Pioneer Courthouse Square is decorated with colorful swashes and greenery.

Family Vacations in Oregon: Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square in Portland, Oregon, is nicknamed "Portland's Living Room." And like every good living room, the square offers entertainment and plenty of seating space. The two amphitheaters host more than 300 events each year, including concerts and cultural festivals.

Those with a flare for art enjoy the fountain, pillars, sculptures, and an astounding Weather Machine, an innovative creation with three symbols that each represent an element of Portland's climate. There's even a signpost that shows how far it is to places as distant as Red Square in Russia.

The square has taken on many forms throughout history. A shoemaker named Elijah Hill bought the block for $24 and a pair of boots in 1849, two years before the city of Portland was officially established. James Field sold it to the fledgling Portland School Board less than a decade later, and they built a schoolhouse on the spot. In 1883, the schoolhouse was relocated to make way for the ritzy Portland Hotel, which remained open until 1951.

The spot became a two-level parking structure for about 30 years, until the city acquired the land and transformed it into one of the nation's most vibrant public commons. Today, the square attracts millions of people each year to its special events, including the annual midsummer Festival of Flowers.­

Continue to the next page to learn about Mount Hood in Oregon.

Pioneer Courthouse Square Information

Address: 701 S.W. 6th Ave., Portland, OR

Telephone: 503/223-1613

To learn more about family vacation destinations, see:
  • Family Vacations: Learn about hundreds of family vacations in destinations all over North America.
  • Portland City Guide: Find out where to stay, what to do, and where to eat when you visit Portland.
  • Oregon State Guide: Learn about Mobil Travel Guide-rated hotels and restaurants in Oregon, as well as other recreational activities.
  • Scenic Drives: For those who think that getting there is half the fun, we have compiled more than 100 of the most scenic drives throughout the country.