When temperatures get toasty, Portland has no shortage of public water fountains for splashing in. (Note: All city fountains are turned on by Memorial Day weekend and operate through September.)
In the Pearl District, kiddos can beat the hat in the wading pool at Jamison Square, where the fountains water drains and fills to simulate a tidal pool and the flower of the Willamette River. A puddle-jump away at downtown’s Director Park, a large, circular fountain tickles toddlers with gentle jets and bubbles. The water feature is ringed by wooden benches; perfect for parents hoping to keep their toes dry.
For those who don’t mind getting wet, Salmon Street Springs at the Waterfront Park is an ever-changing fountain controlled by an underground computer. From beneath the jets of on the sidelines, families enjoy great views of the Willamette River. A quick MAX light rail ride across the Willamette is the Lloyd District’s Holladay Park, where spouts of water rise and fall on a wide plaza surrounded by garden, public art and paved walkways. A bit further north, the city’s newest aquatic fountain at Dawson Park includes 21 timer-activated spray nozzles surrounded by stone seats inscribed with highlights of the neighborhood’s history.
Check out more fountain details below!
Bill Naito Legacy Fountain
The fountain at the end of the plaza built for the Portland Saturday Market in Waterfront Park incorporates two distinct play areas: a blowhole-dotted section that operates when no events are taking place on the plaza and an adjacent amphitheater that runs more frequently. The blowholes are perfect for toddlers and older kids, and the amphitheater involves a compelling sequence of water arches.
Jamison Square Fountain
The wading pool at the Pearl District’s Jamison Square is perfect for babies and toddlers, while young kids and tweens will enjoy dangling their feet in the rivulets of water that replenish the pond. Located on the Portland Streetcar line, Jamison Square is easy to access, and there’s even an ice cream shop (Cool Moon Ice Cream) across the street.
Salmon Street Springs
Controlled by an underground computer, this ever-changing fountain in downtown’s Waterfront Park overlooks the Willamette River and is a relaxing place for parents to chill while the kids get soaked. Best for kids ranging in age from older toddlers to tweens.
Located in downtown’s newest public square (Director Park), this fountain delights toddlers with gentle jets and bubbles that fill a shallow basin ringed by low wooden benches.
Ira Keller Fountain
Opened in 1970, Ira Keller Fountain is cut into the block facing the Keller Auditorium and evokes the cliffs and waterfalls of the nearby Columbia River Gorge. Splash in the pool at the bottom, wade in the shallow basins atop the “waterfalls” or just enjoy the sound of the rushing water in the midst of downtown.
Hidden away just five blocks from the Keller Fountain is another fountain also designed by Lawrence Halprin’s acclaimed firm. The Lovejoy Fountain takes its inspiration from mountain lakes and streams.
The fun doesn’t stop at Portland’s fountains; Many local parks also feature “splash pads,” which provide the quintessential summertime experience of running through a sprinkler — but without the sprinkler! Nozzles built into the ground spray clean water upwards, which then drains back into the ground (meaning there’s no risk of accumulating water for little ones to get caught in).
Splash pads can be found at Columbia, Grant, Kenton, Peninsula, Pier and Woodlawn parks, among others. Check out the full list. (Reminder: Though water used for splash pads is chlorinated and clean, it is not for drinking!)