We are getting a handful of summery days in the forecast—my weather app is looking positively perfect—and all this sunshine is making the blooming rhododendrons outside look even more gorgeous! When I was looking for fun springtime family activities in Portland while my mother-in-law was in town recently, I found the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. We made plans to go.
I woke up that morning not feeling well. The girls hadn’t slept much and were fighting over a pair of Anna and Elsa figurines. “Are you sure you still want to go?” Eric asked me as I brushed my teeth. “WE’RE GOING,” I said. And I’m so glad we did!
Springtime flowers in Portland
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, in Southeast Portland near Reed College, is a beautiful park of paths, ponds and, of course, rhodies of every hue. Rhododendrons peak between late April and early May, and they’re still going strong now. (This weekend is the perfect time to visit!)
The garden is a lovely nature escape even when rhododendrons aren’t in bloom.
Relax as you walk along shaded paths, admire the small waterfall and watch for waterfowl in the several ponds (just don’t feed the ducks!). This garden is a peaceful spot just a short distance from the hustle of industrial riverside Portland.
An easy family activity in Portland
One thing I loved about taking my family to Portland’s rhododendron garden was how low-stakes it was. The garden is in Portland itself, so we didn’t have to drive way out of town for a beautiful taste of the outdoors. Enjoying the full park required only about an hour, so we could make it home before Kiwi’s nap time. And the park’s mostly flat terrain and ADA-accessible paths make the park ideal for new walkers and kids in strollers.
Kiwi and Peeper loved all the ducks, of course. (Except for the moment when one popped out of a bush and terrified Kiwi!) We just had to keep them close around the ponds, as it would be easy for carefree little ones to topple in.
We took a few family photos (how could we not with this gorgeous setting?) and all the colors were so inspiring. I wanted to return with a sketchbook, a thermos of tea and a plan-free afternoon to take in the full relaxation of the garden.
Visit Portland’s Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Location: 5801 SE 28th Street, Portland, Oregon, between Woodstock and Holgate
Good for: New walkers, strollers, dogs on leash
Features: Impressive and varied rhododendrons, bird watching, ponds, bridges, walking paths
Must-know: Parking within the park is tight; overflow parking is across the street in the Reed parking lot. (Just be very careful crossing the street with children!) Admission is $5 March 1-September 1, and children 12 and under are free. Weekends at the Portland rhododendron garden can get very busy; arrive in the morning to beat the thickest crowds.
Fun facts: The rhododendron is Washington’s state flower. And in the Victorian language of flowers (or floriography), rhododendrons symbolize danger or “beware.”
Have you been to the Portland rhododendron garden? What did you think?