Portland Classical Chinese Garden
Plenty of passersby walk by this tranquil sanctuary (which was built in 2000 atop a parking lot) without even noticing it’s there; one doesn’t expect to find a garden amid the concrete and bustle of Old Town. But this is one of the largest Suzhou-inspired gardens outside of China, covering a full city block. It is one of the city’s true marvels, designed around the five elements of Chinese gardens: stone, water, art and architecture, literary scripts, and plants. A central lake here is surrounded by walking paths, which meander among rocks inscribed with Chinese verse, ornate pavilions, and lush flowering plants indigenous to China (including bamboo, osmanthus, and rhododendron). You can explore at your own pace or take the free, guided tour given daily at noon and 1 p.m.
Tip: Take a break from your garden stroll and sip a cup of white peony or pine-smoked black tea in the two-story Tower of Cosmic Reflections, a magnificent teahouse furnished with antiques from the Ming Dynasty and operated by Portland’s oldest teahouse, The Tao of Tea.