5 Best Photo Opportunities in Portland

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Photo Opportunities Portland

Lee Van Grack

The hunter-green foliage of Portland tells of the six months each year when the city is covered by misting rain. While beautiful during the rainy months of November through April, Portland and its people come alive beginning May. The coming of the sun brings a feast for the eyes, ears and nose just in time for summer vacation.

Live in the sun while it's here! Grab your camera and capture the beauty and innate quirkiness of Portland before the rain comes back.

We've pulled together some photo opportunities in Portland while the sun's out, or even when it's dimming a bit in the evening.

1. The Romantic Photo: International Rose Test Garden


Take a whiff of Portland's most romantic spot even before you see it. The heady fragrance of roses envelopes you once you step off TriMet bus 63 or get out of the car at the International Rose Test Garden on SW Kingston Drive.

The sweet scent draws you up to the low stone wall that separates the garden from the parking lot and the nearby tennis courts. Once at the wall, you overlook four and a half acres of roses in every hue from white to reds so deep they're almost black. Cluster roses (floribunda), long stemmed roses (grandiflora) climbing roses, wild roses and hybrid tea roses bloom from mid-May through October.

Couples walk hand in hand through more than 10,000 rose plants. Be kind. You're sure to stumble upon their hushed murmurs from a hidden bench or alcove.

Perhaps the most well known of these alcoves is in the Gold Medal Garden on the second level. Follow the right most walkway down and you discover an east facing gazebo that fronts a fountain. Countless brides and grooms have been photographed in this very gazebo surrounded by gold medal winning roses spanning back to 1919.

Founded in 1917, Portland's International Rose Test Garden is the oldest continually running test garden in the United States.



2. The Quirky Photo: Paul Bunyan Statue


Now, if you're looking for a bit of the weirder side of Portland, may we suggest you travel to the Kenton neighborhood via car or the Max yellow line. Shops line both sides of North Interstate Avenue as you pull up to the North Denver Avenue intersection. There on the left stands a 31-foot tall Paul Bunyan statue. A lumberjack in Portland? Sure, why not. We were founded by pioneers and timber was one of the top industries well into the 1980s.

Probably the quirkiest thing about good old Paul is not his height. It's his location. He sits in front of a Wells Fargo drive through. Parents, be aware that Paul has faced the Dancin' Bare adult club since 1990. Paul was there first, though. He was erected in 1959 and was named to the national historical registry in 2009.



3. The Family Fun Photo: Council Crest


You've had those days. You just need to beat on the kids (and they feel the same way). So you gather the lot of them and pile the swords and other fighting toys into the car. Head up a winding tree-lined road in southwest Portland and you are at Council Crest.

This is the summit of Portland at 1,073 feet above sea level. The grand feature of the park is its view. On cloudless days, you can see Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams in Washington and Mount Hood in Oregon. But probably its best family feature is the large echo chamber at its peak. When standing in the center of the open-air chamber a whisper will reverberate in your ears.

The chamber is surrounded by a low wall and makes a great setting for a knock-out battle between family members. Be the fun with swords, pong or dart guns, frisbees or just playing tag, the 43-acre park definitely fits the bill. Oh, you can also bring along Fido for some fun in the off-leash dog area.

Best of all, Council Crest includes a history lesson. It is thought to have originally been a gathering place for Native American tribes. This is a photo opportunity in Portland you might not want to miss.



4. The Scenic Photo: Portland Aerial Tram


Everywhere you turn in Portland you can capture a great picture of downtown or one of the three mountains in view on cloudless days. But, the newest, and perhaps most fun way to get a great shot of downtown is via the Portland Aerial Tram. You board the tram at its base on Southwest Whitaker.

Running at 22 mph, it's a scant three minutes to the top. It's a calm ride with views of the Willamette River, Mount Hood and downtown. Be warned, the trip takes new riders by surprise as it passes through the mid-way tower. Tram operators are kind enough let you know about the "swing." Let's just say that glass windows and up to 178 feet off the ground make for a shaky moment or two. Completely safe, but shaky.

You disembark at the Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). A quick walk inside takes you to a terrace and sculpture garden over looking the city. Please be kind, though. This is a hospital and patients and their families may be present.

The aerial tram opened in 2007 and connects the South Waterfront with OHSU on Marquam Hill. It saves 93,000 gallons of gas each year. It costs just $4 to board the tram for a round trip up the hill. Or, get on with your TriMet monthly or annual pass.




5. The Classic Photo: Pittock Mansion


If you're looking for the iconic Portland picture, travel up to Pittock Mansion in Washington Park.

The chirping of birds will guide you around the lush gardens and manicured lawns, the home of Portland pioneers, Henry and Georgiana Pittock, has been a museum since 1965. There is a fee of $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $5 for youths to enter the house, but all visitors are welcome to stroll in the gardens free of charge.

You may recall the location from movies such as "Body of Evidence" in 1993 and "The Haunting of Sarah Hardy" in 1989.

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