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When referring to the sizes of parks, we often talk in acres or even square miles. However, in regards to the world’s smallest park, it’s measured in square inches.
Many people want to visit and experience the “world’s largest” of everything. But on the other hand, seeing the smallest can also be a unique adventure.
Today, we’re talking about the world’s smallest park. Is it worth visiting? Let’s see!
What Is Considered a Park?
A park is a broad term used to describe a public recreational area. As you’ll soon see, they can vary in size and features. However, they typically have open spaces, natural elements, and recreational facilities that emphasize the importance of conservation.
Generally, an authority manages, cares for, and protects the facilities, natural features, and infrastructure.
You’ve likely visited a county, city, state, or national park. These are just a handful of the types of parks that are available. Each has its own rules and regulations and intended purposes. However, they’re generally public-use spaces for all to enjoy.
Where Is the World’s Smallest Park?
The world’s smallest park is Mill Ends Park in Portland, Oregon. While some parks brag about their massive size, it’s quite the opposite for Mill Ends Park. That’s because the park measures a measly 452 square inches. Yes, you read that correctly — square inches.
Portland Parks & Recreation Department maintains the park. Despite its tiny size, it receives the same care and protection as any other park throughout the City of Roses.
Many find the park to be quirky and creative, which is a perfect reflection of the unique character of Portland, Oregon.
About Mill Ends Park
Mill Ends Park is a one-tree park in the middle of a median strip in downtown Portland, Oregon. In terms of acreage, it’s a measly 0.00007205784 acres. The Guinness Book of Records honored it as the world’s smallest park in 1971.
The park results from Dick Fagan noticing a small piece of open land in the median outside his office. The city had plans to place a light pole there, but for one reason or another, the light never showed. Fagan decided to take action and use the space to create the world’s smallest park. They dedicated it as a park in 1948.
Fagan was a journalist with the Oregon Journal. He used his skills as a writer to create stories that took place within the park. If you didn’t know better, you’d believe they were true. The legend of the park grew until Fagan died in 1969. However, in 1976, it became a city park and would be the home of St. Patrick’s Day festivities.
Over the years, the park has had to relocate temporarily. However, in December 2021, the city moved the park to a new location. The city installed bike and sidewalk improvements, which required moving it six inches west of its previous location.
Things to Do Near Mill Ends Park
While it won’t take long to explore Mill Ends Park, there are plenty of other things to do in the area. Here are several suggestions that you can use to create the perfect day of exploring and sightseeing around Mill Ends Park.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Just a seven-minute walk from Mill Ends Park is Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This more than 30-acre park is a fun place to be, especially during the summer. Kids can splash in Salmon Street Springs, and you can learn about the important maritime history of Portland.
In addition to a splash area for kids, you’ll find restaurants, shops, and plenty of spots to sit and watch boat traffic. There’s also the Japanese American Historical Plaza on the park’s north end, a memorial to the more than 120,000 Japanese Americans who spent World War II in internment camps.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Only half a mile northwest of Mill Ends Park is Pioneer Courthouse Square. Many have dubbed This lively place “Portland’s Living Room.” It’s become a gathering place as it hosts many events. Something is always going on in the square.
It’s become a safe place for locals and visitors to intermingle. You’ll frequently see concerts, movie screenings, food festivals, and more. Check the event schedule and see what’s happening while you’re in town!
Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market claims to be the country’s largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market. It’s approximately half a mile directly north of the city park. You can follow the Waterfront Park Trail along the river and enter the market.
Once you arrive at the market, you’ll find more than 150 booths from a variety of vendors. It has operated since 1974 and has a large membership of more than 300 artisans. If you visit from March to December, plan a trip to this open-air marketplace to grab a bite to eat or pick up some unique artwork.
Keep in Mind: Are the National Parks in Oregon Worth Visiting? Let’s dive in!
Oregon Maritime Museum
On your way to the Portland Saturday Market, take the time to stop at the Oregon Maritime Museum. The museum sits on a 1947 steam-powered tugboat. Visitors get a peek into the era of traveling the waters by steamboat.
The museum regularly hosts educational exhibits highlighting the history and the changes in navigation and technology. Take your time to appreciate the artifacts, photographs, documents, and various displays.
While volunteers may almost entirely run the museum, they’re passionate about sharing it with others. So make sure you ask any questions you might have.
Portland Spirit River Cruises
After seeing the world’s smallest park, why not discover the rest of the city? Portland Spirit River Cruises operates four boats that provide year-round dining and sightseeing adventures. If you’ve seen all that Portland has to offer, try one of these cruises.
These two-hour cruises provide a Northwest cuisine that chefs prepare on board during the experience. They offer brunch, lunch, and dinner options, so find one that fits your schedule and make a reservation. Let the Model C-18 diesel engine power you along the water as you take in Portland’s sights, sounds, and tastes.
Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum was established in 1892, making it one of the oldest art institutions on the West Coast. However, over the last 130 years, the museum has grown tremendously.
Art enthusiasts will enjoy collections of European, American, and Asian art and so much more. With more than 112,000 square feet, it’s one of the top museums in the entire country.
Keep in Mind: If you’re in the Boston area, you’ll want to add this museum to your itinerary. This unique museum celebrates bad art!
Powell’s City of Books
If you enjoy the smell of old books, you’ll want to take advantage of Powell’s City of Books. It’s often referred to as the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore. This store covers an entire city block and has an enormous collection. However, it’s more than just a bookstore.
The store was opened in 1971 by Walter Powell. At the time, it was just over 1,000 square feet. However, more than 50 years later, it is now more than 68,000 square feet and has approximately 1.6 acres of retail space. Due to its size and popularity, people flock to it for author events, the rare book room, and a cup of coffee at the coffee shop.
Is Visiting the World’s Smallest Park Worth It?
It’s not every day you get to visit the world’s smallest anything. Seeing the world’s smallest park can be a fun and quirky way to experience a city that takes pride in its weirdness.
Since it’s convenient and doesn’t take much time, we suggest you stop at Mill Ends Park the next time you’re in town.
Have you experienced the world’s smallest park?