Waterfront: Tilikum Crossing to Hawthorne Bridge

Tom McCall Waterfront Park
People line up at Tom McCall Waterfront Park for the Waterfront Blue Festival and Fourth of July fireworks. Next Blues Festival: July 4-7, 2019

Walk Description

After getting off the streetcar, you’ll walk across the Tilikum Crossing, giving you a glimpse of the Heritage Rail Museum, OMSI, the U.S.S. Blueback submarine, the Hawthorne Bridge and a thrum of bikes, people, trains, buses, and streetcars.

Getting There

From Pioneer Courthouse Square — or your hotel — walk to 11th Avenue and Taylor Street to catch either the “B” or “NS” Streetcar lines to the Tilikum Crossing (Moody & Meade stop). Exit the streetcar and walk to the Tilikum Bridge.

Follow this route:

  1. The Tilikum Crossing
  2. The Railway Heritage Museum (east end of Tilikum)
  3. OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
  4. U.S.S. Blueback WWII submarine (tour tickets in OMSI)
  5. Hawthorne Bridge
  6. Tom McCall Waterfront Park

On the Walk

Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Portland waterfront
Maritime Museum
Maritime Museum
Tilikum Crossing
Tilikum Crossing

The Willamette River bisects Portland on its way to meet the Columbia River, and over a dozen bridges cross the river in town. The waterfront is very walkable on both sides of the river. This walk takes you across the Tilikum Crossing (Portland’s newest bridge) and the Hawthorne Bridge, covering Tom McCall Park, OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – See Best of Portland for Kids – OMSI).

Hood River Brewing
Hood River Brewing Co.

If you need a break (coffee or food) at you set out on this mini-adventure, you’ve got a couple of good choices: at the west end of the Tilikum (near where you get off), you’ll find Elephant Deli and Starbucks. On the other side of the bridge is a newcomer, Hood River Brewing Company (pizza and on-tap beers) or the cafeteria at OMSI (pronounced OM-ZEE), the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry.

The Tilikum Crossing, the newest of Portland Bridges across the Willamette River, is one of the most beautiful. The structure itself is a marvel in engineering, but honestly, it is just nice to look at: white strands stretching into the sky (lighted at night) while pedestrians, bicyclists, streetcars, buses, and trains make their way across (NO CARS ALLOWED). This is all caps because walking on a car-free bridge is part of its beauty. Caveat: keep an eye out for cyclists who must stay on a painted bike path. Still, when you are gazing through your smartphone at all the angles and shadows that will make a great photograph, it’s easy to wander from the pedestrian path. Enjoy, but be mindful.

Tilikum Bike Rentals
Biketown and Lime e-bike rentals at the Tilikum
Jetboat Tour
Jetboat dock near OMSI

Note: you can rent Biketown bikes located next to Starbucks at the end west end of the Tilikum Crossing. Download the Biketown App, then use the App to pay and go. Next to the self-propelling Biketown bikes are new Lime electric bike rentals ($5 for 100 rides).

After crossing the Tilikum, following the path around to the left back toward the river and walk toward OMSI. Out front is the propeller for one of America’s last diesel-powered submarines, the U.S.S. Blueback. The Blueback is tied up in the river and is open for tours (tickets sold inside the OMSI). Also launching from the Blueback mooring during the summer are the jetboat tour boats.

The OMSI offers permanent hands-0n and rotating exhibits, as well as the MAX Theater with several offering daily. This is very kid-friendly and could keep the family busy for hours.

Just past the OMSI is a vendor who rents bikes, a good way to get exercise and see the signs along the waterfront.

Tom McCall Park
Tom McCall Park is the site of many annual festivals.

A pedestrian walkway on the Hawthorne Bridge will take you back across the Willamette River toward the City Center. At the bridge end, walk down into the park (Tom McCall Park, site of many animals festivals). About a quarter of a mile after you get off the bridge, you’ll find a dozen coffee shops and restaurants.

You’ll finish you walk near the Moody and Riverplace Parkway streetcar stop. From here, you can catch the “A” or “NS” Streetcar lines back to the City Center and Pioneer Square.

If you want a longer walk, turn right after you cross the Hawthorne Bridge and walk down the waterfront promenade north. Ahead are more photo opportunities, public art, and the maritime museum.