Start 2023 With a Long Walk

Here are five suggestions for how to clear your head entering the new year.

How do you welcome the new year?

Do you spend the first afternoon of the year cooking up black-eyed peas, collard greens, and cornbread? Maybe you start your year off by sweeping up the ashes of last night’s año viejo effigy. Perhaps, you scatter coins in each room of your house to bring forth a prosperous new year or shove a few spare bills under your rug for the same effect.

Or maybe you’re still figuring out how to celebrate surviving another 365 days in Portland, which is relatable considering the chaotic energy we’ve all been tangled in for the past few years.

Here’s my suggestion: Get outside. Clear your head. Begin afresh.

For those Portlanders hoping to reconnect with the Northwest in 2023, not only are all Oregon and Washington state parks free on New Year’s Day (with guided hikes!), there are plenty of sweeping vistas, dewy gardens, and distinct lay Portlandian events that could potentially get your year started in a way worthy of repeating for years to come. Plus, for the first time in weeks, the weather forecast is partly sunny.

Here are a few of our favorite destinations:

For Bridge City Devotees: Tilikum Crossing river walk

Portland’s newest Willamette River bridge is a pedestrian party zone that not only offers one of the most swoon-worthy views of the Willamette River, but does so without the disquieting hum of traffic at your back. For Portlanders looking to eat some crispy river wind and smell some mossy water, a bridge walk that begins at Tilikum Crossing is a lovely way to celebrate another year in this wet windy burg. Pro tip: Zigzagging an afternoon away along Portland’s bridges is just as satisfying on foot or by bike.

For a Meditative Hike: Children’s Arboretum

Set the mood for 2023 by communing with some naked trees amid one of Portland’s most overlooked waterways, (shout-out to the Slough) at Northeast Portland’s Children’s Arboretum. Even in our evergreen city, many of our curbside trees are swiftly undressed by winter weather, but that doesn’t make them any less impressive. Marvel at these stripped wonders with this park’s easy loop hike nestled in an industrial zone, a stone’s throw away from the mighty Columbia.

For Road Trippers: Bridge of the Gods Loop

If a mini road trip is more your vibe, a cruise east through the Columbia Gorge, over the Bridge of the Gods and back to Portland via Washington State Route 14 could do the trick. For the uninitiated, the scenic drive passes Multnomah Falls before winding romantically through the Gorge to the legendary Bridge of the Gods, the view from which is singularly breathtaking. Better still: You’re allowed to walk across the bridge. You should.

For Brunch Life Aficionados: Portland Spirit Brunch Cruise

A ride on a boat is technically still a walk if you stroll along the prow! Whether you slept through the midnight champagne toast or are still riding the celebratory bubbly wave, Portland Spirit’s brunch cruise offers bottomless mimosas while taking guests on a very mellow river cruise along the Willamette. The city looks particularly beautiful from the middle of the river, and that viewpoint is a stellar place to welcome your city and yourself to the whole new year. Bonus: brunch buffet.

For Urban Explorers: Urban Adventure Quest’s Amazing New Year’s Day Scavenger Hunt Adventure

For Portlanders thirsty for both adventure and community building, consider joining Urban Adventure Quest’s citywide scavenger hunt to see the sights, solve riddles, and learn about local history during a hunt that can be played from sunrise to sunset. Though this event feels built for newbie Portlanders, the actual hunt is just as captivating for jaded old heads as it is for fresh-faced transplants. Prepare to see Portland in a new way (specifically, as a huge game board). Also prepare for approximately 2 miles of walking and a Portland Streetcar ride.