Oregon Road Trip: Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden is Dressed to Impress

Our trip to the Oregon coast and Portland was coming to an end. I had one more stop on our list before we headed back to Seattle. And yes, it was another garden.

I’m not sure why I insisted on stopping at the Lan Su Chinese Garden. I had already realized I was burnt out on green spaces when we stopped at the Japanese Garden in Washington Park two days before.

As soon as we entered Lan Su I knew I had to reevaluate my stance on gardens. This was not a run of the mill attraction. It was well thought out, and so much more put together than Seattle’s own Chinese garden.

Perhaps it is because we didn’t visit any gardens on our trips to China, but I was blown away by this vision of white buildings, bridges, water and foliage.

Since opening in 2000 over 1.4 million visitors have walked the pathways around the garden. Apparently they were doing something right.

The garden, which takes up one city block, was built by artisans from Portland’s sister city of Suzhou, China. Local volunteers and garden enthusiasts were on hand to give you more information about this Eden hidden away in Chinatown.

We got lost in the labyrinth of passages running throughout the space. Planning and a dedication to authenticity were evident at every turn.  Even the restrooms fit seamlessly into the design.

Dek loved picking which direction we would go in (our new favorite game with him) as we wound our way through paths adorned with bamboo, crape myrtle, water lilies, lotus flowers and fragrant gardenias.

I may have had enough of gardens, but Lan Su reminded me why I seek out these flora and fauna-filled oases in the city. I will always have room for one more beautifully designed urban escape.

 

Know Before You Go

  • Lan Su Chinese Garden, NW 3rd and Everett, Portland, OR 97209 tel: 503.228.8131
  • Hours: April 1 through October 31, 10am to 6pm / November 1 through March 31, 10am to 5pm
  • Cost: $9.50 adults/ $7 students (6-18 plus college students with ID)/ $28 family pass (2 adults + 2 kids/ Children 5 and under are free
  • Free tours are available at noon and 1pm
  • Discovery guides for kids are available at the front gate
  • Strollers? Small strollers can easy take on the paths, but you will be able to maneuver more easily if you put the baby in a carrier and let older kids walk.

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written by Keryn Means

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11 comments

  1. It would be very easy to imagine you were in China in this garden. It’s quite beautiful and looks very peaceful. Thanks for the walk and your beautiful photos.

  2. I don’t think I knew the garden was in Portland. Beautiful photos and thanks for a great travel tip.

  3. Beautiful- I would love to visit this garden too. Is there any way I can be packed away in your suitcase for your European trip!? I just know you guys are going to have so much fun!

  4. I love this garden. I live in PDX, and sometimes, I just come here to sit and decompress.

  5. Love this, Keryn! No surprise that 1.4 million visitors have walked through this stunning garden.

  6. Wow, that really looks very much Chinese and nothing like what I’d imagine Oregon to look. The first shot through the arch is beautiful!!

  7. Gorgeous. The first photo had me convinced that you were in China!

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