Your Destination Guide to Portland

Destination Guide Portland - Your Destination Guide to Portland, OR

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Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park

© Joel Mann

Portland is home to all things green, leafy, and outdoors – and Tom McCall Waterfront Park embodies all of these. With occasional festivals, nightly summer music, hot-weather fountains, a bit of history and a lot of greenery, the 30-acre Waterfront Park, as it's known by locals, offers more than just a play structure or a woodsy hike.

Since 1927, Waterfront Park has offered Portlanders a closer view of the Willamette River's west bank. Its origins can be traced back to the city's Olmstead Report, which claimed a desperate need for public parks and areas. This need has definitely been fulfilled, as Waterfront Park not only offers amenities such as restrooms, wheelchair access, a fountain to play in, biking, and a boat dock, but also a respite from the serious side of life.

For visitors after a learning experience, the park's historical sites are a high priority. The most notable landmarks are the Founders' Stone, honoring the city's origins, the Police Memorial, the Battleship Oregon Memorial, and the Salmon Street Springs. The Battleship is a popular tourist attraction, nicknamed the "Bulldog" of the Navy. And while this close-up view may seem like a trip into the past, it will literally be one in 2076 – the year a time-capsule will be opened with remnants from yesteryear.

The Salmon Street Springs is a popular summer stop and a soothing, as well as ethical, way to beat the humid Oregon heat. It recycles nearly 5,000 gallons of water per minute, so no need to feel guilty for frolicking in the shooting streams.

In addition to its permanent attractions, Waterfront Park also hosts many popular Portland festivals. If you can, stop by the Waterfront Blues Festival for music lovers, Oregon Brewers Festival for beer aficionados, The Bite of Oregon for foodies, and the many Rose Festival activities for gardeners. While most occur during the spring and summer, the occasional fall weekend will find the park hosting an event, so be sure to grab the morning paper to check.

Aside from its various attractions, the park itself garners widespread attention for its simple beauty. With winding walkways, cherry trees, and sweeping views of the Willamette River, you may feel worlds away from the steel and concrete of downtown Portland while the distance is only blocks. Food and shopping are a quick stroll across the street. And don't fear the cold, wet Northwest winters. The park does its best to ease the gloomy weather by transforming into a virtual holiday snow globe with wreaths and lights strung from trees and lampposts. Whatever season you find yourself in Portland, be sure to cross the street and visit Waterfront Park.

Attraction Information

  • Bus and Max Stops:
  • North Portland Stop: Max Red Line or Blue Line to the Skidmore Fountain Station
  • Central Portland Stop: Max Red Line or Blue Line to the Yamhill District Station
  • South Portland Stop: 1-Vermont, 8-Jackson Park/NE 15th, 12-Barbur/Sandy Blvd, 43-Taylors Ferry Rd, 94-Sherwood/Pacific Hwy Express to the SW 5th & Market Station
  • Contact:
  • Location: Naito Pkwy between SW Harrison St & NW Glisan St, Portland, OR
  • Phone: 503-823-7529
  • Website:
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