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12 Nearly Perfect Ways to Spend a Nature-Filled Morning in Portland

From redwoods to river jaunts.
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Hands down, my favorite part about living in Portland is the vast amount of nature in and around the city. Portland has over 200 parks and gardens and Forest Park alone includes over 80 miles of trails. A few days a week, Jonah and I head to a new park, trail, or river, and our list of things to go to still feels overwhelming, especially as our favorite spots worthy revisiting only grows. Below are a few of my favorite ways to spend a morning in Portland (dog highly recommended*): 

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Each of these recommendations take about an hour to an hour-and-a-half and can easily be done before work!

*Mt. Tabor + Tabor Bread and Albina Press: Mt. Tabor, a dormant volcano in SE Portland, was one of the first hikes we went on when we moved here—and continues to knock our socks off. Winding trails weave up the hillside and it's easy to wander among the trees and reservoirs for hours. I also love the large dog park that includes a short loop so Toast can hike off-leash. 

Peninsula Park + Fried Egg I'm in Love (in Boise): Fried Egg I'm In Love, which also has a location in Boise, makes the best egg sandwich I've ever had (get the Yolko Ono with Aardvark Aioli, Havarti cheese and caramelized onions). I'll grab one, then walk ten minutes to Peninsula Park, and grab a bench overlooking the rose garden. If you aren't breaded out from the egg sandwich, grab a pull-apart sourdough boule from Dos Hermanos on Williams on your way home (it's so good we once overnighted it to Jonah's mom as a birthday present). 

Cathedral Park + Savory Pastry at Cathedral Coffee: A park in St. John's Cathedral Park is named for the dramatic bridge that runs over it and the Gothic arches that frame the view of Forest Park on the westside. Grab a coffee and pastry at this coffee shop frequented by Portland University students. 

*Kenton Park + Posie's Bakery & Cafe: Kenton Park isn't outstanding in itself—it's essentially a large field with basketball courts and a baseball diamond, but we'll go to get a few rounds of fetch in with Toast, then head over to N. Denver Ave., which has a host of bakeries and cafés and almost reminds me of a small town's Main Street. 

*Chimney Dog Park + Pier Park Frisbee Course: This is one of my favorite dog parks in the city, with plenty of room for dogs to run around, and Pier Park is just a hop away. If you're coordinated (I am not), you might even enjoy the frisbee course in Pier Park!

Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai + Neighborhood Walk: Voodoo is fun for its kitsch, but Pip's has the best donuts in town. Made to order, the donut holes come warm and topped with flavors like seasonal jam and honey with sea salt. My favorite is their bacon jam option, but get a bunch to try. I usually have about six and a chai while exploring the gorgeous neighborhood it's in. 

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For workdays that start a bit later or weekend mornings... expect to spend an hour-and-a-half to two hours on these adventures.

*Lower Macleay Park 3-Mile Loop and Dragonfly Coffee House: There are endless trails to explore in Forest Park, but this loop is a favorite to bring visitors on since it follows a creek. Take a right along the Wildwood trail at the witch's castle, then drop down into the neighborhood to head back either at Aspen or earlier. On your way home, grab a coffee from Dragonfly Coffee House on Thurman, a cute spot frequented by locals. 

*Hoyt Arboretum Redwood Loop + Coffee Downtown: The Hoyt Arboretum is relatively small, but packed with gorgeous trails and resources for identifying trees (which Jonah and I have found invaluable, as we're still learning all the PNW species!). Do a loop that brings you to the Redwood Observation Deck, then drive home via Burnside for coffee downtown. There are a billion coffee options downtown, but I like Case Study, Queue, and Stumptown.

Willamette Park + Stand-up Paddle Boarding: This is one of my very favorite ways to spend a morning or summer evening. I usually put my inflatable paddle board in at Willamette Park or Sellwood, both of which have public docks (and excellent dog parks!), then paddle up and around East Island. I take my time, and it generally takes me around 45 minutes, which is perfect for a pre-work paddle. 

Japanese Garden: Portland's Japanese Garden is open to members most weekdays starting at 8 A.M., so you can stroll through it mostly tourist-free when it's still a bit misty out and looks especially beautiful. 

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Sandy River Delta + Brunch at Sugarpine Drive-In: Arguably Toast's favorite way to spend a morning... The first time I went to Sandy River Delta, I felt like I was walking into Pixar's depiction of dog heaven. We like to plan our weekend mornings there to beat the rush to the parking lot (plan to arrive around 8:30 at the latest for a spot in the main lot), then arrive at Sugarpine Drive-In a few minutes away in Troutdale when it opens at 11 to grab a spot at a picnic table. Everything on their menu is delicious—and don't skip the soft-serve.

Hike or Snowshoe at the Snow Park + Beer in Hood River: In the winter, we loved snowshoeing from Snow Park (you can rent snowshoes from REI, or find them used on Craigslist). Then, we'd take the long way home via Hood River, and stop at pFriem for lunch and a beer, with a gorgeous view.

*Most of these options are dog-friendly, but these are particularly so!

P.S., This is in no way an extensive list. There are so many amazing places that I'm constantly coming across, like Kelley Point, Marquam Nature Park, Clackamas River, and Lake Oswego's Iron Mountain. I didn't even touch on my favorite bike loops or half-day skiing! But please send any and all recs my way via the Feedback Form! There may be a Part Two in order... maybe L.A. edition? Let me know! x 

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