Portland Japanese Garden and Lan Su Chinese Garden

Contributor: Amber D’Ambrosio is Processing Archivist & Records Manager at Willamette University, a small, urban liberal arts college in Salem, Oregon, where she manages the collections and wrangles ArchivesSpace and Archivematica. In her spare time she writes, reads about early modern London, hikes, travels, and obsessively visits the Oregon Coast.

Portland Japanese Garden


The Portland Japanese Garden combines a variety of traditional Japanese garden styles into a beautiful haven on top of a hill overlooking downtown Portland. The hill is known for Washington Park, which has many other family-friendly attractions that make the Japanese Garden’s distance from the conference location well worth the trip. After a recent expansion, the gardens now include a Japanese cultural center with constantly rotating exhibitions of Japanese material culture, a gift shop, and a cafe.


The garden itself is lush, extensive, and includes a wide variety of flowering plants, waterfalls, and Zen gardens known for their simpler aesthetic of carefully raked sand or gravel. There are traditional Japanese buildings, including a traditional tea room, and a hall with veranda that provides a great view over downtown Portland. On a clear day you can see Mount Hood in the distance. Guided tours are available at specified times for those who would like additional insight into the gardens and their history. This is one of my favorite places in Portland, and it’s worth a visit any season of the year.


The Portland Japanese Garden is open until 7 pm every day during the summer months. Admission is $14.95 for an adult with discounted rates for other age ranges available.


The garden and surrounding Washington Park are accessible via the Blue and Red MAX light rail lines to Beaverton and Hillsboro. Get off at Washington Park stop (inside the tunnel). There is a free Washington Park shuttle that will take you from the MAX station to the garden, or you can enjoy a 1.5 mile walk through the arboretum in Washington Park (the trail is well marked with signs for the Japanese and Rose Gardens, but it winds through wooded areas with uneven terrain).


There is parking available at the garden but also available at the Oregon Zoo and elsewhere in Washington Park if you’d like to walk to the garden. Additional travel information is available at the link provided.


Other attractions of interest in Washington Park include the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Children’s Museum, the World Forestry Center, the Hoyt Arboretum, miles of walking/hiking trails, and the International Rose Test Garden (celebrating its 100th anniversary).


Lan Su Chinese Garden


For those who would love to experience a garden a little closer to the conference action, Lan Su Chinese Garden comprises a full city block walled off from the noise of downtown Portland in the historic Old Town Chinatown district. It’s within walking distance (less than 1 mile) of the downtown conference hotel and the convention center. It’s also accessible via bus or the Blue or Red MAX light rail lines (with a short walk).


The garden is partitioned into various areas with stonework that allows views into the alcoves through elaborately carved windows. You can take advantage of a free guided tour at certain hours of the day or wander with the aid of printed guides. Shallow, reflective water, lush plant life, and traditional Chinese structures are the main features of the garden. Within the buildings are examples of traditional Chinese material culture and a Chinese Teahouse with light dining options (vegetarian and possibly vegan options are available). The Lan Su Chinese Garden is the perfect place to escape from the hustle and concrete of downtown Portland and enjoy a moment of tranquility among beautiful surroundings. They have regular cultural events, so it’s worth checking their schedule to see what you might find during your visit.


Admission to the garden is $10 for an adult with discounts available to other age ranges. A family pass is available for $28. The garden is open until 7 pm every day during the summer months.



Parks and Rec in Portland

Contributed by Laura Buchholz.

Laura Buchholz works in Reed College Special Collections & Archives, responsible all things digital, and grew up hiking in the rain in Portland and Oregon.

As you plan your conference schedule, be sure to build in some time outside! Portland has beautiful parks and hiking opportunities to enjoy, whether your ideal outing is a picnic and people watching, a stroll through forested trails, or a heart-pumping hike up a volcanic cinder cone. All of the following are within city limits and accessible by public transit.

Want to know more about a trail to determine if it is a good match for your mobility needs? The Access Trails site lets you know what to expect, beyond simple ADA compliance, for selected trails.

Forest Park

Forest Park, Portland“Forest Park, Portland” by “Robert Tuck”. Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Accessed 18 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/roberttuck/5943314587/


Over 5000 acres of forested beauty on the hills west of Portland. So many paths to choose from that it can be overwhelming: I recommend hiking a section of the popular Wildwood trail.


Claim to fame: the largest forested natural area within city limits in the U.S.


Good for: forested and shady hikes for all fitness levels, bobcat or coyote sightings (very rare, but possible!), gurgling creeks, views of Mt. Hood.

Laurelhurst Park

laurelhurst_park“IMG_0806a” by “Sam Churchill”. Licensed under CC BY 2.0. Accessed 18 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/samchurchill/4041353217/


A large city park with established trees, pond, play areas, and dog park. The surrounding neighborhood is beautiful for a long walk or run.


Claim to fame: Site of an old cattle farm, voted most beautiful park in 1911 by the Pacific Coast Parks Association, site of Rose Festival Queen coronations, and first city park to be included on the National Register of Historic Places.


Good for: picnics, people watching, dog watching, feeding the ducks, laying in the shade, outdoor yoga, free summer concerts, exploring the neighborhood front gardens.

Mt Tabor

mt_tabor“Mt. Tabor, November 2007” by “brx0”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Accessed 18 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/atul666/7426269878/in/album-72157603747075527/


Mt. Tabor is a city park on top of a dormant cinder cone, part of the Boring Lava Field*. Hike your way to the top for a good workout, then watch the sunset over two large reservoirs, with Portland in the background. You can also drive to the top, but the park is closed to cars on Wednesdays.


Claim to fame: It’s a volcano!

Good for: picnics, cardio hikes, views of the sunset, skateboarding down a volcano, people watching, free concerts.


*Unfortunately not named according to some kind of a lava field excitement rating, but instead after the nearby town of Boring, Oregon, which is named after William H. Boring.


South Park Blocks

south_park_blocks“North end; South Park Blocks” by “Rosa Say”. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Accessed 19 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/rosasay/5741912258/


If you’re staying downtown, you’ll want to check out the park blocks, a strip of 12 consecutive city blocks with tall trees, sidewalks, sculptures, and shade. The far southern end of the park blocks, near Portland State University, hosts a large farmers market on Saturdays.


Good for: city walking, sculpture viewing, farmers market browsing, sipping early morning coffee.


Claim to fame: Site of Portland’s first Gay Pride celebration, among many other marches, protests, and celebrations.

Waterfront Park & Eastbank Esplanade


“Tom McCall Waterfront Park” by “Joel Mann”. Licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. Accessed 19 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/joelmann/452495325/


Waterfront Park and the Eastbank Esplanade hug the Willamette river and are connected by several bridges, making it an excellent option for a sightseeing bike ride loop. The park hosts many major festivals throughout the summer, including the Oregon Brewers Festival during the conference. Bringing kids to the conference? Salmon Street Springs is a favorite for local kids to cool off during the summer.


Good for: running, biking, rollerblading, frolicking in fountains, memorials, admiring the Willamette river, beer drinking.


Claim to fame: Waterfront Park used to be a major traffic artery, and is an early example of freeway removal in U.S. cities.

Washington Park

washington_park.jpg“International Rose Test Garden, Portland OR USA” by “Travel USA”. Licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0. Accessed 19 April 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/amymabela/19235307158/


Washington Park encompasses several Portland destinations: the Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden (peak bloom is June, but there will still be plenty in July!), the Portland Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden Children’s Park (a massive play structure!), the Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Children’s Museum, and more.


Parking is limited this summer due to construction, so take the MAX to the Washington Park station, and hop on the free shuttle to get to your destination.


Good for: Smelling the roses, burning off energy, waving hi to the hippo, appreciating the wonder that is the Pacific Northwest gardening climate, hiking.


Claim to fame: One of 24 testing sites for the All-America Rose Selections (AARS).

Escape From Portland: Day-Trips Outside The City

Escape From Portland: Day-Trips Outside The City


Gwen Amsbury, City of Portland Archives and Records Center

If you think there are a ton of places to visit in Portland, once you step beyond the city limits the options feel endless. Whether you like touring historical sites, visiting small towns packed with things to do, or just getting out in nature and exploring trails (especially the latter), there’s a day-trip for you!


Just Outside of The City


Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge (30 minutes) – Technically in Sherwood, this is a great place to quickly get away from the city (and people) and go for a relaxing nature walk.

Fort Vancouver (20 minutes) – Just across the Columbia River, this is a national park that includes four historical sites: Fort Vancouver, Vancouver Barracks, Pearson Air Museum, and the McLoughlin House.

Sauvie Island (30 minutes) – Fruit picking, fresh produce and events at both Kruger’s Farm and the Pumpkin Patch, as well as $6 you-cut lavender at the Sauvie Island Lavender Farm. You can walk out to the Warrior Rock Lighthouse (Warrior Point Trailhead) and there are multiple options for beach access including Collins Beach – where you can find the Sauvie Island UFO. (There’s also a nude beach in case you were wondering.)pic3

Mount Talbert Nature Park (20 minutes) – With a four-mile trail network and picnicking area at the trailhead, this is an easily reached place to go wandering if you don’t want to drive too far.

Champoeg State Heritage Area (40 minutes) – Fishing, hiking, the Newell House Museum, living history in a pioneer log cabin, and yurts!


A Little Farther Afield


Enchanted Forest (1 hour) – Oregon’s second oldest, continuously operating theme park is a piece of living cultural history. Enchanted Forest never disappoints with its DIY animatronics, rickety rides, and unique flare (and, yes, they do have churros).

Mount Angel Abbey and Seminary, Library and Museum (1 hour)– Visit the abbey to see their world-renowned library and an eclectic museum that includes taxidermy and a mineral collection. You can also take a hilltop walking tour to enjoy the grounds and the views.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum (1 hour) – Home of the Spruce Goose, the museum offers a wide variety of aircraft and artifacts from aviation history.pic-5

Mount Hood National Forest (1 – 2 hours)Wildwood Recreation Area is a close-in favorite to hike and picnic. Or continue on up the mountain to visit Government Camp or (up near the summit) Timberline Lodge. Bunsenbrewer in Sandy is a great stop on your way to or from the mountain. If you have the time to drive a little further, and don’t mind paying day use fees, be sure to visit the breathtaking Lost Lake.

Willamette Valley Oregon Wine Country (.5 – 2 hours)– The website for Oregon Wine Country has a helpful map to search for wineries and other places to eat and drink along (and just off) the I-5 corridor all the way down to Cottage Grove.


The Columbia River Gorge


Hikes and Waterfalls (varies) – Sometimes it feels like you’re trekking through Middle Earth when you explore the trails and waterfalls in the Gorge to the east of Portland. Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Falls, Angel’s Rest, Dog Mountain, and Coyote Wall/Catherine Creek are among a few to try. Many of the trails are short enough that you can do multiple hikes in a day and see the waterfalls along the Gorge. For example, go out McCord Creek and you can take a marked fork to visit Elowah Falls. For those who don’t want to hike, just driving I-84/Highway 30 you can see a number of waterfalls and include a stop at the famous (but usually crowded) Multnomah Falls (seen below looking a bit like Rivendell).


Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum (1.5 hours) – Takes an interactive approach to showcasing both the natural and cultural richness of the Gorge and Wasco County. Outside of the museum you’ll find walking trails and scenic overlooks.

Maryhill Museum of Art (2 hours) – Including both Native American and 20th century European art, there is also a sculpture garden and the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden. There is a lot packed into the museum so I recommend going to the site for a full picture of what you’ll find.


The Coast


Coastal Nature Areas (varies) -There are plenty of short, close-in hikes along the Oregon coast to explore. Cape Lookout State Park offers a variety of trails, picnic areas and beach access. If you enjoy a good tide pool, take a look at the Oregon Tidepools Map for locations and tips on visiting. Saddle Mountain, on the way to the coast, offers a view of the ocean to those who reach the top. The Siuslaw National Forest stretches along much of the Oregon coast and their website allows you to search by area to find hiking, day use areas, and scenic drives.

North Lincoln County Historical Museum (2 hours) – Among the museum’s exhibits is a permanent display about the long-gone amusement park Pixieland. While in Lincoln City there are secondhand book stores and antique malls to peruse, and tasty restaurants including The Sea Hag.

Tillamook Cheese Factory (1.5 hours) – Like cheese? Then you’ve probably heard of Tillamook. On a visit to the factory you can get a scoop of ice cream, tour the factory, and sample cheese to your heart’s content. Next door is Blue Heron if you haven’t had your fill of dairy (they also have tasty clam chowder).pic9

Astoria (2 hours) – There is a ton to do in this small town. Museums, restaurants, the Astoria Column, a riverfront trolley, the Garden of the Surging Waves and (of course) the Goonies house. You can spend days exploring the town and surrounding area, but it’s close enough to take a short jaunt up to see some of the points of interest. The Columbian Café is one of the best places to eat in town.

Manzanita (2 hours) – This is my favorite coastal town and a great place to get a cute close-to-the-beach rental. If you’re just there for the day be sure to visit the Nehalem Valley Historical Society, get a bite to eat in any of the town’s fantastic restaurants, and trek along the beach or through the nearby Nehalem State Park.


Gwen Amsbury is an Archives and Records Management Specialist at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center. Currently Gwen is serving as Secretary and Membership Coordinator for Northwest Archivists, Inc.  She spends her spare time reading, metalworking, and searching for abandoned amusement parks.