35 Best Things to do in Portland, Oregon

Vertical sign reading "Portland" in Portland, Oregon

Are you looking for a unique travel experience that offers something special and different from the usual tourist route? Then make sure to add Portland, Oregon to your must-visit list! Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or an extended vacation, this Pacific Northwest city has plenty of exciting activities for everyone. From nationally renowned museums and recreational parks to delicious eateries and cultural attractions, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Portland. Read on for our ultimate guide showcasing the best 35 activities, sites, and shows that will make your trip unforgettable!

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Where is Portland, Oregon?

Portland, Oregon, is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It's nestled in the Willamette Valley, surrounded by majestic mountains, lush forests, and fertile farmland, making it a hot spot for nature lovers. This bustling city is easily accessible to both the Pacific Ocean and the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge. Not only that, but Portland also shares its borders with Washington to the north, where the Columbia River marks the state line. With its iconic bridges connecting the city's east and west sides and a skyline backed by the snow-capped Mount Hood, Portland's location offers a unique blend of urban living alongside easy access to the great outdoors.

Is Portland, Oregon safe?

Yes, Portland, Oregon, is generally considered safe for tourists. I know Portland has gotten a lot of press the last few years in regards to drugs, crime, and homelessness, and, unfortunately, that attention has been given for a reason. That being said, the city has been striving to get crime and drug abuse under control and the city seemed much cleaner this year (2023) than it has in the years past. Keep in mind that it is a major city and the unofficial tagline, "keep Portland weird," is very fitting and people 100% pursue whatever they wish vs. what everyone else will agree with. It can be a lot to take in, especially for tourists who are not familiar with major cities.

As with any city, it's always important to remain vigilant and aware of your surroundings, especially in crowded or less familiar areas. Portland has a friendly and welcoming community that looks out for one another. However, it's still recommended to exercise standard travel precautions. Make sure to secure your belongings, avoid deserted areas late at night, and always have a plan of how to get back to your accommodation. Remember, safety can often depend on decisions and behaviors, so being responsible and respectful can greatly contribute to your secure and enjoyable travel experience in Portland, Oregon.

Skyline view of Portland, Oregon with Mount Hood in the distance

Where to stay in Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, prides itself on its eclectic neighborhoods, each offering a different vibe and unique attractions. Here are some of the best areas for tourists to stay:

  1. Downtown Portland: It's the heart of the city with easy access to major attractions like the Portland Art Museum, Powell's City of Books, and the vibrant waterfront. You'll find a range of accommodations here, from luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels.
  2. Pearl District: This trendy neighborhood is known for its art galleries, chic boutiques, and an array of restaurants. It's also home to Powell's City of Books, the world's largest independent bookstore, a must-visit in Portland.
  3. Nob Hill: Also known as the Alphabet District, Nob Hill is a charming and walkable neighborhood with beautiful Victorian homes, tree-lined streets, and some of the city's best shopping and dining options.
  4. Eastside District: If you're looking to explore Portland's famous craft beer scene, this is the place to be. It's also known for its hipster vibe, with cool coffee shops, food trucks, and quirky boutiques.
  5. Northwest District: This area includes the vibrant Chinatown and the Pearl District. It's an excellent place for foodies, with a high concentration of restaurants and breweries.

Remember, no matter where you choose to stay, Portland's compact size and excellent public transportation make it easy to explore all the neighborhoods and attractions.

What is the weather like in Portland?

Portland, Oregon, is known for its distinctive four-season climate, yet it's probably most famous for its rainy weather. However, the rain often comes in the form of a gentle drizzle and rarely hampers outdoor activities.

Spring (March - May): Springtime can be wet but is also punctuated by plentiful sunny days. The city blooms with cherry blossoms and rhododendrons, painting the city in vibrant colors. Temperatures typically range from the mid-40s to the 60s (Fahrenheit).

Summer (June - August): Summers are usually dry and warm with an average high in the 80s, perfect for hiking, biking, or enjoying a picnic in one of the city's many parks. The evenings can be a bit cooler, so packing a light jacket might be a good idea.

Autumn (September - November): Fall ushers in cooler temperatures and beautiful foliage as the city's many trees transition from green to a palette of red, orange, and gold. It's a gorgeous time to visit, with temperatures typically hovering between the 40s and 70s.

Winter (December - February): Winter brings the most rain, with the city receiving most of its annual rainfall during these months. Snow is infrequent but possible. Temperatures usually range from the mid-30s to the 50s.

Always pack an umbrella or a rain jacket when visiting Portland, even in the summer. The city's weather can change quickly, but that's just part of what makes Portland, well, Portland!

Portland, Oregon Old Town neon sign with deer

What to pack for Portland

Packing for a trip to Portland, Oregon, largely depends on the season, but some items are useful year-round. Here's a handy packing list for your visit:

  1. Weather-Appropriate Clothing: Pack layers to adjust to Portland's ever-changing weather. In summer, bring lightweight clothing, a light jacket for the evenings, and even a rain jacket. For the cooler months, pack warm clothing including sweaters, long pants, and a heavier jacket or coat. Always have a sturdy pair of waterproof shoes.
  2. Rain Gear: An umbrella, rain jacket, and waterproof footwear are must-haves for Portland's drizzly weather.
  3. Outdoor Gear: If you're planning to hike or camp, pack appropriate gear such as hiking boots, a backpack, and binoculars for wildlife viewing. Don't forget a water bottle to stay hydrated!
  4. Swimwear: Pack swimwear if you plan to visit Hood River or the Pacific Coast during the warmer months.
  5. Reusable Shopping Bag: Portland has banned plastic bags, so a reusable shopping bag is handy for shopping trips.
  6. Camera: With its scenic beauty, quirky street art, and vibrant food scene, you'll want to capture plenty of memories.

Remember, it's always better to be over-prepared than under, especially when it comes to the weather in Portland.

35 best things to see and do in Portland, Oregon

In Portland, Oregon, the options for exploration are seemingly limitless. This vibrant city is brimming with a plethora of attractions that can cater to an array of interests, whether you're a foodie, an outdoor enthusiast, a culture buff, or a history fanatic. From unearthed culinary gems in the city's food cart pods to breathtaking hikes in Forest Park, the city truly has something for everyone. Portland's rich tapestry of experiences ensures that every visitor can find something that resonates with their unique preferences and passions.

Visit the Portland Japanese Garden

This is definitely one of the most popular things to do in Portland, Oregon and for good reason! The Portland Japanese Garden, nestled within the verdant landscape of Oregon, is a haven of tranquil beauty and serenity. Its meticulously designed landscapes, featuring koi-filled ponds, enchanting bridges, and winding pathways that transport visitors to the heart of Japan. The garden's seasonal flora adds a unique charm, making each visit a distinctly different and memorable experience. Be sure to complete your visit with a visit to the authentic Japanese tea house, Umami Café, at the Portland Japanese Garden.

Note: Admission ticket to the Japanese Garden is required to visit the café.

Portland Japanese Garden: 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Google Maps

Admission: Adult: $21.95, Senior (65+): $18.95, Student (with ID): $17.95, Youth (6-17): $15.95, Child (5 and under): Free

Garden hours: Wednesday-Monday 10:00am-4:00pm (closed Tuesdays)

Café general public hours:  Sunday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm (last seating at 4:30pm)

*Café walk ins are welcome, but reservations are encouraged and can be booked 10 days in advance.

Explore Powell’s City of Books

Powell’s City of Books is an iconic Portland landmark and one of the largest independent bookstores in the world making it one of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon for book lovers. The store has over a million books spread across nine color-coded rooms, making it easy to find what you’re looking for. There are also plenty of coffee shops and restaurants nearby to help you refuel while browsing through books. If you're a bookworm like us, you absolutely cannot miss a stop into Powell's City of Books! Trust me, you'll be there longer than you plan to be.

Note: Did you know that Powell's actually has three different locations in Portland? Their flagship location is the largest and the one famous for stocking over a million books. If you're looking for a solid bookstore but don't necessarily care if it's gigantic, consider visiting one of their other locations.

Powell's City of Books: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Everyday 10:00am-9:00pm, the Guilder Café is open 10:00am-8:00pm, and the Rare Room is open 10:00am-5:00pm

Inside Powell's City of Books, Portland, Oregon

Check out the International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden is home to more than 10,000 rose bushes representing 550 varieties from around the world. It’s one of the oldest public rose test gardens in America and is open year round for visitors to enjoy its beauty and fragrance free of charge. If you didn't already know, they call Portland, Oregon, the "City of Roses" and for good reason. Not only is the Rose Test Garden full of unique rose varieties, but so many homes in the neighborhoods around Portland have their fences and yards lined with beautiful, fragrant, colorful roses!

International Rose Test Garden: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Everyday 5:00am-10:00pm

Take a day trip to Hood River, Oregon and drive the "Fruit Loop"

Just an hour's drive away from Portland, the Fruit Loop in Hood River is an absolute must to do when visiting Portland, Oregon if you're a fruit lover and/or nature enthusiast. This 35-mile scenic drive loops through the valley's orchards, forests, farmlands, and friendly communities. It offers an extraordinary opportunity to enjoy the valley's world-renowned fruits such as apples, pears, cherries, and peaches, and to immerse oneself in the stunning views of Mount Hood. We had the chance to drive the Fruit Loop in mid September and had so much fun stopping to buy apples, pumpkins, sipping beer at a local brewery under the view of Mount Hood, and even visit a winery and cidery in a gorgeous old white house.

We recommend starting the route in cute downtown Hood River on Oak Street before mapping yourself down 281 (Dee Highway) towards Parkville, Oregon. In Parkeville you'll take one turn onto 35 which will bring you back to downtown Hood River.

Hood River Fruit Loop: Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Each business has different hours so plan accordingly so that you're sure to visit on a day when the businesses that most interest you are open.

Fruit stand on Hood River's Fruit Loop

Spend a day at Washington Park

Washington Park is one of Portland’s most popular parks and offers something for everyone—from biking trails to playgrounds, picnic areas, tennis courts, and more! It also houses several attractions such as The Oregon Zoo, The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Hoyt Arboretum, and Japanese Gardens—all within walking distance from each other!

Washington Park: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Everyday 5:00am-10:00pm

Take a hike on Forest Park Trails

We always like to include outdoor activities and Forest Park is our top outdoor activity recommendation for things to do in Portland, Oregon. Located just west of downtown Portland and spans over 5,000 acres, Forest Park has over 70 miles of trails winding through old growth forests filled with Douglas Firs, Western Hemlocks, Big Leaf Maples, Red Alder Trees—it's no wonder why this park is so beloved by locals!

Forest Park: Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Everyday 5:00am-10:00pm

Man and dog hiking on Forest Park Trails in Portland, Oregon

Try local wines in the Willamette Valley

The Willamette Valley is renowned for its exquisite Pinot Noir, making it a paradise for wine aficionados. Journey just an hour outside of Portland and immerse yourself in the lush, rolling vineyards of the Willamette Valley Vineyards. Here, you'll not only savor world-class wines but also enjoy stunning views of the valley. If you're looking for specific wineries to visit, we highly recommend the Argyle Winery for its exceptional sparkling wines, and Penner-Ash Wine Cellars for a taste of some of the valley's best Pinot Noir. But no matter where you go, you're guaranteed to find a welcoming atmosphere and memorable wine-tasting experience.

Willamette Valley Vineyards: 8800 Enchanted Way SE, Turner, OR 97392 | Google Maps

Argyle Winery: 691 OR-99W, Dundee, OR 97115 | Google Maps

Penner-Ash Wine Cellars: 15771 NE Ribbon Ridge Rd, Newberg, OR 97132 | Google Maps

Take a hike at Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is one of Oregon’s most popular attractions and is located just 30 minutes outside of Portland. The falls are comprised of two tiers that drop 620 feet into a spectacular gorge surrounded by lush greenery. Visitors can take a short hike to reach an observation deck at the top of the falls or continue on to reach Benson Bridge which spans across Multnomah Creek below. Be sure to checkout our entire travel guide for Multnomah Falls including accessibility, parking permits, hike details, and more.

Multnomah Falls: 50000 Historic Columbia River Hwy, Bridal Veil, OR 97010 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: The trails to the falls are open 24/7, but the gift shop, restaurant, and restrooms are open everyday 8:00am-6:00pm

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Enjoy street food at Portland's many food carts

Oregon's city of Portland is renowned for its vibrant food cart scene, offering an array of delicious cuisines from all around the world. Food carts in Portland are cherished for their ability to serve delectable food that is both affordable and high-quality, making them an integral part of the city's culinary identity. They are considered one of the best ways to experience the city's diverse food culture.

Among the numerous food cart pods in Portland, some stand out as must-visit spots. Cartopia, located at SE 12th Ave and Hawthorne Blvd, is a lively late-night food cart pod that has been serving Portland since 2008. Here, you can indulge in a variety of food options, from scrumptious pizza at Pyro Pizza to savory crepes from Perierra Crêperie. Another notable mention is Alder Street Food Cart Pod, based in downtown Portland. This hub is home to over 60 food carts and offers a smorgasbord of global flavors, from Korean BBQ to vegan bowls. Lastly, don't forget to visit Portland Mercado on SE Foster Rd, a Latin American food cart hub offering a wealth of flavors from Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, and more.

Cartopia Food Cart Pod: SE 12th Ave and Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps Hours: vary depending on the cart

Mississippi Marketplace: 4233 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97217 | Google Maps

Third Avenue Food Cart Pod: SW 3rd Ave &, SW Harvey Milk St, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps Hours: vary depending on the cart Hours: vary depending on the cart

Portland Mercado: 7238 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR 97206 | Google Maps Hours: vary depending on the cart

Matt's BBQ at Mississippi Marketplace food cart pod, Portland, Oregon

Go shopping in downtown Portland

Downtown Portland is a true shopping haven, with a mix of high-end boutiques, local artisans, and well-known brands, all within an easily walkable area. Begin your shopping journey on the city's retail spine, Southwest Broadway, where you'll find flagship stores for major brands like Apple, H&M, and Nike. A few blocks away on the corner of Southwest 10th Avenue and West Burnside is Powell's City of Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore and a must-visit for book enthusiasts. For a more local flavor, head over to the Union Way Shopping Arcade, a chic set of boutique shops featuring local designers and craftsmen. Finally, don't miss the opportunity to visit the famous Portland Saturday Market in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood, where local artisans sell handmade arts and crafts. It's the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and gifts, all while enjoying the vibrant atmosphere of one of Portland's oldest and best-loved traditions.

Southwest Broadway Shopping: Google Maps Hours: vary depending on the store.

Union Way Shopping Arcade: 1022 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209 | Google Maps Hours: vary depending on the store.

Portland Saturday Market: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps Hours: Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm

Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a must-visit attraction when you're in Portland, Oregon. It's an interactive hub of learning where both kids and adults can immerse themselves in a variety of exhibitions, ranging from the wonders of natural sciences to high tech demonstrations. OMSI not only offers five enormous halls packed with exciting science exhibits but also features a planetarium, a submarine tour, and an IMAX theater. It's an engaging and educational experience that makes science fun and accessible for everyone, making it a perfect destination for families or anyone with an insatiable curiosity about how the world works.

OMSI: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps

Admission: Adult (14+) $18.00, Senior (63+) $15.00, Youth (3-13) $13.00, Infant (Under 3 years) Free

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 9:30am-5:30pm, Saturday 9:30am-7:00pm, Sunday 9:30am-5:30pm,  Closed Mondays

Visit the world's smallest park

Mill Ends Park, recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the world's smallest park, is a unique attraction located in the heart of downtown Portland. This tiny urban park, with a total area of just 452 square inches, was created for a leprechaun colony and as a habitat for snail races. Despite its size, it holds a special place in the city's heart and is definitely worth a quick visit. Its location in the median of busy Naito Parkway adds to its charm and uniqueness.

Mill Ends Park: SW Taylor St & Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Open 24/7

Mill's End Park, Portland, Oregon

Explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden, a tranquil oasis nestled in the bustling city of Portland, offers visitors a chance to experience the beauty of authentic Ming Dynasty-style gardens. Created as a result of a collaboration between the cities of Portland and Suzhou, this garden boasts stunning architecture, tranquil landscapes, and beautiful water features, all inspired by traditional Chinese design. Visitors can enjoy serene walkways, a teahouse that serves traditional Chinese tea, and a rich schedule of cultural activities and events. A visit to Lan Su is like stepping into a different world, a peaceful paradise that offers a glimpse into Chinese culture and history.

Lan Su Chinese Garden: 239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209 | Google Maps

Admission: Adult (age 19-61): $14, Senior (age 62 & over): $13, Student (18+ with I.D.): $13, Youth (age 6-18): $11.00, Child (5 and under): Free

Hours: Winter - Daily 10:00am-4:00pm, Peak season - 10:00am-6:00pm. Last visitor entry is 30 minutes before closing time.

Wander around the Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum is a cultural treasure of Oregon, housing an extensive collection of over 42,000 works of art that span the decades and continents. Its diverse range of exhibits include Native American art, English silver, and graphic arts. The Museum also hosts regular special exhibitions, educational programs, and art films, ensuring there's always something new to discover. It's a hub of creativity and history, making it a must-visit spot for art enthusiasts and casual visitors alike.

Portland Museum of Art: 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Google Maps

Admission: Adults: $25, Seniors (62 – up): $22, College students (18+ up with student ID): $22, Youth (17 and under): Free

Hours: Wednesday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Stroll through the Eastbank Esplanade

The Eastbank Esplanade is a delightful riverside walking and biking path, offering splendid views of downtown Portland and the Willamette River. Stretching 1.5 miles from the Steel Bridge to the Hawthorne Bridge, it provides a unique perspective of the city's scenic beauty. Lined with native plants and featuring public art installations, the esplanade is a popular spot for exercise, picnics, or simply soaking in the panoramic vista. Whether you’re a nature lover, fitness enthusiast, or a photographer hunting for the perfect shot, the Eastbank Esplanade is a must-visit when in Portland.

Eastbank Esplanade: SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: 24/7/365

Take a day trip to the Oregon Coast

Just a short drive from Portland, the Oregon Coast offers an unforgettable getaway. Known for its rugged beauty, the coastline stretches over 360 miles and is dotted with quintessential beach towns and stunning sea-spray vistas. So, let's embark on a whirlwind tour of 6 of the best beach towns and sites along the Oregon Coast:

  1. Astoria: Steeped in history, Astoria is the oldest American settlement west of the Rockies. Visit the Columbia River Maritime Museum and the iconic Astoria Column for breathtaking views.
  2. Cannon Beach: Famous for the Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach offers a picturesque setting with its sandy shores and artsy vibe. Don't miss the beautiful tidal pools around the rock!
  3. Tillamook: Home to the world-famous Tillamook Creamery, this town is a must-visit for cheese and dairy lovers. The Cape Meares Lighthouse is another highlight.
  4. Newport: Known for its historic waterfront, Newport hosts two lighthouses, an aquarium, and the bustling Historic Bayfront district.
  5. Florence: Florence offers the stunning Heceta Head Lighthouse, the Sea Lion Caves, and the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area.
  6. Bandon: Bandon's Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint is known for its distinctive rock formations and stunning sunsets.
Girl, guy, and dog sit on house porch looking out over beach in Bandon Beach, Oregon coast

Stop by the Oregon Historical Society

The Oregon Historical Society is a treasure trove for history buffs and curious visitors alike. Located in downtown Portland, this museum is dedicated to preserving, exhibiting, and teaching Oregon's rich history. With various exhibits that include artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories, visitors can delve into the diverse and vibrant past of Oregon and its people. Both educational and intriguing, a visit to the Oregon Historical Society is a journey through time that paints a vivid picture of Oregon's storied past.

Oregon Historical Society: 1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Google Maps

Admission: Varies

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00am-5:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm-5:00pm

Enjoy a show at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall

Immerse yourself in a world of music and culture at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, this neoclassical, Italian rococo revival-style landmark is home to a wide array of performances, including the Portland Symphony Orchestra, contemporary music concerts, and high-profile lectures. Known locally as "The Schnitz", the concert hall offers a unique blend of historical charm and modern acoustics, making it an unmissable stop on your Portland visit.

Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall: 1037 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205 | Google Maps

Checkout the Pearl District

Nestled in the heart of Portland, the Pearl District is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood known for its iconic brick warehouses transformed into art galleries, chic boutiques, and gastronomic havens. Stroll along the bustling streets, soak in the local culture, or explore Powell's City of Books, an independent bookstore that's a paradise for book lovers. Don't miss out on the First Thursday art walk, the district's monthly celebration of arts and culture. A visit to the Pearl District offers a unique blend of Portland's historic charm and contemporary flair.

Pearl District: Google Maps

Pearl District sign

Explore the Tom McCall Waterfront Park

No visit to Portland, Oregon, would be complete without spending some time at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This expansive park, stretching alongside the Willamette River, is a beloved spot among locals and tourists alike. It's a premier location to admire Portland's skyline, engage in outdoor activities, or simply relax and savor the beauty that surrounds you. From the iconic Portland Saturday Market to the beautiful Japanese American Historical Plaza, this park offers a slice of serenity amidst the city bustle.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps

Take a Portland Brewery Tour

Embark on a Portland Brewery Tour to discover why the city is often dubbed “Beervana”. Boasting more breweries than any other city in the world, Portland offers a rich tapestry of craft beers to explore. From IPAs and Lagers to Stouts and Sours, a brewery tour offers you the opportunity to sample these diverse brews, learn about the brewing process, and understand the city's beer culture. Whether you're a seasoned beer connoisseur or a casual enthusiast, a brewery tour is a must-do experience when visiting Portland.

Beer glasses on Portland beer tour

Visit the Pittock Mansion

Perched atop Portland's West Hills, the Pittock Mansion is a must-visit landmark that offers a fascinating glimpse into the city's history. Built in 1914 for Henry and Georgiana Pittock, pioneers who contributed significantly to the development of Portland, this French Renaissance-style château is now a museum showcasing period-appropriate furnishings and stunning artworks. The mansion also boasts panoramic views of Portland and the surrounding Cascade Mountains. Whether you're a history enthusiast or a nature lover, the Pittock Mansion offers an enriching experience.

Pittock Mansion: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210 | Google Maps

Get Lost in Powell Butte Nature Park

Explore the serene beauty of nature at Powell Butte Nature Park, a city park located in the southeastern part of Portland. Housing an array of wildlife and showcasing a variety of native plants, the park is a haven for nature enthusiasts and casual visitors alike. From the crest of Powell Butte, visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of the city and its surrounding mountains, making it a gem of Portland's natural beauty.

Powell Butte Nature Park: 16160 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97236 | Google Maps

Explore the Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is a world-class haven for wildlife and a global leader in animal welfare and conservation. Spanning over 60 acres, it is home to more than 2,000 animals from around the world, including Asian elephants, African lions, and California condors. With its emphasis on conservation and education, the Oregon Zoo offers a rich, engaging experience that leaves visitors with a deeper understanding and appreciation of our planet's biodiversity. Don't miss the chance to ride the miniature train, a favorite among children and adults alike.

Oregon Zoo: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221 | Google Maps

Admission: Adult (12+): $24, Children (2-11): $19, Infant (under 2): Free, Military ID: $22

Hours: Everyday from 9:00am-5:30pm

Visit the Portland Saturday Market

The Portland Saturday Market is the heart and soul of the city's vibrant artisan culture. Every weekend, visitors can explore a vast array of locally crafted goods, from handcrafted jewelry and original artwork to gourmet food and unique souvenirs. It's the perfect spot to find a one-of-a-kind memento of your visit to Portland, while also supporting local small businesses. Plus, with live music and entertainment, it offers a lively and dynamic atmosphere that captures the spirit of the city.

Portland Saturday Market: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Saturdays March through December 10:00am-5:00pm

Produce at the Portland Saturday Farmers Market

Sunset at Mt Tabor Park

At the end of the day, make your way to Mt Tabor Park for a tranquil sunset. This dormant volcanic vent offers stunning views of downtown Portland and the surrounding area, making it a favorite spot for photographers and nature lovers. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky transforms into a palette of rich hues, casting a magical glow over the city. This magnificent display of nature's beauty is the perfect way to round off your day in Portland. Be sure to get there at least half an hour before sunset to grab a parking spot and a good place to watch the sun dip behind the horizon.

Mt Tabor Park: SE 60th Ave & Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215 | Google Maps

Visit the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

Explore the rich history of rail transport at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, home to a collection of meticulously preserved steam locomotives. Visitors can immerse themselves in Oregon's rail heritage and admire the three steam locomotives that are the centerpiece of the exhibit, including the famous Southern Pacific 4449. Dive even deeper into the history with exhibits offering insights into the railroad's importance in shaping the Pacific Northwest. Whether you're a train enthusiast or just interested in history, the Oregon Rail Heritage Center offers a captivating journey into the past.

Oregon Rail Heritage Center: 2250 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps

Enjoy music at the Crystal Ballroom

The Crystal Ballroom holds a special place in the heart of Portland's music scene. This historic venue, which has been entertaining Portlanders since 1914, is renowned for hosting a variety of artists across different genres. From local bands to international superstars, the Crystal Ballroom offers a unique concert experience with its grandiose architecture and "floating" dance floor. Don't miss the chance to catch a live performance at this music hotspot when you're in town. We saw Johnnyswim here years ago when we lived in Seattle, Washington and had such a wonderful time!

Crystal Ballroom: 1332 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209 | Google Maps

Portland street car

Browse the shops in the Hawthorne District

The Hawthorne District in Portland is an eclectic and vibrant hub known for its unique shops and boutiques. You're bound to find a treasure or two exploring the quirky bookshops, vintage clothing stores, and local artisan shops that line Hawthorne Boulevard. No visit to Portland would be complete without a leisurely stroll down this bustling street, immersing yourself in its unique charm and character.

Hawthorne District: SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps

Self guided coffee tour around Portland

Portland, Oregon, is a mecca for coffee connoisseurs, boasting a rich tapestry of craft coffee hotspots that will delight the senses and leave caffeine lovers utterly fulfilled. For the ultimate coffee experience while visiting Portland, here are a few must-try spots:

  • Stumptown Coffee Roasters: This iconic coffee brand originated in Portland and is a must-visit for their incredible espresso and cold brew. (100 SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps)
  • Heart Coffee Roasters: Known for their meticulous sourcing and roasting process, Heart offers a beautiful space to enjoy a luxurious latte or flavorful filter coffee. (2211 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps)
  • Coava Coffee Roasters: Visit Coava for their single-origin brews and serene, minimalist café spaces. (1300 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214 | Google Maps)

Please remember that each coffee shop has its own unique hours and offerings, so don't forget to check them out before you visit.

Girl holding coffee cup on rainy day in Portland

Savor donuts at Voodoo Doughnut

Voodoo Doughnut is an iconic Portland institution that's as famous for its quirky décor as its innovative and delicious doughnuts. With an eclectic menu featuring imaginative concoctions like the Bacon Maple Bar and the Fruit Loop covered Voodoo Doll, Voodoo Doughnut is a funky place to try doughnuts. Personally, we think their doughnuts are overhyped, but it is a very Portland place to go. If you're looking for good doughtnuts in Portland based on taste then checkout Blue Star Donuts or Pip's Original Donuts & Chai.

Voodoo Doughnut: 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204 | Google Maps

Revel in the natural beauty of the Columbia River Gorge

Sure we've already mentioned a couple of specific stops along the Columbia Rive Gorge in this travel guide as some of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon, but the Gorge is large with a lot of options! Watch the windsurfers on the river in Hood River, see the famous Bridge of the Gods, and even take a hike to a vantage point that overlooks the Gorge. The Columbia River is large and powerful, so swimming only in designated areas is recommended.

Visit the Oregon Museum of Contemporary Art

At the heart of Portland's vibrant arts scene, the Oregon Museum of Contemporary Art is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts. This non-profit museum is dedicated to showcasing innovative and thought-provoking contemporary art, featuring a dynamic selection of rotating exhibits from local, national, and international artists. Whether you're an art aficionado or a casual visitor, this museum offers a unique perspective into the creativity and cultural richness of the region.

Oregon Museum of Contemporary Art: 8371 N Interstate Ave, Portland, OR 97217 | Google Maps

Admission: Free

Hours: Friday-Sunday 12:00-5:00pm or by appointment

Take a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram

Experience a breathtaking bird's eye view of the city with a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram. This unique mode of transportation not only serves as a vital link between the city’s South Waterfront district and the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus, but also offers panoramic views of the Willamette River, downtown Portland, and beyond. The 4-minute journey aboard the tram is an unforgettable experience, sure to be a highlight of your visit to Portland.

Portland Aerial Tram: 3303 SW Bond Ave, Portland, OR 97239 | Google Maps

Admission: $8 (round trip), Free for children 6 and under

Hours: Monday-Friday 5:30am-9:30pm, Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm, Closed on Sunday

Go hiking at Mount Hood

Mount Hood, located just a short drive from Portland, is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts with its spectacular landscapes and well-marked trails. Hiking here offers the opportunity to explore verdant forests, alpine meadows, and even glaciers, all while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Here are some of the best trails you should consider: The Timberline Trail offers a challenging loop around the mountain, take the Mirror Lake Trail for a shorter hike with breathtaking views, or try the Ramona Falls Trail to experience a stunning waterfall. Mount Hood is full of amazing hikes so if you're looking for more detailed recommendations, checkout these Mount Hood trails.

Mount Hood: Mount Hood, OR 97041 | Google Maps

Timberline Trail: 39.8 mi | 9,852 ft elevation gain | Trail Guide

Mirror Lake Trail: 4.2 mi | 672 ft elevation gain | Trail Guide

Ramona Falls Trail: 7.1 mi | 1076 ft elevation gain | Trail Guide

Mount Hood behind sunflowers in Oregon

Final thoughts

Portland, Oregon is an amazing city that offers a diverse array of activities and locations - from world-class museums to scenic forests and remarkable neighborhoods. Its mild, temperate climate provides a unique sense of wonderment no matter what time of year you choose to visit. The locals are friendly, the atmosphere laid-back, cultural events abound, and the food scene is top-notch. From the Portland Japanese Garden to Powell's Bookstore, there's something for everyone in this dynamic and vibrant city. Whether it’s sampling foods from the city’s food carts or exploring one of its many parks on a bike tour – visiting Portland will provide you with unforgettable experiences! So don't miss out on this incredible city with its beautiful landscape and rich culture; come experience it for yourself! Pack your bags and visit Portland today!

Like this post? Checkout these other Pacific Northwest travel guides.

35 Best Things to do in Portland, Oregon

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Hi! We're Chris and Sara a husband and wife video making, storytelling, travel loving duo with a passion for sharing travel tips, tricks, and inspiration with others.
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