When artists from Suzhou set about creating a Chinese garden in Portland, they immediately knew their inspiration: the Ming Dynasty. Like the dynasty's gardens,
Lan Su Chinese Garden was designed as a natural escape from the everyday world. In addition to the verdant plant life, the grounds overflow with pavilions, courtyards, and studies where guests can take in the sights, meditate, write a poem, or guard the garden's bamboo from devious pandas masquerading as groundskeepers. Lan Su showcases hundreds of China’s 30,000-plus plant species, including 90 specimen trees. Beneath those sprout collections of magnolias, camellias, and rhododendrons, to name a few.
Though browsing the garden could take up an entire day, Lan Su offers plenty of other soothing activities, as well. At the teahouse, snacks and sweets accompany traditional presentations of organic, fair-trade teas, whose flavors change to reflect each season in the garden. The space’s other events range from lectures on acupuncture to games of mahjong.
In 1976, Joan Barnes—a Californian mom frustrated with the lack of spaces where she could take her kids for safe and age-appropriate play time—took matters into her own hands and founded Gymboree Play and Music. In the decades since Gymboree’s founding, Joan’s vision of a safe place where youngsters could build confidence and creativity has come to fruition and spread to 30 countries around the globe. Staffed by attentive and expertly trained instructors, each Gymboree outpost adheres to a curriculum of activities designed by experts to foster the development of children’s’ cognitive, physical, and social skills through structured play and close readings of Goodnight Moon. The staffers also conduct entertaining classes that cover subjects ranging from music to sports, imparting valuable lessons of imagination and physical activity to developing minds. To further set apart her business, Barnes employed nationally renowned playground designer Jay Beck to design the proprietary play equipment at her centers.
One of just 23 TaylorMade Performance Labs in the world, the location at Columbia Edgewater Country Club uses modern swing technology to gather data about golfers’ games, resulting in club recommendations that are uniquely suited to each player. A certified TaylorMade Club-Fitting Professional guides athletes through the entire experience. While the client swings inside a golf simulator, the pro helms the Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade, an apparatus comprised of six high-speed cameras. These cameras turn the golfer into a three-dimensional digital rendering, similar to the process used by video-game developers and James Cameron whenever he searches for a spouse.
Whether a customer opts for fitting with all 14 clubs in his or her bag or a single category—such as irons, woods, putters, or wedges—the technology captures their mechanics down to a tenth of a degree, revealing optimal club parameters ranging from loft angle to shaft flex.
For 30 years, The Bite of Oregon has rolled out its tents, tables, and stages every summer for a multiday celebration of the state?s food, culture, and residents. Attendees raise their forks to the idea that ?Life Tastes Better Here,? a mantra the festival lives up to by offering a culinary bounty crafted by some of Oregon?s most talented chefs. From small plates to full meals, vendors distribute their creations and, in between bites, regional wines and craft beers splash both new and familiar flavors across palates. As visitors wine and dine, local and national bands provide the soundtrack from multiple stages.
Demonstrating its respect for the community, The Bite of Oregon strives to be a Zero Waste event, each year producing less waste by lining its grounds with recycling stations and hiring unemployed goats to eat everyone?s napkins.
It's hard to believe that Portland ever lacked a dearth of quality paddle outfitters, considering the many evergreen-lined rivers and nearby coastline. But back in 1986, the founders of Alder Creek Kayak & Canoe felt there were too few options serving the area, so they launched their own garage shop. Their passion for the outdoors and paddle sports steadily built the company, and today, a staff of equipment experts advises guests on kayaking, canoeing, standup-paddleboarding, and rafting supplies. Beyond selling gear from vessels to apparel, staffers lead on-the-water classes and organize group trips. The shop also outfits customers for independent exploration with a fleet of rentals.
Farber Swim School’s instructors specialize in helping swimmers overcome their fear of water. One way they do this is by heating their 16-yard pool to 90 degrees, which helps to eliminate the initial shock of touching the water. Once students feel comfortable, the instructors—who are all lifeguards, competitive swimmers, or actual fish—begin their lessons, which range depending on the students’ needs. For instance, Baby & Me classes introduce youngsters to aquatic activity in the pool’s 3-foot shallow end, while more advanced students tread in the pool’s 8-foot deep end. Surrounding the four-lane pool, you’ll find locker rooms, a sun deck, and a hot tub that’s heated to 100 degrees.