Those who really want to experience 50 Shades of Grey need only live through spring in Portland—it’s dark grey while you’re getting ready for work, light grey when you leave yoga and head in the direction of a croissant, black-grey right before the latest April "shower" hits your office window, medium grey while you’re in transit to happy hour, and a taunting pink-grey as the Sun clocks out for the day, sight unseen. But on that rare and wondrous day when he manages to break through the gloom and illuminate things, a picnic’s in order, so pack your rubber undies/waterproof blanket and a sack lunch/picnic basket, and get thee to one of these beautiful city parks.
This nearly 200-acre botanical bounty is home to 8,000+ kinds of greenery from all over the world. Guided tours are given in the summer, but detailed trail maps make it easy to take your own tour year round.
If time's scarce, this is your one-stop Portland outdoor sightseeing destination. Choose from the gorgeous Japanese Garden, famous Rose Garden, lush Hoyt Arboretum, and loads of pretty trails leading to Forest Park and Pittock Mansion, etc. You can also play tennis at one of the free courts by the rose garden.
A quintessential downtown Portland attraction, this pretty riverfront park follows the Willamette from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge. In spring, the double rows of cherry trees on the Steel Bridge end are a wondrous sight, so bring your camera/Instagram.
A visit to Portland wouldn’t be complete without a hike around the city’s crown jewel--this 5000+-acre offering to the gods of greenspace. While it's unlikely you'll have time to explore all 70 miles of pathways, do take the Wildwood Trail, a well-traveled but still tranquil forest trek.
All the world loves beautiful Laurelhurst Park, so if you're planning a group picnic and want a particular table (I'm not telling where my favorite one is), plan accordingly, or just spread a blanket wherever you can find a spot between the tightrope walkers and hipster birthday party celebrators. A gently winding asphalt trail surrounds the grounds, ideal for an easy run or bike ride.
Quite centrally located at the corner of SE Belmont and 20th, this sprawling park has a lot going on beyond the hipster-choked grassy area in the NE corner. Head past the community garden, beyond the covered picnic area and playground, and behind the basketball court, and you'll find a lone picnic table and a flowering (if it's spring) fruit tree that's absolutely perfect for a private picnic.
You're hardly going to stumble on this park by accident, unless you're a serious explorer/REALLY directionally challenged (I'm the latter, which is how I found it one day while lost in St. Johns), but it's worth seeking out. A little oasis in the gritty industrial lands of the St. Johns waterfront, it's a nice spot for a walk (especially in fall), affords an intimate peek at the undercarriage of the grand St. Johns bridge, and has a widely attended jazz fest every July.