Nestled in the heart of Vancouver, Washington, you’ll find Esther Short Park—a vibrant oasis that seamlessly weaves together history and modern city life. Dating all the way back to 1853, this park holds the esteemed title of being the oldest public park in the state. Spanning an impressive five square blocks, Esther Short Park serves as the social hub of the city, attracting visitors with its rich heritage and lively atmosphere.

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This urban green space is teeming with life, playing host to a wide range of community events that bring people together. From bustling farmers’ markets to captivating outdoor concerts, there’s always something happening in this iconic park. As you explore the grounds, you’ll stumble upon the historic Slocum House—a stunning Victorian-era building that adds a touch of old-world charm to the park’s modern setting.

No visit to Esther Short Park would be complete without witnessing the Salmon Run Bell Tower—an iconic feature that stands tall at 69 feet. Every hour, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., this magnificent structure comes alive with a Glockenspiel show. As the bells chime, intricately carved wooden figures representing key moments in Vancouver’s history emerge, captivating park-goers with a delightful spectacle.

Families with children flock to the park’s state-of-the-art playground, which offers an array of activities suitable for kids of all ages. This expansive play area not only keeps children engaged and active, but also promotes imaginative play by incorporating natural elements. It’s the perfect spot for little ones to connect with nature while having a blast.

If you’re in need of a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life, look no further than Esther Short Park’s beautifully landscaped gardens. The park’s centerpiece is a breathtaking rose garden, surrounded by winding pathways that meander through lush lawns and majestic trees. It’s the ideal setting for picnicking, leisurely strolls, or simply soaking up the sun’s rays. Throughout the year, seasonal flower beds add vibrant splashes of color, adding to the park’s allure.

But perhaps the most awe-inspiring feature of Esther Short Park is its water feature—a cascading two-tiered waterfall and pond. This captivating structure, adorned with interpretive salmon art, pays homage to the Columbia River and the incredible journey of the salmon. It serves as a reminder of the deep connection between the area and its natural surroundings.

As the starting point of the Waterfront Renaissance Trail, a scenic five-mile path tracing the Columbia River, Esther Short Park offers breathtaking views and a seamless connection between downtown and the historic waterfront. It’s not just a park—it’s a testament to the community spirit of Vancouver. From the laughter of children at the playground to the tranquility of the gardens, from the charm of historical features to the vibrant energy of community events, Esther Short Park has something for everyone. It’s a place that honors the past, embraces the present, and looks forward to a bright future.

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