The usually-gloomy Portland days are getting longer, the skies sunnier, and spring fever is setting in. So, what does a COVID-safe spring look like? UP students need a way to let go, relax, and enjoy the sunshine after a long week of stressful midterms, but even though COVID-19 cases are beginning to drop, it’s still important to stay safe and distant. The Beacon put together this list of 10 fun outdoor things you can do in Portland while staying COVID-safe.
The Rose Test Garden
Portland wouldn’t be the City of Roses without the iconic Rose Test Garden in Washington Park.
The Rose Test Garden features over 650 varieties of roses in thousands of rose bushes which are typically in bloom in late spring. The garden is free to visit and completely outdoors, so grab a mask and some sunblock and you’re set!
The Japanese Gardens
Across the street from the Rose Test Garden are the Japanese Gardens, which are open Wednesdays through Mondays 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The gardens themselves are all outdoors, with COVID-19 restrictions in place as well as modified pathways. Visit in early April to catch the beautiful cherry blossoms while they’re in bloom, and take advantage of your student status to get discounted admission.
While you’re in the Washington Park area, hit up the Elephants Delicatessen on NW 22nd Avenue to make the perfect picnic basket.
The Elephants Deli has tons of premade food as well as artisanal grocery items — perfect for packing up to eat outside in the sunshine. And the best picnic spot in Portland? Our very own Cathedral Park.
St. John’s Food & Beer Porch
Still hungry? Portland has tons of great food trucks. If you’re missing going out to eat, this is a great COVID-safe option. The St. John’s Food & Beer Porch is surrounded by several food trucks with Mexican food, pasta, curry bowls, falafel, gyoza, and just about anything else you’re craving — it also has good vegan options.
The Belmont Goats
While you’re on your way back to campus from the food trucks, go check out the Belmont Goats! This herd of 14 goats lives on North Syracuse Street by Fred Meyer’s, just five minutes from campus. Though they’re closed right now due to COVID-19 restrictions, you can still visit the friendly goats through the fence — just wait until Multnomah County begins to fully reopen to pet the goats.
Another great option for exploring the city, especially if you don’t have a car, is taking advantage of a bike share program. Biketown is a cheap and easy way to get around the city on a sunny and dry day. Bike downtown or along the Willamette to catch the beautiful Portland views we’ve all been missing.
The Oregon Coast
If you’re looking for an easy way to get out of the city, plan a trip to the Oregon coast. On the coast, you can see the iconic Cannon Beach views, or visit Manzanita, Seaside and Astoria. Just make sure to pack a raincoat. Not feeling beachy? Travel an hour and a half east of Portland to hike around the Columbia River Gorge. The Gorge has beautiful views, cliffs and waterfalls, including the iconic Multnomah Falls.
Forest Park and Sauvie Island
Closer to home are Forest Park and Sauvie Island, both less than half an hour from campus. Forest Park has beautiful hiking trails which make the perfect escape from campus, and Sauvie is a great place to relax along the riverbed.
The Witch’s Castle in Forest park
Did you make it to Forest Park and stumble upon a spooky old stone structure? That’s the Witch’s Castle, another great tourist spot in Portland. Built in the mid-1800s, the Witch’s Castle is steeped in ghost stories and legends of murder. It can be accessed through the Aspen trail in Forest Park.
Mill Ends Park
Finally, though some of Portland’s favorite tourist spots are closed, make a trip downtown to the world’s smallest park, Mill Ends Park. It’s not quite big enough for a picnic, but you can take a picture, and… that’s about it.
Even though you’re probably missing Spring Break and life before the pandemic, don’t make that an excuse to stay shut in during the beautiful Portland spring. There are so many things to do while staying safe and socially-distant in Portland — just don’t forget your mask!
Sadie Wuertz is a reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.