Stay cool all summer long at these serene swimming spots, surrounded by the stunning natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest — and all less than an hour away from Portland.
Portland and Nearby Towns
A pastoral farming community only 10 miles (16 km) from downtown Portland, Sauvie Island gives visitors a choice of several public shores. Walton Beach is a popular spot for kite-flying and sand castle-building, while the mellow waters of Sturgeon Lake offer a safe swimming spot for all abilities. Didn’t pack a swimsuit? That’s no problem at Collins Beach, one of the state’s two clothing-optional beaches. Parking passes are available at the Sauvie Island general store at the base of the bridge; a daily pass is $7. Stop by one of the island’s many U-Pick farms on the way back for the freshest, ripest berries around.
When the summer heat hits, families flock to Glenn Otto Community Park in nearby Troutdale for prime swimming, sunbathing, fishing and floating. Less than 20 miles (32 km) from downtown, the park sits at the mouth of the gentle Sandy River, with lifeguards on hand to keep visitors safe and sound.
Columbia River Gorge
Know Before You Go
COVID-19 Update: the most popular Columbia River Gorge destinations are open and welcoming visitors.
For information regarding what trails and campsites are open, please visit the U.S. Forest Service; Ready, Set, Gorge; Friends of the Gorge. For road conditions and closures, visit ODOT.
Dip into the deep blue Columbia River at Rooster Rock State Park, 30 minutes east of Portland. The park stretches over 3 miles (4.8 km) of river access — keep walking east to find Oregon’s other clothing-optional beach, not visible from the main area. Two disc golf courses provide Frisbee fun for all skill levels, and the boat ramp provides access to some of the area’s best bass, walleye and steelhead fishing. A $5 parking pass is required at this state park.
Sauvie Island, the Manhattan-size isle is one of the largest river islands in the country just north of Portland, is where families can find an entire day’s worth of adventures with swimming, hiking, birding and local farms.
Starting just 30 miles east of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area offers amazing vistas, trails and more than 90 waterfalls.
Though similar to Portland in many ways, Vancouver, Wash., a Pacific Northwest suburb in Southwest Washington is located just across the Columbia River. It can also feel like it's a world away.
A quick trip across the Columbia River lands visitors at Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park in Vancouver, Washington. About 30 minutes from downtown Portland, the 120-acre (48.6 ha) destination houses dozens of picnic tables, barbecue grills and sand volleyball courts, as well a children’s playground. Practical amenities like restrooms and disabled parking seal the deal on this family-friendly spot. Cars are required to purchase a $3 parking pass.
Venture further into Washington to find stunning Dougan Falls, one of six major waterfalls on the Washougal River, 42 miles (67.6 km) from Portland. The wide river cascades into a narrow pool 19 feet (5.8 m) below, creating a cool, idyllic swimming hole for visitors looking to beat the heat. A day-use area with picnic tables and toilets sits conveniently nearby. Visitors must purchase a Washington State Discover Pass; a daily pass is $11.50.
Make a Splash in the Willamette River
The river, which bisects the city into east and west sides, is a virtual aquatic playground, with kayakers, fishers and swimmers enjoying the water.
The Big Float
Every summer since 2011, thousands of people swim and float in the Willamette River for the annual Big Float event.
Amusement & Water Parks
Portland and the surrounding region offer a variety of amusements and entertainments for the young and young at heart.
Whitewater Rafting Near Portland
Conquer rapids, spot wildlife and experience nature in a new way at these favorite spots for whitewater rafting near Portland.
Where to Stand-Up Paddleboard Around Portland
Find out where to stand-up paddleboard in Portland, as well as where to find SUP lessons, paddleboard rentals, guided lake tours and SUP yoga classes.
Kayaking in and Around Portland
When the weather heats up, folks flock to the water. For paddlers, that typically means hitting one the many rivers in and near Portland.
Summer Free for All
Portland Parks & Recreation offers over 400 free events including free movie screenings, concerts and rock climbing.
Windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge
Grab your board and head to the Columbia River Gorge, the windsurfing capital of the world, located a short drive east of Portland.
Where to Soak in Portland
Ready to relax? Practice aquatic self-care at these welcoming, all-weather float and soak spots.
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