16 Best Things to Do in Gresham, OR

Gresham, OR
Rigucci / shutterstock.com

Gresham is a gorgeous city east of Portland and the fourth-largest city in Oregon.

The city in Multnomah County has plenty of sights and activities for every kind of traveler, including historical buildings, charming parks, and local boutiques.

Its distance from cities like Portland and Vancouver makes it ideal for a short weekend getaway.

In addition, you can stop by the city on your way to Mount Hood.

If this sounds like your kind of adventure, here’s a list of the best things to do in Gresham, Oregon!

Hang Out at Main City Park

Japanese garden at Main City Park
Thye-Wee Gn / Shutterstock.com

Main City Park is one of the biggest parks in the city and serves as a popular hangout spot for locals and tourists.

Spanning 21.6 acres, the park features athletic facilities like baseball fields, horseshoe pits, a skateboard park, and walking and jogging paths.

The park is also home to the famous Gresham Japanese Garden, a picturesque green space that reminds you of the tranquil gardens in Japan.

A gazebo at Main City Park
Thye-Wee Gn / Shutterstock.com

During your tour around Gresham, drop by Main City Park for a breather and walk around the gardens.

You can bring the family for a relaxing picnic or a stroll along the trails.

Skate park at Main City Park
SkateOregon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Explore Historic Downtown Gresham

Daytime view of the Historic Downtown Gresham
SkatePark in Main City Park, Gresham, Oregon.jpg, CC BY 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If this is your first time visiting Gresham, make Historic Downtown Gresham your first destination.

With locally owned shops and establishments in timeless buildings, the area makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

This is also an excellent place to start planning where to eat, shop, or have a cup of coffee during your stay in Gresham.

Find historical buildings, charming little antique shops, and small bistros as you discover the city’s old-world charm.

While walking around Historic Downtown Gresham, stop by for a coffee break or catch a movie at the famous Mt. Hood Theatre.

Find Antiques at Foxtrot Vintage

Foxtrot Vintage is a locally-owned and operated antique store along the busy N Main Avenue in Gresham.

It opened with only 14 vendors selling old toys, glassware, household items, and furniture, but it is now a famous shop in the city.

The owner, Paxson, wanted to open a shop in Portland but opted for Gresham to bring out Portland's hip and eclectic vibe.

At Foxtrot Vintage, browse shelves containing industrial typewriters, kitchen items, console radios, and more.

Whether you’re an antique enthusiast or looking for a cute trinket to bring home, you won't leave Foxtrot Vintage empty-handed!

Stroll around Gresham Arts Plaza

Paved trails at Gresham Arts Plaza
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Also known as the Arts Plaza or Center for the Arts Plaza, the Gresham Arts Plaza is an open-air venue and public plaza.

Strategically located at the heart of Historic Downtown Gresham, the park has several amenities perfect for a mid-day hang out.

It also has a children’s fountain splash pad and an expansive lawn for concerts and other events.

Art enthusiasts will also love checking out the art displays and installations at Gresham Arts Plaza.

One of the park's highlights is the Fine Tuned Tulle, a large installation with pillars representing the four aspects of art.

The grounds of Gresham Arts Plaza
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Learn Local History at Gresham History Museum

Exterior of the Gresham History Museum
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Gresham History Museum is a local museum operated by the Gresham Historical Society dedicated to preserving the city’s history.

The museum is housed in a charming English Tudor Revival building in Historic Downtown Gresham.

It offers various resources for those researching Gresham’s history and genealogy of the residents and other exhibits and artifacts detailing the city’s history.

Best of all, the museum has free admission, so it’s one of the must-do activities for budget travelers and history enthusiasts.

Discover the history and heritage of this beautiful city on a tour of the Gresham History Museum.

Join the Spirit of Gresham

If you’re spending the Yuletide season in Gresham, don’t miss the Spirit of Gresham events.

Given Gresham’s old-town charm and friendly locals, holiday celebrations are a big event in the city and are a must, especially for first-time visitors.

The Spirit of Gresham celebrations start with a holiday light cruise through historic downtown Gresham and end around Gresham Arts Plaza.

Then, the whole city gathers at the plaza for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, officially ringing in the holiday season.

Enjoy complimentary refreshments and live music, and take photos with Santa after the ceremony.

Visit Red Sunset Park

A water fountain at Red Sunset Park
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Head to Red Sunset Park near NE Hogan Drive for a relaxing afternoon with the family.

The community park offers 14.2 acres of green spaces and amenities like a basketball court, soccer field, softball field, and a children’s playground.

With barbecue grills, picnic tables, a gazebo, and picnic shelters, the park is also perfect for having picnics and small parties.

Red Sunset Park is wheelchair-accessible, so you can safely bring your relatives with limited mobility to enjoy the park’s natural surroundings.

The park has a 0.67-mile walking and jogging path around the perimeter for those who want to stay active.

The grounds of Red Sunset Park
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Tour the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park

Main house at the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park
Finetooth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For a dose of history, take a tour of the Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park, a 5.98-acre park that used to be a part of the 600-acre Zimmerman Dairy Farm.

The Zimmerman family is one of the founding families of Fairview, Oregon, and resided in the estate before it became a museum several years later.

It’s also one of the buildings in Gresham listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places because of its historical and cultural significance.

Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park is a perfect example of a typical 1900 turn-of-the-century dairy farm along the Columbia River.

Learn more about the Zimmerman family and the history of the dairy farm on a tour of the property.

Have Drinks at the Hoppy Brewer

After a busy day exploring Gresham’s parks and historical sites, nothing feels better than having an ice-cold beer.

If you’re looking for a place to unwind, head to The Hoppy Brewer, a local beer hall at the heart of Historic Downtown Gresham.

They offer 28 rotating craft beers on tap, including an impressive selection of local, national, and international beer bottles.

The Hoppy Brewer also holds live music shows and tasting events for those who want to socialize and learn about local beers.

Those who want to try brewing their beers at home can also purchase homebrewing supplies and equipment like barley, kegs, and beer recipe books.

Unwind at Oxbow Regional Park

Hikers at Oxbow Regional Park
Michelle Baumbach / Shutterstock.com

Surround yourself with pristine nature views at Oxbow Regional Park.

The park sits along the Sandy River, making it a favorite among outdoor lovers and those who enjoy water activities.

It also offers 12 miles of multipurpose trails around the river’s terraces and ridges between the bends.

Waters at Oxbow Regional Park
Michelle Baumbach / Shutterstock.com

Oxbow Regional Park is also one of the few parks with one of the closest old-growth forests in the state.

Some activities at the park include boating, kayaking, wildlife spotting, and picnicking.

Camping is also available for those who’d like to make the most of their stay in the park.

Enjoy Downtime at Bella Vista Park

Fall trees at Bella Vista Park
Rigucci / Shutterstock.com

Bella Vista Park is a small park in a quiet residential area in Gresham, spanning eight acres.

It has facilities like walking and jogging paths, a children’s playground, picnic tables, a drinking fountain, and a wide field where you can play frisbee or soccer.

Sports lovers can play basketball at the half-basketball court.

Take a break from your busy routine and hang out at Bella Vista Park, going on short nature walks or having a relaxing picnic with the family.

Since the park is surrounded by plenty of trees and greenery, it becomes a charming sight in autumn as the leaves turn into bright shades of yellow, gold, and red.

Catch Sweeping Views of the Mountains from Hogan Butte Nature Park

Hogan Butte Nature Park is one of Gresham’s relatively new parks and is one of the most popular for a good reason.

Perched 930 feet above the ground, visitors will see panoramic views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, Mr. St. Helens, and the Columbia River Gorge.

The park is unique because it’s one of the few places in the country to have extinct volcanoes within its boundaries.

Aside from its vantage points, Hogan Butte Nature Park offers a half-mile paved trail where visitors can learn more about the park and its origins.

As you walk along its trails, look for flora and fauna such as red-tailed hawks, bobcats, Oregon grapes, salmonberry, sword ferns, and more.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Marvel at the Views from the Vista House

Exterior of the Vista House
TFoxFoto / Shutterstock.com

Enjoy sweeping views of the Columbia River and surrounding mountains from the Vista House in Corbett, Oregon.

Located 20 minutes from Gresham, the museum is a frequent rest stop for travelers along the Historic Columbia River Highway.

The octagonal structure’s Art Deco and Art Nouveau architecture provide a dramatic subject perfect for photos.

Overlook of the Vista House
Andriana Syvanych / Shutterstock.com

Visit the Vista House, see the exhibits at the museum, and soak up the breathtaking views of the Columbia River and the Columbia River Gorge.

Depending on the season, you can also view the stunning Northern Lights display at the observatory and museum.

This place is 22 minutes from Gresham.

Far view of the Vista House
Structured Vision / Shutterstock.com

Spend the Day at Blue Lake Regional Park

The waters of Blue Lake Regional Park
Finetooth, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

From Gresham, take a ten-minute drive to Fairview, Oregon, and enjoy the amenities and green spaces at Blue Lake Regional Park.

This public park has over 100 acres where visitors can explore, play, fish, swim, and enjoy various outdoor activities.

Blue Lake Regional Park also has a natural discovery garden where people can learn more about the importance of gardening and how it can protect lakes and other natural wonders.

Explore the park on a day tour and go fishing, disc golf, volleyball, or basketball.

Those who’d like to relax may do so along the shoreline or enjoy a stroll along the trails.

Take a Day Trip to Dabney State Recreation Area

A river at Dabney State Recreation Area
Ian Poellet, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Are you looking for a change of scenery?

Relax and spend the day at Dabney State Recreation Area in Corbett, 12 minutes from Gresham.

The park is popular for waterside activities like fishing, swimming, and boating along the Sandy River.

In summer, tourists frequent Dabney State Recreation Area to escape the heat and dip in its cool waters.

Aside from swimming, visitors can picnic under the shade or go on a nature walk.

The recreation area also has an 18-hole disc golf course, one of the most challenging courses.

Marvel at the Multnomah Falls

Scenic view of the Multnomah Falls
Freebilly Photography / Shutterstock.com

If you’re up for a long road trip, take a 25-minute drive from Gresham to the gorgeous Multnomah Falls between Corbett and Dodson, Oregon.

This breathtaking waterfall rises 611 feet and attracts millions of visitors annually.

Experience the beauty of nature as you go on a hike to reach the viewing area of Multnomah Falls.

Then, enjoy the awe-inspiring views of the waters rushing down.

People on the Multnomah Falls' footbridge
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

For better views of the falls, follow the paved trail leading to Benson Bridge, where you can see the first tier’s 542-foot drop and a better look at the second tier’s drop.

There are three trails to get to the falls.

Each path offers different views, including the Colombia Gorge, Mount Hood, and other famous waterfalls.

People admiring the Multnomah Falls
Bob Pool / Shutterstock.com

Final Thoughts

Not only is Gresham Oregon’s fourth-largest city, but it’s also one of the most charming cities in the state.

Historical places like Downtown Gresham and Zimmerman Heritage Farm Park offer a glimpse into the city’s heritage.

Meanwhile, parks like Hogan Butte Nature Park and Main City Park provide a refreshing change of scenery.

Let this list of the best things to do in Gresham, Oregon, help you plan a vacation to remember!

Spotted a mistake, have some feedback, or just want to chat with our editorial team? Click here to get in touch.
Find out more about Travel Lens and read our editorial guidelines here.