One of the goals of a parent is to find ways to both entertain and tire your kids out. Sure, we love them and we wouldn’t trade them for the world, but they’re also a lot of work and, when night time comes and they don’t go to sleep, we often find ourselves wanting to tear our hair out, wishing we’d found a way to exhaust them so that when bedtime came around, they went straight to sweet snoring. Luckily, Gabriel Park exists.
Named for a Swiss immigrant (Ulrich Gabriel) whom arrived in the area in 1890 and purchased the park property near what is now Vermont Street, where he operated the Pine Creek Dairy. This dairy made the bulk of its income from raising and selling cattle farm and but also served fresh grains, corn and, of course, dairy products. The city of Portland purchased the property in 1950, converted it into a park, and named it after Gabriel.
My kids don’t care about this. They care about the fun things in store for them.
Located at the corner of SW 45th Ave & Vermont St in Portland, Oregon, Gabriel Park is over ninety acres of outdoor fun for the whole family. This lush green park is a favorite for my family and me and when we pile the kids and the dog into the station wagon, we can barely contain the excitement.
As we pull into one of the plentiful parking spaces, just two hundred feet from the spectacular play area, my son says “Dad, what can we do first?”
“Whatever you want, son.”
“Whatever you want son. Just wear your helmet…like all the cool kids.”
He smiles, exits the vehicle and runs to the skate park, which is 10,000 square feet of smooth concrete. It has everything a kid could ask for in a skate park: a vert tranny to slappy curb, a wall ride, pump bumps and even a tranny trench. There’s also a two thousand foot snake run I’m not really sure what that is, but my son told me this once) which includes a nine foot deep bowl with concrete coping and topped by a tractor seat. I watch my son skate safely through this park while I set up a picnic with my little girl and toss the Frisbee to the dog. My wife has found some friends playing volleyball.
We skate and eat and then watch as our dog runs free in the off-leash dog park while my daughter slides and swings and monkey bars-it-up on the deluxe playground. I can see them preparing to count sheep already. Even the dog is moving a little slower, her tongue lolling, her eyes alive with delight.
Surrounded by lush greenery and inhabited by majestic sloping hills and unique flora and fauna, Gabriel Park is a Portland treasure and adds to the appeal of this already fantastic neighborhood and fantastic city.
By the time we get home, the kids’ eyelids are half closed and they’re asleep early enough for my wife and me to watch the early news. Gabriel Park is truly fantastic!
-Justin Price, Big Dipper Editing