The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, commonly referred to as the Grotto (NE 85th Ave. and NE Sandy Blvd., 503/254-7371, 9 a.m.–dusk daily, free), is a Catholic shrine whose hand-hewn cavern surrounded by lushly landscaped grounds can induce a profound sense of peace no matter what your spirituality is.
Within the ivy-covered fern-lined grotto is an impressive marble pietà. Outside the 30- by 50-foot enclosure, old-growth firs tower over the 110-foot cliff housing the shrine. Roses, camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas, and a cliff-side view of the Columbia River also make this worth the 20-minute pilgrimage from downtown Portland .
The Grotto is especially impressive to visit in the Christmas holiday season, when thousands of lights adorn the trees.