The International Rose Test Garden is one of Portland’s top tourist attractions. In spite of the crowds I still find it to be a very calming space. The Rose Garden is located within Washington Park in SW Portland. Washington Park itself is a very expansive park that includes other attractions such as the Washington Park Zoo, Forestry Center, Children’s Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, Vietnam Memorial, and Japanese Garden. Hiking trails from the Hoyt Arboretum also connect up with Forest Park, another Portland gem.
The Rose Garden is fairly easy to get to from downtown Portland. You can either walk, take a bus, or drive.
To walk I first suggest taking the MAX out to the Goose Hollow MAX stop. From there follow the map below. The walk will take 30 to 40 minutes depending on how fast you walk. It is only a little over a mile from the MAX stop but it is also uphill. Other routes work as well, just take a look at google maps.
Using trimet there are two bus routes that will get you the Rose Garden, line 83 and 63. Line 83 runs a loop that begins and ends at the Washington Park Zoo but has a stop in SW Portland at Jeld Wen Field and various stops within Washington Park including the Rose Garden. Line 63 runs between Jeld Wen Field and the Washington Park Zoo. Both Line 83 and 63 pick up at SW 18th and SW Morrison by Jeld Wen Field.
To drive to the park drive up W. Burnside and then turn left at SW Tichner Dr. (at the light) and then right on SW Kingston Ave. Then continue straight into the park. If you are visiting on a weekend afternoon during the summer, parking is going to be extremely limited.
Best bet is either a weekday or mornings or evenings on the weekends.
If you are coming from the zoo there is a miniature steam train you can take from the zoo to the garden. The kids love it and it is a fun way to visit the garden. Plus you can see parts of the zoo not otherwise viewable to the public.
Once you are at the garden the first thing you will notice are the colors. It seems like there is a rose for every color imaginable. The second thing you will notice is the smell. The whole garden just permeates with the smell of roses.
On the north end of the garden is an amphitheatre. Throughout the summer there various performances taking place including the day that we visited.
The south end of the park features the Shakespeare Garden (plants and shade) and a beautiful fountain.
In between both of these ends are countless varieties of roses of all difference shapes, sizes, and colors. The park is extremely relaxing even when crowded. It is large enough that you can find a place to call your own and sit down and relax. The park is a great place to have a picnic especially on a summer evening.