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Tom McCall Waterfront Park, Portland

(320+ reviews on the web)
Nature / Park
Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a 36.59acre park located in downtown Portland, Oregon, along the Willamette River. After the 1974 removal of Harbor Drive (a good example of freeway removal), the park was opened to the public in 1978. The park covers 13 tax lots is owned by the City of Portland (Portland Parks and Recreation). The park was renamed in 1984 to honor Tom McCall, the Oregon governor who pledged his support for the beautification of the west bank of the Willamette River—harkening back to the City Beautiful plans at the turn of the century that envisioned parks and greenways along the river. The park is bordered by RiverPlace to the south, the Steel Bridge to the north, Naito Parkway to the west, and Willamette River to the east. In October 2012, Waterfront Park was voted one of America's ten greatest public spaces by the American Planning Association.The most common uses for the park are jogging, walking, biking, skateboarding, fountain play, lunching, basketball, fireworks viewing, Segwaying and boat watching. Due to its recreational use, lunch hours (11:00 am to 1:00 pm) are peak-use hours for the waterfront park. In addition to recreational use, the park is also highly used by bike and pedestrian commuters during rush hours (3:00 pm to 5:00 pm) because the park is easily accessible to the downtown Portland workforce and provides a pleasant, off street thoroughfare away from vehicular traffic. It is currently home to the Waterfront Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, Gay/Lesbian Pride Festival and the Bite of Oregon festival. The park is also the host of many Rose Festival events.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • This is the downtown Portland Waterfront. They have CityFair here which is part of the Rose Festival if you come in late May or June (like Memorial day weekend it starts). Cool place.  more »
  • Watching river traffic, many sculptures along the way, people walking, running, and otherwise enjoying the riverside is a great way to see Portland.  more »
  • Down by the water, the bike and walkways right along the riverbank allow you to see the life of the river and relax outdoors in restaurants, cafes and coffee shops.  more »
Google
  • The park runs directly alongside the Willamette river with beautiful views of all the bridges, downtown and the east side of Portland. There are lots of activities, currently it is Rose Festival season and a large part of the park is turned into a fabulous carnival with rides, beer/wine garden, those lovely fattening deep fried foods typical of fairs and festivals. There is live music and an adult as well as family atmosphere. Many other festivals, running races, and other cool events, especially beginning in May through October take place almost every weekend. It also a nice place to stroll or bike, with plenty of ways to rent a bike by the hour or day. One one section there is a Saturday Market, that is actually all weekends. It is a juried market with a lot of local artisans, live music, food, as well as adult and family atmosphere and beverages. On the South end there is a great water feature that young and old can cool off in. Lots of grassy area, trees, and plenty of space for all. It really is a terrific place to have in the city. Especially considering it used to be an Interstate highway! Transportation is a cinch, the MAX runs right alongside so no need to pay for parking! Especially if you are visiting our city, the public transport system is the BEST I've ever seen or used on the west coast! Leave your car at home, or your hotel! The area is also VERY handicapped accessible for all disabilities, as I have mobility impairments myself, and I never am concerned about going there!
  • Growing up in Portland, Waterfront has always been a great place to for a nice stroll or various forms of entertainment. It will always have spectacular views of the river and phenomenal people watching but unfortunately the transient population has taken a hard toll. Some areas are clean and beautiful but others are riddled with litter. Depending on the area of the park, it's very common to find people sleeping in the grass or on the benches. As an adult, it doesn't bother me too much but with my children, it can be very uncomfortable at times, not knowing the mental stability or sobriety of some of those folks, so we don't take them there.
  • On any day rain or shine this place it's great for Urban walking. They have a concrete trail that covers over four miles and passes seven bridges. It is a beautiful and interesting loop. Dogs are welcome and there is a few places to stop for a drink or some light eats with outside seating.
  • Beautiful area to stroll by the river. Nice for watching boats & people. Great array of restaurants and shops too. Some areas of vegetation could get trimmed back to allow for better views from tables and benches.
  • Used to be five star when I first moved here in 1986. Not now. Tom McCall would be appalled at the plants they chose to adorn the park's name plate with his name on it. The plants look remarkably Californian. Long time locals know his saying about visitors. "Come, but don't stay." Well. They're here from everywhere. Portland is having severe growing pains. Traffic Gridlock is now worse than ever due to clever traffic redirects. Especially here on Naito Parkway. There's no way here for those of us who need to cross through town for doc appointments on the hill. Broadway is only good going south and it's always having construction lightly mixed with heavy traffic. Waterfront Park is home to ever changing events. Most require entry fees which calls for fencing off the park and making ugly the scenery. A nice restaurant aptly named McCall's is now used by Rose Festival organization paid for with our water bill payments. Park is also home and day center for many of Portland's homeless. When I worked downtown in late 1980s it was easy to walk, run or bicycle through the park without ever seeing one homeless camper. Back then it was difficult to find a place to rent skates or a bicycle for the day. Times change. If you are young and healthy the current system works. You'll find that once you're walking challenged all this traffic redirect makes life difficult. If you want to enjoy all the bike paths, don't get old or at least plea for making them friendly to wheel chairs with battery assist. It's the ADA rules that paid for all the cuts in the corners of our sidewalks. Not sure that I can find other nice things for us around town. I'll say: Sidewalks are still the best bike paths around. As long as you're not using the streets for training for race day sidewalks are good. The park had lots of sidewalks. If you're seeing geese, watch your step. Obvious reasons. Pet owners: Not an "off leash" area. It's also expected that you'll pack off your pet's poo. On street parking is mostly non existent nearby. Lots of pay garages and lots. Expect bumper to bumper accordion traffic for sure going North on this street. Forget hurry. Oh. Here in Portland it's customary to not honk your horn. Exception is when you see that cousin, sister, or friend you haven't seen in years. It's how we keep our city quiet and mostly friendly. Join the club. Please.