Otherwise known as the Garden of Roses, Portland, Oregon is home to some of the most beautiful gardens in the Northwest, if not the whole of the USA.
Looking for a green space to relax or soak up some seriously beautiful – and fragrant – scenery during your trip? Here are some of the best gardens to visit in Portland…
1. International Rose Test Garden – one of the most stunning rose gardens in the country where you can easily fall in love
During the rose season, which lasts from May to October, this section of Portland’s Washington Park is covered in over 600 varieties of roses. The origins of the International Rose Test Garden are functional.
During World War One, hybrid breeders of roses would send their plants to Portland for testing. Nowadays, the garden is still used to test new hybrid varieties of roses on the market as well as old favorites.
If you are a rose gardener yourself, visit the garden to check out the newest developments in the field. However, even if you are just a casual enthusiast, the garden is worth a visit to check out the staggering array of blooms.
- International Rose Test Garden 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
2. Portland Japanese Garden – a serene garden where you can indulge yourself in nature
For a touch of Japan on this side of the Pacific, visit the Portland Japanese Garden. The calming space follows traditional Japanese principles to create what many people have dubbed as one of the most accurate recreations outside of Japan.
The vast, rolling space has everything from pristine walkways to bucolic streams.
During your visit, explore the five different styles of gardens, including a Zen Buddhism Sand and Stone Garden. Refresh yourself at the Japanese Tea House located in the garden and don’t forget to look out for views of Mt. Hood.
- Portland Japanese Garden 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
3. Crystal Springs Garden – amazing botanical garden with an exceptional collection of rare flowers
Crystal Springs Garden is another one of Portland’s specialty gardens, this one is dedicated to rhododendrons. The garden has rare and hybrid species of the gorgeous flowering shrub plants as well as azaleas and other similar plants.
Stroll through the garden to gaze at the cover of flowering shrubs that intertwine with unique trees. The garden is a must-see in the fall when the foliage blends with the still-brilliant shrubs to create a riot of color.
If you are a bird watcher, checking out Crystal Springs Lake, which attracts many ducks and other waterfowl, is a must.
- Crystal Springs Garden 5801 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97202
4. Gold Medal Garden – one of the greatest gardens in Oregon that have a variety of winning roses planted
It makes sense that one of the best gardens in Portland would be home to only the best plants. The Gold Medal Garden is a section of the International Rose Test Garden that is dedicated to rose varieties that have won awards in rose breeding.
Over 100 years of winners in the gardening world reside in this superb section of the garden.
If you only have time to visit a small section of the International Rose Test Garden, make it this one so that you can see the best achievements of the world’s rose breeding community.
- Gold Medal Garden 400 SW Kingston Ave Portland OR 97205
5. Lan Su Chinese Garden – a very impressive garden where you can learn China’s rich culture
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is another authentic slice of East Asia in Portland. The garden emulates traditional landscaping from the Ming dynasty and was first established by artisans from the city of Suzhou.
Even amidst busy Chinatown, find tranquillity while strolling the elegant walkways, observing the koi ponds, and looking for rare traditional Chinese plants.
The garden has a busy calendar, particularly around the Chinese New Year, so keep an eye out on their website for everything from guided tours with experienced horticulturalists to lion dance performances. The garden is more than just a green space; it is a cultural center for the community.
- Lan Su Chinese Garden 220 NW 2nd Avenue, Suite 1050, Portland, Oregon 97209
6. The Grotto – an absolute splendid garden where you can feel peaceful and connected to nature
One of the best gardens in Portland, The Grotto is part of a Roman Catholic outdoor shrine dedicated to Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother, but people of all faiths are welcome in this soothing garden overlooking Northeast Portland. The sprawling garden contains 62 acres of plants perched atop Rocky Butte.
The location is what really sets this garden apart from other Portland gardens. Rocky Butte is a stunning cliff that overlooks Portland and its rocky geography forms part of the garden as well as the plants.
Be sure to check out the cave cathedral in the lower level and ride an elevator along the cliff face to the botanical gardens on the upper level.
- The Grotto 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220, USA
7. Hoyt Arboretum – hidden gem greenery that you must visit
Hoyt Arboretum is another section of Washington Park that is a must-see in Portland. For almost 100 years, the garden has served as a place to conserve rare and endangered species of plants and educate the public about the importance of conservation.
Besides its educational importance, the garden is also a stunning place to visit.
If you are looking for an active break from the city, check out the 12 miles of hiking trails in the arboretum that take you past the gorgeous collection of trees. Or, go for a leisurely stroll and check out the ravines and dramatic landscapes.
- Hoyt Arboretum 4000 SW Fairview Blvd, Portland, OR 97221, USA
8. Elk Rock Garden – the oldest and largest private garden in the region perfect for a day out
Elk Rock Garden, overlooking the Willamette River just outside of Portland, is a gorgeous space dedicated to many varieties of beautiful flowers, including some rare ones. Highlights include the magnolia collection and rare species of trees.
This place is slightly out of the way and located on a private estate, so it tends to be less busy than other gardens in Portland. If you are looking for a truly serene getaway, come to the garden and wander by the streams, hoping to catch a glimpse of Mt. Hood.
- Elk Rock Garden 11800 S Military Ln, Portland, OR 97219, USA
9. Leach Botanical Garden – a botanical garden like no other which is a perfect venue for a wedding
This botanical garden is a living museum of plants located in southeast Portland. The sprawling 16 acres encompass many different plant varieties as well as calm paths to walk on and bubbling streams that inspire relaxation and meditation.
Originally a private estate belonging to the Leach family, the garden still contains the original Manor House as well as a stone cottage that was on the grounds. The Upper Garden is a more recent addition after the city acquired the land, but it blends seamlessly with the rest of the property.
- Leach Botanical Garden 6704 SE 122nd Ave, Portland, OR 97236, USA
10. Rose Garden Children’s Park – a colorful garden where you will find thousands of lovely roses
If you are visiting Portland with children but still want to get some plant-gazing in, check out the Rose Garden Children’s Park. Located near the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park, this garden also has plenty of roses blooming in the spring and summer.
For younger visitors, there is a spacious playground for entertainment. This is the perfect spot for everyone in the family to enjoy.
- Rose Garden Children’s Park 1700 SW Sherwood Blvd, Portland, OR 97205, USA
11. Lakeside Gardens – a gorgeous garden ideal to host events
If you are looking to host an event in a gorgeous garden setting in Portland, then Lakeside Gardens is the place to go. This stunning private event space located just outside of Portland has hosted countless weddings, birthday parties, and other getaways.
Celebrate with your friends and family surrounded by gorgeous trees, including dramatic cedars and weeping willows, as well as a complex of lakes. While Lakeside Gardens is not open for casual viewing, it is an excellent space for a special event.
- Lakeside Gardens 16211 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97236, USA
12. Rose City Park – a free garden definitely worth a visit
Rose City Park is a smaller city park located in the neighborhood of the same name.
The relatively small park compared to the others on this list still has 10 acres of space, including a beautiful rose garden planted and maintained by paid workers and volunteers. Go for a peaceful stroll around the roses or in the shadow of the Douglas firs.
Rose City Park is primarily a neighborhood park, which means that it also has community spaces for more active use, such as softball fields and an extensive playground. Come to play with your family or observe the locals going about their lives.
- Rose City Park 6433 NE Tillamook St, Portland
13. The Flat Garden – an astonishing garden meticulously designed to accentuate the distinctive beauty of all four seasons
The Flat Garden is a section of Portland’s famous Japanese Garden that deserves a mention of its own. The garden follows the Japanese landscaping principle of karesansui, or dry landscaping that uses sand and rocks to create gorgeous arrangements.
In Portland, the Flat Garden does not consist just of rocks and raked gravel but also has shrubs, small trees, and islands of greenery to add variety to the landscape.
Be sure to stop at the shoji doors to view the garden as it was meant to be seen, and come back during all four seasons to see the changing plants.
- The Flat Garden 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
14. The Natural Garden – a garden created to inspire its visitors to have tranquillity in their lives
The Natural Garden, another section of Portland’s famous Japanese Garden, is the least formal section of the garden complex. The landscaping is intentionally relaxed, with a mix of traditional Japanese plants and local varieties, to give visitors a space to relax and meditate.
Instead of following traditional landscaping principles, the Natural Garden allows plants to grow close together, creating the illusion of a wild area.
Come for a stroll in the Natural Garden during any season to look at how the space changes and reflect on nature.
- The Natural Garden 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
15. Pittock Mansion – a pretty public garden open daily that includes a greenhouse and a tennis court
Pittock Mansion, a historical house museum in Portland, is most famous for its chateau-style architecture but is also worth a visit for the grounds. The property stretches over 46 acres and contains a sprawling array of gorgeous plants, including dogwoods, roses, and lilacs.
Walk past the stately gardens toward the back of the property and you’ll be surprised to find wild forest, kept deliberately pristine by the original owners who had a passion for hiking.
Hike part of the Wildwood Trail, but don’t forget to stop and check out the view of Portland and the five Cascade Mountains.
- Pittock Mansion 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, USA
We also have posts on…
My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.