Spring time in Portland is dazzling! With a rainbow of colors cast by a large array of flowers, bright green grasses, and an ever-changing skyscape that is as moody as your toddler, this time of year is perfect for capturing dramatic images of your loved ones. Whether you use pics for Instagram, holiday cards or to decorate your home, we’ve put together a list of the best places to head for your next family photo session. Read on to find out where your next shots should be taken.

photo: Noel via flickr

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

Open from Mar.23-Apr. 30, this festival gives your family access to 40 acres of blooming beauty. Is there really anything better than a backdrop filled with row after row of flowers and Mt. Hood in the distance? Every year the owners arrange their varieties of tulips, daffodils and other flowers differently to create new patterns of colors for your camera to capture along with the smiling faces of your wee ones. But the flowers aren’t the only setting for your family photo session.

For a fun shot, put your little on the cow train or search out the photo cut-out boards for loads of giggles and great snaps. The festival even hosts a photo contest, so your pics could really pay off!

Check out our guide to the festival to learn more.


Cost: $40 for a season pass, $5 per person ages 13 and up. Family car is $20 for one day. Additional activities include additional pricing.
Address: 33814 S Meridian Rd, Woodburn, Or
Dates: Mar. 23-Apr. 30.
Online: woodenshoe.com

Leach Botanical Gardens

Referred to as the crown jewel of public park spaces in Southeast Portland, this garden has grown to nearly 17 acres and features a diverse collection of over 2,000 hybrids, cultivars, and native and non-native plants that serve as a perfect environment for your outdoor shoot. If you are looking to go green, this is the place. And in April you’ll find trillium, phlox, arisaema (Jack-in-the-pulpit); erythronium (fawn lily), dodecatheon (shooting star) and western flowering dogwood for the perfect flash of color. There are plenty of trails to wander on while trying to find your perfect spot. Search for the stone cabin for a fun adventure with a fresh approach to your framing. Or find the blue dinosaur to add some adventure. Don’t forget to bring snacks to help you sustain your day full of fun.

Insider tip: You can download the Leach Garden scavenger hunt ahead of time to keep the little ones occupied and eager to hunt down that perfect photo spot.

6704 SE 122nd Ave.
Hours: Tues.-Sat., 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Sun., 1-4 p.m. Closed Mon.
Cost: Free. Donations encouraged.
Online: leachgarden.org

photo: Matthewzumwalt via Flickr

Camassia Natural Area

Sculpted by prehistoric floods, this area’s rocky landscape is the surprising home to an array of sunning flowers. Located in the hills of West Linn, above the Clackamas and Willamette this 26-acre natural area is owned and maintained by the Nature Conservancy and during spring and summer and volunteers lead guided hikes and teach visitors about the ecology of the preserve. During April and May flowers burst into bloom and provide a striking contrast to the dark basal bedrock and green mosses. You are sure to get some standout shots. Hiking through the area also gives you the opportunity to get snaps of your kids or yourself in the midst of more than 300 plant species. Your little models might even learn something along the way.

5000 Walnut St.,
West Linn, Or.
Hours: No set hours but morning light is wondrous for photos.
Cost: Free
Online: nature.org

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

With simple to splashy waterfalls, rocks from Mt Hood and Mt Adams, a towering fountain, over 2500 species rhododendrons and azaleas plus other gorgeous flowers and trees you couldn’t find a more magical place to create memories. The flowers make a magnificent display of colors for family photo shoots and Crystal Springs Creek flows along the westside of the garden. The manicured areas offer awesome opportunities for a variety of portrait settings which can include small lakes, paved and unpaved paths, fountains and waterfalls.

5801 SE 28th Ave.
Hours: 6 a.m.-6 p.m. through Mar. 31, open until 10 p.m. beginning Apr. 1
Cost: $4 admission fee is charged from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Wed.-Mon., March through Labor Day, but it is free for children under 12.
Online: portlandoregon.gov/parks

photo: Jessica Tutton via Flickr

Portland Japanese Garden

The beauty of Portland’s Japanese garden is undeniable. Portland’s own Japanese garden is considered one of the best in the world and offers  tranquil environment for family members young and old to enjoy. This garden has been designed to give its visitors a real taste of what the seasons are like in Japan. There are five garden styles over the 5.5 acre area for you to and your kids to explore through the lens including the Tea Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Natural Garden, Sand & Stone Garden and the Flat Garden.

It’s not hard to find a perfect place to stop for shots as you run across cascading water features, a chabana garden and a bonsai terrace. Expect to see cherry blossoms in April along with azaleas. If you are wanting to capture the garden at it’s most colorful, it is recommended to  wait for mid-May when other plants like wisteria and rhododendrons come into bloom. But, it’s no stretch to say that the Portland Japanese Garden is beautiful all year round.

611 SW Kingston Ave.,
Hours: Mon. 12-7p.m.; Tue.-Sun.10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Cost:  $16.95/adult, $14.95 /senior (65+), $13.50/college student (w/ID), $11.55/ Youth (6-17), children 5 and under free
Online: japanesegarden.com

The Oregon Garden

Located in Silvertion this beautiful space has over 23 different gardens for you and your little beauties to explore. With areas that feature ponds and sculptures, oak groves and even a hobbit hole, there are plenty of great shots to be had. Your kids will love looking for wildlife and pretending like they are forest gnomes. It makes for an easy way to while away a whole day while getting print-worthy images for your home your to send off to your loved ones.

879 W. Main St.
Hours: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. until Mar. 23- Apr., 9 a.m.-6 p.m. May-Sept.
Cost: Starting at $8


Do you have a favorite spring spot for family photos? Share it with us  in the comments!

—Annette Benedetti


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