Portland Hidden Gem Attractions

Portland Hidden Gem Activities

Best Portland Hidden Gem Attractions

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  • Jim W.
    Atlanta, GA970 contributions
    We had planned to stop here during our trip, but had stayed flexible on where to work it into our itinerary. We were on our final day in Portland where it made sense to try to visit this place (en route back from our day trip to Mount St. Helens) so we didn't have as much time or energy at that point. Had we visited earlier in the day, we might have toured the mansion also. As it was, we just toured the grounds, which is free.

    To get to the mansion, you climb several hilly roads, eventually making a very sharp turn onto the final street. That leads to a narrow driveway (I wondered aloud if it was 1-way until we saw as 'share the road' sign...). This widens a bit an leads to...another sharp turn into the parking lot. All of this is more challenging as you meet an oncoming (thankfully slow) vehicle, but is still navigable.

    The parking lot is fairly large. You have to pay to park here, which was the only expense we incurred. Also, I think there was a trail at the far end of the lot connecting to Washington Park, so you may be able to hike here from the park (you should research this if you want to pursue it).

    We checked out the gift shop briefly before advancing to the mansion. If you are jus touring the grounds / gardens, you can circle around either side of the house. There are various flowers, shrubs, and trees all around. Most of the flowers seemed to be on the far side of the house. This was also where the lawn was located, which sloped down to a bluff overlooking the city. You could also see Mt. Hood clearly from there. It seemed to be a popular place for picnics.

    The lot has a pronounced slope, so be prepared to climb stairs or a sloping asphalt path as you circle the house.

    Depending on your schedule and your level of interest in old mansions, a tour of the house might be worthwhile (I think it cost on the order of $10 per person, but check their website). This was a nice stop with beautiful scenery. We probably toured all of the grounds in 45 minutes. It is worth checking out.
    Written 4 August 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • PortlandFoody
    Portland, OR27 contributions
    The most beautiful place in Portland Or., hidden away in the downtown area. The pond is magical with the Koi swimming amongst the water lilies and the lotus - the plants and flowers are ever changing with the seasons and the smell was fabulous.
    The staff members are so helpful and seem to love their jobs. I read that September 3rd & 4th, they are having a Mid Autumn Lantern Festival with a Market Place and Asian dancers and Musicians and the Lion Dancers from 2:00 to 9:00. Sounds like a date to put on my calendar. Peaceful, Relaxing, Tranquility - we need this in our lives.
    Written 8 August 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Shirley R
    79 contributions
    I visited The Grotto twice because it was so wonderful. There is a church, many different shrines and statues of saints and our Lord. There are also Stations of the Cross and a monastery and it was developed by the Servite priests.
    Written 31 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • jane801
    Rochester, MN12 contributions
    Hard to believe that such a huge and beautiful park is so close to downtown Portland. I stayed in Portland without a car, and walked from my hotel to Pittock Mansion, and then picked up the Wildwood trail. Trails are well maintained and well marked. Dogs are allowed on leash, and bikes are allowed on some trails.
    Written 30 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • RBro2014
    Boston, MA105 contributions
    This is a peaceful place to visit at any time of year. Nice trails. And a great spot for casual birdwatching.
    Written 12 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Bea T
    Irvine, CA367 contributions
    Visit this garden rose before going to the International Rose Garden. It is smaller but just as beautiful with a large fountain in the middle. It's located in a residential area, so drive around and admire the beautiful house architecture and landscapes.
    Written 22 June 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Jim W.
    Atlanta, GA970 contributions
    A local friend recommended driving up to this park for great sunset views. She was not wrong, and our timing turned out to be good.

    You first have to commit to driving several miles up into the hills at the edge of the city (it seemed like the edge; I freely admit my local knowledge of Portland is relatively limited). As the name implies, this park is literally on the crest of a major hill, with commanding views in several directions (it would be all directions, but there are also a lot of trees around the perimeter. You can clearly see Mount St. Helens and Mt. Hood.

    We arrived around 8:20 p.m. or so in the summer. There is a large grassy area around the summit which was filled with picnickers. A short loop road surrounds the grass, and also is where you must park. This leads to a lot of parallel parking and the associated excitement with that. I nearly hit some cyclist who opted not to break speed or yield at all as I was maneuvering (I never saw him until he zipped by). I do some cycling to, but I'd have let the large car get out of the way, had it been me. There is a sporadic stream of cars circling the summit for spaces, so I think we lucked out, frankly.

    Still, it was worth the 15-minute drive and the parking to check this out, especially at dusk.
    Written 28 July 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Colleencamille
    13 contributions
    I happened on this hike when in a search from hotel room. Such a wonderful run/walk rich in history and views and trails. There is a little restaurant at the bottom for a quick bite when done
    Written 15 March 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • pneon99
    Thousand Oaks, CA250 contributions
    This Memorial was on my list of places to see in Washington Park.
    located just south of the international Rose Garden this striking memorial has details you wont really understand until you are standing within the memorial. What initially looks like trash or something left on the ground or on a bench, turns out to be what is most impactful about this memorial. Bronze girls dolls, a broken violin, a tattered up set of paper, a suitcase, a menorah all ruminants of what the Nazis stole from the Jews and anyone else they deemed unworthy. All these items strewn about without a care for these innocent peoples belongings as they are shuttled into trains to be put to death. The cobblestone entry to the memorial very much like the cobblestones in the ghettos themselves. The memorial itself explaining in as much detail as you can in the space provided the horrors the Nazis and the words of the survivors that chill you to your core. This is a powerful Monument and one that ensures we never forget the atrocities that people are capable of just because you are different. I was surprised to see how many survivors moved to Oregon after the war with all the names and families etched into this beautiful memorial. This is a must see when you are in Oregon!
    Written 22 April 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Evan D
    Richmond, VA94 contributions
    This is the museum for PT-658, a WWII-era restored Patrol Torpedo Boat. This is a MUST-DO in Portland. This is literally the only PT Boat in the entire US that you can climb aboard and explore stem-to-stern on a regular basis - and it is readily accessible, with a little planning in the form of a phone call at least a week in advance of your visit. The PT boat has her own boathouse right within the grounds of Vigor Shipyard, and the boathouse opens to the Swan Island basin - leading right to the EXCELLENT Amphibious Forces Memorial Museum (LCI-713, an infantry landing craft from WWII). So, this museum and that of the adjacent LCI really go hand-in-hand despite being two separate non-profits. Plan accordingly! You really should see both (and I will do a separate review for the LCI). Here's some tips for visiting:

    1. CALL ahead! There is a contact email address on the Save the PT Boat, Inc., website. They are open to the public on Mondays and Thursdays from 9am to 3pm - and Saturdays by reservation. Because the PT is only 78' long, space aboard is limited - and the boat is functional. So, call ahead, let them know what day you're wanting to visit, and they'll take it from there.

    2. The gate to visit the PT boat is right across from the Peterbuilt at 5555 N. Lagoon Ave - what I did was use the Peterbuilt address for my GPS, then called the number on the gate (photo included in this review) when I arrived and waited for Jerry to come unlock the gate. You can wait either in the Peterbuilt parking lot, or you can park temporarily in front of the PT boat's shipyard gate - once they open the gate for you, you drive into the shipyard, turn right, and park right outside the PT boat's maintenance shed. I've included a labeled Google Earth map at the end of the photos in this review, hopefully some folks find that helpful.

    3. Bring a camera! Everything is SO well restored - you'll want to document these rare spaces for sure.

    4. Bring closed-toed, well-fitting shoes - to access the PT boat's interior, you have to navigate several steep staircases with 3-4 steps each, and the engine room and aft crew quarters are down vertical ladders. Note there is not air conditioning.

    5. Plan on spending 3+ hours. As I said earlier, this really goes hand-in-hand with the landing craft museum next to the boathouse. You can opt not to do both and they'll go unlock the gate for you to drive out - but I don't really see a good reason to skip either vessel. Both are unique experiences and very special, each very different in their own right.

    6. Be respectful! The PT is exquisitely restored - lots of little items have gone into this, including desalination packs, signaling mirrors, compasses, pictures, and other knick-knacks. While they're happy to let you handle the artifacts, let the crew lead the way - if they hand something to you, it's safe to handle. Otherwise, a good rule of thumb is to look but not touch. These things are not playgrounds - they are machines of war - and the oils from human hands does deteriorate them over time. If you bring kids, they certainly encourage interactive activities in the museum, but as a personal recommendation, I'd keep kids under close watch aboard the PT. They'll have a BLAST - just saying to respect the artifact is all. Plus, the boat is floating, and when other vessels pass outside, the wake does make the boat rock just slightly.

    7. DONATE. There is no price of admission. It is a FREE attraction. But keep in mind, these organizations run on donations and volunteers. They have no full-time staff. The guys showing you the museums are volunteers. The guys doing repairs are volunteers. Again, these are unique vessels - support them however you can, be it a review like this one, or telling your friends to go visit, or donating (or, better yet, all three!). There is a donation box inside the boathouse, and a separate one for the landing craft over inside that ship. They are separate organizations.

    I visited with my wife, and our guide arranged for some folks from his neighborhood and a friend from work to join since we went on a Saturday. I had contacted them two weeks in advance to ensure that would work - Saturdays are appointment-only days, and volunteers will be on the adjacent landing craft doing maintenance (gives it that real war-time feeling of constant chores, too). Overall our group was seven in total, plus our guide Jerry. That was a good number, many more and some of the smaller spaces would have been overcrowded. I hung at the end of the group so I could take pictures of the compartments in detail. Total tour of the PT was right at 2.5 hours, and some of that may have been extra since I probably slowed the group down with my incessant photography. Some folks opted not to go into the engine room or the aft crew's quarters based on how confined those spaces were, so food for thought. In general, I found the interior spaces to be small, but not overwhelmingly small - pretty much on-par with how cramped ship compartments usually are. Space comes at a premium, and is a luxury.

    All-in-all, this was a day we will never forget. I took over 400 photos of PT-658 alone, 385 of which made it past the cutting room floor and into my photo collection for posterity. Everything was so well done - packed with detail, clean, polished, quality, and fascinating. The crew even fed us pizza and gave us water (you'll want water) between seeing the PT and touring the landing craft - not sure how normal that is, but their hospitality was above and beyond and I cannot sing their praises enough. The knowledge Jerry brought to his tour was extensive and thorough - I learned quite a bit from the anecdotes he shared, and picked up a book on the way out to read more about PT shenanigans from one of the guys who volunteers there
    Written 6 August 2022
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • lettielou
    Keller, TX96 contributions
    Loved this market! We were here for the weekend, so had coffee and breakfast while walking through the market. The produce and flowers are amazing! This is what you hope your hometown market would be! It is in a beautiful park and makes for a lovely Saturday morning activity.
    Written 13 September 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • vonifide
    Pennsylvania110 contributions
    Elk Rock Garden is a quiet place to spend time and has a nice sense of garden hostory. The grounds were planted in the first half of the 20th century and contains many mature trees and ornamental shrubs, including a collection of Magnolia. Of course when I visited this August, the only Magnolia in bloom was M. grandiflora, but most of the other specimens were viewable from the paths that circle the garden and it was lovely to observe their different leaves, barks and forms. If I lived in the area, I would love to visit Elk Rock throughout the year, as it's clear that attention was paid to have enough of a diversity of plants that there would be something in flower every season.

    The house was situated to take advantage of a view of Mt. Hood, which can be seen on a clear day from the east side of the building.
    Written 2 October 2018
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • jackwidely
    Portland, OR201 contributions
    Lovely easy to walk Botanical Gardens close to everyone in Portland. Trails are well groomed and anyone of any age should find them easy to traverse. Nice selections of plants and tree- some pretty old are situated on the grounds.

    Sadly the bridge across the creek was washed out by flooding in 2020 and has not yet been replaced leaving a small portion of the garden closed including the old stone house.

    During 2021 admission is free but their website must be used for setting a time slot to visit. Plenty of parking. Easy to find. Worth an hour or so.
    Written 6 June 2021
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • Mike McKenzie
    Portland, OR82 contributions
    This is an easy picnic hike. It’s s great walk in the city that makes you feel like you are not in the city. The stone house is a great gathering ground as it’s fun to climb on it. Great hike for dogs and kids ... and Bard Owls. The photo is a zoomed in crop of a couple owls in the trees one rainy fall afternoon.
    Written 29 April 2019
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
  • garyd22557
    Chagrin Falls, OH28 contributions
    Beautiful hike through this butte. It can be a bit confusing as the interior trial maps don't show much of the butte. If you don't want to explore and possibly lose where you are, you should either get a map or take a picture at any of the trail heads. At the top there is a mountain/butte finder pointing out and giving some brief information of the buttes and mountains that can be seen. Check out the visitors center where it shows the various sized pipes that take water throughout Portland.
    Written 8 August 2018
    This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.