Field Trips

AESS conference field trips offer attendees a chance to explore the local region.
In response to feedback, we are scheduling outings for Monday, July 10 to give ample opportunity for community building and engagement at the start of the event. 

There will also be post-event trips available for attendees who wish to continue exploring PDX July 13.

Forest Park Hike & Brew Pub Grub in NW

Forest Park is the largest park in any major U.S. and includes 5,200 acres of forested hiking and biking trails. Several of the more than 40 trailheads are easily accessible by public transit. The Leif Erikson Trail beginning at Northwest Leif Erikson Drive is considered “moderate” trail for hikers, runners, and bikers. The entire trail is 12 miles from start to finish (about 24 miles if you do the full “out and back”). We recommend that the group collectively decide on the amount of time to hike “out” to ensure everyone is comfortable with distance and that sufficient time is left to check out a pub or make it back for the early evening events at the Convention Center.

Cost to hike: Free
Cost of transit: $5
Sign up through AESS Registration.

Optional: Enjoy lunch or a post-hike beer at the McMenamins Tavern and Billiards at 1716 NW 23rd Ave, Portland, OR 97210

  • Starting at the Convention Center, take the 77 Bus Westbound to Montgomery Park
  • Exit at NW 23rd Ave and Thurman 
  • Walk south on 23rd Ave and then west on Thurman (about 300 ft) to the NW Thurman and 23rd Place
  • Board Bus 26 Westbound towards Thurman & Gordon
  • Exit at Thurman & Gordon (5 stops)
  • Walk west on Thurman (0.3 miles) to the Leif Erikson Trailhead

Explore Washington Park: Rose Garden & Hoyt Arboretum

On this trip, you’ll venture to Washington Park where you’ll explore the famous International Rose Test Garden featuring over 10,000 rose bushes of approximately 650 varieties and the Hoyt Arboretum with excellent views of the city and Mt. Hood along the way!

Public transit will get you to the park, then you’ll walk about 0.2 miles to the Rose Garden and another 1.1 miles to the Arboretum. Expect to walk up to 3-4 miles total on this field trip, or feel free to just relax at the Rose Garden and await the group’s return. 

Cost to enter the park/arboretum: Free
Cost of transit: $5
Sign up through AESS Registration.

Optional: Stop for lunch or a post-exploration drink:

More about Washington Park: 

  • Max Red Line to Blue Line, 36 min.
  • Between switching: lunch at the Goose Hollow Inn or The Leaky Roof Gastropub

Portland Japanese Garden at Washington Park

“The Garden sits nestled in the hills of Portland, Oregon’s iconic Washington Park, overlooking the city and providing a tranquil, urban oasis for locals and travelers alike. Designed in 1963, it encompasses 12 acres with eight separate garden styles, and includes an authentic Japanese Tea House, meandering streams, intimate walkways, and a spectacular view of Mt. Hood. This is a place to discard worldly thoughts and concerns and see oneself as a small but integral part of the universe. When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, visited Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be ‘the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.’” (

Cost to enter: $17.95 – $21.95 (
Cost of public transit: $5
Sign up through AESS Registration.

Optional: Enjoy traditional Japanese tea at the Umami Café (menu) (last seating at 3:30; cost not included in garden entrance fee)

Portland Brewery Tour

Calling all beer enthusiasts! Join this fun, relaxed tour of some of the best breweries in the city! As reported in the Portland Eater, “The Rose City continues to produce world-class beer in nearly every neighborhood around town, many breweries still garnering national recognition!” For this trip, we’ll take a short ride on the Max Redline (or a 0.7 mile walk, if you prefer) to the Wayfinder in upper Southeast Portland. From there, we’ll head to Ecliptic Brewing, Fracture Brewing and Taproom, Grand Fir Brewing (optional) and finally to Cascade Brewing before heading back to the Convention Center. For those who still want more, there is the option to check out the nearby Away Days Brewing and Baerlic Brewing!

Cost of transit: $5 (option to walk)
Sign up through AESS Registration.

Walking distance from Convention Center: 3 miles round trip
Walking distance if taking public transit to Wayfinder and back from Cascade Brewing: 1.1 miles
Walking distance with public transit to Wayfinder then walk to Baerlic: 1.8 miles 

a) Wayfinder – Cascade – walk from Convention Center

b) “Full” tour all the way to Baerlic

Lunch at Deschutes Brewery and Visit to Powell’s Books in the Pearl District

This trip starts with a short ride to lunch at the Deschutes Brewery and Pub, a restaurant known for great food and fantastic beer! Then, we’ll visit a true staple of Portland – Powell’s Bookstore – the largest new and used bookstore in the world! 

Deschutes Brewery and Public House: 

Powell’s Bookstore: 

Cost: whatever you spend on lunch and/or at the bookstore

  • Max Red Line to Blue Line, 36 min.
  • Between switching: lunch at the Goose Hollow Inn or The Leaky Roof Gastropub

Reservations, Rideshare, Meeting-up

Plan to make your own ticket purchases for all of the above field trips. Groups will be led by a volunteer who will coordinate the meet-up and help the group get to their destination and back to the OCC. Interested in helping and being the AESS field trip point of contact? Make sure to let us know when you sign up.

On-Your-Own Adventures Around Portland

If you are partaking in any of the below “on-your-own” field trips and would like to ride share/company, please make a post on our event forum to help connect with other participants.

“Founded in late 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. The Museum is internationally recognized for its permanent collection and ambitious special exhibitions, drawn from the Museum’s holdings and the world’s finest public and private collections” (PAM). 

The Special Exhibition during the AESS Conference is “Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinochio” (Jun 10 – Sep 17, 2023) 

Cost of Admission: 

  • General: $25
  • Seniors: $22
  • Students (college): $22
  • 17 & Under: Free

Hours: 10am-5pm Wednesday-Sunday (Closed Monday and Tuesday)

Public Transit options from the Convention Center:

  1. Walk towards the Northeast corner of the Convention center, then about 500 feet to NE MLK & Holladay
  • Take Bus number: 6 ($2.50)
  • Departure times: 1:03pm, 1:18pm, 
  1. Walk towards the Northeast corner of the Convention center, then about 300 feet to Convention Center MAX Station on Holladay just west of NE MLK
  • Board the MAX Red Line to City Center & Beaverton
  • Departure times: 1:13pm, 1:28pm (about every 15 minutes)
  • Exit at the Pioneer Square North MAX Station (10 min. ride)
  • Walk 0.4 miles (southwest) to the Art Museum

OMSI is a science and technology museum that is fun for all ages and features interactive exhibits, laser lights shows 3D movies and much more. “OMSI’s mission is to inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action.” Special exhibits during the AESS/ASLE Conferenc include “Wild Creativity” and “Orcas: Our Shared Future.” A highly recommended stop, particularly for those traveling with children and teens!

Open Tu-Su (Closed Mondays)

Cost: $11-16 

The Oregon Zoo, located in Washington Park near the International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, and Japanese Garden, is an easy destination on the MAX from the Convention Center or Downtown. At 64-acres – with newly renovated and expanded enclosures – includes forested trails that take you to see more than 2,500 animals. Plan ahead as tickets are limited per day, also check out “Zoo Nights!”

Cost: $19-$24 

July is the season for berries in the PNW! Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and marionberries should all be in-season (weather depending) in early to mid-July, and Sauvie Island is one of the most scenic and relaxing places to get them. Ride share or personal vehicle are the easiest ways to get there (no public transit available). Biking to or around the island is also a great time, but the roads are rather narrow so best for more experienced cyclists. 

Travel Portland says “[N]atural playgrounds don’t come much bigger than Sauvie Island — at 24,000 acres, the Manhattan-size isle is one of the largest river islands in the country and sits at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers just 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland. And from one end to the other, families can find an entire day’s worth of adventures; it’s a hot spot for fruits and veggies, as well as a paradise for bird-watchersbeach-goersbicyclists and kayakers.” (