Tryon Creek State Park Kathleen Marie

Portland’s got great parks! Okay, so we also have some creepy, super sketchy parks. But most of our parks are great! Regardless of how you want to waste your days this summer, there’s a place in or near the city that’s the perfect spot.


There are a ton of great hiking options outside Portland—but for those without cars, or those who don’t want to end their hike sitting in I-84 gridlock, we have much, much closer options. Northwest Portland’s sprawling Forest Park is the go-to, with a seemingly endless number of trails and plenty of places where you’ll forget you’re right next to a city. Southwest Portland’s Tryon Creek State Natural Area is a secluded, quiet, and bigger-than-it-appears collection of trails, woods, and streams, while Southeast Portland’s Powell Butte Nature Park has easy, clear trails that twist through sunny grasslands and shadowy forests. (Forest Park, NW 29th & Upshur; Tyron Creek State Natural Area, 11321 SW Terwilliger; Powell Butte Nature Park, 16160 SE Powell)


Few things are better than grabbing a book, plopping down in a park, and ignoring the bullshit that clogs up the rest of your life. Southeast Portland’s busy Laurelhurst Park offers plenty of hills, clearings, and picnic tables where you can flip pages and chill out, while downtown’s Director Park, nestled beneath Fox Tower, boasts tables, chairs, and nearby restaurants and bars. Plus, Director Park is like a two-minute walk from Multnomah County Library’s Central Library. (Laurelhurst Park, SE César E Chávez & Stark; Director Park, 815 SW Park)


This city has lots of very good parks for very good dogs, but it’s nearly impossible to beat Southwest Portland’s Sellwood Riverfront Park, which not only offers a big grassy lawn for very good dogs to run around in but also the river, where very good dogs can splash around and swim and shake and have the time of their goddamn lives! If you have a dog, take them here! If you don’t have a dog, go here and look at other people’s dogs! Dogs! (1221 SE Oaks Park Way)


At some unfortunate point in your life, people from out of town—if you’re lucky, they’ll be friends, but more likely, they’ll be family—will insist on visiting you in Portland. While they’re here, they’ll want to see some of that “weird stuff” they saw on that funny Portlandia show! Take them to Southwest Portland’s Mill Ends Park, which is all of two feet across and sits in the middle of an intersection. It’s very tiny, you see! And in the street! How fun! (SW Naito & Taylor)


All summer, Portland Parks & Recreation puts on Movies in the Park, a fantastic program that shows free, crowd-pleasing moving pictures on inflatable screens in a ton of Portland parks—regardless of where you are, there’s probably one nearby. This year’s movies have some great superhero fare (Black Panther! Captain Marvel!) alongside family films like Ralph Breaks the Internet and Coco—plus, most screenings are preceded by live music. It’s great! Also great: Flicks on the Bricks, which takes over Downtown’s Pioneer Courthouse Square for five Friday nights each summer, screening a selection of movies chosen by folks like you! (Movies in the Park schedule at, Flicks on the Bricks info at


Look, it’s a park. You don’t need a goddamn itinerary. Just go and hang out! Might as well do so in two parks that offer some of the best views in the city: Southeast Portland’s towering Mt. Tabor Park and St. Johns’ majestic Cathedral Park. (Mt. Tabor Park, SE 60th & Salmon; Cathedral Park, N Edison & Pittsburg)

Support The Portland Mercury


Look, I might be “a grumpy old crank” who “doesn’t know anything about kids,” but I am 100 percent confident that today’s CODDLED, COWARDLY CHILDREN HAVE NEVER KNOWN DANGER, largely thanks to modern, rubber-covered, “safe” playgrounds that “prevent broken arms” and “don’t shatter spines” and “don’t have razor-sharp metal objects right at toddler-eye-level.” By all means, parents, dump your spawn at these soulless boredom-centers... or, if you want your kid to actually HAVE FUN and ENJOY BEING A CHILD, take my very trustworthy advice—I broke my arm like every two weeks growing up!—and look no further than Southeast Portland’s Lents Park, which in 2017 updated its playground to feature exactly the kind of inventive, challenging activities that are rarely seen in today’s sanitized playgrounds. There’s a climbing wall! There are rocks! There are things to scramble around on and fall off of and fight over! There’s a hill! There’s a goddamn OUTDOOR XYLOPHONE! It’s just like a real playground, and your kid will both have fun and not grow up resenting you, so everyone wins. (Lents Park, SE 92nd & Holgate)


Can I prove you’ll get scabies from Jamison Square? No. Actually, I can’t even 100 percent tell you what scabies are! (They’re like... ants that live inside your skin, right?) What I can tell you, though, is that if you were to get scabies at one park in Portland, it would probably be from the beautiful, babbling, sun-dappled fountain at Northwest Portland’s Jamison Square—which, all summer long, serves as both wading pool and toilet for every shit-smeared, snot-slathered, open sore-scratching kid in all of Northwest Portland. Come on in! The water’s fine! (NW Kearney & 11th)