Washington Park & Hoyt Arboretum
The urban parks that border the western edge of Portland's downtown, which includes Washington Park and the Hoyt Arboretum, are arguably the greatest urban parks you'll find in the United States. I'd go as far as saying that they are among the greatest world-wide. Portlanders really are fortunate to have what could almost be considered a wilderness within walking distance of the very core of downtown Portland. These parks and their proximity to the city are one of the very first characteristics of Portland that I fell madly in love with when I first visited years ago.
If you look at a satellite overhead view of Portland you cannot miss the massive swath of forest that butts up against downtown to the west. This dark green swath contains several of Portland's greatest "attractions," including the Oregon Zoo, Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, Vietnam Memorial, Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum, an amphitheater, a children's museum, an Audubon Society learning center, and a French-Renaissance style mansion with great panoramic views of the city below and volcanoes in the distance. Believe it or not, this area is also home to nearly 100 miles of hiking trails.
|Hiking trail inside Washington Park|
Now, this large green forested swath I keep bringing up is cut into two main sections by one of Portland's main thoroughfares, Burnside Road. North of Burnside lies Forest Park, a much wilder and pristine place containing a network of legitimate hiking trails. South of Burnside lies the more civilized, manicured, "park-ish" Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum, and Oregon Zoo. South of Burnside you are, for the most part, in a park. North of Burnside you're in a forest. It is this park-like section south of Burnside that I will post photos from in this blog entry, specifically Washington Park and the Hoyt Arboretum.
First up, Washington Park. Here is a little info:
When the first 41 acre section of Washington Park was purchased in 1871, residents thought it odd to label the heavily forest hills beside Portland, which were infested with mountain lions, a park. However, today the park has grown to roughly 410 acres and is more than likely cougar-free. Washington Park contains the Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and more all within its limits. The Rose Test Garden, which is especially fragrant and gorgeous for a few months of the year when the roses are in bloom, contains more than 500 varieties of roses. Just north of the Rose Test Garden is an amphitheater that hosts free concerts during the summer months. Outside the the summer months, the grassy seating area becomes a great place for groups of friends, readers, couples, and sun bathers to lounge. The Japanese Gardens and the Oregon Zoo are the only entities within the park that charge a fee for entry; and both are well worth the money. Washington Park also has tennis courts and an archery range. It is easily possible to spend about an entire day within the confines of Washington Park. About the only thing that it is missing is a legitimate place to grab a bite to eat (there is an overpriced snack-cart, but that's it). But then again, Washington Park is a wonderful place to have a picnic.
|International Rose Test Garden in Spring right before the roses bloom|
|Hiking trail connecting Washington Park to Hoyt Arboretum - Portland, Oregon|
|a very "Portlandesque" vehicle in a very "Portlandesque" park - Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
|Hiking trail inside Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
|the entrance to the Japanese Gardens - Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
|Statue inside the International Rose Test Garden - Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
|All Aboard to the Oregon Zoo - Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
|All Aboard to the Oregon Zoo - Washington Park - Portland, Oregon|
Next up, the Hoyt Arboretum. Here is a little info:
Founded in 1928, and located only 2 miles west of downtown Portland within the limits of Washington Park, the Hoyt Arboretum contains roughly 1,100 different species of trees that grow within the park's 187 acres. Like I said above, the park also contains roughly 12 miles worth of beautiful hiking trails. Many of the specimens of tree you'll find within the arboretum have a metal nameplate nailed to the trunk for labeling and identifying purposes. The arboretum is open and readily accessible year-round.
Here are some photos taken from within the Hoyt Arboretum.
Having developed a thirst for a local IPA and some outstanding pub grub, I decided it was finally time to spend my Groupon at Spints Alehouse on NE 28th Ave, one of my favorite locations for consuming calories in the city. Spints Alehouse defines itself as serving "German cuisine lightened with local farmer's produce, unique locally-inspired cocktails, wines, and German and local beers." How could I not buy a Groupon for this? I happen to love both German and local food and beer, so setting my sights on Spints was an easy decision.
Not only am I a big fan of the atmosphere inside this bar, as well as the location of the bar on NE 28th, but I had one of the best meals of my whole life here. No joke. I decided on the beef cheek prosciutto and dumplings off their small but diverse and mouth-watering menu. It was absolutely outstanding. I'm no food blogger, so I'm not going to wax-poetic on the "juxtaposition of flavors," but just take a foodie's word for it: it was wicked delicious. And it got even better. To wash it down, I had one of the best IPAs I've ever tasted: the Boneyard RPM, made in Bend, Oregon. I have consumed many of the Northwest's finest IPAs (arguably among the best worldwide) and Boneyard's RPM was easily one of the most flavorful and refreshing. Many of the pubs you go to in Portland (that aren't breweries themselves) have the usual IPAs on tap: Ninkasi, Lagunitas, and Bridgeport. These are outstanding IPAs (especially the Bridgeport, in my opinion) but it is nice to see something different for a change. Some of the smaller brewers, after all, are the ones making the best IPAs in the state (but then again, some of the larger ones, like Rogue, not only make some of the best IPA around but also typically brew several different IPAs at once!, so let's not forget about them!).
Spints Alehouse was a wonderful way to end my day of hiking in an urban park. And to get an idea of how conveniently close Washington Park is to the rest of Portland consider the following: after leaving the parking lot of Washington Park I had to drive through the entirety of downtown, cross a bridge, and proceed another 28 blocks to the east. I made it to Spints in probably about 12 minutes. If I had decided upon a restaurant in Portland's trendy Northwest District (aka Nob Hill) or posh Pearl District, it would've only taken about 5 minutes. That's how close Washington Park / Forest Park is to the rest of the city. This is what makes Portland truly unique: within 30 minutes time you can go from a hike within deep woodlands to a seat at the bar at an avant garde gastropub.
I love this city.
Here's a few mouthwatering shots from Spints Alehouse:
|Spints Alehouse - NE Portland - 28th & Flanders|
|a pint of Boneyard IPA (Bend, Oregon) at Spints Alehouse - NE Portland - 28th & Flanders|
|Beef cheek prosciutto, homemade dumplings, spring onion, rabe, and fresh kale flowers - Spints Alehouse - NE Portland|