Portlander artists are known for their innovation when it comes to creating work reflective of the region. One such artist, Brian Mock (www.brianmock.com), creates curvaceous women's figures and jumping salmon nearly 7 feet tall by welding recycled nuts, bolts, forks, and hinges. Curious onlookers are left to ponder what better fate might have met Aunt Thelma's toaster other than the Dumpster.
Many of the best things about Portland aren't inside the city's restaurants or museums but outside—in its parks. If the weather cooperates you need to do as city residents do and head outdoors.
When looking toward the hills on the west side of town it's hard to miss the tree-blanketed 5,155 acres of Forest Park. The nation's largest urban wilderness, Forest Park, is a car-free haven for runners, hikers, bikers, and nature enthusiasts. The park is home to more than 60 mammals, including elk, deer, and bobcats, and more than 110 bird species.
Another popular park is Washington Park—one of Oregon's oldest, acquired in 1871—which has picnic areas, playgrounds, and hiking trails; within the park are Hoyt Arboretum and the International Rose Test and Japanese Gardens. Waterfront Park is right downtown, on the west bank of the Willamette River. This local favorite hosts many of Portland's major annual festivals and concerts, including the Rose Festival and Waterfront Blues Festival.
A few other natural havens: Mt. Tabor Park, an extinct volcanic cinder cone, has miles of trails that meander through forest to the top, where impressive downtown and Mt. Hood views are the reward. Another, Laurelhurst Park, is a wonderful mix of large shady trees and open green spaces. There are plenty of spots for sunny afternoon picnics, admiring nature and letting kids run around.
If you have kids in tow you'll appreciate that, in addition to plenty of outdoor parks, there are scores of indoor family-friendly activities. Landmark destinations to spend a few hours or an entire day are the Oregon Zoo—in the same area as the Portland Children's Museum and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum—and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (fondly referred to as OMSI), on the east side of the Willamette River across from downtown