Visitors to Portland know all about Tom McCall Waterfront Park. In the summer, you can't miss the crowds swirling around festivals and street markets as you cross the iconic bridges. Locals, however, know to soak in a superior cityscape view directly across the river: Eastbank Esplanade.
From downtown, access the Esplanade via any bridge and, near Saturday Market, a pedestrian bridge actually runs at street level. Some of the floating walkways, as you may guess, run at water level. The path is popular among joggers, dog-walkers, and bikers. Survival tip: Walk in a straight line and keep pets on a tight leash to avoid conflicts with the constant bike traffic.
South of the Hawthorne Bridge, a public dock is a popular spot for wading in the now-safe-to-swim (really) Willamette River and also a favorite among wedding photographers. Grab a blanket or a bench seat and watch the sun dip behind the skyscrapers from the curiously neglected green just above the dock. It's the best view of Portland, and still an uncrowded one, if this homage doesn't spoil the magic.
Bonus Tip: This spot is 50 ft from public parking below the Hawthorne Bridge.
Bonus Bonus Tip: This spot is 100 ft from OMSI, Portland's popular science museum.