The Willamette River divides the city of Portland into east and west sides. Spanning this river are numerous bridges, including the Fremont Bridge, the Hawthorne Bridge, and the Steel Bridge. The architecture of the bridges is very impressive. This is especially true when a tall ship comes down the river and the middle sections rise up to let the boats pass. A nice walk begins on the west side of the river.
Start at the far end by Market Street, where you will find a strip of shops. There are art shops, boating shops, an ice-cream shop, restaurants, and even a knitting shop here. Continue your walk past the shops to Tom McCall Waterfront Park (SW Harrison to NW Glisan). This park covers 22 blocks along the beautiful waterfront. Take your time along this section, stopping to enjoy the Salmon Street Springs Fountain and take a seat to watch the boats sail down the river. Children like to play in the fountain (and they are welcome to), so if you have kids this is a nice place to go. In the summer months, festivals take place here, including the Rose Festival and the Oregon Brew Fest (see my other entries for more information).
Walk across the Steel Bridge at this point to tour the east side of the river. The east side of the waterfront is nice for walking because there are not many people on the east side. The west side (being closer to the action) can get a little crowded at certain times of year, but the east side promises solitude. There are many benches and piers on the east side, as well as a paved path to walk down by the river. After you have enjoyed some quiet time on the east side, cross the Hawthorne Bridge at the far end of the path and head back to the west side. This will bring you back to your starting point. This route is also great for biking. In addition, there are many rollerbladers and skateboarders along the paved sections on the west side. The east side is also paved and good for these activities, although not many people take advantage of this section.