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Wonders of the City of Roses

by Rasma Raisters 3 months ago in america
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Amazing things to see and do in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, has an ideal climate for growing roses outdoors with its marine west coast climate providing warm, dry summers and mild, rainy winters, as well as its heavy clay soils.

The city has been known as the City of Roses or Rose City since 1888 after Madame Caroline Testout, a large pink variety of hybrid tea rose bred in France, was introduced to Portland. In 1905 rose bushes were planted to line twenty miles of city streets for the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition.

In 1907 the Rose City Park neighborhood in northeast Portland was formed, and the same year the first annual Portland Rose Festival was held. Today this festival is held every June with a carnival, parades, and navy ships docked along the Tom McCall Waterfront Park to promote Portland. It was in 2003 that the city adopted the nickname “City of Roses” officially.

Take the Portland Aerial Tram and get spectacular views of the Willamette River Valley and Portland. The tram was built to connect Oregon Health & Science University's lower and upper campuses. Taking this four-minute ride at an elevation of 500 feet you can decide while looking over the city where you want your adventure to begin.

Natural Things

Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in the city purchased in 1871. The park has become one of the most popular attractions in Portland and the place to get away from it all and relax for both residents and visitors. Within the park, you'll find fields, courts, playgrounds, museums, and an archery range. It is home to the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center, Portland Children's Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, International Rose Test Garden, and the Portland Japanese Garden. There are also many fountains throughout the park.

The Portland Japanese Garden was created on land that was once a zoo. It is part of the beautiful Washington Park and opened in 1961 when the friendship between the US state of Oregon and Japan strengthened. Former Japanese Ambassador Nobuo Matsunaga declared that this was the most authentic and lovely Japanese garden outside of Japan.

Here you can see eight beautiful gardens designed to evoke a different technique of Japanese gardening. The various gardens created according to Taoist, Shinto, and Buddhist philosophies have plants, stones, and water, evoking serenity and making visitors feel like one with nature.

There are beautiful bridges, koi pools, and cherry trees that blossom each spring. Curved pathways lead visitors through the different elements.

Among the highlights are the Cultural Village and Pavilion, the Kiyomizu-Dera temple-inspired Umami Cafe, the Zen Garden, and the authentic Kashintei Tea House, which was shipped to Portland after construction in Japan.

The International Rose Test Garden was founded to protect and preserve hybrid European roses from raids during WW I. It was established in 1917, making it the oldest continually operating garden of its kind in the US. Here over 10,000 roses grow. It is charming in early summer when all the flowers are in bloom.

The Shakespeare Garden has roses named after characters in Shakespeare's plays, everything is smaller in the Miniature Rose Garden, and unique and lovely award-winning roses grow in The Gold Award Garden.

The Hoyt Arboretum opened in 1928, featuring more than 6,000 individual species from 172 families of trees. Placards label species in English and Latin, and among the highlights are the bamboo forest and redwood grove. Here you can enjoy trees from around the globe, including countries like Germany, Algeria, India, Afghanistan, and India. You can explore it all along twelve miles of trails. Visitors enjoy nature activities, guided bird walks, and a visitor center for more information.

The Oregon Zoo, another feature of Washington Park, is home to 3,000 individual animals, with 90 species, including 19 endangered species. The zoo began in the late part of the 1800s when Richard Knight built his private animal collection until it finally became one of the city's most popular tourist attractions.

All around the zoo, you can see native plants. There are 23 exhibits separated into five themed areas – the Discovery Zone, the Great Northwest, the African area, the Elephant Lands, and the Pacific Shores.

Visitors enjoy the sea lions, birds, sea and river otters, insects, a trio of lions named Kya, Zawadi, and Neka, and a Pengunarium.

The zoo is known for its research and conservation, mainly focusing on Pacific Northwestern species. During the summertime, there are concerts held at the outdoor amphitheater.

Forest Park is near Washington Park and offers the dense, lush expanse of a Pacific Northwest forest. With 5,200 acres, it is one of the biggest urban green spaces in the US. The park opened in 1948. Here you'll find roads and trails for hiking and biking with the Tualatin Mountains on the east side.

Among the pathways to enjoy is the Wildwood Trail spanning thirty miles. It is part of the Loop System stretching from Gresham to Willamette Greenway and Marquam Trail along the Columbia River. It has become one of the most recommended trails in the park.

The Lan Su Chinese Garden was created in 2000 as a means of bringing Chinese culture into Portland and in honor of the friendship between the city and Suzhou, China. The gardens were designed to look like gardens from the Ming Dynasty. This garden is one of the only authentic Chinese gardens in the US.

The garden features courtyards and lovely and ornate structures that offer visitors a look at Chinese architecture. Lake Zither is the central feature, with a beautiful tearoom overlooking it.

The Tower of Cosmic Reflections spans two stories with fifty seats where you can drink your tea looking out over the lake. Traditional tea service is also available with oolong teas.

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother is commonly called The Grotto. It is a Catholic shrine that is famous all over the world and has more than 200,000 annual visitors. The Order of Friar Servants of St. Mary manages the shrine dedicated to Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother.

The highlight of the Grotto is an impressive 110-foot cliff with a shrine lit by candles and many religious sculptures. The ridge has a rock cave in the base with a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, which is life-sized and made of marble.

There are botanical gardens with fir trees, rhododendron shrubs, and many walkways overlooking the Columbia River Valley. You can attend the noon mass held outdoors in the Grotto.

The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden was christened as an official garden in 1964. It has over 2,500 rhododendrons, as well as many other plants.

Visitors enjoy seeing the lake with geese, ducks, and other waterfowl, while in the trees, you can see scrub jays, red-winged blackbirds, and 94 different species. In April is the Rhododendron & Daffodil Show, and in May, the Mother's Day Show.

The Multnomah Falls rises 620 feet and has become a tourist attraction a half-hour drive from Portland.

You can climb Benson Bridge to view the falls up close to the first tier or up to the peak of the falls overlooking the Columbia River Gorge. The falls are fed by rainwater, an underground spring, and snowmelt making this one of the only waterfalls that flow all year round in the West. It is the fourth tallest falls in the US and the second tallest falls that flows all through the year.

The Beverly Clearly Sculpture Garden is located at the west end of Grant Park. This garden has three statues – one of a cheerful young girl, a boy, and their dog.

The statues circle a fountain, giving the impression they are splashing about, and the tiles beneath their feet are engraved with book titles.

These are the characters of popular children's book author Beverly Clearly – Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, and Ribsy. Cleary grew up in Portland, and her inspiration came from places in the city.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland stretches along the Willamette River. Named after a former governor of Oregon, the park offers excellent city skyline views.

There are five different zones, from the riverside walkway of The Esplanade to the grassy concert area of The Bowl and from the Central Lawn to the historic John Yeon Building.

You can cool off in the Salmon Street Springs Fountain in the summertime. The park is excellent for walking, jogging, biking, and skateboarding and hosts many regular events and festivals, among them the Portland Rose Festival and the Oregon Brewers Festival.

Residents of Portland consider Pioneer Courthouse Square as the "Living Room" of the city. This is a great place to meet and greet and see people, and it is a common event space. The central area is like an amphitheater where people can sit during events.

There is a fountain resembling a waterfall, a chess table, and the popular Umbrella Man, a bronze statue of a man in a suit with an umbrella. You'll find scattered bricks around the square with the names of locals who paid $15 for the honor of having their names on them while donating to the construction costs.

Museums and Houses

The Pittock Mansion was the dream house built by British immigrant Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana, in 1912. The mansion has a French Renaissance design and 23 rooms, including a library, a Turkish smoking room, a music room, a pair of sleeping porches, and a private shower, all connected by an Otis elevator. Unfortunately, the couple had little time to enjoy their home completed in 1914, with Georgiana passing on in 1918 and Henry in 1919. The city purchased the estate in 1964 to save it from demolition. Today visitors enjoy touring the home and lovely grounds. Guided tours are available.

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is an impressive, fun, interactive museum. It is located opposite Portland State University. There are eight laboratories and five halls with hands-on exhibits. Topics include technology, paleontology, the environment, physics, the ocean, chemistry, agriculture, engineering, health, outer space, reproduction, and more.

On-site is the famous USS Blueblack submarine, the most modern American submarine displayed in the nation and used in the filming of “The Hunt for Red October.”

There is also a science playground for children, an IMAX theater with a four-story screen, and the Harry C. Kendall Planetarium. For dining and relaxing, there is an eatery on the riverfront.

The Portland Art Museum is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest and has the most prestigious collection of artworks in all of Oregon. It was founded in 1892 and houses more than 45,000 artworks from different genres, artists, and eras. The museum has three interconnected buildings. You can enjoy Japanese painted screens, paintings of European masters, contemporary American artwork, photography, and outside a beautiful sculpture garden.

The Native American gallery has 5,000 artifacts from different eras and more than 200 different tribes.

The Oregon Historical Society Museum downtown opened in 1898. It tells the story of the state, its first settlers, and those who now live here. On-site are 85,000 artifacts related to local history. Here you can see the Portland penny that was flipped to decide on the city's name, with the options being Boston or Portland. Some highlights are a 9,000-year-old sandal, a replica of a ship's hull, and the library. The library has manuscripts, artifacts, films, books, and photos of the lovely state of Oregon.


About the author

Rasma Raisters

My passions are writing and creating poetry. I write for several sites online and have four themed blogs.

Reader insights

Nice work

Very well written. Keep up the good work!

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Comments (3)

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  • Ameya Rao5 days ago

    I had no idea all of these incredibly gardens and parks were in Portland! I'll definitely have to make my way there now. I love the italian and chinese inspired architecture. Thanks for sharing!

  • jamar chilcote2 months ago


  • Georgenes Medeiros3 months ago

    Very interesting..

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