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Peaceful Places in Portland: The Grotto

The Grotto is one of the truly peaceful places in Portland -- except at Christmas.
Jan 02, 2014

Peaceful Places in Portland: The Grotto

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If you’re looking for peaceful places in Portland, you might not think of The Grotto. That’s because it’s best known for the time when it’s least peaceful.

The Grotto is one of the truly peaceful places in Portland -- except at Christmas.

The official, original Grotto.

Every winter, throngs of people flock there to see the Christmas Festival of Lights and attend a Christmas-themes service in the main chapel. It’s lovely and colorful, and also crowded and nuts.

For a lovely, colorful, non-crowded experience, go back at some other time of year, plunk down $4 to take the elevator up the cliff, and roam the fantastic Upper Level Gardens.

The Grotto is one of the truly peaceful places in Portland -- except at Christmas.

Up the elevator is another, more peaceful world.

As soon as you step out of the elevator, you’ll see this is a different place from the more touristy scene below. Here are 62 acres of greenery, with paths leading you past shrines surrounded by tall trees, ponds, and flowering shrubs. Every month of the year brings different blooms: flowering plum in March, trillium in April, rhododendron and azalea in May, impatiens and daisies in summer.

The Grotto is one of the truly peaceful places in Portland -- except at Christmas.

The labyrinth invites you to a walking mediation.

Of particular note are the Meditation Chapel, which has a view of the Columbia River; the Peace Garden with its waterways and ponds; and the new labyrinth, built in 2010 in a wooded corner at the far end of the gardens. But the suggested experience here is to just wander around.

The Grotto is one of the truly peaceful places in Portland -- except at Christmas.

St. Anne’s Chapel exudes peace and charm.

It’s funny to think of so much activity below — the gift shops, the chapel, the coffee shop, the Christmas crowds — while there’s so much green, quiet peace up above.

The Grotto is at 8840 NE Skidmore St. in Portland. Phone: 503-254-7371. Lower level is free, upper is $4 for the elevator ride. Hours are basically 9 to 5 daily, with some seasonal variation. Public Transit: TriMet #72 to NE Sandy and 82nd or #12 to NE Sandy and The Grotto Entrance.

Read about more Peaceful Places in Portland.

Author Paul Gerald also writes about hiking, breakfast, travel and spirituality.

He has written five books and offers great talks and trips.

Paul Gerald

I am the author of several books on hiking, camping, eating breakfast and chilling out. I am also a freelance travel writer, publisher, hiker, and inveterate traveler.
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