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A Few of the Best Places to Swim in Portland

A Few of the Best Places to Swim in Portland

The Weather is heating up in Portland! Just like most PDXers, we’re thrilled that it’s finally getting close to swimming weather in the Rose City. One of the best things about Portland is the city’s relationship with the water. In the past, it was the Columbia and Willamette Rivers, which brought in trade, that were responsible for the city’s growth. Now, the water that runs through Portland is responsible for the city’s beauty, and for the serene setting of the South Waterfront, the home base of Osprey apartments. Plus, there are plenty of spots to take a dip or sunbathe when the weather starts to get this nice. If you’re looking for a spot to take a quick dip, or spot to spend a warm summer day, here are a few of the best places to swim in Portland.

SellWood Riverfront Park

SellWood Riverfront Park directly across from Osprey’s South Waterfront apartments

*image from wikipedia

Located right on the Willamette, almost directly across from Osprey’s South Waterfront apartments, is the SellWood Riverfront Park, perhaps the best swimming on the Willamette that you’ll find within Portland. Sellwood features a boat dock and canoe launch, a very popular off-leash dog park, riverfront views, and a few rock and sandy beaches where you can lounge and take a dip.

Collins Beach on Sauvie Island

Collins Beach on Sauvie Island is just about 10 miles from Downtown PDX

*image from wikipedia

Ah yes, Sauvie Island. Sauvie Island is just about 10 miles from Downtown PDX, and it’s actually the largest island in the Columbia, and one of the largest river islands in the entire US. There’s a wildlife refuge, some very large estates, a lot of farming, and of course, recreational beaches. One of those beaches is the famed Collins Beach, a nice sandy spot on the Columbia side of Sauvie. This one mile stretch of sandy beach has been popular among Portlanders since the 1970s, which is in no small part due to the fact that Collins is also one of two clothing optional beaches in Portland. So, if you’re looking to catch sunbathe in Portland in the nude, this is your best bet.

Walton Beach on Sauvie Island

Walton Beach on Sauvie Island 20 miles outside of Downtown Portland

*image from Sauvie Island’s Community Association’s site

Walton Beach is another sandy spot on Sauvie that many enjoy. If you’re looking for a nudity-free alternative to Collins Beach, this is your best bet. Located about 9 miles from the bridge to Sauvie, which puts it at just under 20 miles outside of Downtown Portland, Walton Beach is a great spot for families and pets to enjoy the warmer weather, without having to travel 70+ miles out to the coast.

Audrey McCall Beach

Audrey McCall Beach just minutes from Osprey's South Waterfront Apartments

*Image from Human Access Project

Heard of the Tom McCall waterfront park?  Well his wife Audrey also has a park with her namesake, which is located on the east side of the Willamette just south of Hawthorne bridge, and just minutes from Osprey’s South Waterfront Apartments. Just a few years ago, Audrey McCall Beach was unswimmable due to debris, rocks, and other obstacles. But, the Human Access Project – a Portland-based non-profit that’s committed to improving Portland’s relationship with the Willamette – has been working tirelessly to improve the conditions at Audrey McCall Beach. It took them four years, but in that time workers removed close to 19 tons of concrete and other debris, and now the beach is ready and waiting for you to take a dip.

Tom McCall Bowl Beach

Tom McCall Bowl Beach just around the corner from Osprey’s South Waterfront Apartments

*Image from Oregon Live’s Blog

The Tom McCall Bowl Beach, which is really just the grass bowl at Tom McCall Waterfront park, was another undertaking of the Human Access Project. They created an event called UnRock the Bowl in which volunteers come and removed pesky rocks and other obstacles from getting in the way of folks who’d like to swim. Now, the Tom McCall Bowl Beach, which is just around the corner from Osprey’s South Waterfront Apartments, is definitely one of the best spots to swim in Portland.

Poet’s Beach

Poet’s Beach Portland

*Image from The Human Access Project

Another darling of Portland’s Human Access Project, Poets Beach JUST OPENED on July 13th 2017! Portlanders will now have a dedicated place to get in and enjoy the Willamette River without having to travel far outside the city. Not only is Poet’s Beach the newest and most exciting of spots to swim in Portland, it also has the coolest name. The Beach can be reach by way of a new path that winds through riprap rock. Along the path, you’ll find stones engraved with children’s poems all about the Willamette River. Take a stroll, launch your kayak, take a dip, or just take in the serene view and get inspired, all at Poet’s Beach.

Broughton Beach

Broughton Beach near PDX international airport

*Image from the Oregon Metro

Located near PDX international airport and Government Island, Broughton Beach is a fun, safe sandy beach that’s perfect for the entire family. Go for a swim, take a walk along the scenic shore and absorb the views – on a clear day you’ll be able to see Mt. Hood. Known as one of Portland’s best urban beaches, and one of the few sandy beaches in the city, Broughton is perhaps your best bet for a nice, wide-open beach in town. Careful though, this beach is by no means a secret and may attract crowds on particularly hot days.

Glenn Otto Community Park

Glenn Otto Community Park 17 miles from Portland’s City Center

*Image from Where Do I take the Kids?

Another beach that is technically outside of Portland, but not that far, is the Beach at Glenn Otto Community Park. Just a quick 17 miles from Portland’s City Center, Glenn Otto provides one of the best open beaches and swimming areas along the sandy river. Named for The City of Troutdale former Mayor, Glenn Otto is one of the most popular swimming spots in Portland and in Troutdale, making it a rough choice for anyone looking to avoid big crowds on a hot summer day. Beyond the river front there is a large manicured section that’s perfect for picnics, with well-maintained lawns and playgrounds.

Vancouver Lake

Vancouver Lake friendly choice for Portland swimming

*Image from Clark County Washington’s website

Technically across the river and in Washington State, Vancouver Lake is another family friendly choice for Portland swimming in the Summer. With lots of grass, a sandy beach, and no fee, it’s easy to see why lots of families from both Vancouver and Portland travel to this 2.5 mile stretch of beach. There are, however, two things to note: 1) there is no lifeguard on duty, so if you’re worried about the safety of your youngsters, you may have to keep an extra eye on them, 2) This spot is known to produce algae blooms in the late summer, which causes the beach to close – it’s always best to check the advisories before deciding to head over.

There you have it, if you can’t find a good spot to swim on a Summer day from these spots on our list, you might be better off visiting a community pool, and there are plenty of those.

Like we said before, one of the best things about living in Portland is the proximity to the water, and at Osprey Apartments, we’re dedicated to sharing the best of what Portland has to offer with as many people as possible, and of course that includes the best spots to swim.

If you’re looking for one of the best spots in which to live in Portland, we can help you there too. Osprey Apartments is in the South Waterfront, right along the Willamette, offering one of the most luxurious apartment options in Southwest Portland.

If you’re interested in life at Osprey, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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