Top Portland Gardens: Where to See Nature’s Blooming Beauty

Known as one of the greenest cities in the U.S., it’s no surprise some of Portland’s most popular attractions appeal to nature lovers. However, there are more than open green spaces in this destination. Visitors also enjoy visiting these top Portland gardens, home to year-round blooms, quiet retreats and photo ops. Learn more about these outdoor sanctuaries.

Top Portland Gardens: Relax and Reconnect With Nature

portland gardens grotto mother mary

Photo: InSapphoWeTrust

The Grotto: National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother

The Grotto is a place for solace and prayer. This attraction and home to beautiful Portland gardens, operates as a Catholic shrine dedicated to Mary, which is a ministry of the Servite Friars – Order of Friar Servants of Mary.

Once inside, visitors have access to 13 garden areas that showcase flowers, plants, statues and history. One of the top sites, The Grotto cave measures 30 feet wide and 30 feet deep, and features a marble statue of Mary holding Jesus. Visitors also enjoy the Peace Garden, Rose Garden, a Labyrinth and St. Anne’s Chapel and its picturesque scenery.

Info: General admission ranges from $3 to $6, and provides access to upper-level gardens. The lower garden, Grotto, on-site chapel and visitor center are free to enter.

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International Rose Test Garden

Located in Washington Park, International Rose Test Garden features over 7,000 plants consisting of 550 varieties. For over 100 years, the garden has served as a testing site for new rose varieties and ranks among the oldest continuously operated public test gardens in the U.S.

International Rose Test Garden measures 4.5 acres with 10 different sections. Each section showcases rose varieties and includes their historical significance. Visitors can take a self-guided tour on paved paths, or sit and admire natural beauty. The garden also houses a fountain, statues and tours for large groups.

Info: Admission is free, however donations are welcome and encouraged.

Hoyt Arboretum

Another must-see in Washington Park is Hoyt Arboretum, known as a museum of living trees. The attraction offers 190 acres with 12 miles of hiking trails for all skill levels. While on trails, see over 6,000 specimens that call the area home, with over 60 vulnerable or endangered species. In April through October, Hoyt Arboretum hosts 90-minute guided tours that educate and entertain guests. In addition, attend lectures, workshops and free events.

Info: Plan to provide a $3 donation per person to help support programs and plant maintenance. Event ticket prices range, so view the full Hoyt Arboretum calendar.

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Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Explore flowers, plants and wildlife at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. This attraction measures 10 acres and includes paved and unpaved paths. This allows guests to explore at their own pace and create a custom experience. While outdoors, enjoy a large collection of rhododendrons and azaleas in a woodland setting. In addition to flowers, visitors see waterfalls from two bridges, look for 90 species of birds and watch the sunset.

Info: From October through February, guests receive free access. Beginning in March through September, admission costs around $5, and Mondays are free. Crystal Springs accepts donations, and admission proceeds go toward maintenance and improvements.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

One of the top Portland gardens and major attractions, Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a wonderland of cultural and natural treasures. The garden represents a collaboration of Portland and Suzhou, China, and was built by Suzhou artists who provide a glimpse into Chinese culture and tradition.

At Lan Su, find a tranquil environment that transports visitors. Activities include guided and self-guided tours, tai chi, musical performances, classes, art shows and tea tastings. While walking through the garden, admire Chinese architecture, hundreds of plants and flowers native to China and koi fish, or simply sit and reflect. Lan Su changes regularly, so no two trips feel the same.

Info: Tickets range from $7 to $10 per person, and families of four may purchase a pass for under $30.

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Portland Japanese Garden

For a different cultural experience, head to Portland Japanese Garden in Washington Park. This 12-acre garden houses eight different sections and houses a Japanese tea house, streams, paved paths and views of Mount Hood. Garden types feature a strolling pond, sand and stone, and flat garden. Portland Japanese Garden also offers opportunities to see Japanese art and performances, see live demonstrations, view exhibits, take guided tours, and sip Japanese tea.

Info: Adult general admission costs under $20, with special discounts for children, students and seniors. General admission grants access to the entire site and guided tour.

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