Know Before You Go: Washington Park in Portland

Washington Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Washington Park has been part of Portland since 1871. Over the years, land and attractions have been added. Today, it is a community hub that contains some of Portland's most popular attractions.


Washington Park is located west of downtown Portland, on the north side of Highway 26.

Fun Things to Do

  • Oregon Zoo
  • World Forestry Center Discovery Museum
  • Portland International Rose Test Garden
  • Portland Japanese Garden
  • Portland Children's Museum
  • Hoyt Arboretum

Transportation and Parking

The public transportation plaza at Washington Park is served by TriMet's MAX Light Rail. Buses also stop at the MAX Plaza, as well as a few other locations in the park. During the summer months, shuttles provide in-park transportation with stops at the MAX Plaza as well as the Portland Japanese Garden, the International Rose Test Garden, and the Hoyt Arboretum Visitor Center. The Washington Park Zoo Railway runs between a station inside the Oregon Zoo and a station located on a hill above the International Rose Test Garden. The major parking lot, accessed by taking exit 72 of Highway 26, is convenient for those visiting the zoo, forestry center, or children's museum. Limited parking is available in other areas of Washington Park.

01 of 07

Oregon Zoo

A rhinoceros at the Oregon Zoo in Portland
pelican/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

In addition to animal exhibits from around the world, the Oregon Zoo offers many kid-friendly attractions. Little ones will love the zoo train, the adorable sculpture garden, the petting zoo, and the play areas. Oregon Zoo visitors can also enjoy a gift shop, snacks and treats, and special events throughout the year. Admission tickets are required.

Animal Exhibits

Here are just some of the animals you'll find during your visit to the Oregon Zoo.

  • Great Northwest - cougars, elk, bear, mountain goats, otter, farm animals
  • Pacific Shores - penguins, tigers, seals
  • Primates - chimps, orangutans, gibbons,
  • Asian Elephants - including an Elephant museum
  • Africa Savannah and Rainforest - giraffes, zebra, bats, hippos, rhinos

Special Events

  • Zoo Brew - Northwest microbrews and live entertainment in June
  • ZooLights - festive holiday lights on evenings Thanksgiving through Christmas
  • Summer Concert Series - purchase tickets at the zoo office, Ticketmaster, or by phone

Location: 4001 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland

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02 of 07

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum in Portland
jlh_lunasea/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Located across the parking lot from the Oregon Zoo, the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum will appeal to curious minds of all ages. You'll learn about the forests of the world by participating in such simulated experiences as virtual smokejumping, an African jeep tour, or a Trans-Siberian train trip. Hands-on exhibits will fill you in on the properties that make different woods useful for different situations. Special space on the second floor provides changing exhibits throughout the year. Just outside the building, you'll find Peggy, a historic steam locomotive.

The World Forestry Center Discovery Center has a large gift shop that offers books, gift items, jewelry, apparel, and toys. Special event space is available for meetings, weddings, and banquets. Admission tickets are required.

Location: 4033 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland

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03 of 07

International Rose Test Garden

An arch way covered in rose bushes

TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

Portland is famous for its spectacular roses and the Portland International Rose Test Garden is the place to see those roses in blooming abundance. As you walk through the garden, you'll see almost 7,000 bushes that include more than 550 different varieties of rose. Each variety is labeled; rose gardeners will be able to identify appealing specimens to try growing at home. Facilities at the garden include restrooms, food carts, and the Rose Garden Store. While the garden is open year-round, the best rose bloom period is late May through early August.

The Portland International Rose Test Garden is perched on a hill, allowing awesome views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood. Admission is free to the public.

Location: 400 S.W. Kingston Ave., Portland

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04 of 07

Portland Japanese Garden

Portland japanese garden

TripSavvy / Tanya Nikolic

There are five different styles represented in the Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park:

  • The Flat Garden - manicured stones, trees, and shrubbery
  • The Strolling Pond Garden - still and rushing water, bridges, and accent structures
  • The Tea Garden - inner and outer gardens surrounding a traditional tea house
  • The Natural Garden - a mossy fairyland
  • The Sand and Stone Garden - raked gravel and stone

As you wander through the Portland Japanese Garden you'll see beauty everywhere, in a koi pond, a waterfall, or a wisteria arbor. Most of the garden is not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. Anticipate a short but steep hike if you approach the Japanese Garden through the Antique Gate on Kingston Avenue. On busy days, a shuttle is available to take visitors up the hill to the admission gate. Admission tickets are required.

Location: 611 S.W. Kingston Ave., Portland

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05 of 07

Portland Children's Museum

Kids playing at the Portland Children's Museum
Jason Lander/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

The Portland Children's Museum offers lots of fun, hands-on activities for the little ones. Their exhibits and studios include:

  • Water Works - move, spray, watch, and play with water
  • Theater - kids dress up and take the stage between performances by storytellers, musicians, and puppeteers
  • The Market - little shopping carts, pretend food, and noisy cash registers allow kids to play at shopping and meal prep
  • Groundwork - move stuff with dump trucks, shovels, and buckets

During a day at Portland Children's Museum, you'll have a variety of fun opportunities, including a chance to hear stories, create with clay, and dance or make music. Admission tickets are required.

Location: 4015 S.W. Canyon Road, Portland

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06 of 07

Hoyt Arboretum

a walking path leading into a forest of trees in Hoyt Arboretum

 TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

You can wander among over 1,000 different tree specimens at the 187-acre Hoyt Arboretum. The trees come from all around the world and are organized by plant family and geography. Identification labels will help you learn about the various specimens. Start your arboretum experience at the visitor center, where you can pick up maps for self-guided tours that cover different portions of their 12-mile trail system.

Leashed dogs are welcome at Hoyt Arboretum. Bicycles are prohibited. Admission is free to the public.

Location: 4000 S.W. Fairview Blvd., Portland

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07 of 07

More Fun Things to Do

Mt. Hood in Portland, Oregon
R0Ng/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

In addition to the major attractions, there are several other interesting things you can see and do during your visit to Portland's Washington Park.

  • Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial
  • Holocaust Memorial
  • Sacajawea statue
  • Archery range
  • Hiking trails
  • Playgrounds
  • Tennis courts