Vanguard editors share their favorite ways to get outside

Winter is over, and for a few months, Portland won’t be blanketed in grey clouds and rain.  Many Portlanders will look to take advantage of this limited window of warm air and sunny skies, but If you’re having a hard time deciding what to do or are looking for new ways to get outside, here are some of our favorite activities that get us out of the virtual newsroom to enjoy the weather.


Morgan Troper, Arts & Culture Editor: I got a dog this time last year, so I’ve become very acquainted with the dog parks across Portland. Spending time around a bunch of strangers and their dogs was something that made me a little uncomfortable at the start of the pandemic, but going to the dog park with my Texas Heeler—whose name is Jet, after the Paul McCartney and Wings song, naturally—has become one of my favorite outdoor pastimes. 


It’s an excuse to get out of the house every day, and reading or listening to music while I throw a tennis ball for my dog has become a profoundly meditative habit that I can’t foresee breaking, even post-quarantine. Also, I love watching dogs interact with each other—it is one of the cutest, strangest and funniest things in the world. “Dog games” clearly have their own bizarre, internal logic that humans could never hope to understand. 


Now that more people are vaccinated and less threatened by each other overall, I’ve even started talking to other owners at the park. Most of them are approximately 20 years older, but that’s alright with me.

Olivia Lee, Multimedia Editor: I recently moved to Portland from Dallas, Texas a few weeks ago so I’ve been making an active effort to explore as much of the city as I possibly can. Since I live on campus, I’ve been going on walks around the Park Blocks everyday, taking in all the beautiful views of spring. 


Every Saturday, I enjoy visiting the Portland Farmers Market in the heart of the PSU campus. I wake up bright and early in the morning to be the first to see what vendors have to offer that Saturday and I’ll usually pick up produce, baked goods and then sample one of the many vendors selling hot foods from either breakfast burritos, samosas, noodles or kielbasa. 


A sunrise walk to the waterfront is always a wonderful start to any day and walking back, I always make sure to try a new coffee shop as well. I went to Tōv Coffee & Tea the other day and had the most amazing time. The shop operates in a red double-decker bus where you can drink amazing new coffee creations made by the owner or go with an authentic Egyptian coffee. Regardless, the ambience sitting on the 2nd floor of the bus and looking out is unmatched. If you’re feeling hungry afterward, there are some amazing food carts within walking distance.

Rachel Owen, News Editor: As the weather warms up, I love getting outside. Being able to go for a walk to smell the fresh air and see everyone out enjoying the day is truly one of the best things about spring. Although going on walks and enjoying the outdoors alone is great, it’s always more fun with friends—following COVID-19 restrictions, of course.


One of my favorite things to do outside is have a picnic in the park with some friends. Currently, that looks like me and my friends sitting on separate blankets in order to maintain proper social distancing, but it is still so nice to be able to enjoy each other’s company. 


When I go out I bring a quilt I made with my grandma to lay on, a sketchbook to doodle in, a book to read, some snacks to munch on and some water or tea to drink. Bringing these items allows me to really enjoy my time away from screens. It feels very meditative and relaxing. 


My favorite park to go to in Portland is Cathedral Park just under the St. Johns bridge. The scenery of the Willamette River, the bridge and all of the green grass is so welcoming and open. There is so much space to sprawl out on and enjoy. 


Going on picnics with friends has been a great way for me to get outside and spend time with the people I love while still staying safe. The pandemic is still a major health concern and needs to be taken seriously. Socially-distanced picnics are a fantastic option to safely enjoy someone else’s company or just my own. 


Being outside is so great for my mental health that picnics have become a near-weekly routine. Getting outdoors and giving myself the time to relax has been one of the best gifts I have given myself.

Justin Grinnell, Editor in Chief: As part of a new year’s resolution four years ago, I started going to the gym 3–4 times each week, but as gyms and rec centers closed due to the pandemic, my workout routine came to a halt.


Lacking a physical activity and feeling the mental fatigue of quarantine, I threw on my running shoes one day and hurried out of my apartment. Running has been the best way to exercise outside my apartment while still social-distancing.


My normal route starts at the Park Blocks, heading west toward Tom McCall Waterfront Park. I cross the Tilikum Bridge and run north along the east side of the Willamette. I eventually make my way past the Moda Center and cross the Broadway Bridge. I then head back down the waterfront along the westside until I reach the Tilikum Bridge once again and run back to the Park Blocks. 


Seven miles in total, the loop comprises a portion of Portland’s Green Loop as well as the entire Eastbank Esplanade and Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Rain or shine, this run offers beautiful views of downtown Portland and the Willamette. As a bonus, any of the three bridges that intersect the loop can be used to cut down the runtime, if seven miles is too much running for one day.


As summer quickly approaches, now is the perfect time to lace up your running shoes and see where they take you.

Nick Townsend, Managing Editor: For Portland State students living in the downtown area without a car, St. Johns is a daunting trek. It hangs on the far north edge of town, overseeing the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. Transportation options are slim, with most bus routes between campus and St. Johns taking about an hour, sometimes with a transfer. On a bike, you’re looking at a 17-mile round-trip ride on a narrow, busy road with slim shoulders. It’s with this in mind that I tell you going to St. Johns is absolutely worth your time. 


Maybe it’s because of the trip, but I always feel like I’ve stepped into a different city when I enter St. Johns. The reason I come is always the same, the city’s best park: Cathedral Park. Resting underneath the magnificent St. Johns bridge, Cathedral Park is an always shaded sloping green hill that merges with the banks of the Willamette River, offering an unparalleled view of Portland’s Forest Park. Many of my most tranquil days in Portland have involved nothing more than sitting on the incline of the hill with some tacos or barbecue, watching the water and the world go by.

Nick Gatlin, Opinion Editor and Interim News Editor: I’m not much of an outdoors person. Most weekends, my idea of fun isn’t going hiking or fishing or running or anything else traditionally outdoorsy. But, like all humans, I’m still drawn to the outdoors, and I can’t really stay inside all the time. So when I get cabin fever, I usually choose to do something more laidback: walking.


Yeah, I know. “Walking isn’t an activity,” you’re thinking, “it’s just a thing we all do!” And it is certainly less exciting than some of the other things on this page. It’s boring. But when you think of walking as an activity, as something you do just to do it, it becomes something else entirely.


I can spend hours walking around the city, making my way from one place to another and soaking in all the scenery. There are so many parts of Portland that I never would have known about if I hadn’t made the decision to walk down some unknown side street. Sometimes, if I have the time and the patience for it, instead of taking the MAX or the streetcar across town, I’ll map out a nice walking path and make my way there on foot. It’s way slower, for sure, but that’s part of the charm.


There are definitely more “traditional” ways to walk too, and I love them just as much—walking around Portland’s outdoor gardens, for instance—but there’s just something about taking the time to experience ordinary things that can’t be replicated.