Spring is just around the corner in the Rose City, and we’ve got the perfect outing for all of you vitamin D deficient Portlanders (I definitely fall into this category). Those of us who have spent too much time cooped up inside this winter no doubt have a lengthy list of plans for all the outdoor activities Portland spring has to offer. Often overlooked compared to its rose garden cousins—the city’s crown jewel International Rose Test Garden and Peninsula Park Rose Garden in NE—Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is a gem in its own right located in the quiet Eastmoreland neighborhood.
The perfect marriage of Pacific Northwest flora and fauna
The park features three small waterfalls and two foot bridges perfect for photo ops, and a namesake lake whose western side borders Eastmoreland Golf Course. Along with the expected “rhodies”, Crystal Springs is also home to a large collection of azaleas. The garden’s total number of plants is upwards of 2,500, with the oldest rhododendron planted prior to 1917! Who says ‘Old Portland’ is disappearing?
Major trails in the park are paved and therefore stroller accessible, but there are also dirt paths for bigger kids to explore throughout the seven acre property. Aside from the lush landscapes, another big draw of the garden sure to delight the kiddos is the diverse variety of over 90 species of birds and waterfowl that nest in and around the spring-fed lake. Informational placards provide identification and make for a perfect hands-on learning opportunity.
Plan your visit(s)!
Plant loving families should note on their calendars that the botanical garden hosts two annual plant sales in the spring; the Early Show and Plant Sale the first Saturday of April and the other over Mother’s Day weekend. The Mother’s Day Rhododendron Show and Plant Sale conveniently occurs during peak bloom time (April-May), making it a nice lowkey outing post brunch.
Admission is free during the off-season (November 1-end of February) and $5 during warmer weather months. Thrifty parents keep in mind that Mondays offer complimentary admission for adults and kids under 12 are always free! Hours are dawn to dusk daily, with the sunset hour being my personal favorite time for a leisurely stroll. The park is highly accessible via public transportation—the SE Bybee MAX station on the orange line is a 15 minute walk from the garden’s entrance and there is also a bus stop located just a block away.
For more history and information, including tour or private event bookings, visit the garden’s official website.
Janey Wong is an East Portland native and a freelance writer/social media manager. Her work ranges from copywriting to essays on food, culture, and identity. In her free time, she runs a food Instagram—@foodbbpdx, is an avid traveler, and a doting godmother to the best two year old ever.