This post is part of a series on The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, our 10-month, 15,000 mile tour of the top pet friendly attraction in each of the lower 48 states.
Oregon is a playground for pet lovers … with the magnificent dog friendly beaches along the coast, the inspiring Columbia River Gorge, the breathtaking scenery and recreation of the Cascades, the wineries spreading throughout the Willamette Valley, and cities like Portland and Bend that go out of their way to make you and your furry family members feel welcome. Choosing the most pet friendly attraction in a state with such fantastic options was “ruff,” but what finally won us over was Portland’s dedication to create and preserve parks and green spaces for the enjoyment of its residents and visitors.
In a conscious and thoughtful way, the outdoors have been woven into Portland’s fabric, with more than 10,000 acres of natural areas and parks scattered across the city. From Forest Park, one of the largest municipal parks in the country, to tranquil nooks tucked among the skyscrapers, there’s a treasure around every corner. In fact, Portland has so many parks that if you 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, have our favorites, which we never miss, but it’s also fun to try a couple new ones on each trip.
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, from the Hawthorne Bridge, past the Morrison and Burnside Bridges, to the Steel Bridge. From there you can decide to explore the funky eastside neighborhoods, or cross the river to Waterfront Park.
Portland is a very pet friendly city, and welcomes your pets to enjoy the parks with you. Pets must always be cleaned up after, and must be leashed, except in designated off-leash areas.
Pet Rules in Portland’s Parks
- Pets must be leashed
- Pet waste must be picked up and disposed of properly
Portland was founded in 1851 near the convergence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, but as the city grew, its residents were increasingly cut off from the water. In the late 1920’s a seawall was built to protect the city from floods, and in the 1940’s Harbor Drive was constructed along the Willamette’s western shore. When the Eastbank Freeway was finished in the 60’s, it became clear that Harbor Drive was less vital to Portland’s traffic flow, and Governor McCall lead the charge to tear up the road in favor of the 30-acre park that has become Portland’s front yard.
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.
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 on the river, which have been carved into the rocks.
If you’ve walked this far, keep going 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, one of the oldest parks in the city, encompasses nearly 160 acres, and 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’s had a long love affair with roses, and 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. The garden is divided into several sections, and even in the off-season, there’s always something blooming.
Willamette Park, just south of downtown, is a lovely place to enjoy the river. 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. A big grassy field and playground will be popular with the kids, and the brand new fenced dog park will delight your pup. From the park you can also pick up the Willamette Greenway, which runs 255 miles from Cottage Grove in the southern Willamette Valley to Portland.
That’s just a taste – or maybe a tease – on Portland’s many parks. Let us know about your favorites in the comments below!
Portland was the last stop on the Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip, and the site of our final meet up and adoption event of the tour. We were delighted to partner with Oregon Humane Society and want to thank the lovely folks at Furever Pets for hosting us. Four kittens and one pup found their perfect travel buddies – we wish them all the best!
Thanks to everyone who came out to meet us in Portland – it was a fantastic day!
Visiting these attractions with Ty and Buster is a dream come true. We’ll be blogging about each one as we go along, so fasten your seatbelt and stay tuned!
The Ultimate Pet Friendly Road Trip wouldn’t be possible without the support of our wonderful sponsors: Winnebago, 2 Hounds Design, Alcott, goDog®, PetGuide.com, Red Roof Inns, Sleepypod, The Bark, PetHub, RVPetSafety.com, and The Honest Kitchen. Please be sure to visit their websites and social media pages and thank them for their participation!