What: Portland Japanese Garden
Where: 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland
When: Winter Mon. Noon to 4 pm and Tues.-Sun. 10 am to 4 pm; Summer Mon. Noon to 7 pm and Tues.-Sun. 10 am to 7 pm (Member hours earlier)
Why: The lush, meticulously-maintained gardens are breathtaking and peaceful
Cost: Children 5 and under FREE, Ages 6-17 $10.45, Students $11.95, Adults $14.95, Seniors $12.95
My sister, who’s been an Oregonian for a few decades now, recently told me she’d never been to the Japanese Garden. I hadn’t been either, but she was especially frustrated it’d been on her bucket list forever, taunting her. Well the beautiful fall weather this week was just begging for an outing, so we decided to make. it. happen! I’m happy to report that my son, my sister, and I fiiinally made it to the Japanese Garden.
As my sister said afterwards, it met AND exceeded our expectations. It was absolutely gorgeous. Designed and started in the 1960s by a Japanese professor, this 9-acre garden has been called the most authentic of its kind outside of Japan.
You’ll find the towering evergreens and mossy grounds like any Northwest forest, but there are also plenty of water features, trees, and bushes that must look lovely in each season. There are two large rock gardens that are serene and peaceful. The grounds also include a cafe, gift shop, gallery, and learning centers (and the architecture is delicious).
Children are welcome, but they may need help navigating the quiet spots where you’ll find people seated and contemplating. You can do the whole garden quickly in 30 minutes, but allow more time to soak it all in. There are many stairs throughout, but if needed you can skip a lot of them if you use the shuttle from the parking lot.
The garden is located in Washington Park, right by the International Rose Test Garden. Parking is tricky and can be time-consuming, especially at peak times. Also brace yourself: the entrance fees are steep! Cultural Passes are not currently available to the gardens, but this could change because they’ve been available in the past. Also, families that receive SNAP benefits can get FREE admission.
Treat yourself to a gorgeous bit of a nature, whether it’s the vibrant changing trees or the bursting spring blossoms. I really think you and your family will love it!