USA, Oregon, Portland, skyline and Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Getty Images

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Top choice in Portland

This popular riverside park, which lines the west bank of the Willamette River, was finished in 1978 after four years of construction. It replaced an old freeway with 1.5 miles of paved sidewalks and grassy spaces, and now attracts joggers, in-line skaters, strollers and cyclists. 

During summer the park is perfect for hosting large outdoor events such as the Oregon Brewers Festival (although temporarily shelved during the Covid-19 pandemic, it's hopefully returning in 2022).

On a hot day, join the crowds cooling off at Salmon Street Springs Fountain, in the park at Salmon St.  

Things to do

This riverside park is best explored on foot. First you'll want to stop for splash or a photo at the interactive Salmon Street Springs Fountain, which emits water from 185 jets to the beat of computer-generated patterns. Then continue north along the paved waterfront path. Once you pass the Morrison Bridge, you will arrive at the Battleship Oregon Memorial – take note of the time capsule inscription at the base of the monument, which was sealed on Independence Day 1976 and will be unearthed in 2076. 

The Bill Naito Legacy Fountain is just north of there; admire its lively jets as you make your way towards Burnside Bridge. If it's a weekend, you'll be lured into the pavilion of the Portland Saturday Market, where hundreds of local vendors sell everything from art and kitschy souvenirs to clothing and handmade accessories.

North of Burnside Bridge is the Japanese American Historical Plaza, which features art dedicated to the memory of the Pacific Northwest's Japanese immigrants and native US citizens of Japanese descent who were sent to internment camps during WWII. 

From there, a row of cherry trees leads you north to Friendship Circle, an interactive monument playing composed Japanese music just west of the Steel Bridge.

Now you can walk over the Steel and Hawthorne bridges to the Eastbank Esplanade and then back around to make a loop.

Cherry blossoms

Between Burnside Bridge and the Steel Bridge, the Japanese American Historical Plaza memorial is where Portland heads for cherry blossom viewing and photographing (usually mid-March to end of April depending on when the season). With 100 cherry blossom trees in all their delicate beauty, it’s a spectacular sight on a sunny Spring day. 

Hotels near Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Close to Old Town-Chinatown, there is excellent accommodation (and food) nearby.


Old Society


Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Portland attractions

1. Mill Ends Park

0.09 MILES

Having the largest park (Forest Park) within city limits perhaps isn't an oddity, but having the smallest one might be. Mill Ends Park – located on the…

2. Salmon Street Springs Fountain

0.13 MILES

This photo-friendly fountain, on Salmon St near the river, cycles through computer-generated patterns. On hot days kids (and adults) take turns plunging…

3. Pioneer Courthouse

0.32 MILES

Across 6th Ave from Pioneer Courthouse Square is the Pioneer Courthouse. Built in 1875, this was the legal center of 19th-century Portland. The courthouse…

4. Portland Building

0.34 MILES

This controversial 15-story building (1982) was designed by Michael Graves and catapulted the postmodern architect to celebrity status. But the blocky,…

5. New Market Theater

0.36 MILES

This landmark was built in 1872 and is notable for the cast iron arches facing SW 1st Ave, all that are left of its northern wing.

6. Skidmore Fountain

0.36 MILES

Victorian-era architecture and the attractive Skidmore Fountain give the area beneath the Burnside Bridge some nostalgic flair. Dedicated in 1888, the…

7. Pioneer Courthouse Square

0.36 MILES

The heart of downtown Portland, at the heart of Portland’s retail district and the city’s transit system, is a multi-tiered brick plaza nicknamed Portland…

8. Saturday Market

0.41 MILES

The best time to walk along the Portland Waterfront is on a weekend, when you can catch this famous market showcasing arts and crafts, street entertainers…