Choosing a Portland Neighborhood: A Moms Guide to Far West

Having grown up in rural Clackamas County, living for a few years in Multnomah County, and then spending the last twelve years in western Washington County, I have to say that the far west is my favorite part of Portland. The nearby coastal wilderness, closer proximity to the beach, and the diversity of small towns just a short drive from the big city are just a few of my favorite things of living in far west Portland!

Western Washington County is made up of several municipalities including Hillsboro, Cornelius, Forest Grove, North Plains, Banks, and Gaston. While the commute is a bit longer from west Portland, the homes are just a little cheaper to rent or buy, yards are larger, class sizes are a bit smaller, and life is often a little slower. To me, this makes living a little ways outside of ‘Portland proper’ well worth it! I love that living in a small town makes it easier to develop relationships and build a stronger community, but we also don’t lack in culture when it comes to an array of activities, festivals, and places to eat and drink. I hope you’ll come out farther west to visit sometime, and see what I mean!

west portland

Schools

The mighty Hillsboro School District includes a whopping 42 elementary, middle, and high schools with boundary lines stretching from NW 185th (Tanasbourne) to the city of North Plains.

Forest Grove School District consists of Dilley Elementary SchoolFern Hill Elementary SchoolHarvey Clarke Elementary SchoolJoseph Gale Elementary School, and Tom McCall Upper Elementary School. FGSD also includes the city of Cornelius schools Cornelius Elementary School, Echo Shaw Elementary SchoolNeil Armstrong Middle School, and all flood into the Forest Grove High School.

The tiny towns of Banks and Gaston hold their own in far west Portland, with their own school districts and single elementary, middle, and high schools. Gaston even combines their junior/senior high into one school! (Aww, so cute!)

There is also a wide variety of online, charter, and private schools in far west Portland, including the Forest Grove Community School, St. Francis, Swallowtail Montessori, Forest Hills Lutheran, Westside Christian, Pioneer Heritage Academy, and Visitation Catholic School

Parks and Outdoor Spaceswest portland

Hillsboro Parks and Recreation has a plethora of parks, playgrounds, sports fields, recreational programs, and facilities from the Jackson Bottom Wetlands Preserve to the Walters Cultural Arts Center, and the Shute Park Aquatic and Recreation Center, there is more than enough to keep you busy here in west Portland, rain or shine!

Forest Grove has eleven parks each offering a different experience for your family, Fernhill Wetlands with beautiful natural walking paths, an aquatic center, and even the B Street Trail and Farm which makes you feel like you’re in the woods right in the middle of a suburban neighborhood!

Farther out, for you nature-lovers, Henry Hagg Lake and Scoggins Valley recreation area are the best well-kept secrets for outdoor and water fun in west Portland. And don’t forget about the 1,800 acres of rolling hills, forest glades, gleaming streams, and wildflowers for picnics, camping, and hiking at L.L. Stub Stewart or on the 21 miles of hiking, bicycling, and even horse trails on the Banks-Vernonia State Trail!

Food and Beverages

Heading just a little west of Portland does not mean you have to sacrifice on eats and drinks. We pride ourselves on smaller, locally-owned and operated breweries, wineries, and culinary hot spots that can rival even the big city, five-star boys!

Hillsboro/Cornelius: too much to list, so we just included the best!

Forest Grove: A small town with an international cuisine

North Plains/Banks: try these places the next time you’re on your way to/from the coast!

Gaston: The gateway to wine country!

Entertainment and Events

West Portland towns may be smaller, but with so many close-in communities, there is so much to do all year round! From Hillsboro and Forest Grove Farmer’s Markets starting in the spring, and wrapping up the year with holiday fun, these are our favorite small-town events:

What is your favorite thing to do when you head to west Portland? 

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