Portland, Oregon is a pet friendly playground! Each of the downtown neighborhoods each have their own feel, and they’re connected by one of the most extensive urban park systems in the country. From massive Forest Park to tranquil nooks tucked among the skyscrapers, the outdoors have been woven into Portland’s fabric in a conscious and thoughtful way.
With more than 10,000 acres of natural areas and parks scattered across the city, Portland delivers a treasure around every corner. In fact the city has so many parks, if you and your dog visited three a day for three months, you’d have just enough time to see them all!
No matter which parks you choose to visit, you can’t go wrong. There’s literally something for everyone. Of course, we have our favorites, but it’s also fun to try a couple new ones on each trip.
The great news is that Portland’s parks are super pet friendly! As long as your pets are leashed and any waste is disposed of properly, you’re welcome to explore all the parks together. And there are more than 20 with designated off-leash areas.
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The Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is the first park we ever visited in Portland, and it’s one we always enjoy. Finding a place to leave your car is much easier on this side of town, and the views of Portland’s famous bridges and skyline are unbeatable. The park extends for 1.5 miles along the banks of the Willamette River, past several of Portland’s famous bridges. When you reach the end, you can decide to explore the funky east side neighborhoods, or cross the river to see more of Portland.
The Steel Bridge brings you into the Pearl District, a former rail yard. This neighborhood now has a modern feel with an eclectic combination of architecture, window shopping opportunities, and huge off-leash area for the dogs to play.
The clean lines of the Pearl district give over to the laid-back, come-as-you-are vibe of Nob Hill. Charming Victorian homes in different stages of restoration and vintage clothing stores are the theme here.
Waterfront Park is always buzzing with activity, and you never know who you might meet! On Saturdays there’s an open-air market, and other events are scheduled throughout the year. It’s a great place for friends to gather for a picnic, or just to enjoy the water views. At the far end of the park there’s even a little beach if your pup likes to splash.
Waterfront Park runs along Portland’s downtown district like a lovely front yard. With it’s tree-lined streets and flowered open spaces, this commercial center has a distinctly different feel than the glass-and-steel ambiance of many other cities. There is no palpable undercurrent of agitation here. Perhaps it’s due to the lack of cabs blasting their horns (most people use the free streetcar). Even the people seem more relaxed – less self-important hustle, more take life as it comes.
Plan to visit Portland hungry, and stroll the downtown area where food carts line entire city blocks. Making everything from dumplings to waffles, you could eat all day … and we did.
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Continuing south from Waterfront Park will take you past a few riverside cafés and down to Poet’s Beach. This quiet space is made special by the school children’s thoughts about the river, which have been carved into the rocks.
If you’ve walked this far, continue a bit further south and take Tilikum Crossing – a pedestrian bridge – back across the river. This will provide some fantastic views, and let you circle back around to your car.
Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in the city, and one of Portland’s amazing pet friendly treasures. Encompasses nearly 160 acres, its 15 miles of trails connect to Forest Park and the Pittock Mansion. Home to the Oregon Zoo, the Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Children’s Museum, and the International Rose Test Garden, you can easily spend a whole day exploring the attractions here. But if you have an interest in flowers or gardening, we recommending starting at the Rose Garden.
Portland a long history with roses. By 1905 the city had 200 miles of rose-bordered streets! They’ve been celebrating this floral wonder at the International Rose Test Garden for 100 years, and you and your pooch are welcome to sniff these beauties to your heart’s content. Even in the off-season, there’s always something blooming.
For a nice place to enjoy the river, head south of downtown to Willamette Park. There’s a boat launch if you have a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddle board, and paved trails if you’d rather go for a stroll. There’s a big grassy field and playground for the kids and a fenced dog park for the pup. From the park you can also pick up the Willamette Greenway, which runs 255 miles from Portland to the southern Willamette Valley.
That’s just a taste – or maybe a tease – of the many pet friendly things to do in Portland, Oregon. Let us know about your favorites in the comments below!
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