Best Watering Holes in Portland

A bright day at Cathedral Park, located in St. Johns, Portland. This is a great location for any Portlander on a sunny day.
Photo by Wren Helzer-Florer

As things heat up in Portland, teenagers flock to the docks. But after a couple of years of awkward run-ins with middle school classmates, while half-dressed, you may be wondering, “where else can I go?” Here in Portland and the surrounding Multnomah valley, there are infinite places to go, but for teens with maybe a bus pass? Maybe ten bucks for snacks and gas? There are only a few places to explore without huge crowds. Here are the best watering holes for every level of transportation.

South Waterfront Greenway

The South Waterfront Greenway is just on the other side of the Tilikum Bridge. A man-made rocky shorefront, the Greenway is the perfect place to lock up a bike and climb over the rocks into the water. This is a perfect isolated spot where a confident swimmer can swim over to the small island in the middle of the river. This spot is perfect for the introvert who likes a challenging swim.

Cathedral Park

The St. Johns neighborhood is a lovely, almost New England-esque area. Only a thirty minute bus ride from Southeast Portland, this area feels like an upscale Belmont district. It also happens to have the beautiful Cathedral Park. With a dock shaded by the St. Johns Bridge, it’s perfect for a hot day. Surrounded by lush grass and coffee shops, it’s a wonderful place for a sunbathing picnic while your friends play acoustic guitar. This spot is meant for the foodie with the occasional need to cool off from the heat and fire jams.

Broughton Park

An easy twenty-minute drive from Franklin, this simple urban beach is great for those in need of a little sand castle therapy. Broughton Park is the perfect wholesome beach for the fam. I recommend some cozy blankets as the water can be cold. Also, a game of beach soccer is a great way to warm up after a swim. This is the place for the time-crunched overachiever who wants to cram a full beach day in two hours.

Lacamas Park

With a trail that goes around the entire lake, Lacamas Park is just the place for the lazy explorer. Completely flat, it is great for a calm little walk surrounded by swordferns and maple trees. Located in Camas, Washington, it is a thirty-minute drive, but the rope swing alone is worth the trek. Additionally, there is a bridge to jump off. It is just high enough for a great adrenaline rush, but also not too high as you will witness many brave eight-year-olds jumping in from it as well. This location is perfect for a lazy Sunday with the crew. Load up in your friend’s mom’s minivan with snacks and floaties and prepare for extreme relaxation.

Oxbow Park

For those teens with a need for a little more of a challenge, Oxbow Park fulfills every need. With numerous trails leading to meadows and streams, as well as a bomb playground, Oxbow is perfect for a day-long trip or an overnight camping trip. Day passes are five dollars per car, and camping spots are private so they won’t cost too much! All campsites are no more than five minutes away from the beautiful Sandy River. Get ready for a day of golden light streaming through evergreens and sky blue water.

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