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40 Fun & Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

40 Fun & Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

Looking for a unique and fun city to visit within the United States? We recommend none other than Portland, Oregon! Located in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest, Portland is known for its beautiful outdoor scenery and lively downtown area.

The unofficial motto of this quirky town is “Keep Portland Weird,” and it definitely lives up to this saying. There are unique things to do and see in every corner of Portland, from donut tours to a witch’s castle in the forest.

Nature lovers can indulge in the town’s beautiful Forest Park or take a boat ride along the scenic Columbia River. The stunning Oregon coast is also just a few hours away and makes a perfect day trip for those looking to escape the city for a few hours.

So, what are you waiting for? Portland is eager to welcome you with warm hospitality and endless tourist attractions. We’ve compiled a list of our favorite places to visit in Portland that deserve a spot on your Portland itinerary, too.

Portland Underground Donut Tour
1. Portland: Underground Donut Tour Top Recommendation

Portland's Underground Donut Tour is the perfect way to explore the City of Roses and discover some of the best donuts in town. On this tour, you'll sample four of the top donut shops near Portland State University, Pioneer Square, and downtown. You'll also get to meet other donut lovers and learn more about Portland's food culture. This is a great way to spend an afternoon in Portland!

Columbia River Gorge Sightseeing Cruise
2. 1-Hour Columbia River Gorge Sightseeing Cruise

Cruise along the Columbia River Gorge and take in the stunning scenery of this natural wonder. The 1-hour sightseeing cruise takes you under the historic Bridge of the Gods and past sights such as the Bonneville Dam and Native American fishing platforms. Enjoy a drink or snack from the on-board concession stand as you listen to the captain's narration about the history and formation of the gorge.

Portland Eastside Craft Brewery Walking Tour
3. Portland: Eastside Craft Brewery Walking Tour

Welcome to the Portland: Eastside Craft Brewery Walking Tour! This is your chance to walk through Portland's craft brewery scene and sample some of the best beer in America. The tour will take you through the inner Eastside neighborhood, where you'll learn about the origins and future of craft beer in Rose City. You'll also get to taste beer in many different styles, from traditional IPAs to innovative new flavors.

TLDR:

  • Most significant landmark – Willamette River
  • Best park – Forest Park
  • Best free activity – Washington Park
  • Best activity for kids – Oregon Zoo
  • Best activity for adultsCraft Brewery Walking Tour
  • Best food – Pine Street Markettou
  • Best nightlife – Wayfinder Beer
  • Best all-around accommodationMoxy Portland Downtown

Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

If you’re looking for the top things to do in Portland, look no further! We’ve got you covered with our list of the 40 best things to see in Portland and nearby.

1. Oregon Zoo

Elephant in Oregon Zoo'

Address: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221

The Oregon Zoo is one of the top attractions in the entire Pacific Northwest. It spans over 64 acres and is located right in the city of Portland. It’s one of the best things to do in Portland with kids, and the whole family is sure to enjoy visiting, too!

The zoo is home to over 1,800 animals of more than 230 species! The stunning wildlife is arranged into five different areas based on their natural continents and ecosystems. These areas include the Great Northwest, Elephant Lands, Africa, Primate Forest, and Discovery Zone. Within each area, you’ll find smaller habitats and exhibits based on the animals’ habitats in the wild.

Kids will love visiting the Pacific Shores area, which includes animals that can be found in the Pacific Northwest, like harbor seals and sea otters, along with other magnificent beauties like polar bears and penguins.

One of the most fun things to do at the Oregon Zoo is to ride the historic Washington Park and Zoo Railway. The ride lasts just six minutes but offers visitors stunning views of the zoo and Washington Park thanks to the 20-foot high trestle it sits on.

The zoo is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm and on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm. Tickets must be purchased online in advance and can be reserved up to 10 days before your visit.

This sleek townhome is the perfect place to stay in Portland if you’re traveling with your family but still want to be in the city center. The highly-rated two-level townhome has a modern industrial aesthetic and features two bedrooms and a lovely outdoor patio.

See Related: Amazing Resorts & Hotels With Animals On-Site

2. Willamette River

Willamette River

The Willamette River is the main tributary stemming from the Columbia River. It spans over 187 miles from Portland down to Eugene and is one of the largest rivers by volume within the United States.

The river is a great place for outdoor activities like swimming, kayaking, walking, and biking. The list is really endless with this one. The best thing about visiting the Willamette River is that you can make it as cheap or expensive as you’d like.

One of the best cheap things to do in Portland is to swim in the Willamette River. The water quality in the section of the Willamette that flows through Portland is checked daily and is almost always okay for swimming, but make sure to check before you dive in.

One of our favorite spots for swimming in the Willamette River is Cathedral Park, located in northeast Portland. You can also check out George Rogers Park, which is just a few minutes away from Portland, and another great swimming spot on the river.

If you’re feeling bougie, you have to check out this Champagne brunch cruise along the Willamette. Seriously, is there anything better than brunch, champagne, and boat cruises? I don’t think so. This brunch cruise lasts two hours, and vegan and gluten-free meal options are available.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Eugene, Oregon

3. Portland Art Museum

Portland Art Museum Building

Address: 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205

The lovely Portland Art Museum first opened its doors in 1892, making it the seventh-oldest art museum in the United States. Today, the museum’s vast permanent collection includes over 50,000 objects and works of art. The museum is located right in the city center, making it a convenient stop to add to your “Portland things to do” list.

The three most prolific collections at the museum are Native American artwork, English silver, and graphic art. While the permanent collection makes up 90 percent of the artwork displayed in the Portland Art Museum, you can always find new and interesting temporary exhibits throughout the year.

One of my favorite things to do while visiting an art museum in a new city is to check out the local art. It’s something that always gives you a fresh perspective of the place you’re visiting.

The Northwest Art exhibit is located in the Hoffmann wing of the main building in the museum. It includes art from the late 1800s to the present day in all sorts of mediums, including sculptures, paintings, drawings, and photography.

The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, and tickets can be purchased online or in person.

The nearby Heathman Hotel perfectly blends classic elegance with a touch of modernity. Each guest room includes free Wi-Fi, luxurious bathrobes, and pet amenities if requested. The hotel has a wonderful gym and features a stunning library right in the lobby.

See Related: Best Unusual Museums in the US

4. Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Address: 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205

If you’re looking for a peaceful and serene place to stop in the city center of Portland, check out the Portland Japanese Garden. Visiting the gardens truly transports you to a place far away and makes you feel like you’re no longer in a big city.

When the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be one of “the most beautiful and most authentic Japanese gardens in the world outside of Japan.” It’s the perfect urban oasis.

The garden spans over 12 acres and has eight separate garden areas styled in different ways. Stroll along the garden’s peaceful paths while you take in the beautiful nature and breathtaking views of Mt. Hood.

If you plan to visit Portland in the summer months between July and September, don’t miss the Shoji Summer Marketplace within the gardens. Here, you will find authentic Japanese textiles, clothing, ceramics, and home decor. These are unique gifts and keepsakes that can remind you of your time in the gardens for years to come.

The Portland Japanese Garden is open Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm.

See Related: Best Places to Visit in the US

5. Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion

Address: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210

Looking for a hint of history in your Portland tourist attractions? Check out the Pittock Mansion!

The mansion was built in 1914 for the wealthy Pittock family and was designed in the French Renaissance style. Originally from London, Henry Pittock left home at 17 for Oregon and later became the manager of the Oregon Spectator, the oldest and largest newspaper in the Oregon territory.

Henry soon expanded his business ventures to include a paper mill, real estate, transportation, and logging. This allowed him to build his mega home, which is now known as one of the best historic homes to visit in Portland.

The Pittock Mansion is a whopping 16,000 square feet and was built with the most modern amenities available at the time. It features 23 rooms, including five bedrooms, a library, a smoking room, and a music room.

The home is not the only impressive thing about this property. The Pittock Mansion sits on 46 acres, part of which is beautifully manicured, while the rest is part of the beautiful Forest Park. It also boasts one of the most impressive views of Downtown Portland and Mt. Hood.

The Pittock Mansion is open to visitors Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and on Tuesdays from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

See Related: Real, Magical Castles in Fairytales to Visit

6. Pine Street Market

Portland Pine Street Market and Street
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 126 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97204

A long day of experiencing all the things to do in Portland can leave anyone famished. This is where Pine Street Market comes into play! It’s located in the Carriage & Baggage Building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pine Street Market is Portland’s top food hall, with several different dining and cocktail options. It’s a perfect place to stop if you’re traveling with people who are each craving something different.

If you’re just looking for a quick drink, check out the full-service bar, Pine Street Taproom. Not only do they offer a wide selection of craft brews, but they also have classic and unique cocktails to satisfy any taste.

One of the mainstays in the food hall is KOTSU Ramen. Their classic tonkotsu ramen is so satisfying and warm, perfect for a chilly day in the Pacific Northwest. The vegan ramen is equally as comforting and is a great option for vegans and vegetarians.

The Pine Street Market is open everyday from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm and until 9:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.

See Related: Cheapest Places to Fly Around the World

7. Craft Brewery Walking Tour

Group on a Craft Brewery Walking Tour
image by Around Portland Tours/GetYourGuide

Portland’s Eastside neighborhood is known for its hoppin’ craft brewery scene (get it?). Throughout this former industrial district, you will find countless breweries and tasting rooms.

If you’re a craft beer lover or even just looking to dip your toes into the world of beer, you should definitely add the Eastside neighborhood to your list of places to visit in Portland.

Wayfinder Beer is one of the most popular breweries and pubs to visit in Portland. The brewery specializes in lagers and also offers a large beer garden as well as a heated outdoor patio for visitors to enjoy.

If you want to figure out which brewery is the best fit for you, check out this craft brewery walking tour. This tour will take you to some of the greatest breweries found in Portland, and the local guide is sure to give you some information on the neighborhood you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

Make sure to wear good walking shoes as this tour will cover approximately two to three miles. Don’t worry; you won’t be too tipsy to make the walk.

See Related: Strange Foods in America You Should Try

8. Washington Park

Washington Park Landscape

Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221

Taking a stroll through the scenic Washington Park is one of the best free things to do in Portland for the entire family. The park covers 410 acres and includes many of Portland’s top attractions, like the Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, and the Oregon Zoo.

Washington Park is home to over 15 miles of hiking trails, making it a perfect place to take in the great outdoors in Portland. If you’re looking to get even more exercise, there are also playgrounds, an archery range, and tennis courts, which can all be used for free!

Throughout the park, you will find many walking paths lined with picnic tables and benches. It’s a perfect place in the city center to have a romantic picnic with your loved one.

Due to the large size of the park, there is a free shuttle that runs on a loop and goes between the top attractions located throughout the area. The park is open every day from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm, and entry is free for all. There is an admission fee to enter the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Japanese Garden.

See Related: Best National Parks to Visit in November

9. The Grotto

Church in the Grotto

Address: 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220

The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, fondly nicknamed The Grotto, welcomes 300,000 visitors annually. It is a Catholic outdoor shrine that was built in 1924.

You don’t have to be super religious to appreciate the beauty and tranquility that The Grotto has to offer. Besides the shrine, there are 64 acres of gardens on the property, divided into a lower level and an upper level. The lower level is free to visit, while the upper level requires an additional admission fee.

There are walking paths throughout the gardens that guide you through the natural beauty. Throughout the gardens, there are 23 sculptures and memorials that are registered with the Smithsonian Institution.

If you plan to visit Portland in December, don’t miss the Christmas Festival of Lights at The Grotto. Visitors can enjoy caroling, beautiful light displays, puppet shows, and several musical performances.

For pet paw-rents, check out the annual Blessing of the Animals. It is a great tradition that happens at The Grotto, and people and pets of all faith are welcome! It usually happens in October, but check with The Grotto for the latest updates.

If you’d like to visit the shrine, lower-level garden, and upper-level garden, expect to spend about 1.5 to 2 hours here. The Grotto is open to visitors every day from 9:00 am to 6:30 pm.

See Related: Best Spring Break Destinations for Families

10. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Victoria Ditkovsky / Shutterstock.com

Address: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (a.k.a. OMSI) is one of the top science museums in the United States. There are six permanent exhibit areas that are great for all ages: Natural Sciences Hall, Empirical Hall, Submarine, Turbine Hall, Space Science Hall, and Science Playground.

Little kids will enjoy the Science Playground, where they can participate in hands-on activities and science experiments. Teenagers might enjoy the Submarine, USS Blueback, where they can learn about life living on a submarine and take a submarine tour.

The Kendall Planetarium is a great experience for the whole family. You can see what the sky will look like on the night you visit, as well as learn about some of space’s greatest mysteries, like black holes.

If you start getting a bit hungry throughout your exploration of OMSI, fear not! Empirical Café offers some quick bites to keep your energy levels up.

OMSI has varying operating hours, so it’s best to check their website for the most up-to-date information.

See Related: Best Places to Travel in Your 20s in the US

11. Portland Aerial Tram

Portland Aerial Tram

Address: 3303 S Bond Ave, Portland, OR 97239

Looking for a unique way to see Portland? Check out the Portland Aerial Tram! The tram travels 3,300 feet and ascends 500 feet while offering panoramic views of the entire Portland area.

The tram connects the South Waterfront neighborhood to the Oregon Health & Sciences University campus. Once at the top, visitors can enjoy the views from the lovely outdoor patio areas. On very clear days, you can see out to Mount Hood and even Mount St. Helens.

You can also explore the Marquam Hill neighborhood, which is home to several beautiful walking trails surrounded by lush nature.

The tram operates on weekdays from 5:30 am to 9:30 pm and on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Since some people use the tram as part of their daily commute, it can become quite crowded in the early mornings and evenings on weekdays. Therefore, it’s best to visit on Saturdays or mid-day on weekdays.

A single round-trip pass costs $5.95, and the ride lasts approximately four minutes each way.

See Related: Useful Tips for Long Distance Train Travel

12. Portland Saturday Market

Crowd in Portland Saturday Market
Ziga Cetrtic / Shutterstock.com

Address: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204

The Portland Saturday Market is the largest outdoor market located in the United States and is definitely something to see if you’ll be in Portland on a Saturday. It was founded in 1974 and sees over one million visitors annually, making it one of the top things to do in Portland.

The market includes over 100 vendors ranging from art to food and clothing. Even within these three broad categories, there are several niches like vegan food, all-natural beauty products, and wooden art.

What makes the Portland Saturday Market so special is that it’s a juried market. This means that each item is submitted to a panel to review before it’s able to be sold. This way, you know that anything you buy at the market is of sound quality and craftsmanship.

The Portland Saturday Market is a great way to truly get a feel of the vibe of the city and its residents. You can often see vendors making crafts right in their booths.

The market is open every Saturday from March until Christmas Eve, so if you’re visiting during this time of year, you should definitely check it out! It’s open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

See Related: Best Father Son Trips & Vacation Ideas

13. Forest Park

Forest Park

If you’re looking for some of the most stunning displays of Pacific Northwest nature, look no further than Forest Park. Forest Park spans over 5,200 acres and offers a wide variety of biking and hiking trails. It is also one of the largest urban parks in the United States.

The park is located in Portland’s stunning west hills, which is the southernmost area of the Tualatin Mountains. It’s a great place to explore the great outdoors without having to leave the Portland city limits!

Visitors can find hundreds of native wildlife and plant species throughout Forest Park. Throughout the park, you will find some impressively giant and beautiful tree species, including Douglas fir, bigleaf maple, and Western red cedar.

The longest trail in Forest Park is the Wildwood Trail, which spans 30 miles. There is even a wheelchair-accessible trail starting at the Lower Macleay Trailhead.

Within Forest Park, you will find several of Portland’s popular attractions, including Wildwood Trail, Witch’s Castle, Audubon Society Sanctuary, and Pittock Mansion.

The park is open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. Dogs are welcome, but they must be on a leash at all times while in the park.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in America

14. Witch’s Castle

Witch's Castle

Address: Lower Macleay Trail, Portland, OR 97210

The area where the Witch’s Castle stands is steeped in stories of murders and shenanigans. Before the creepy structure was built, the land belonged to a man named Danford Balch. Balch began to build his family’s homestead here when his daughter, Anna, soon fell in love with Mortimer Stump, a man who helped build the homestead.

Anna and Mortimer eloped, and when Balch found out, he shot Mortimer in the face. Balch was arrested shortly after and sentenced to death. It was the first legal execution in Oregon’s history.

Eventually, the land became the property of the City of Portland, and the stone structure was built in the 1930s. It was used as a park ranger station until a huge storm came in the 1960s and heavily damaged the structure.

In the 1980s, the Witch’s Castle became a popular spot for teens to party. The teens dubbed the structure the Witch’s Castle, despite there being no (known) connection between the building and witches.

The Witch’s Castle can be accessed through the Lower Macleay Trail. The trail is a bit rocky but only 0.75 miles long. The Lower Macleay Trail is open daily from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm.

See Related: Best Girls Trip Destinations Around the World

15. Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail

Wildwood Trail is the longest trail within Forest Park. It is 30 miles long and spans the entire length of the park. It’s also one of the most popular hiking trails in Portland due to its beautiful surrounding scenery.

The trail is also popular among runners and bird watchers, and I can totally understand why! The nature within the park is simply breathtaking, and the best way to enjoy it is by going on this trail.

Of course, you don’t have to complete the entire trail in order to enjoy it. There are several points of entry, so you can see as little or as much of it as you want.

Most of the trail is pretty flat, but there are a few muddy parts and rocky sections. As long as you stay on the marked trail, you’ll be fine. If you’d like to challenge yourself by hiking the entire trail, make sure to pack essentials like lots of water, snacks, and sun protection.

The Wildwood Trail is open everyday from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm. Dogs are welcome to enjoy the trail as well as long as they are kept on a leash at all times. Make sure to check the weather report before venturing to the trail, as there can sometimes be fallen trees or muddy areas that impede visitors from enjoying the entire trail.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in the World You Must Visit

16. International Rose Test Garden

International Rose Test Garden

Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205

A visit to the City of Roses wouldn’t be complete without enjoying the International Rose Test Garden. The garden is located within Washington Park, making it a convenient stop during your Portland visit.

The International Rose Test Garden is home to over 10,000 rose bushes and over 650 varieties of roses. A visit to this beautiful place is a treat for all of your senses.

One of the main reasons for this garden’s existence is to test new rose varieties, so every year, you will see a few new varieties of roses sprout up. This started during World War I when rose growers from around the planet sent samples to Portland’s international garden for testing.

The best time to visit the International Rose Test Garden is between late May through October when most of the rose bushes will be in full bloom.

If you’re visiting the city in the summer, you must check out the Portland Rose Festival. This 100-plus-year-old tradition happens annually, and several events are held between mid-May and mid-June, including a wonderful parade! It’s a great event for the whole family.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Roseville, California

17. Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Tom McCall Waterfront Park Scenery

Address: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204

If you’re looking for a quiet, lovely spot to stroll along the river, check out Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The park is just over 36 acres and offers several walking and biking paths that can be enjoyed by the whole family, including your dog!

The Tom McCall Waterfront Park is filled with beautiful Japanese cherry blossom trees, which are in bloom in the spring months. It gives you the sense that you’re no longer in a bustling city.

Within the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, you can also find other notable landmarks, such as the Japanese American Historical Plaza and the Salmon Street Springs Fountain. If you’re visiting Portland on a hot day, the Salmon Street Springs Fountain is a fun way to cool off for kids and adults alike.

At the Japanese American Historical Plaza, visitors can learn about the history of Japanese-Americans in the Pacific Northwest. The plaza is dedicated to the 120,000 Japanese-Americans that were forced into internment camps during World War II. It also symbolizes the relationship between Portland and its Japanese sister city, Sapporo.

The Tom McCall Waterfront Park is open daily from 5:00 am to 12:00 am.

See Related: Best Parks in Utah to Visit

18. Portland Underground Donut Tour

Voodoo Doughnut Sign

Everyone who has been to Portland or is planning on visiting Portland has heard of the iconic donuts that can be found throughout the city. Especially if you’re a passionate foodie like myself.

One of the most well-known donut shops in all of Portland is none other than Voodoo Doughnuts. Their iconic pink boxes and unique treat creations have them at the top of everyone’s donut wishlist. Or is that just me?

The place is an institution of Portland that was known to host all sorts of unconventional activities like weddings and weekly Swahili lessons. If you plan on visiting, plan to be there for a good amount of time, as sometimes people can wait in line for up to 30 minutes to get their hands on these delicious creations.

Other top donut spots include Sesame Donuts, Blue Star Donuts, and NOLA Doughnuts. All of these places have earned their spot as Portland donut institutions.

Don’t know where to begin when it comes to Portland donuts? Check out this comprehensive donut tour through Portland. On this guided tour, you’ll even get to skip the line at Voodoo Doughnuts and dig right into those delicious treats!

See Related: Weird, Bizarre Foods from Around the World

19. Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Address: 239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209

Looking to visit one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China? Check out the Lan Su Chinese Garden right in the Portland city center.

The garden was built in 2000 by garden designers from Suzhou, Portland’s sister city in China. Suzhou is famous for its stunning Ming dynasty gardens, and they really brought this beauty and tranquility all the way to Portland.

The garden is teeming with exotic plants, including hundreds of varieties of plants that are native to China. Within the gardens, you will find beautifully ornate pavilions and even a tea house.

Throughout the year, the Lan Su Chinese Garden hosts events and festivals to bring the community together. These events include Tai Chi, Chinese Mandarin lessons, and the Moonlight Market.

The Lan Su Chinese Garden is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Everyday around lunch time there is a free guided tour included with the price of admission that takes about 45-60 minutes.

See Related: Most Beautiful Valleys in the US

20. Oregon Maritime Museum

Oregon Maritime Museum

Address: 198 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204

Due to its location along the Willamette River, Portland has a rich and long maritime history. The museum is housed in the Portland steamboat, the last steamboat produced in the United States. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

During your visit, you will be led on a 45-minute tour by a volunteer docent. The tour includes everything from the pilot house to the steam room and everything in between.

Within the museum, visitors will be able to see a multitude of maritime artifacts and models of other steamboats.

If you want to learn more about maritime history, especially during World War II, check out the museum library. The library contains books, photos, and articles and is open to the public. Here, you can learn about maritime history in the Northwest and around the world.

The Oregon Maritime Museum is open on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Seaside, Oregon

21. Mount Tabor Park

Mount Tabor Park

Address: SE 60th Ave & SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215

If you’re looking for some of the most stunning views of downtown Portland, check out Mount Tabor Park! The park is situated on the summit of an extinct volcano and includes walking paths, water reservoirs, and playgrounds.

Portland is only one of six cities in the United States that has an extinct volcano within its city limits, and the 191-acre Mount Tabor Park is the best way to enjoy it.

The park is filled with beautiful walking paths and a ton of plants and wildlife native to the Pacific Northwest. Every summer, Piano Push Play, a local charity, puts pianos in Mount Tabor Park and throughout the city for anyone to play.

At the base of the hill, you can find an off-leash dog area that’s fenced in and perfect for your furry friend to get out some energy.

If you plan on visiting Portland in August, you won’t want to miss the annual Portland Adult Soapbox Derby, held every third Saturday in August. The derby happens on the slopes of Mount Tabor and is truly a sight to see!

If you’re seeking out a unique accommodation or just looking for the best deal in town, this tiny house is for you! This converted shipping container has everything you need: a bed, bathroom, and even a full kitchen. It’s located in a quiet, residential part of Portland, not far from Mount Tabor Park, and is highly rated.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Estes Park, Colorado

22. Check out Portland’s Food Trucks

Food Truck Buisness

Just like the Portland donut shop scene, the city is also known for its amazing food trucks, locally referred to as food carts. There are several collections of food trucks located throughout the city.

Many Portland restaurants also have smaller versions of their eateries on wheels located in these food cart collections. CNN has even declared Portland “home to the world’s best street food.”

Most Portland food trucks stay where they are, so it’s not hard to find your favorite eats within the city. Food truck “pods” are a great place to stop for a bite to eat, especially if you’re traveling with folks with different tastes in food.

Check out the Third Avenue Pod, where you’ll find Stretch The Noodle. The food truck is known for its delicious hand-pulled noodles that are made daily and are sure to be a delight to your taste buds. In southeast Portland, you can find Cartlandia, a “superpod” that even features a full-service bar called The Blue Room.

If finding a food truck pod that fits your whole family seems like a tedious task, join this highly-rated Portland Food Cart Tour. This food tour will take you to some of the best food trucks throughout the city. The knowledgeable guide can also answer any questions you may have about the city and its surroundings.

See Related: Why is everyone obsessed with travel?

23. World Forestry Center Discovery Museum

World Forestry Center Discovery Museum Building
jlh_lunasea, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221

The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum is located within Washington Park and within walking distance of the Oregon Zoo. It’s a great place for the whole family to learn about sustainable forestry and the preservation of the country’s forests.

The two-story museum is suitable for all ages and is a place where visitors can learn about forests around the world. There are many exhibits and experiences regarding planting trees, wildlife, and careers within the forest industry.

The museum is located within the larger World Forestry Center, which hosts a fellowship program for leaders within various industries to learn about environmental changes and how we are all connected. The program seeks to educate participants on climate change, forest management, and other related subjects.

The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm.

See Related: Best Father Daughter Trips & Vacation Ideas

24. Pearl District

Pearl District Aerial View

The lively Pearl District is known as one of the most hippest and most fashionable parts of downtown Portland. This neighborhood offers a wide variety of restaurants, shops, pubs, art galleries, and breweries.

It’s a great place to visit if you’re young (or young at heart) or a solo traveler looking to get an authentic feel for the city. The Pearl District is located right in the city center, so you can’t miss it.

If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a cold beer or a quick bite, check out Deschutes Brewery & Public House. They offer some delicious pub favorites like steak frites and mac & cheese, as well as a wide selection of local brews. If beer isn’t your thing, the eatery also offers several kinds of wines right from the Willamette Valley.

Within the Pearl District, you can find countless art galleries mainly focusing on contemporary art and photography. It’s truly a mecca for art lovers. The PDX Contemporary Art Gallery is filled with art that would look great as a backdrop on your Instagram feed.

Stroll through the streets of the Pearl District to find an endless amount of vintage clothing shops and record shops. These places are sure to delight the hipster in all of us.

See Related: Cheapest Shopping Destinations in the World

25. Powell’s City of Books

Powell's City of Books Shop

Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209

Of course, the top attraction in the Pearl District is the world-famous Powell’s City of Books. The bookstore is the largest independent bookstore in the world and is truly the definition of a Portland institution.

The bookstore occupies an entire city block in Downtown Portland and is quite a sight to behold. It’s said that the massive bookstore carries over one million books at any given time!

Powell’s City of Books sells both used and new books from various genres. Michael Powell, the founder of this beloved bookstore, opened up his first store for used books in Chicago in 1970. His retiree father worked at the bookstore one summer and loved it so much that he opened his own used bookstore upon his return to Portland. In 1979, the father and son duo opened the eclectic bookstore we now know and love.

Today, you can find a mix of used and new hardcover and paperback books all together on the same shelves. They seek to provide a wide range of books because they know that reading is not a one-size-fits-all experience.

Powell’s City of Books is open daily from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. You can even visit the special Rare Book Room Friday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

The Moxy Portland Downtown is a perfect place for couples and young travelers. You’ll love the cool vibe the Moxy has to offer in the lobby all the way up to its guest rooms. This hotel is also great if you’re an artsy type, as it’s just a few minutes away from some of the top Portland attractions, including Powell’s City of Books bookstore and the Portland Art Museum.

See Related: Best Road Trip Books for Kids | Audiobooks and Paperback

26. Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Address: 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97205

Affectionately known as Portland’s living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square is a gathering place for locals and visitors alike. The square was built in front of the Pioneer Courthouse, which is the oldest federal building in the Pacific Northwest.

You might not be able to tell from the photo, but the square spans an entire city block, measuring 40,000 square feet. The massive square in the city center is the site of many large events and gatherings that happen throughout the year.

At Pioneer Courthouse Square, you can sample some of the city’s best food trucks, enjoy the various sculptures and art features, or even participate in a scavenger hunt. There’s always something happening in the heart of the city.

If Portland has captured your heart, you can purchase a brick in Pioneer Courthouse Square. When you purchase a brick, you can have it engraved with your name or something special, like a date. So when you return to Portland, you can find your brick and know that you have a special place in Portland forever.

See Related: Reasons Why Traveling is Important

27. Hoyt Arboretum

Hoyt Arboretum

Address: 4000 SW Fairview Blvd, Portland, OR 97221

If you’re looking to relax and unwind in the great outdoors but still within the Portland city limits, check out the Hoyt Arboretum. The beautiful park spans 189 acres just west of downtown Portland within the Tualatin Mountains.

The Hoyt Arboretum is part of the larger Washington Park, so if you’re already in the area, you can hop onto the free Washington Park shuttle to get to the arboretum.

The arboretum includes a botanical garden, conservation lab, nature education area, and a lovely tree museum. You can even get married within Hoyt Arboretum, as the park also acts as an amazing event venue.

Additionally, the Hoyt Arboretum has four loop trails and two one-way trails. The Overlook Trail, Bristlecone Trail, and Visitor Center Loop Trail are all fully-paved and accessible.

If you’re looking for a longer adventure, I recommend the Spruce/Wildwood/Redwood Trails, which together make a one-hour loop. Along these trails, you’ll see some beautiful spruce tree species from around the world, as well as gigantic redwoods.

The park is open everyday from 5:00 am to 10:00 pm and is free for all to enjoy.

See Related: Best Unknown Places to Visit in the US

28. Tilikum Crossing Bridge

Tilikum Crossing Bridge Night Lights (FREE)

Address: Tilikum Crossing, Portland, OR 97201

As a hobby photographer, I know that bridges with cityscapes can make for some amazing photos, especially at night. That’s why I had to include Tilikum Crossing Bridge on this list!

The bridge crosses the Willamette River and connects southwest Portland with southeast Portland. The bridge was designed by the Portland transportation authority in order to run the light rail over the river.

Besides the light rail, the bridge also includes pedestrian and bike lanes, so everyone can enjoy the bridge as they’d like. It’s actually the only bridge in the United States that caters to light rail, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians without vehicle traffic.

The bridge is a lovely place to have a walk, jog, or even just enjoy the scenery around you. The artistic design of the cable bridge is super photogenic, so you can really get a great shot at any time of day.

If you opt to enjoy the bridge at night, you’re in for a treat. The lights that illuminate the bridge change color based on the river’s depth and temperature on that day.

See Related: Proven Travel Photography Tips to Take Stunning Images

29. Alberta Arts District

Alberta Arts District Murals
image by Management/TripAdvisor

Located in northeast Portland, the Alberta Arts District is a popular area of Portland known for its art galleries, coffee shops, and fabulous restaurants. The district is centered around Alberta Street, which is famous for its beautiful street art and murals.

If you’re looking for a part of Portland to just walk around and get lost in, this is the place for you!

The best time to visit the Alberta Arts District is during Last Thursday, a monthly event that’s held on the last Thursday of every month from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm. The event draws some of Portland’s best artists, performers, and bands that offer up some great vibes for the evening. The event happens right on Alberta Street, so you can’t miss it.

When visiting the Alberta Arts District, you must stop at the iconic Salt & Straw ice cream shop. The shop was originally a food cart when it first opened in 2011 and has since expanded into several brick-and-mortar shops across the West Coast and Miami.

They are known for their inventive ice cream flavors, including Pinot poached peach sorbet, honey lavender, Arbequina olive oil, and one of their most popular: strawberry honey balsamic with black pepper.

See Related: Best Holiday Destinations for Couples

30. Oaks Amusement Park

Oaks Amusement Park
Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Address: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202

If you’re looking to have some amazing fun with the whole family, look no further than Oaks Amusement Park! Located just south of downtown Portland, the park consists of fun rides, mini golf, a roller rink, and classic carnival games.

There are over 20 rides within the amusement park, ranging from the scream-inducing Adrenaline Peak rollercoaster to go-karts and the Oak Park train. The Adrenaline Peak rollercoaster features a 72-foot vertical lift followed by several drops that are perfect if you’re a thrill seeker.

The classic carnival games include ring toss, balloon darts, a water race, and a well-equipped arcade. No matter what age you or your kids are, you can all find something fun to do here!

The hours of the Oaks Amusement Park vary by season, but it is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Tickets can be purchased in advance online, where you’ll be able to see the opening hours and can plan your trip accordingly.

See Related: Best National Parks in the USA to Visit

31. Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Scenery
A Stray Echo, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite being a bustling city, Portland offers some of the most terrific scenery in the Pacific Northwest. One place not to miss in the area is the Columbia River Gorge.

The Columbia River Gorge is a vast canyon located on the Columbia River. It is just a 15-minute drive from downtown Portland, so it’s such an easy place to visit to escape from the city.

If you plan to visit on your own, you’re in for a treat. There are endless options when it comes to outdoor recreational activities within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Here, you can find several hiking and bike trails, fishing spots, and local companies that offer a plethora of water sports.

Surrounding the Columbia River Gorge, you will find many wineries, breweries, and U-pick farms. I’m really a sucker for being able to pick my own fruits from a lovely farm, so I highly recommend that you check one of these places out. Berry picking is a popular thing to do in Oregon, and these fruits are in season during the summer months, from June to August.

If you’re looking for a relaxing option, check out this Columbia River Gorge sightseeing cruise. The cruise takes you on an authentic Sternwheeler, which is a paddlewheel boat. It features a full-service bar, which will add to your relaxation as you take in some of the most famous sites found in the Columbia River Gorge. The cruise takes just one hour, so it’s quite easy to fit it into your Portland itinerary.

See Related: Best Things to Do Along the Great River Road

32. Portland Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary

Spotted Towhee in Portland

Address: 5151 NW Cornell Rd, Portland, OR 97210

If you’re an animal lover like myself, you’ll want to visit the Portland Audubon. It is a wildlife sanctuary run by The Audubon Society of Portland, whose mission is to promote wildlife conservation.

An Audubon is a zoologist who studies birds in particular. The Portland Audubon society works to protect bird species found throughout Oregon by protecting their natural habitats and fighting for climate change through education.

The wildlife sanctuary is located right next to Forest Park and is just ten minutes away from downtown Portland. It spans over 172 acres and is free for the public to visit. It’s a perfect place to visit for the whole family; kids will love observing these majestic animals in their natural habitat.

Throughout the sanctuary, you will see some amazing birds like the Northwest pygmy owl, Anna’s hummingbirds, Pileated woodpeckers, and Steller’s jays. The wildlife doesn’t just stop at birds; visitors may also see Red-legged frogs, Rough-skinned newts, and so much more!

There are various walking trails throughout the sanctuary that are open everyday from dawn until dusk. Also, if you happen to find an injured wild animal around Portland, you can take it to the wildlife sanctuary from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

See Related: Best Places to Travel Alone in the World

33. Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Oregon Rail Heritage Center
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Address: 2250 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214

If you’re a big fan of trains, this one’s for you. The Oregon Rail Heritage Center tells the story of Oregon’s rich steam locomotive history.

At the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, visitors can learn about the history of locomotives through artifacts, railroad equipment, and educational exhibits. The center is full of railroad history and even includes one of the last operating train turntables.

The center is home to three vintage steam engine locomotives that belonged to the City of Portland. The trains have been beautifully restored to their former glory, and two of them are fully operational. The oldest of the three trains, OR&N 197, was built in 1905 and was capable of sustaining a speed of 80 mph.

Every Saturday, visitors can hop onto the Oregon Rail Heritage Center passenger train to take a ride throughout the center while learning interesting facts about the railroad. During the holiday season, the trains transform and are decorated with lights and other fun displays.

The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is open Thursday to Sunday from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

See Related: Useful Tips for Long Distance Train Travel

34. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garde

Address: 5801 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR 97202

The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden looks like something out of a fairytale. The nine-acre garden is best known for its rare and hybrid varieties of rhododendron flowers but is also home to several other species of plants and flowers, including azaleas, magnolias, and hydrangeas.

Visiting the garden is a feast for all of your senses. Beyond the lovely flower blooms, visitors can also spot some gorgeous animals, including beavers, river otters, muskrats, and bald eagles.

Though the garden is a wonderful and beautiful place to visit year-round, the best time to see the blooms is between April and June. You can also take the paved path down to Crystal Springs Lake to enjoy even more of Portland’s natural beauty.

The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is open Thursday to Tuesday from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm and on Wednesdays from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm. Admission is just $5 for adults and free for children under 10. However, if you’d like an even better deal, try visiting on Mondays when admission is free for everyone.

35. Dinner Cruise Through Downtown Portland

Willamette River Cruise

If you’re looking to slow down and relax after a long day of sightseeing, I recommend going on a romantic dinner cruise along the Willamette River.

This dinner cruise through downtown Portland will take you past some of Portland’s most famous sites while you relax with your friends or family. A cruise along the river gives you a unique perspective of the Portland skyline and allows you to truly take in the views at a slower pace.

The cruise is 2.5 hours long and features dishes made with fresh, local ingredients. A three-course dinner with dessert is included in the price, while additional appetizers and alcoholic drinks are available for purchase. Gluten-free and vegan meal options are also available.

While you enjoy your meal, let the live piano music serenade you. Or, if you finish your meal early, head onto the outer decks where you can hear the captain’s guided tour and learn more about Portland’s interesting history.

See Related: Best Family Vacation Spots in the World

36. Day Trip: Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls Scenery

If you’ve already done some research into visiting Portland, there’s no doubt that you’ve heard of Multnomah Falls. The famous waterfall is best known for its stunning scenery, including a stone pedestrian bridge that crosses over the falls.

Multnomah Falls is just 30 minutes away from downtown Portland, making it a convenient day trip from the city. It is the most visited natural attraction in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s not hard to see why.

The waterfall is divided into two parts: the upper waterfall is a whopping 542 feet tall, while the lower waterfall is 69 feet tall. Combined, it is the tallest waterfall in the state of Oregon.

The best way to view the incredible Multnomah Falls is from the beautiful Benson Bridge that stands above the lower falls and under the upper falls. Due to the location of the waterfall as well as the mist that comes off the waterfall, I recommend bringing a jacket, even in the summer, as temperatures can be much lower here than in the city.

If you get hungry after your time exploring, check out the nearby Multnomah Falls Lodge. It’s just a 10-minute drive away from the waterfalls. The lodge offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu, as well as brunch on Sundays.

37. Day Trip: Mount Hood

Mount Hood Scenery

As one of the most iconic vistas of Oregon, Mount Hood is not to be missed when visiting Portland. The peak stands at 11,239 feet tall, making it the highest point in the state.

Getting to Mount Hood from downtown Portland takes approximately two hours, so make sure to pack a lot of snacks and water for your journey. If you’re looking for a plethora of outdoor adventures, you’ll find it here.

Options to enjoy the great outdoors at Mount Hood are endless. Visitors can fish, hike, camp, and so much more. Remarkably, visitors can almost always enjoy year-round skiing on the slopes of the mountain.

If you’re not planning on renting a car while in Portland, consider joining this Mount Hood day tour. This tour lasts approximately 8.5 hours, so you’ll have a full day of activities and beautiful scenery.

The tour will also pass through the iconic Columbia River Gorge, where you’ll see many waterfalls and breathtaking valleys. The knowledgeable tour guide will be able to tell you about the history of the area and many interesting facts you may not have known otherwise.

See Related: Most Beautiful Valleys in the US

38. Day Trip: Willamette Valley Wineries

Willamette Valley Winery and Scenery

Portland is located within the gorgeous Willamette Valley, which is known for being home to over 600 wineries. The valley extends 150 miles long and includes other popular Pacific Northwest towns like Eugene, Salem, and Corvallis.

The most popular type of wine to come out of the Willamette Valley is Pinot Noir. The rich soil combined with the valley’s climate provides for longer grape-growing seasons, which is said to be especially good for Pinot Noir wine.

To enjoy the best that the Willamette Valley has to offer, I suggest joining this winery tour and tasting. This full-day tour will take you all throughout the beautiful valley as you sample wines from three to four wineries.

While on this tour, you will also learn about the key tasting notes featured in several different types of wines and what it takes to make a unique bottle of wine.

Besides wineries, the Willamette Valley is also known for its hazelnuts, berries, and Christmas trees.

39. Day Trip: Cannon Beach

Cannon Beach Scenery

While the Portland area is lovely, the Oregon coast is unlike any other coast I’ve seen before. Though it’s not Hawaii or Bora Bora, the Oregon coast showcases natural beauty that will capture your heart.

Thankfully, you don’t have to venture too far from Portland to enjoy this beautiful stretch of coast. Cannon Beach is one of the most popular places to visit on the coast and is just a 1.5-hour drive away from downtown Portland.

You’ll probably recognize Haystack Rock, an iconic view on the coast of Oregon. It’s best viewed from Cannon Beach. The beach itself offers a long stretch of golden sand that is perfect for a relaxing walk by the ocean.

The adorable town of Cannon Beach is also a great place to visit in and of itself. Here, you can find many art galleries, museums, boutiques, and locally made products. If the ocean is giving you a craving for fresh seafood, check out Ecola Seafoods. The restaurant is owned and operated by a local commercial fishing family, so you’re guaranteed to get the freshest catch here.

If you prefer a guided tour, this Oregon Coast day trip is for you. On this tour, you’ll spend a full day along the coast and see some of the most beautiful scenery in the Pacific Northwest.

See Related: Best Beaches in the US to Visit

40. Day Trip: Mount St. Helens

Sunset in Mount St. Helens

Just over two hours northeast of Portland, you’ll find the majestic Mount St. Helens right over the border in Washington state. The best time to visit Mount St. Helens is in the summer when temperatures are nice and warm. Otherwise, many areas of the mountain can be difficult to access in the winter months.

Mount St. Helens is still an active volcano, which is an interesting fact in and of itself. Though, its last major active period was between 1831 and 1857. In 1980, an earthquake triggered the volcano to erupt a huge cloud of ash that spread over several states and also took off 1,300 feet from the top of the mountain.

Today, you can find many things to do and see at Mount St. Helens, including the observatory, hiking trails, lakes, and lava tubes. To get the most out of your time here, I recommend this Mount St Helens adventure tour.

On this tour, you’ll come across so many interesting landmarks, like the Ape Cave lava tubes. Make sure to bring a jacket, as the cave remains at a chilly 42 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

FAQ

What is Portland known for?

Portland is known for being a hip and free-spirited city in the Pacific Northwest. “Keep Portland Weird” has been the city’s unofficial motto for decades, and it doesn’t seem like that’s going to change anytime soon. It’s also known as the “City of Roses” because of the annual Rose Festival hosted in Portland.

What are some fun things to do in Portland when it’s raining?

If you’re trying to figure out what to do in Portland when it’s raining, check out some of the city’s fantastic museums, such as the Portland Art Museum and the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Book lovers will enjoy spending hours in Powell’s City of Books, while foodies can check out the city’s best donuts at Voodoo Doughnuts.

Is Portland worth visiting?

My hope is that after reading this article, you will find that it’s definitely worth visiting Portland. The city has so much to offer, from beautiful nature to amazing art and delicious food. There is truly something for everyone here.

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