Memorial Park – Wilsonville

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Open green-space with paved-paths at Memorial Park Wilsonville, OregonWhat’s to Love: I visited this park twice with my son in June, 2008, and I know we’ll be back again soon.  I was looking for a park with plenty of open green-space to launch our model rocket (see video below).  I noticed that Memorial Park looked like the biggest park in the Wilsonville area, so we headed over to check it out. I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked by the quality and design of a park.  I highly recommend visiting this park!

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Brooklyn Park

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Playstructure at Brooklyn ParkWhat’s to Love: Brooklyn park is a (relatively) small neighborhood park in inner-southeast Portland. Mostly, this is your basic Portland Park with somewhat outdated play structures, slides, water feature, picnic benches, swings, merry-go-round, etc. However, there are a couple of interesting points to make about Brooklyn Park that might make you want to go out of your way for a visit.

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Cedar Hills Park

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Beautiful trees at Cedar Hills ParkWhat’s to Love: Cedar Hills Park is a quaint little park right off the very busy “Cedar Hills Boulevard” close to Beaverton. While the actual playground equipment is somewhat sparse, the park does have a few nice features that make it worth a visit.

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Salmon Creek Park/Trail

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Salmon Creek TrailWhat’s to Love: When we moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1999, we couldn’t find affordable rent in Portland, so we ended-up in Vancouver. After hanging out in Portland, we realized that it was a much better match for us. Thus, we left Vancouver after about 3-4 months with a pretty unfavorable impression of the area. Indeed, Vancouver (the ‘couv’) takes quite a bit of punishment from Portlanders. However, in terms of outdoor recreation (specifically bicycling on paved-paths), Vancouver has many opportunities that mirror Portland’s excellent reputation as a “biking town.”

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Commonwealth Lake Park

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Beautiful dock at Commonwealth Lake  ParkWhat’s to Love:  What’s to love? How about my first “highlight video!” Wooohooo! I can’t believe I actually got this up and running finally. You’ll see most of my new posts with a short video clip. Anyway…Commonwealth Lake Park…hmmmm…weird place, I must admit. However, I don’t mean that in a negative way. As far as parks go, let’s just say it’s somewhat unique. Basically, it’s a man-made lake surrounded by an upper-middle-class neighborhood.

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George Rogers Park

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Beautiful picnic areas at George Rogers ParkWhat’s to Love: George Rogers Park is located on the south side of downtown Lake Oswego. If you live in Portland, it’s worth the drive. This is definitely a “destination park” featuring hiking and biking trails, an easy-to-find Letterbox, an interesting historical past, a decent beach, tennis courts, big baseball field, and some of the nicest picnic benches and grills you’ll find in a park setting.

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Sewallcrest Park

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Backstop at Sewallcrest ParkAnother Pesticide-free Park in PortlandWhat’s to Love: Another “pesticide-free” park in Portland! While that is an attractive feature at Sewallcrest Park, for my son it’s all about the “corkscrew slide.” Sometimes, he calls it the “curly slide.” Whatever your kids may call it, they will certainly be amazed by this old relic. When my son first saw this slide, he just looked at me and said, “Whoa!”

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Mt. Tabor Park

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Playstructure at Mt. Tabor ParkCovered picnic area at Mt. TaborWhat’s to Love: Mt. Tabor Park is another showpiece destination within Portland city limits. This park has it all – including stellar hikes, mountain biking, road biking, closed-roads on certain days/times, beautiful views, and at times…serenity. We have been going to Mt. Tabor park for years, and we still seem to find new nooks and crannies to explore.

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Wilshire Park

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Picnic Table at Wilshire ParkWhat’s to Love: Wilshire Park is a quaint (NE) neighborhood park. It has a trail that rings the outside where people like to jog and walk their dogs. It’s also one of the friendlier dog-parks in Portland. We used to live in the Beaumont Village area of Portland and this was our local park. It’s probably not worth a trip from outer-southeast Portland, but if you’re in the northeast, bring the family by for some fun.

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Rose Garden Children’s Park

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Play structure at Rose Garden Children’s ParkWhat’s to Love: This is arguably the best outdoor play structure in Portland. Although a bit dated in some spots, this incredible maze of ramps, slides, swings, seated rockers, etc…will keep you and your kids endlessly entertained. We’ve been taking my son to this spot for about 4 years now, and he still loves it when we’re there, and hates it when we leave.

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Lair Hill Park

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Pesticide Free Park Lair Hill ParkLair Hill Park SignWhat’s to Love: As you’ll see, I have plenty of caveats for this park. However, there is a BIG plus to this park – the grounds are totally pesticide-free! This is pretty impressive, because I could only find two other parks in all of “environmentally friendly” Portland that can carry that same title.

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Willamette Park

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New Play Structure at Willamette ParkWhat’s to Love: Willamette Park sports a healthy variety of activities for the whole family. I found the entire area to be well-kept and clean. Recently, park personnel installed a new play structure, which was badly needed. As you can see in one of the pictures, it has a low-to-the-ground set of monkey bars, which is a nice find in Portland. However, For those of you who like old-school-playground-equipment (e.g., metal slides, teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, etc.), don’t worry, they kept the old playground equipment down at the south end of the park. The new structure isn’t very big, but it’s adequate.

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Waluga Park, East

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Kids’ play area at Waluga ParkWhat’s to Love: Waluga park (east off Quarry Rd.) has a quaint little playground designed specifically for kids 6 and younger. The playground has a structure for older kids, and one for younger toddlers. We just sort of stumbled onto this property by accident, and it’s worth a stop if you’re in the area. There is plenty of shade, a drinking fountain with really good water, a covered picnic area, and a paved biking path. Because it’s tucked into a wooded neighborhood, this park feels like it’s out in the country.

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Springbrook Park/Uplands Elementary

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Play structure at Uplands Elementary PlaygroundWhat’s to Love: My son and I stumbled upon this little gem while touring (outer) SW parks and playgrounds. We were headed to see “Springbrook Park,” but ended up pulling into Uplands Elementary School. We were pleasantly surprised by the awesome playground structures (see pictures). Lucky for us, there were two trailheads at opposite ends of the playground that led directly into Springbrook Park.

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Laurelhurst Park

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Toddler Slides and Bridge at Laurelhurst ParkWhat’s to Love: If Sellwood park is the crown jewel of outer-southeast Portland, then Laurelhurst park is the crown jewel of inner-southeast Portland. Sellwood park is our family favorite, but Laurelhurst is probably the most beautiful park in Portland. There is plenty of green space for frisbee or frisbee golf, large trees for shading a gigantic picnic area, ducks in a serene pond, a paved walking path that rings the entire park, a community-events center, a small water feature, tennis courts, and a playground for the kids.

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Westmoreland Park

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Westmoreland Park Stream and PlaygroundWhat’s to Love: This park has a little bit of everything you’re looking for in a family park. There is enough room for flying a kite, a game of volleyball, kickball, basketball, soccer or baseball. A flowing stream with bridges and large ponds attracts an abundance of birds, and there are some nice grassy areas under massive cedar trees for kicking back and relaxing. The casting pond was designed for sailing remote-model ships. It’s fun just watching these small sailboats drift in the wind.

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North Clackamas Aquatic Park

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North Clackamas Aquatics ParkWhat’s to Love: Simply stated, the North Clackamas Aquatic Park (NCAP) is the nicest facility for swimming and water-fun in the Portland area. The biggest attraction is probably the wave pool, which generates some pretty nice cruising waves. Their water slides are gigantic (one is a fully enclosed tube), the under 5 area has the best kiddie-slide in Portland, there is a rock climbing wall with an auto-belay feature, and the changing/public areas are clean and well kept. The design of this aquatic park will keep the whole family busy visit after visit.

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Hoyt Arboretum – Loop Hike

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Hoyt Arboretum SignWhat’s to Love: The Hoyt Arboretum is one of our favorite hiking locations. If you haven’t visited the Hoyt, you’re family is missing out on some great fun. The trails are well marked and maintained, there are plenty of opportunities for various loop-hikes, and it’s located right near the Zoo, Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center, Japanese Garden, Rose Garden and Washington Park. The Arboretum is the showpiece for the entire Washington Park area. What more could you ask for in a destination?

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Grant Park

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What’s to Love: Grant Park is a fine neighborhood park that doesn’t get overrun with too many kids. Overall, it has some nice features; however, I don’t think it’s in the same league as Sellwood Park or Laurelhurst Park. If you’re in the area though, it’s worth a stop – it does have an outdoor swimming pool, which is open to the public in warmer months. The pool has a 25 yard shallow area for kids with a kiddie slide.

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Portland Waldorf School

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What’s to Love: I will admit my bias right off the bat – I love Waldorf education, and the Portland Waldorf classrooms are incredibly warm and charming. If you’re thinking of Waldorf edcation, touring this school in Milwaukie is absolutely mandatory! It’s really something to behold.

My goal here is not to sell you on Waldorf education or this particular school. I do want to sell you on the quality of the playground! Wow! If you haven’t been there yet with your kids, you should definitely make a trip over during a summer evening. All the equipment is practically brand new, there is plenty of room for frisbee or a soccer game, and they have a stream with a bridge leading to some areas for toddlers and kindergarten/pre-k kids. The grounds are well maintained, and it’s obvious that the someone is doing a lot of work to keep this place in tip-top-shape.

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