The central lawn is the perfect spot for an afternoon picnic, with public restrooms and drinking fountains located just across a paved pathway looping through the park. Along the pathway, you’ll find a kids’ playground, a scenic duck pond and tennis and basketball courts. Pull up a seat in one of six picnic areas or hang with your pup in the designated off-leash dog area.
The tree-lined hillside makes for a great spot to hang a hammock or just lay in the grass and look up at the park’s rich foliage. See if you can spot one of Laurelhurst’s five Dawn Redwoods —this species of tree, Oregon’s official state fossil, was once considered extinct!
History of Laurelhurst Park
Once part of the estate of two-time former mayor William Sargent Ladd, the 31 acres (12.5 ha) that comprise Laurelhurst Park were purchased by the city in 1911. Horticultural expert and Portland Park Superintendent Emanuel Tillman Misch began designing the park in 1912 after working with the Olmsted Brothers architecture firm. (If the name “Olmsted” rings a bell, it’s likely due to the prominence of Frederick Law Olmsted, who co-designed New York’s Central Park and is widely considered one of the most influential modern landscape architects.)
Inspired by Olmstead’s methods, Misch designed Laurelhurst Park to highlight the natural landscape. His design created a 3-acre (1.2 ha) lake by deepening the spring-fed pond and adding more than 250 trees to the 100 conifers already in place.
Visiting Laurelhurst Park
Since 2019, Laurelhurst Park has also hosted the Portland Water Lantern Festival, an evening event where attendees receive rice paper lanterns that they can decorate with their own messages. After sundown, the paper lanterns are lit and set afloat, illuminating the duck pond with hundreds of beautiful, glowing lanterns. Visit Portland Water Lantern Festival’s website to see upcoming dates and purchase tickets.
Laurelhurst Park is open from 5 a.m.–to 10:30 p.m. daily. From June to August, Laurelhurst hosts family-friendly activities as part of Summer Free for All, a citywide public park program featuring free concerts, films and more. Portland Sunday Parkways also makes an annual ride by the park. Kickstand Comedy presents Comedy in the Park on Friday evenings over the summer months, and the performance troupe Original Practice Shakespeare hosts free plays on the lawn several times each summer.
Where to Eat Near Laurelhurst Park
Need a sweet treat or a bite to eat after an afternoon lounging in the park? Take a short walk east to find one of Portland’s famous food cart pods, home to FOMO Chicken, among others. Stop for a meal at the cart that most suits your appetite, or visit the torta shop Güero. House specialties include the Torta Ahogada (“ahogada” translates to “drowned” in English): A deliciously messy sandwich packed with habanero slaw, cilantro and pork and topped with a rich, spicy achiote tomato sauce.
If you’re in need of a pick-me-up, swing by airy Crema Coffee for coffee and a freshly baked pastry. Prefer a frosty treat? Head up the block to the corner of East Burnside, where you can choose from one of Fifty Licks’ unique ice cream flavors, like soy sauce caramel or vegan coconut lemon saffron. Laurelhurst Market has house-made charcuterie, locally-stuffed sausage and a full drink menu less than a five-minute walk away on Northeast 32nd Avenue and Burnside. Flying Fish has fresh eats and fish for you to take home, cook and enjoy! If you’re looking for the catch of the week, you can sign up for their mailing list to be in the know.
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