Washington Park | The Official Guide to Portland

Portland’s signature park offers gardens, museums, memorials, a zoo, wilderness and more.

Know Before You Go

Car parking at Washington Park is extremely limited. Light rail, free shuttle (March–November), bus and walking are the best ways to reach the park.

Portland’s signature westside park isn’t just loaded with big trees and picnic tables. Located a mere two miles west of downtown and accessible by MAX light rail, 410-acre (166 ha) Washington Park offers up a zoo, two museums, a spectacular rose garden, one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the world, all bordered by Forest Park — at 5,100 acres, one of the country’s premier urban wildernesses. Here’s a tour.

Kid-Centric Attractions

Steller sea lions, mountain goats, and lion pride all draw crowds to the Oregon Zoo. But the biggest stars are the Asian elephants, who enjoy a state-of-the-art habitat that lets visitors see them up close. There’s no bad time to visit: from summer concerts to “Howloween” trick or treat to holiday ZooLights, Portland’s beloved zoo sparkles in any season.

Forests have never been more interesting, thanks to the World Forestry Center’s Discovery Museum, a Portland icon since 1971. Visitors to the dramatic wooden building can see a bird’s-eye-view of a Northwest forest, “travel” to forests around the world and learn about the future of sustainable forestry. (Outside the museum, visitors can also visit the museum’s 10,000-pound (4,536 kg), 5-million-year-old petrified stump of a Giant Sequoia tree.)

Washington Park’s playground just south of the Rose Garden is a doozy, with slides, giant castle structures, ramps, bridges and swings. Arrive in style via the Oregon Zoo steam train, which stops just a few feet away.

a large play structure in under even larger evergreen trees
The Playground at Washington Park.

a red panda walks on a tree limb, surrounded by leaves

Oregon Zoo

Located near downtown Portland in Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,600 animals.

person walking through a museum exhibition of different trees

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

Tree- and forest-lovers of all ages can learn about the importance of sustainability and experience a Portland icon at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, with exhibits on local and global forests.

people visiting a blooming Rose Garden in Washington Park

Portland International Rose Test Garden

The oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States, the Portland International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park features more than 10,000 roses, great views of the skyline and the Cascades.

Portland Picnic Guide

Nothing beats spreading out a picnic blanket on a sunny day, and Portland has no shortage of delicious grab-and-go eats and scenic spots for a feast.

Gardens Galore

Apricot Candy, Burgundy Iceberg, Rhapsody in Blue — these are just a few of the 722 different varieties represented among the more than 10,000 rose bushes to ogle, caress and, of course, sniff at the International Rose Test Garden, the oldest continuously operated public rose garden in the nation. Peak bloom season runs from late May to September. But even sans petals, the 4.5-acre (1.82 ha), multi-tiered grounds dazzle with sculptures, a flower-themed gift shop, and stunning views of Mount Hood and Portland’s skyline.

Touted by former Japanese ambassador Nobuo Matsunaga as the most authentic Japanese garden outside of his homeland, the 12-acre Portland Japanese Garden is a breathtaking passageway to the Land of the Rising Sun. Take in eight unique gardenscapes (a strolling pond, ceremonial teahouse, natural garden, flat garden, and sandstone garden) set among cherry trees, azaleas, and Japanese maples. Traditional events include autumn moon viewings.

Portland Japanese Garden

A haven of meticulously maintained, tranquil beauty, proclaimed one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden offers meandering streams, intimate walkways and an unsurpassed view of Mount Hood.

Hoyt Arboretum staffers call it Portland’s “living classroom.” How else to categorize a 190-acre (76.89 ha) plot chock-full of more than 1,000 species of plants? Grab a walking map and stroll 12 miles’ (19.31 km) worth of hiking trails, discovering exotic trees such as the Chilean Monkey Puzzle, weeping sequoias, and a multitude of flowering specimens like dogwood and magnolias.

two people walk as sun filters through fir trees on a path through an urban arboretum

Credit: Diego Diaz

Designated as a National Recreation Trail, the Wildwood Trail stretches 30 miles (48.28 km), spanning the entire length of Forest Park, and offers endless loop options with shorter paths. The trail begins just northwest of the Washington Park MAX station.

Perfect for a little adventure in the city, the 4T Trail, a clearly marked 4.5-mile (7.2 km) loop, directs trekkers on a unique urban route that ropes in trails, a train, a trolley (aka the Portland Streetcar), and the Portland Aerial Tram. Pick up the trail by following the 4T signs outside the Washington Park MAX station; an all-day TriMet pass is required.

4T Trail

The 4T trail is a self-guided tour that lets you explore the city — and see some of the best views — without a car.

Solemn Memorials

Dedicated in 1987, the Vietnam Veterans of Oregon Memorial is a curved black granite wall that was inspired by the design of the famed Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. The names of 800 Oregonians who died or are still missing in action are inscribed here, contrasted by a record of concurrent local events.

Meant to evoke a town square — the kind of place where Jewish citizens were often gathered before being forced into concentration camps — the Oregon Holocaust Memorial is a small monument that packs an emotional wallop. Bronze casts of shoes, eyeglasses, suitcases representing meager possessions lost in the chaos, and a wall engraved with quotes from those who survived spur quiet reflection.

A person stands in front of a memorial made of stone bricks

The Oregon Holocaust Memorial in Washington Park is dedicated to victims of the Holocaust.
Photo credit: Steve Rosenberg

Credit: Steve Rosenberg

Washington Park Summer Festival

Park Rose Garden Amphitheater is transformed every August for the Washington Park Summer Festival. Hosting an array of acts, including multicultural music, opera, flamenco and African dance as part of Portland Parks programming and events, Summer Free for All, which pop up around the city’s many parks throughout the warmer months.

Transportation to and in the Park

Car parking in Washington Park is extremely limited; light rail, bus, and free shuttle service are the best ways to reach the park.

MAX Light Rail

Washington Park is served by the MAX light rail Blue and Red lines; the MAX station is close to the Oregon Zoo, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the 4T and Wildwood trailheads.


TriMet bus #63 also goes from Providence Park downtown to Washington Park, with stops near the International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden, as well as the Oregon Zoo and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.

Free Shuttle

The free Explore Washington Park shuttle stops at all the park’s major attractions, as well as the Washington Park MAX station.

The Washington Park Free Shuttle provides daily, year-round service throughout the Park. Hours vary by season.

April – September | 9:30 a.m. – 7 p.m., every 15-30 minutes
October – March | 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., every 15-30 minutes

The real-time tracker makes it easy to find.


From downtown, take US 26W to exit 72 (Zoo/Forestry Center) and follow signs to Washington Park. Pay to park in designated lots and streets. ($2.00 per hour). For real-time parking information and construction alerts and closures, visit explorewashingtonpark.com.


Portland transportation options include efficient public transit, miles of bike lanes, ride-share services and pedestrian-friendly city streets. Getting around the City of Roses is easier than you think.

Much Adoe about Nothing by Original Practice Shakespeare Festival

Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023

Much Adoe about Nothing by Original Practice Shakespeare Festival

Washington Park

The Prince visits Leonato with his evil brother John. Beatrice and Benedick feud. Claudio plans to marry Hero. Folks gull Beatrice and Benedick into thinking the other loves them. John makes Hero appear unfaithful. Claudio spurns her at the altar. Hero fakes her death. John’s plot is revealed. Everybody marries. OPS Fest brings no-cost repertory…

The Tragedy of Hamlet by Original Practice Shakespeare Festival

Saturday, Aug. 5, 2023

The Tragedy of Hamlet by Original Practice Shakespeare Festival

Washington Park

Mix together one dead father (now a ghost), a mother that quickly marries your murderous uncle, a complicated love life, two sycophantic childhood chums, a company of actors, a duel, poison, murder, madness, and the skull of a dead clown. Add pirates. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. OPS Fest brings no-cost repertory…

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