40 Fun-Loving Attractions & Activities

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Not every city gets featured in an IFC original series, but Portland sure does! That’s not its only claim to fame, either. The metropolis also has the world’s smallest city park, along with the largest independently owned bookstore in the world. Other fun facts about the Oregon city involve a record number of microbreweries and an infamous unicyclist dressed as Darth Vader. Check out our list of things to do in Portland for more information on this pocket of the Northwest.

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40 Best Things to Do in Portland

From public gardens to historic districts, there is certainly no shortage of things to do when visiting Portland. Read on below to learn more!

Explore downtown Portland

things to do in downtown portland - street at night with hanging lights
Shutterstock / photomatz

Strolling around downtown Portland is a great way to kick off your trip. The 213-block area is one of the oldest, largest, and liveliest sections of the city. While incredibly walkable, you can use the city’s TriMet system to get around. Light rails, streetcars, and buses are all available to take you from one place to another.

Once downtown, you’ll find yourself surrounded by eateries, green spaces, and cultural landmarks. The area also contains the most diverse range of retail shops in the city. And remember, the state of Oregon does not implement sales tax, so you can enjoy the deals without the extra markup.

Many of the city’s most celebrated cultural institutions, including the Portland Art Museum, the Waterfront Park Trail, and the historic Shanghai Tunnels, are located downtown.

Visit the International Rose Test Garden

things to do in portland - visit the rose test garden
Shutterstock / Jakub Zajic

Portland has attracted many nicknames over the years, but none are quite as enduring as “The City of Roses.” The title can be traced to a woman named Georgiana Burton Pittock, wife of local publisher and founder of The Oregonian, Henry Pittock.

According to local lore, Georgiana inspired the cultivation of roses along city streets after inviting members of high society over to admire the ones planted in her own garden.

By 1905, the city contained over 200 miles of rose-lined streets.

Today, Pittock’s legacy lives on at the International Rose Test Garden. The area is home to over 10,000 rose bushes, representing over 600 different rose varieties. Blooms take place from late May to October, depending on the weather.

Visitors are also able to purchase their favorite picks, with the majority of roses offered for sale.

Visit the Pittock Mansion

view of the pittock mansion in portland
Shutterstock / Png Studio Photography

If you’d like to know even more about the couple, you can always stop by the Pittock Mansion. Henry began planning for his “mansion on the hill” back in the early 1900s, though he and Georgiana didn’t move in until 1914.

Although the couple only lived in the mansion for about four years before they died, family members continued to reside in the home well into the 1950s.

After a devastating storm in 1962, local citizens helped the city raise funds to purchase the home and prevent it from being torn down. Today, the house operates as a museum run by Portland Parks & Recreation.

During your visit, you can explore a wide collection of furniture assembled during the early 20th century, along with personal artifacts that once belonged to the Pittock family. Some of the most popular pieces include the Pittocks’ Steinway grand piano, a Couch family desk, and Henry’s own masonic sword.

Traveling exhibits and other events also take place throughout the year.

Walk around Washington Park

amphitheater in washington park, portland OR
Shutterstock / Tada Images

Washington Park isn’t just one of the most popular green spaces in Portland, it’s also home to some of the most celebrated attractions in the city including the Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, World Forestry Center, Oregon Zoo, and the International Rose Test Garden.

Sprawling over 400 acres, the park contains historic memorials, an archery range, playgrounds, and tennis courts. There are also more than 15 miles of trails for runners, bikers, and dog walkers to enjoy.

Go to the Columbia River Gorge

view of the colombia river gorge
Shutterstock / katiemariephotography

Located just outside of the Portland city limits, the Columbia River Gorge offers some of the most impressive views in the area. There are also tons of hiking and biking opportunities to capitalize on, along with 90 different waterfalls to explore.

The gorge didn’t make it onto the map until the early 1800s, after Lewis and Clark made their expedition into the area, though it had been populated long before their arrival. Native American tribes landed some 13,000 years earlier, utilizing the river’s resources for clothing, shelter, trade, and transportation.

While there, you can also explore the historic town of Troutdale. In addition to the gorge, the town offers a number of sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, like the Fairview City Jail, the Harlow House Museum, the Lewis & Clark State Recreation Site, and Cascade Locks Marine Park, where native fishing traditions still take place.

There are also lots of local restaurants and eateries where you can sit back and recharge after a day of sightseeing.

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Go see Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park in Portland- view of the grass and river
Shutterstock / randy andy

What was once a busy highway, Tom McCall Waterfront Park now provides over 30 acres of walkable, bikeable, and dog-friendly open space.

This urban oasis is home to some of the city’s most famous monuments, including the Salmon Street Springs Fountain, the Battleship Oregon Memorial, and the Japanese American Historical Plaza. Other notable institutions located within the park include the Oregon Maritime Museum and the Portland Saturday Market.

Be sure to check out what else is going on before your visit. The park hosts several annual events including the city’s Cinco de Mayo Festival, the Waterfront Blues Fest, and the Christmas Ship Parade.

Green space is also available to use for picnic areas or lawn games.

Grab a treat at Voodoo Doughnuts

Voodoo doughnuts
Shutterstock / Michael Gordon

Ever heard of artisan doughnuts? No? Well, then it’s time to make your way over to Voodoo Doughnuts! The shop is most famous for introducing the world to staples like the Bacon Maple Bar, the Memphis Mafia, and the Cannolo. They also offer 50 flavor options, including 25 vegan varieties.

Originally opened in 2000, it didn’t take long for the store to start getting press. By 2008, they were finally ready to open a second location. Today, Voodoo Doughnuts has 13 locations in six different states, the most recent of which was opened in Cypress, Texas.

Explore the Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden / Tyler Quinn

Portland contains a large Japanese community, with thousands of immigrants having arrived in the area during the early 20th century. The Portland Japanese Garden is just one of many institutions that pays homage to these individuals and their impact on the city.

The garden itself spans over 12 acres with eight different garden styles. After spending time there during a visit to Portland, His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States, deemed it “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.”

The garden also contains a “cultural village” designed by world-renowned architect Kengo Kuma. The space allows visitors to immerse themselves in traditional Japanese arts through seasonal activities, performances, and demonstrations.

Other features include an authentic Japanese Tea House, intimate walkways, garden streams, and an unparalleled view of Mount Hood.

Go wine tasting in the Willamette Valley

Wineries in Willamette Valley
Shutterstock / Jess Kraft

Located just an hour outside of Portland, the Willamette Valley contains over 600 wineries. Known throughout the region as “Oregon Wine Country,” the area is also home to waterfalls, shopping centers, covered bridges, historical sites, and lots of other attractions worth exploring.

The valley has an impressive food scene, with more than 170 local crops used by area restaurants. Hops, berries, and grapes are among the most popular. Digging for truffles is also pretty common. Locals have even designated February “Truffle Month,” followed by the famous Oregon Truffle Festival.

Meditate in the Grotto

the Grotto in Portland, Oregon
Shutterstock / Sean Attilio Learn

Located in Northeast Portland, the Grotto contains 62 acres of lush gardens. The attraction, which was built in 1924 as an outdoor Roman Catholic sanctuary dedicated to Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, is intended for individuals of all faiths who are in search of prayer and meditation.

There are two levels located within the Grotto. The public can enter the lower garden free of charge. There, they’ll encounter a cave carved out of a 110-foot basalt cliff. In the center of the cave is a marble statue, a replica of Michelangelo‘s depiction of Mary cradling Jesus’ body after his crucifixion, surrounded by flowers and votive candles.

Visitors can explore the rest of the area on foot. There’s also a nearby trail lined with moss trees and elaborately carved sculptures representing the 14 Stations of the Cross. Throughout the years, the National Sanctuary has attracted over ten million visitors.

Visit the Portland Art Museum

Portland Art Museum
Shutterstock / ARTYOORAN

Founded back in 1892, the Portland Art Museum is the oldest of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors will enjoy both permanent and rotating exhibits along with VR experiences.

Collections are housed in both historically preserved and newly designed architectural spaces. There is art from different cultures, photography exhibits, and more modern demonstrations.

Educational tours are also offered throughout the year. Other events include artist talks, seminars, and family-friendly programs.

Shop around the Portland Saturday Market

things to do in portland - the portland saturday market
Shutterstock / Yanqiang Dai

Open between March and December, the Portland Saturday Market in Waterfront Park has been nationally recognized as the largest continuously operating open-air market in the country.

The event began in 1973 after two artists named Sheri Teasdale and Andrea Scharf participated in a market in the city of Eugene, Oregon. After returning to Portland, they lobbied to establish a similar style of market downtown, insisting that the event would provide local artists with an economic outlet for their work and customers better access to locally produced items.

Local vendors continue to enjoy the opportunity to sell handmade arts, crafts, and food products. Today, the market features over 150 booths and maintains a membership of over 300 artisans.

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Hang out on the Willamette River

view of the willamette river at sunset
Shutterstock / TayHamPhotography

The Willamette River is one of the most recognizable features in all of Portland. Separating the city into its east and west sides, the river offers tons of summer activities for locals and tourists alike.

Cruises, kayaking, and paddleboarding are all available. There’s even an underwater submarine tour to sign up for. The 45-minute excursion is put on by Portland’s Science Museum. Though the submarine won’t leave the dock, you will have an opportunity to explore the watercraft, which was used by the Navy for almost three decades.

Swimming is also an option, though you will want to check the water quality before diving in.

See the animals at the Oregon Zoo

female lions at the oregon zoo in portland
Shutterstock / Png Studio Photography

The 64-acre Oregon Zoo attracts just about 1.5 million visitors each year. Founded back in 1888, it’s also the oldest North American zoo west of the Mississippi.

As of 2018, the zoo houses over 2,585 individual animals representing 215 species or subspecies of birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. That list includes five endangered species and seven threatened species. There are also more than 1,000 species of exotic plants thriving in the zoo’s botanical gardens.

Carousel and train rides are available for families visiting with small kids. You can even pick up a snack at the Aviary Cafe in case you need a little sustenance during your visit.

Spend some time in Forest Park

things to do in portland - explore forest park
Shutterstock / Andriana Syvanych

Portland’s Forest Park spans over 5,200 acres, providing an important refuge for hundreds of native wildlife and plant species in the area. It also contains some amazing history. While the first European Americans arrived to explore the Willamette Valley in 1806, Native Americans are believed to have begun inhabiting the area some 10,000 years ago.

Today, the park is probably most famous for its Wildwood Trail, a 30-mile path that is listed as a National Recreational Trail. Though it isn’t all challenging, it does take a while to complete, so you either should map out a portion of the trail or prepare for a hiking excursion before you begin.

In total, the park contains over 80 miles of trails, though hiking isn’t the only thing to do during your visit. Bird-watchers come from all over to see the 100+ species living in the park’s upper canopy.

While dogs are welcome, they must remain on the leash during your visit. You don’t have to worry about timing your visit to explore the path, either. The trail is open year-round.

Visit the Oregon History Museum

exhibit at the Oregon history museum
Twitter / @OrHist

The Oregon History Museum has been serving the community for over a century with its vast collection of artifacts, films, photographs, manuscripts, and oral histories.

Rotating exhibits present a deeper dive into Oregon’s history, detailing stories surrounding its national parks, landscapes, and important figures.

Its permanent collection provides even more information on the state’s geography and legislation. The museum also established its own “History Hub,” where families can explore the topic of diversity in a hands-on and interactive way.

You’ll encounter a world-class research library during your visit, designed to preserve the largest collection of Oregon-related materials in the world. Visitors can access these materials in the library’s reading room and online through its digital collection.

Walk around the Japanese American Historical Plaza

Japanese American Historical Plaza
Twitter / @PortlandGov

The Japanese American Historical Plaza is marked by 13 engraved stones made of basalt and granite. Each tells an important story surrounding the hardships Japanese immigrants experienced during the fallout of WWII.

Poems inscribed on stones honor those who served in the U.S. Armed Forces while their loved ones were incarcerated in internment camps during the war. All were penned by Oregon residents of Japanese origin. The authors include Lawson Inada, Shizue Iwatsuki, Masaki Kinoshita, and Hisako Saito.

The central stone is supported by a jagged base, reflecting the broken dreams held by each internee. The structure is located in Waterfront Park, which borders the Willamette River and Nihonmachi, also known as “Japantown.”

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Take a photo with the “Keep Portland Weird” sign

keep portland weird sign
Shutterstock / Atmosphere1

Of course, we couldn’t put together a list of things to do in Portland without mentioning one of the city’s most quirky attractions. The “Keep Portland Weird” sign is located in a parking lot behind Dante’s nightclub in Old Town (directly across from Voodoo Doughnuts).

Inspired by the “Keep Austin Weird” sign, the mural made its first appearance in 2003. Since then, it’s attracted a whole lot of attention and was even featured in the opening credits of the popular TV series Portlandia.

Explore Pioneer Courthouse Square

pioneer courthouse plaza
Shutterstock / ARTYOORAN

Portland’s Pioneer Courthouse Square held its grand opening in 1984. Ever since then, the area has served as a central public park and gathering space. Each year, around 10 million people visit the square to eat, shop, or simply hang out.

Over 300 events take place in the square each year, including musical performances, kid shows, cultural festivals, and more. The area has become such a popular gathering space that locals now refer to it as “Portland’s Living Room.”

Enjoy a meal at Shigezo Izakaya

sushi
Shutterstock / Anastasia Sotchenko

At this point in the list, it should come as no surprise that Portland enjoys a large Japanese influence—and that goes for its culinary scene, too. Shigezo Izakaya is a popular destination for those looking to get great Japanese food in the Portland area.

In Japan, an “Izakaya” operates as a traditional pub, known for serving sake. Over time, menus evolved to include beer, shareable plates, cocktails, and more. But they also follow a unique style of service.

At Shigezo Izakaya, there are no courses, entrees, or appetizers. Instead, everything comes out as soon as it is ready and in no particular order, which is what makes dining “family-style” such an integral part of the experience.

Diners will enjoy a mix of traditional and modern Japanese food. The menu also features homemade ramen and sushi prepared by an expert chef.

Stop by the Portland Audubon Society

a duck protected by the Portland Audubon Society
Shutterstock / Tom Reichner

The Portland Audubon Society has been advocating on behalf of Oregon’s wildlife for over 100 years. The organization provides tons of activities to help individuals pursue an active interest in nature.

In addition to organized nature walks, field trips, and bird watching, the Audubon offers volunteer opportunities to help rehabilitate wildlife and implement conservation methods.

The organization also hosts a series of educational and family-friendly events throughout the year, from backpacking excursions to learning about wilderness skills, and much more.

Visit the Alberta Arts District

Street sign in Alberta Arts District in Portland, OR
Shutterstock / Leah Bush

Located in Northwest Portland, the Alberta Arts District is known for its galleries, live music, and local theater. Centered around Alberta Street, the area is bustling with exciting food and drink opportunities. Some of its most famous stops include the Alberta Street Pub for drinks, Tin Shed for brunch, and Salt & Straw for your ice cream fix.

Another exciting thing to see in the area is the Mike Bennett installations. The Portland-based visual artist created the A to Zoo Family Lawn Museum, which features a series of educational exhibits on bugs, dinosaurs, monsters, extinct fauna, cold creatures, planets, and ocean life.

There’s also the Alberta Rose Theatre, which regularly hosts musical performances, burlesque shows, and other forms of visual art. You can enjoy a more informal tour of the local art scene by checking out the different galleries and street murals scattered throughout the neighborhood.

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Cool off in the Salmon Street Springs Fountain

people and dogs cooling off in the salmon springs fountain in Portland
Shutterstock / randy andy

The Salmon Street Springs Fountain, located in the famous Waterfront Park, was designed by Robert Perron Landscape Architects and Planners, and was dedicated in 1988.

The fountain circulates water through three different cycles called misters, bollards, and wedding cake. These patterns are controlled by a computer programmed to regulate the water display. When operating at full capacity, the fountain circulates 4,924 gallons of water per minute, flowing through as many as 137 jets at once (there are 185 in total).

Try out a food truck

food trucks in portland, oregon
Shutterstock / Iris van den Broek

This is one of those classic Portland attractions that you definitely don’t want to miss.

Portland’s food scene has become increasingly influenced by food trucks. Known locally as “food carts,” these portable eateries have attracted the attention of critics from major publications like Bon Appétit, as well as CNN, which declared Portland home to the world’s best street food.

Adding to the convenience is the fact that these carts are rarely stationed on their own. Instead, they can be found grouped into “pods,” allowing customers to sample multiple cuisines at once.

Some of the best pods can be found in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Waterfront Park, and on Third Avenue.

Hike to Witch’s Castle

the "witch's castle" in forest park, portland, OR
Shutterstock / JPL Designs

The Witch’s Castle is where legends live and keggers are thrown. It all started back in the mid-1800s when a man named Mortimer Stump was hired to help clean up the area by Danford Balch, the property owner at the time. Eventually, Stump fell in love with Balch’s daughter, Anna. After Balch condemned the union, Stump and Anna eloped and left town.

After returning to Portland nearly a year later, Balch shot Stump in the face with a double-barreled shotgun. He was later arrested and became subject to the first legal execution in Oregon.

The property was later abandoned until the city decided to maintain it, using it as a park ranger station and restroom for hikers. Fast-forward to the 1980s, and it became a popular spot for local high school kids to host parties. It was the students who actually gave the spot its nickname, even though no known connection to witches exists.

Located deep in the Oregon woods, the stone cabin can be accessed by hiking half a mile up from the Upper Macleay Parking lot, near the Audubon Society. Be sure to wear good shoes if you plan on making the trek—the path can be somewhat arduous.

Get tickets to the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby

people racing in the Portland adult soapbox derby
Shutterstock / Dee Browning

If you visit in August, you should make it a point to see the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby. The event—which is free to attend—was inspired by a similar event taking place in San Francisco.

Things finally kicked off in the City of Roses in 1997, when six men jumped into a homemade racer and began wheeling down Mount Tabor. Today, there are over 40 race teams that participate in the annual event, with upwards of 10,000 spectators cheering them on from the sidelines.

There’s also a designated beer garden to relax in before and after the race. Sip on a cool brew before voting for best engineering, fan favorites, lifetime achievements, and other awards based on the day’s events.

Stop by Mill Ends Park

Mill Ends Park
Shutterstock / Michael Gordon

We told you Portland was home to the smallest park in the world! It’s held the title since 1971 when the Guinness Book of World Records first granted the recognition.

Mill Ends Park is located in the median strip of the SW Naito Parkway in the city’s downtown. The plot, which measures just two feet across, contains only one tree.

The name is actually a nod towards a journalist named Dick Fagan, who wrote a popular column called “Mills Ends” for the Oregon Journal back in the ’40s. His office overlooked the plot where the park now stands.

Though the city had planned to install a light pole near the median, nothing ever arrived. The area soon became overgrown with weeds, which was when Fagan dubbed the space the “World’s Smallest Park.”

See the Oregon Maritime Museum

helm at the Oregon Maritime Museum
Shutterstock / Van Rossen

The Oregon Maritime Museum houses ship models, maritime artifacts, and memorabilia. Its collection also contains the Sternwheeler Portland, the last operating steam-powered sternwheel tug in the U.S.

Visitors can sift through objects and displays related to steam power, sailing vessels, battleships, underwater diving, and the liberty ships used in WWII. If you’re traveling with small kids, head over to the “Children’s Corner,” which is filled with nautical objects that they can touch and operate

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Check out the Portland Rose Festival

float at the portland rose festival
Shutterstock / Ritu Manoj Jethani

The Portland Rose Festival is one of the most famous events in the city. The tradition has been going strong for over a century, attracting media attention from all over the state and beyond. Hosted from May to June, it includes more than 60 events, including fireworks, parades, carnival rides, dragon boat races, and much more.

Of course, the grand showcase revolves around the Grand Floral Parade, which features around 20 all-floral floats, 18 marching bands, and 19 equestrian units. Vintage vehicles, colorful dancers, and other performers also participate in the march.

Ride the Aerial Tram

portland aerial tram
Shutterstock / EQRoy

Portland is a pretty easy city to navigate on foot, but it never hurts to change things up a bit. The city’s Aerial Tram allows visitors to ride 500 feet up in the air, from the South Waterfront area to Marquam Hill. Traveling at a speed of 22 miles per hour, you’ll enjoy unparalleled views of the city and beyond.

The project was first pitched as a way to encourage more foot traffic in the Marquam Hill neighborhood, which is also where the Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) main campus is located. Nearly 20,000 people visit the campus daily, which, before the Tram, was only accessible by two 2-lane roads.

Today, anyone is welcome to take the 3,300-foot journey. Riders will board either one of two cabins. The north cabin is named Jean in honor of Jean Richardson, the first female engineering graduate from Oregon State University. The south cabin, named Walt, pays homage to Walt Reynolds, the first African American to graduate from OHSU.

Catch a Show at Portland’5 Centers for the Arts

Portland'5 Centers for the Arts theater
Shutterstock / Tada Images

The Portland’5 Centers for the Arts is now the fifth largest performing arts center in the U.S., bringing over 1,000 performances to the Portland community each year.

The organization has five venues located around the city: the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Keller Auditorium, and Antoinette Hatfield Hall, which contains the Brunish, Newmark, and Winningstad theaters. Combined, these locations attract over a million annual visitors.

The center also runs a robust education program so that members of the community can access career shadow opportunities, summer internships, and curriculum support. The program allows individuals to access their world-class lectures and performing arts free of charge.

Today, its stage is a frequent stop for modern performers like Amy Schumer and Kristin Chenoweth, but the organization maintains a long and colorful history.

Its origins can be traced back to 1917 when Portland residents opened the city’s first publicly-owned assembly center. As the need for space grew, a second location was opened, which was eventually named the Paramount Theatre.

Things took off in 1971 when a prospective buyer proposed replacing the venue with a parking garage. The people of Portland fought so hard against the decision that in 1972, the Portland City Council declared the Paramount a historic landmark. In 1980, the Portland’5 was formed and made a bid to renovate the space. Needless to say, the approval went through without a hitch.

Tour the Shanghai Tunnels

man exploring the shanghai tunnels in Portland
Twitter / @reallychannel

In addition to eateries, art galleries, and retail shops, Portland is also home to a series of tunnels that connect the basements of the city’s oldest buildings to the Willamette River and Portland’s Chinatown.

The passageways are over 150 years old and were originally used to transport goods coming off cargo ships to the inner city. Unfortunately, history books have exposed more sinister activities that took place.

While Portland wasn’t known as a big city during this time, it did have a large port that could support a good number of ships. Workers typically enjoyed very little time off between sails. It wasn’t uncommon for them to drink their way into the next assignment, or simply abandon the position altogether, leaving captains with empty positions they needed to fulfill before they could leave port.

Eventually, desperate and crooked captains began hiring people to “shanghai” replacement sailors for $50 a head. Usually, that involved locating young, able-bodied individuals, getting them drunk, and luring them into the tunnels. There, they would be knocked unconscious and sold into labor.

Today, walking tours are available to those who want to learn more about the tunnels and their history. The area has also become a popular destination for ghost tours in search of the most “haunted” parts of Portland.

Visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Pagados at the Lan Su Chinese Garden
Shutterstock / Jon Bilous

The Lan Su Chinese Garden first opened in 2000 as a result of a collaboration between Portland and its Chinese sister city, Suzhou.

The city brought in artisans from the Suzhou region to help design the grounds. The authentic Chinese gardens follow a 2,000-year-old tradition that melds art, history, architecture, and nature. The area now offers more than 500 cultural and botanical programs annually.

Audio tours are also available via mobile device. That way, you can absorb important information surrounding the garden and its contents while independently enjoying the scenery. Once you finish exploring the grounds, be sure to stop by the teahouse for a quick reset.

Spend some time in the Pearl District

benches in the pearl district, portland, or
Shutterstock / Stephanie Braconnier

Portland’s Pearl District operates as one of the more metropolitan parts of the city. Loaded with upscale eateries, retail shops, and various other cultural institutions, you’re sure to enjoy plenty of options when it comes to how you want to spend the day.

While more local artists are gravitating towards Alberta Street, the Pearl District was once considered the art mecca of Portland. You can still find some of the city’s best galleries located in this area.

The Pearl District is also close to downtown, Old Chinatown, and Northwest Portland, making it a great starting point for those who want to explore other parts of the city.

Stop by Powell’s City of Books

Powell's City of Books
Shutterstock / Michael Gordon

Powell’s City of Books just happens to be one of the biggest attractions in the Pearl District. It’s also the largest independent bookstore in the world. And when we say “large,” we mean it. The establishment spans an entire city block.

First opened in 1971, the bookstore now operates as a third-generation, family-owned business. Its founder, Michael Powell, actually got the idea from his son, who had opened up his own bookstore in Chicago. After spending a summer helping out at the shop, Michael decided to take the tradition with him back to Portland.

If you decide to stop by, be sure to check out the calendar of events before you go. The store frequently invites authors to discuss their books and other happenings in the literary world.

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Visit the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Crystal springs rhododendron garde
Shutterstock / Thye-Wee Gn

The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden contains nine acres of rare species, including over 2,500 hybrid rhododendrons, azaleas, and lesser-known shrubs, along with other companion plants and unusual trees.

The property was originally owned by Williams S. Ladd, who served two terms as the mayor of Portland. Today’s garden actually contains some specimens planted there during Ladd’s residence, dating back to the early 1900s.

If you’re looking for free things to do in Portland, then save this stop for a Monday when they waive the admission fee. Children under 10 are invited in for free seven days a week.

Book a stay at Multnomah Falls Lodge

Multnomah falls and lodge
Shutterstock / Bob Pool

The Multnomah Falls Lodge provides access to the top natural tourist attraction in the Pacific Northwest. It’s located just a short walk from Multnomah Falls, which, standing at 620 feet, remains the highest waterfall in Oregon.

The lodge also has significant historical roots. First opened in 1925, it provided much-needed amenities to individuals traveling through the Columbia River Gorge. Today, the area attracts upwards of 2.5 million visitors per year.

If you’ve already arranged a place to spend the night, you can always stop by for a meal. The restaurant inside the lodge is open daily for full-service dining. There’s also a Sunday brunch worth checking out. You can be sure the view won’t disappoint.

Walk around Mount Tabor Park

two women walking mount tabor in portland
iStock / Skyhobo

Out of Portland’s 200 parks, only one is situated atop a volcano. Mount Tabor stands 636 feet tall and casts Portland as one of six American cities with an extinct volcano within its limits.

The area was officially made a public park in 1909. Soon thereafter, famous landscape architect John C. Olmsted was asked to design the site, which included hiking trails, winding roads, stone steps, and open green space to house plants native to the area. At one point during its construction, volcanic cinders were actually used to pave some of these pathways.

Today, Mount Tabor Park offers incredible views across southeast Portland, which include the city skyline and West Hills. Basketball courts, horseshoe pits, and playgrounds are all available for public use. There’s also an outdoor amphitheater as well as a fenced-in, off-leash dog park to check out.

Check out the Hoyt Arboretum

hoyt arboretorium
Shutterstock / Wasim Muklashy

The Hoyt Arboretum was founded in 1928 to conserve endangered species and spread awareness across the community. Today, the area spans 190 acres and contains 12 miles of hiking trails for visitors to enjoy.

Located just minutes from downtown Portland, the arboretum houses over 2,300 species of trees and shrubs from six continents. It’s also open year-round, allowing locals to enjoy the landscape through all four seasons.

Guided tours are available to those who want to learn more about the grounds. You can even take classes on botany, bird identification, and more. Family-friendly activities are hosted throughout the year to help parents deliver new and educational experiences to their kids.

Grab a drink at the Occidental Brewing Company

beer at the occidental brewing company in portland
Twitter / @OccidentalBrews

Hope you made space in the itinerary for a drink! The Occidental Brewing Company is one of Portland’s trendiest breweries, known for its German-style ales and lagers.

Founded in 2011, its offerings can be found in local supermarkets, bottle shops, and restaurants. In addition to its core beers, the brewery bottles multiple seasonal offerings. Not only do they distribute to most of Oregon, but they also ship to Western Washington, Nevada, Idaho, and, occasionally, Japan!

The taproom recently reopened with expanded outdoor seating. Grab a cold beer and head out onto the patio, where you can enjoy spectacular views of Cathedral Park and the Willamette River. Game nights and tours are also offered throughout the year.

Wrapping Up

That’s about it for our list of things to do in Portland, but be sure to check back with us soon! Travelicious, supported by Best Life, is committed to helping you find your next adventure. Sign up for our newsletter for expert-backed tips for navigating our favorite U.S. destinations!

FAQ

What are the best things to do in Portland with kids?

If you’re in search of things to do in Portland with kids, you can rest easy knowing that it’s an incredibly family-friendly city. Below are a few of our favorites for the whole group to enjoy together:

  • Visit the Oregon Zoo
  • Stop by the Portland Saturday Market
  • Walk around Tom McCall Waterfront Park
  • Go for a hike in the Columbia River Gorge
  • Visit the Portland Art Museum
  • Explore the Portland Japanese Garden
  • Run through the Salmon Street Fountain

What are some fun things to do in Portland for adults?

While Portland is a great place to visit with kids, there is no shortage of things to do for adults. Listed below are a few of our favorite spots for anyone over 18:

  • Book a stay at the Multnomah Falls Lodge
  • Have a drink at any one of Portland’s 70 breweries
  • Grab a bite at a local food truck
  • Go see the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby
  • Tour the Shanghai Tunnels
  • Spend some time at Powell’s City of Books
  • Buy flowers at the International Rose Test Garden

What is Portland known for?

While there are plenty of attractions that have helped put Portland on the map, the city is most famous for its local breweries and expansive green space. As the largest city in Oregon, it’s just a short drive away from some of the country’s most amazing landscapes, including Mount Tabor and Multnomah Falls.

What is the best thing to do in Portland during the weekend?

During the weekend, Portland’s boutiques, eateries, and art galleries welcome many visitors. But if you’re looking for the best weekend activity the city has to offer, start out at the Portland Saturday Market. The event first kicked off back in 1973 and is now recognized as the largest continuously operating open-air market in the country.



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