A soon as the Halloween costumes get put away, we’re on the fast track toward the New Year. Time to start thinking about your family holiday photo! Whether you keep it to yourself or print 100 postcards, you can snap your own photo in one of Portland’s many photogenic locations. We’ve curated a selection of our 6 favorite spots. Take a friend along to help, or grab a tripod and self-timer, and get ready to take your best shot.

photo: Stone Cabin via flickr

Leach Botanical Garden
This hidden gem in the outer southeast boasts quiet, winding trails through lush green foliage, hand-laid stone walls, and a bubbling creek. For more color, head up to the children’s garden for a background of late-blooming red sage—and a chance to let your squirmier photo subjects run around for a bit. The ivy-laced white cottage and stone cabin offer variations on a classic, sylvan theme.

Fee: Free
Parking: Free, across the bridge from main garden entrance

Leach Botanical Garden
6704 SE 122nd Ave.
Portland, OR 97236
Online: leachgarden.org

photo: Crystal Springs via flickr

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Though not in bloom in fall and winter, this public garden in the southeast is still a favorite destination for photography due to its wide range of backdrops—from wooden bridges and waterfalls to lake views and cozy benches. The mostly flat, paved terrain makes it stroller and wheelchair accessible, and kids will love the chance to watch the ducks and geese after the photo shoot is over.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
5801 SE 28th Ave.
Portland, OR 97202
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder

Fee: Free
Parking: Free, in wheelchair-accessible lot at main garden entrance


photo: Reed College via Flickr

Reed College and Reed Canyon
Just across from the rhododendron garden, this college campus offers plenty of warm brick backgrounds, wide green lawns, and ancient trees to stage your photo. Check out the canyon trail around Reed Lake for additional options—though be sure to wear sturdy shoes and plan to pack a baby carrier for smaller hikers, as this trail isn’t easy for strollers. Two pedestrian bridges provide access across the lake, and offer other possibilities for photos.

Reed College
203 Southeast Woodstock Blvd.
Portland, OR 97202
Online: www.reed.edu/canyon/

Fee: Free
Parking: Free, no permit required; choose from three main parking lots on campus, accessed from Woodstock Blvd., SE 28th Ave., and Steele St.


photo: Japanese Garden via flickr

Washington Park
When you’re not sure what look you’re going for, head to one of Portland’s biggest attractions– the ultimate multiplex of indoor and outdoor adventure. You’re bound to find something here to catch your eye and take a photo that really pops. Choose from a huge variety of settings at the Oregon Zoo, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden, and Hoyt Arboretum. With the Children’s Museum and World Forestry Center within walking distance, why not plan to make a day of it?

Washington Park
4033 SW Canyon Rd.
Portland, OR 97221
Online: explorewashingtonpark.org

Fees: Vary by location if you want to enter different locations; the park itself is free
Parking: Pay at parking stations or download the Passport app (parking is free until 9:30 a.m.)


photo: Hawthorne Bridge via flickr

OMSI and the Hawthorne Bridge
If you’re looking for more of an urban theme—something to convey the feel of living in Portland—wait for a clear day and grab a spot on the waterfront for a peek at the downtown skyline. Park free in the lot north of OMSI and wander along the Eastbank Esplanade for great shots of the river and a number of our city’s iconic bridges. Or check out this list of popular Portland murals for an even more unique frame to reflect your family’s home city.

Eastbank Esplanade
Southeast Water Avenue & Hawthorne Boulevard
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks/finder

Fee: Free (as long as you don’t enter OMSI)
Parking: Free in the lot north of OMSI, but stay within the 2-hour parking limit


photo: ORHC via flickr

Oregon Rail Heritage Center
A stone’s throw from OMSI, this train museum inside an airy, open engine house offers great texture and color for indoor photos, featuring three early 20th century steam locomotives. If you’re pressed for time and can’t wait for good weather to take a shot outdoors, this could be a good pick. Open weekend afternoons, it’s also a fun trip for young train fanatics– especially if you combine it with a ride on the seasonal Holiday Express. (Tickets available online.)

Oregon Rail Heritage Center
2250 SE Water Ave.
Portland, OR 97214
Online: orhf.org

Fee: Free
Parking: Free but limited, in the museum’s paved lot under the MLK viaduct; or see above for options near OMSI.


What are your favorite locations to snap a memorable family holiday photo? Share them with us in the comments below.

—Melissa Poulin