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.
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.