In Portland, Oregon, the simple things in life can prove the most extraordinary. You don’t just peruse a bookstore in Portland; you explore the largest independent bookstore in the world, with map in hand. Visitors don’t just drink coffee in Portland; they get tasting lessons at a local coffee roaster with a cultlike following.
Portland takes day-to-day living seriously, which is why some of the city’s most iconic attractions relate to the good life with a focus on coffee, beer, flowers and books. And this is no fad: Portland is home to one of the country’s oldest rose test gardens and one of the country’s oldest craft breweries.
Groups can tour each of these quintessential attractions to exercise their senses and embrace the everyday culture of Rose City.
International Rose Test Garden
Most gardens don’t start because of war, but Portland’s International Rose Test Garden began in response to World War I. Fearful that centuries-old rose species could be annihilated by the bombings in Europe, Portland locals opened the International Rose Test Garden in 1917.
The oldest continuously operating public rose test garden in the United States features over 10,000 rosebushes in more than 650 rose varieties. The sweet scents and vibrant colors of this 4.5-acre garden attract nearly 700,000 visitors a year.
“The rose garden is one of the top places to see in Portland, especially in the late spring through early fall,” said Marcus Hibdon, director of communications and public relations for Travel Portland. “It’s a field of roses spread over a unique garden space. Gardening has played a big role in our city’s history.”
Though the garden blooming season peaks in June, various rose varieties will bloom from April through October. Horticulturalists at the garden study rose cultivars from around the world to evaluate each species on disease resistance, bloom form, color and fragrance.
Groups can arrange a tour to learn about the rose varieties and the history of the 100-year-old garden. The site features several themed gardens, among them the American Garden Rose Selection, the Gold Award Garden, the Miniature Rose Garden and the Shakespeare Garden. On a clear day, a stroll through the garden also includes views of downtown and Mount Hood.
The Rose Garden Store offers rose-themed merchandise. Guests can catch a classical music concert or other event at the garden’s amphitheater.