We all love good food, fresh air, and leafy greens here in Portland, so what could be better than combining the three into a handy wicker carrying basket? Maybe even one that fits on the back of your bike! Picnic weather is here, and there are a million and one cool spots to spread out your blanket around Stumptown. Scroll down for a few of our favorites to add to the top of your list this summer.

photo: Melissa Delzio via flickr

Forest Park
One of the largest urban forests in the U.S., Forest Park has over 5,200 acres for you enjoy some homemade fried chicken or mac-n-cheese from the Stepping Stone Café. Maybe you and the little ones want to stretch your legs? Head up the hill on Firelane #13. It’s a bit of a trek (~2 miles), but worth it to enjoy a beautiful vista of the Willamette River from your own private, hilltop picnic table. If you have older kids who think they are over “the picnic thing”, challenge them to eat their lunch amongst the ghosts in the spooky Witch’s Castle. Or, take your wicker basket up to the Pittock Mansion and go on a trek back in time. Built in 1914, it sits on a rise with an incredible view of the city. You can spread your blanket on their broad lawn anytime, but if you really want to immerse yourself in history, then don your turn of the century duds and join the 10th Annual Pittock Mansion Picnic hosted by the Oregon Regency Society on July 30 at 11 a.m.. Free admission, and kid friendly!

Where: NW 29th Ave. & Upshur St. to Newberry Rd.
Pricing: Park – Free
Hours: 5 a.m.-10 p.m
Online: forestparkconservancy.org, pittockmansion.org

photo: tomstar3000 via flickr

Washington Park
Portland is a wealthy city when it comes to parks, so there are plenty to choose from for your al fresco dining pleasure. Parks and Rec even has a handy park finder tool on their website. But, no matter how many little boxes you check, you won’t find a park with more options than Washington Park; even when it comes to picnic spots! Tucked between Hwy 26 and West Burnside, Washington Park offers enough interesting picnic spots to keep you “eating out” all summer. If your kids want to get close to wild animals, check out the Oregon Zoo. If you go in July or August, they have a Summer Concert series, to serenade you while you eat. You can even pre-order a picnic lunch from Peacock Picnics, complete with basket, cloth napkins, and real glassware! If you like the music idea, but you don’t want to pay to play, join the crowds in the Rose Garden Amphitheater for free concerts during the Washington Park Summer Festival. Settle down in the shade at Hoyt Arboretum for a peaceful meal, while your kids frolic amongst the Dawn Redwoods. Or, go ahead and smell the roses at the International Rose Test Garden.

Where: 4001 Southwest Canyon Rd.
Pricing: Park – Free. Summer Festival – Free. Arboretum – Free. Zoo – $14.95/adults, $9.95/kids (3-11).
Hours: Park – 5 a.m.-10 p.m. Zoo – 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.
Summer Festival: Aug. 26th, 6:30 p.m.
Online: explorewashingtonpark.org.

Rocky Butte Park
This local treasure is considered a bit of a hidden gem and offers beautiful views of the city. Located along Interstate 205, Rocky butte can be scaled by car on a road winds its way about a mile uphill. Joseph Wood Hill Park is located at the very top. This park, is a perfect place to perch and enjoy bites while taking in the sites but getting to it is half the fun as the ride offers beautiful views and a trip through a historic tunnel that will thrill the younger set.

Once you arrive at the top, the park is made up of 2.38 acres of flat park area that is home to rock walls and beautiful historic lamp posts. The western side of the park provides views to downtown Portland, and  on a clear day you can see St. Johns Bridge and the West Hills. On the Northwest side, you and your little picnickers can see Portland International Airport and enjoy the air show as the planes take off and land right in front of you. And to the East, you can see the stunning Cascade Mountain Range.

This sweet spot gives you the option of a different dining experience every time you visit. Try to visit on a clear day for best views, because there is plenty to view as far as the eye can see, while you eat.


Where: NE Rocky Butte Rd
Pricing: Park – Free.
Hours: Park – 5 a.m.-midnight Zoo
Online: portlandoregon.gov.


photo: Matthew Warner via flickr

Council Crest Park
Have dinner with a view at Council Crest Park. Perched on one of the highest points in the Tualatin Mountains, you can look out over the city at the real mountains beyond. From the observation platform, on a clear day, you can see Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson. There’s public art on display, and you can even bring your furry kids and let them run free in the off-leash dog park.

Where: SW Council Crest Dr.
Pricing: Park – Free
Hours: 5 a.m.-Midnight
Online: portlandoregon.gov

Mocks Crest Park
If your are considering a late evening picnic, this park is the place to be. Located on the Skidmore Bluffs in North Portland’s Overlook neighborhood, stunning sunset views can be had by all here. Situated on the lookout, this park also offers views the Willamette River, the West Hills, and the rail yard.

After you munch on some evening snacks let your littles get out their extra energy on the 5.86 acres of park area. While this park doesn’t offer a traditional play area with swings and slides, there is more then enough open grassy space for roaming, running and relaxing. Just make sure your crew has their wiggles out by the time the sun starts to drop so they can join you on the blanket as you enjoy the sunset show and then eventually curl up under the starry night sky.

Where: 2206 N Skidmore St.
Pricing: Park – Free
Hours: 5 a.m.-Midnight
Online: portlandoregon.gov

photo: Becky via flickr

Cathedral Park
For a different view, try laying out your picnic spread under the arches of the bridge in Cathedral Park. Want to know how it got its name? Just look up. The engineers of St. Johns Bridge must have been fans of Gothic architecture. Stand in just the right spot, and you’ll feel like you’re back in France during the Middle Ages, looking up into a ribbed vault or across a flying buttress. And, if your kiddos aren’t impressed with architectural grandeur, they can build a sand castle on the beach or splash around in the Willamette. Rover can come splash around, too!

Where: N. Edison St. and Pittsburg Ave.
Pricing: Park – Free
Hours: 5 a.m.-Midnight
Online: portlandoregon.gov

What’s your favorite picnic spot? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments below. 

—Lisa Riley