Portlanders don’t need to travel far to get out for spring break – though there are plenty of good day trips around the region. Instead, consider sticking around the city, taking advantage of all Portland has to offer.
With miles of beautiful hiking trails, several top-notch attractions and activities for kids and adults alike, Portland can be a spring break sanctuary, requiring little expense and little trouble getting around: many places on this list are free and several are accessible by public transportation. From spring flowers to LEGO art, here are 10 local excursions for the break.
Randy L. Rasmussen/The Oregonian
It’s never a bad time to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, but this spring is an especially good time to go. Last month the museum opened its spectacular new LEGO exhibit, “The Art of the Brick.” Featuring large-scale work by acclaimed Oregon-born artist Nathan Sawaya, the exhibit features a 20-foot tyrannosaurus rex skeleton, reproductions of several famous works of art and Sawaya’s famous sculpture “Yellow.”
2. Portland Hikes
When people talk about hiking around Portland they’re not usually talking about the city itself. It’s a shame, because Portland boasts a wide network of incredible hiking trails, from the 30-mile Wildwood Trail in Forest Park to the nine miles of trails atop Powell Butte. Locals might want to visit the lovely Marquam Nature Park in southwest Portland, or tackle the 11-mile Marquam Trail hike from Forest Park to Willamette Park.
3. Oregon Zoo
Even if you’ve spent a lot of time at the zoo, there’s actually a lot that’s new to see at the popular Portland attraction. Last month marked the grand opening of the Oregon Zoo’s new education center, while new polar bear cub Nora is still making a splash. The zoo will also host a spring break day camp from March 27 to 31.
4. Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival
March 24 marks the opening of the always-colorful Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in 2017, a month-long display of blooming tulips at the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn. The 40-acre farm lets visitors wander through and take pictures with the flowers, offering wine tastings, cow train rides and fresh-cut flowers to boot.
5. Oregon City
Oregon City isn’t at the top of many travel bucket lists, but it’s a great afternoon trip for Willamette Valley residents or Oregon history buffs. The McLoughlin Promenade walk is a good way to tour the city, going from the lovely main street up the famed Municipal Elevator, past overlooks of Willamette Falls and the Blue Heron Paper Mill, and to the historic McLoughlin House.
6. Fort Vancouver
One of the most popular national park sites in the Pacific Northwest, Fort Vancouver is also by far the most convenient to get to from Portland. Set along the northern shore of the Columbia River, the historic park is a throwback to the pioneer era, complete with blacksmithing demonstrations and reconstructed quarters from the fort’s time of prominence in the Oregon Territory
7. Stiegerwald National Wildlife Refuge
Head across the Columbia River, then drive west past Washougal in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, and you’ll find a wildlife wonderland that’s definitely worth your time. The Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge is home to deer, beavers, turtles, toads and more than 200 species of birds. Bring your binoculars and hit the trail, where the animals aren’t exactly shy.
8. Portland Japanese Garden
It’s an exciting time at the Portland Japanese Garden, which on April 2 will open its new Cultural Crossing expansion, including several new garden spaces, a castle wall, Umami Tea Café and several other buildings for educational and shopping purposes. The old garden area will still offer the same tranquility and beauty as always.
9. Umbrella Festival
Highlighting Portland’s colorful underground circus community, the annual Umbrella Festival will run from March 30 to April 2 at the Alberta Rose Theatre in northeast Portland. Every day offers a different show, ranging from youth-oriented and family-friendly shows to performances aimed at adult audiences only.
10. Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
Located just southwest of Portland in McMinnville the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum is a great local excursion for all-ages, featuring a hanger full of air and spacecraft, as well as a waterpark, theater and educational events. On March 31, the museum will host a spring break model rocket day camp for kids.