure. Fast forward to 2017 with a new 33.5 million “Cultural Crossing Expansion,” and Portland has a new can’t miss destination for the whole family!

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Outdoor Archery

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IMG_1533What’s to Love:  I have many fond memories of shooting bow and arrow as a kid. My dad made this target out of hay bales, cardboard, and canvas. We’d haul it out to the schoolyard next door and hit everything EXCEPT the target. I remember purposefully shooting arrows as high as I could up into the sky with my friend trying to catch them before the hit the ground. What were we thinking?

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Hardesty Trail Loop Hike

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Hardesty Trail Forest ParkWhat’s to Love:  Although it’s our rainy season here in Portland, I encourage all of my readers to get out with your kids for a family hike. The winter is actually a great time for hiking, but you’ll need to be prepared for slippery conditions, lots of mud, rain, and wind. Forest Park offers many options, but I think you’ll find this little gem one of the better options for kids. Also, check out this review of hiking backpacks from thegearhunt.com.

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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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Orchard Park – Hillsboro

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Orchard Park - Hillsboro, ORWhat’s to Love:  If your family is into disc golf, the 21 acre Orchard Park is worth the drive to Hillsboro.  The park has a VERY nice 3-par, 9-hole course with a paved path winding throughout the length of the course.  The paved path makes a 1/2 mile loop, which is a decent length for beginning bikers or kids on scooters.  

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Rocky Butte – Joseph Wood Hill Park

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Rocky Butte - Joseph Wood Hill ParkWhat’s to Love:  I’ve explored the rock climbing area up at Rocky Butte many times.  I’ve been turned off by the trash and noise from highway 205, which runs underneath the bluff.  The climbing itself looks pretty good and worth a shot.  I’ll give that a try this summer with the kids.  This trip, I was interested in exploring the structure on the summit of Rocky Butte, which I’ve heard offers excellent bouldering.

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Holly Farm Park

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Holly Farm ParkWhat’s to Love:  Holly Farm Park is a lovely park right off Capitol Highway in SW Portland.  While next to a busy road, this small park has a nice vibe and a strong community feel.  It’s well kept with a relatively large lawn, newer play structure, paved paths, and a very cool mini-skate-park.

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The Source Climbing Center – Vancouver, WA

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The Source Climbing CenterWhat’s to Love:  For climbers, especially with kids, it doesn’t get much better than here in the Portland area.  We have some world-class bouldering and climbing gyms all within a 15 mile radius of downtown Portland.  Opening November of 2011, The Source Climbing Center in downtown Vancouver, WA is the latest addition to the climbing community.  Beautifully designed, The Source was built from scratch and offers a totally separate area for young children and beginners interested in climbing.

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Fernhill Park

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Fernhill ParkWhat’s to Love:  When we used to live in Northeast Portland, we’d frequent Fernhill Park with our dog.  As you can see, there is PLENTY of green space for romping, stomping, running, and jumping.  With the tall trees providing cover on the north end, this is a stunning park and the perfect destination if you feel like you need a little space.

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Sellwood Riverfront Park

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Sellwood Riverfront ParkWhat’s to Love:  Located just to the west (and below) Sellwood Park, Sellwood Riverfront Park often gets passed-up as bikers cruise the Springwater Corridor and cars zip by on the way to Oaks Amusement Park , Oaks Rollerskating Rink, or hiking in the nearby Wildlife Refuge.  Too bad!  Just like many inner southeast parks, this is one you don’t want to miss. 

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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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Smith & Bybee Wetlands

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What’s to Love:  Despite being sandwiched-in between some nasty industrial businesses, Smith & Bybee Wetlands Natural Area is an excellent family-biking destination with several options for family fun.  You may just need to hold your breath every now and then.

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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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Ibach Park – Tualatin

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Ibach Park is located 15-20 miles south of Portland off I-5. It has an award winning playground with some interesting playground gear. The park is super clean and well kept.

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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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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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Sellwood Pool

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Sellwood PoolWhat’s to Love:  I hope people who live near the pool don’t hate me for writing this article.  Why would they hate me?  It’s simple – they don’t want the best outdoor pool in Portland any more crowded than it already is!  Actually, to think the Sellwood Pool is some top secret location known only to insiders is a bit naive.  Everything you’ve heard (if it’s tremendously positive) is most likely true.  We all know Sellwood Park is gorgeous, and the pool is the perfect extension for summer fun.

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Portland’s Best Parks

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Toddler Slides and Bridge at Laurelhurst ParkPlaystructure at Sellwood ParkWell, the votes are in from our readers concerning your favorite Portland park.  It’s not a surprise to tell you that Laurelhurst and Sellwood both top the list.  Yes, these are beautiful destination parks, and we practically live at Sellwood park during the summer, especially with the incredible outdoor pool.  Aesthetically, these parks are both hard to beat.  However, I’d like to share a few of my personal picks in 10 categories that may not be on your parental radar.

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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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Powell Butte – Mountain Biking

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View from Parking Area of Powell ButteWhat’s to Love: I moved to Portland from one of the best mountain biking cities in the country – Durango, Colorado. I used to ride endless single-track right from my doorstep, and I lived just blocks from downtown. I miss the Durango sunshine, but I miss the epic mountain bike rides the most. Within the city limits of Portland, Powell Butte is the best cure for “single track fever.”

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