A view of downtown Portland from the Willamette River
Published May/June 2014

Summer Getaway: Portland, Oregon

Southeast Portland offers indoor and outdoor intrigue, plus crave-worthy food and beverage

BYBob Cooper
You may think you’ve seen Portland: downtown, the Pearl district, the rose garden, and the zoo. But on your next visit, try crossing one of the city’s bridges over the Willamette River — by foot, bike, taxi, car, or on the new Portland Streetcar Central Loop — to explore “SE.” That’s the designation on all street signs in Southeast Portland. Within this once-overlooked quarter of the city, new and historic attractions and innovative-but-inexpensive flavors take center stage.
“SE” the Sights
Sure, there’s a riverfront path in downtown Portland, but you can admire the downtown skyline more easily from the opposite shore of the Willamette River on a leisurely stroll or while pedaling a rental bike along SE’s paved river paths. Adorned with public art pieces, these paths follow the river for miles. Or paddle the river on a rented kayak, canoe, or paddleboard from SE’s Alder Creek Boathouse. See how many of Portland’s nine pedestrian-friendly bridges you can hike, pedal over, or paddle under.
Four of Portland’s most popular islands of greenery are found in the SE quarter. The first, just off the river path, is Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, a 141-acre park that’s home to 175 bird species, including bald eagles. Nearby you’ll find the next two: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, a 2,500-plant paradise on a lake, and Eastmoreland Golf Course, rated among America’s best public courses since 1918. Finally, in Mount Tabor Park — home to one of only three volcanic peaks in U.S. cities — trails, shaded by 57 kinds of trees, meander to the 630-foot summit. Three reservoirs and views of Mount Hood also make this park a joy to visit.
The Great Indoors
Because Portland’s infamous rain is likely — despite fairly dry summers — the best family refuge is SE’s Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, a 219,000-square-foot museum for all ages, but especially kids. Here you can explore a cave, experience an earthquake, pilot a Gemini spacecraft, and examine the 10-million-year-old skull of an elephant. There’s also a special exhibit hall, a planetarium, and the Empirical Theater, which shows a variety of feature films each day. 
Just outside the museum are several more options, too. Take a tour of the USS Blueback, a retired U.S. Navy submarine, and two blocks away is the new Oregon Rail Heritage Center with its three historic steam locomotives.
The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is in bloom from  early March through mid-June
The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is in bloom from early March through mid-June
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