If there’s anything Portlanders can agree on, it’s that we love our green space. Take a stroll within any one of Portland’s whopping 154 Parks and you’re sure to notice all kinds of park-goers: the picnickers, the dog walkers, the bubble blowers, the spikeballers . . . but keep your senses tuned and you’ll notice the quiet force of another kind of park-goer: the readers. Usually tucked beneath the shadiest trees with a cozy blanket and perhaps a few snacks, these bookworms understand the importance of a beautiful environment when it comes to enjoying literature. But with so many parks to choose from—all with their own unique flair and personalities—how are Portlanders supposed to decide where to bring their newest literary conquest? Good news! I’ve compiled a list of popular book genres and the Portland parks they can be best enjoyed at. The next time you crave that fresh pacific air and a cozy reading session, you can easily decide where to head.
Romance: Laurelhurst Park
From the nervous first date by the pond to the couple pushing the boundaries on PDA, one lap around Laurelhurst Park is all you need to see that romance is simply in the air there. It’s not a far stretch to imagine your own beloved protagonists strolling through the park’s regal pathways or the historic winding streets of the surrounding Laurelhurst neighborhood–making this park the perfect fit for your newest romance read.
Classics: Washington Park
As one of the oldest and largest parks in Portland, Washington Park in northwest Portland provides the sense of history and drama requisite for enjoying a good classic. Dust off your favorite Brontë or Steinbeck and head to this Portland favorite to make those classic stories come alive in a new way.
Sci-Fi: Elizabeth Caruthers Park
If you’re looking for a futuristic vibe in Portland (though some may argue that’s an Oxymoron), look no further than Elizabeth Caruthers Park. Positioned beneath the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) sky tram and the tall, modern, glassy buildings of the Southwest Waterfront, this park calls to mind many popular sci-fi themes, such as technology, healthcare, artificial intelligence, and dystopia.
Children’s: Westmoreland Park
If there’s a little one in your life, packing up your favorite children’s books and heading to Westmoreland Park in Portland’s Sellwood-Westmoreland neighborhood is a must. Let the kiddos get some energy out playing on this park’s beautiful nature-based playground and then settle down with a cozy, educational read (bonus points for nature themes in the book itself).
Poetry: Peninsula Park
Peninsula Park in north Portland is home to a public rose garden, a gorgeous fountain, and a historical bandstand. The park’s stunning landscaping and historic architecture create a cerebral quality perfect for enjoying poetry both old and new.
Literary Fiction: Cathedral Park
The sophisticated, serene nature of Cathedral Park makes it a perfect place for literary fiction lovers to crack the code on their latest lyrical masterpiece. Situated in the St. Johns neighborhood directly under the majestic St. Johns Bridge, this park is also the perfect place to capture the obligatory #Bookstagram story featuring the gorgeous, artful covers associated with the genre.
Nonfiction: Mt. Tabor Park
We’ve gone a little broad here, but at 176 acres in size, Mt. Tabor Park in southeast Portland has enough room for a whole host of nonfiction titles. That being said, the best fit might be nonfiction titles about geology, geography, or geochemistry. Mt. Tabor is actually a volcanic cinder cone. The more you know!
While we can’t come close to hitting each book genre or each of Portland’s many parks, hopefully this guide can be a jumping off point next time you decide to take your reading to the great outdoors. The perfect book-park pairing is sure to enhance your reading experience and provide a wonderful way to explore our city’s vast array of unique parks and green spaces. Happy reading!