The West Hills
Image by Michael Wiley under Creative Commons License.

Oregon, Portland Guide (A): The West Hills

The West Hills region provides abundant parks and breathtaking views of the city and Mt. Hood to the east. Home to the Oregon Zoo, the Portland Children’s Museum, the World Forestry Center, the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland Rose Gardens, and Pittock Mansion, the Washington Park area of Portland’s West Hills also contain some of the city’s most extravagant homes.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for IOS   Download 'GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities' app for Android

Walk Route

Guide Name: The West Hills
Guide Location: USA » Portland
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 7
Tour Duration: 5.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.5 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Oregon Zoo   Portland Children's Museum   World Forestry Center   Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial   Hoyt Arboretum   Portland Rose Gardens   Pittock Mansion  
Author: Jim Reynoldson
Author Bio: Jim Reynoldson is an avid traveler and writer who grew up on Oregon. He enjoys hiking, camping and sight-seeing throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond.
1
Oregon Zoo

1) Oregon Zoo

World renowned for its elephant-breeding program, the Oregon Zoo occupies 64 acres and receives over one million visitors per year. A wide assortment of well-designed animal exhibits fill the interior – including Stellar Cove for otters and sea lions, Rain Forests of Africa and South America, a great penguinarium, and the newly-opened Red Ape Reserve. A number of classes, lectures, volunteer opportunities and internships are offered to promote community involvement in conservation education. The zoo hosts a number of activities, including a summer concert series featuring well-known artists and a winter holiday light tour, called ZooLights from aboard the onsite train loop.
Image by Stuart Seeger under Creative Commons License.
2
Portland Children's Museum

2) Portland Children's Museum

Founded in 1946, the Portland Children’s Museum’s current site next to the Oregon Zoo previously housed the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. A truly interactive, creative experience for kids and parents alike, the museum offers field trips and art workshops in addition to a number of exhibits. This is a fantastic place for kids to be kids – with playroom themes like construction, animal care, art, and theater. The museum began the Opal Charter School in 2001, with admission on a lottery-based system. Though funded by Portland Public Schools, the Opal Charter School is afforded more flexibility on curriculum and a greater focus on education through a creative, hands-on approach and a greater emphasis on arts and sciences.
Image by Nicholas Wang under Creative Commons License.
3
World Forestry Center

3) World Forestry Center

Reflecting Portland’s love of nature, the World Forestry Center is a non-profit educational museum. Founded in 1964, the newly renovated 20,000 square foot facility focuses on sustainable forestry strategies. The center’s first floor focuses on local forestry – with exhibits on local waterways, animals, timber harvesting, and fighting forest fires. The second floor explores forestry themes worldwide – including exhibits on forests in China, Russia, the Amazon and South Africa. In addition, the center hosts a number of traveling artistic and cultural exhibits. Past exhibits have included Native American craftwork, the photography of Ansel Adams, and “Wolf to Woof” – the story of the domestic dog’s evolution from wolf ancestry (and visitors were even allowed to bring their own pet dogs to this exhibit).
Image by EncMstr under Creative Commons License.
4
Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial

4) Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial

Located in a tranquil setting near the Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial occupies over three acres of manicured lawns, hedges and flowers. The memorial was inspired by the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., designed by a local landscape architecture firm and dedicated in 1987. The black granite monument memorializes the 803 Oregonians killed or missing in the war and the Garden of Solace offers a place of quiet reflection, with a fountain and a bridge for a higher vantage point overlooking the grounds. The memorial grounds are a popular place for quiet picnics and a rest from the often-busy area near the Oregon Zoo.
Image by EncMstr under Creative Commons License.
5
Hoyt Arboretum

5) Hoyt Arboretum

A peaceful urban forest, Hoyt Arboretum offers a number of self-guided tours on 12 miles of trails. Like the World Forestry Center, it provides a plethora of information about local tree and plant species. In addition, the arboretum has a collection of over 1000 species of trees found in other parts of the world. The arboretum extends down to encompass the Oregon Vietnam Veterans Memorial and some of the arboretum’s trails are nearby – although the main visitor’s center is up the hill on SW Fairview Boulevard. Areas within Hoyt Arboretum are available to rent for special occasions – including “green weddings”, which focus on sustainability by using local seasonal flowers, organic foods and beverages, and recyclable supplies.
Image by Doug Kerr under Creative Commons License.
6
Portland Rose Gardens

6) Portland Rose Gardens

The Rose Gardens area includes the International Rose Test Garden, Peninsula Park, Ladd’s Addition, and the Portland Japanese Garden – widely regarded as among the most authentic outside of Japan. The International Rose Test Garden is the oldest continually operating rose garden in America, founded in 1917, and is used to test new varieties of roses. Peninsula Park offers playgrounds, tennis courts, horseshoe pits, basketball courts and ball fields in addition to rose gardens and Ladd’s Addition is a historic residential neighborhood containing some of the finest homes in the city. Nowhere is Portland’s “City of Roses” moniker more evident than these colorful gardens with stunning views of the city below.
Image by Cacophony under Creative Commons License.
7
Pittock Mansion

7) Pittock Mansion

The historic Pittock Mansion and estate sits about 1000 feet above downtown and is the pinnacle of elegance in Portland’s West Hills. The early twentieth-century 22-room mansion was the home of Henry and Georgina Pittock – philanthropists and founder of the Oregonian newspaper. The City of Portland purchased the mansion in 1964 for $225,000 and has preserved it as a historical site, popular for tours, picnics and wedding photographs. If time allows, consider continuing on the Wildwood Trail to Forest Park – the largest urban forested park in America – or simply return down the hill to Burnside Ave to finish the tour, where Tri-Met’s #20 bus will return you to downtown.
Image by Cacophony under Creative Commons License.