The City of Roses, PDX, Rip City, Bridge Town or Portlandia. Whatever you call it, Portland is one of the best cities in the United States. With multiple award-winning parks, a thriving music and art scene, and an abundance of food trucks and breweries, there’s plenty to do in Portland, Oregon!
A popular slogan here is “Keep Portland Weird” because the city and its residents are known for their creativity and independence. The city hosts funky annual events like the World Naked Bike Ride and the Adult Soapbox Derby. It also houses places like the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and a vacuum museum. Do I have to say more?
Aside from the craziness, there are a lot of great sights to visit in Portland, from one of the country’s largest city parks to a French Renaissance mansion. When you visit all of the museums, galleries, markets and venues for live music, you will never get bored when you are in Portland.
I have traveled all over the country and Portland is undoubtedly one of my favorite cities in the United States. What can I say? I am a fool for nature, efficient public transportation and craft beer.
Let’s get this show on the road and try out some of the great things to do in Portland, Oregon!
1. Take a tour of Portland
Get to know the city of Portlandia on a walking tour. There are several ways to explore the best of what PDX has to offer on foot.
Portland Walking Tours conducts their Best of Portland tour daily and it is the perfect entry into the city.
On this fun and informative tour, you’ll learn why Portland is considered one of the best cities in the United States. After the tour, you may want to move there! The tours take place every day at 10 a.m. and on the weekends in spring and summer every day at 2 p.m. Tickets cost $ 23 for adults and $ 9 for children. Click here Find out more about this affordable, fun, and informative tour.
But that’s not all. You have many other great tours to choose from including Street food tour. Beyond bizarre, and We were tipsy in Portland, Check the links for all the details and book tickets online. One of these tours is definitely one of the most fun activities in Portland.
2. Visit Pioneer Courthouse Square
This “living room” of the city has been a central meeting point in Portland for 35 years.
An interesting feature of the course is that there are over 70,000 stones with names. Citizens and businesses bought the brick with $ 15 donations to fund the construction of the square in the early 1980s.
On the square you will find the waterfall fountain and various works of art. One of the best known is Allow meshowing a businessman offering his umbrella. The place is also home to the Weather machine – a sculpture that predicts the weather for the next day at noon with a little fanfare.
Over 300 events are held on the square throughout the year. There is a lot going on here, from concerts to fitness courses to film screenings. Be sure to check theirs event Calendar to see what’s going on.
Pioneer Courthouse Square There is also an information center here, where you can get tons of information about Portland’s various attractions.
3. Enjoy Washington Park
One of the top attractions in Portland is Washington Park. In fact, several attractions are combined into one in this huge park. There is so much going on here that the park could be its own list of activities in Portland, Oregon!
In the city of roses, you should start your visit to the park of the International Rose Test Garden. There are over 10,000 rose bushes that bloom between April and October. Free public guided tours take place every day from 1 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The park also houses Portland’s beautiful Japanese garden. It has eight unique garden areas and a cultural village where you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture. Tickets cost $ 18.95 for adults and $ 13.50 for children (Click here to book them online).
In the sprawling Washington Park, we haven’t even scratched the surface of everything that’s on the tap. Here you will also find the Children’s Museum, the Hoyt Arboretum and much more. With over 24 kilometers of hiking trails, it’s also a great place to hike a bit in the city. Check your website for a detailed view of all attractions.
The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. You can easily reach the park by tram. From May to October a free shuttle bus runs through the park and stops at the most important sights. Click here for the way to Washington Park.
4. Go museum hopping
While you can easily spend your days outdoors in Portland, it usually rains here in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, there are several great museums in Portland Oregon that you can add to your list of activities for the inevitable rainy days.
One of the best options is the Portland Art Museum, which is known for its impressive collections of Native American and Asian art. Exciting new exhibitions are constantly being added your website to see what is currently displayed.
The art museum is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Mondays, but remains open until 8 a.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Tickets cost $ 20 for adults and children under 17 are free. Click here to get directions.
Across the street you will find the Oregon Historical Society. This entertaining, interactive museum aims to make the history of the state visible and accessible to visitors. Learn all about the people, places, and events that shaped the state of Oregon. It is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 a.m. and Sunday from 12 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets to the museum are $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for children.
Do you remember how I said the city has a slogan that is “Keep Portland Weird”? Well, that’s definitely true here, as you’ll also find museums dedicated to hats, dolls, toys, and even vacuum cleaners.
5. Visit Powell’s City of Books
That may be hard to believe in 2020, but one of the best things to do in Portland Oregon is a book store. However, this isn’t just any old bookstore – Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world!
The store takes up an entire city block and consists of nine color-coded rooms with over 3,500 sections. They claim to buy over 3,000 used books every day and store up to a million books at any time! The place is so huge that they actually hand out maps to help you find your way around.
Visit Powell’s, have a coffee and browse this unique collection. A special highlight is the Rare Book Room with its antique furniture and a few thousand valuable and unique books. Be sure to take a look at theirs event Calendar before you visit to see what’s going on here.
Powell’s City Books are open daily from 9 AM to 11 PM. They offer free guided tours every Sunday at 10 a.m. when you are in town on weekends. Click here to get directions.
6. Visit huge and small parks
If you are like me and prefer to hike in the forest rather than walk through the concrete jungle, you should definitely visit the Forest Park. Located just a short distance west of downtown, this massive urban forest spans 5,000 acres. It is one of the largest in the country and one of the best attractions in Portland.
The area stretches for 13 km on the eastern slopes of the Tualatin Mountains and overlooks the Williamette River. It is Just a short drive away From downtown Portland, you can experience a true northwest forest within the city limits.
In Forest Park there are amazing 110 km of hiking trails. The Wildwood Trail section of the famous 40-mile loop that circles the city is part of the park if you are serious about hiking. You can see a map of all the different trailheads with descriptions on your website,
The park is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. They also do frequent tours of the park, so be sure to take a look their calendar to see if you can join one. In that case, it’s definitely worth expanding your list of things to do in Portland.
A classic example of Portland’s famous craziness is the fact that the city is home to the smallest park in the world. Mils End Park is only 0.292 square meters, so it won’t take you long to visit it. Oh yes, and it was also dedicated on St. Patrick’s Day as “the only goblin colony west of Ireland”. Click here to get directions to this hilarious little park.
7. Stroll through Chinatown
While it is not as famous as its peers in new York or San Francisco, Portland’s Chinatown, is well worth a visit. It is also known as the Old Town, which is a fitting name because it is the oldest district in the city.
On the corner of NW 4th Ave. and at W Burnside St you will find the Chinese gate and lion statues. After taking a photo there, you can drive one block north to visit the Portland Chinatown Museum. It is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 12 noon to 5 p.m. in summer, and costs $ 8 for adults or $ 5 for children.
The highlight of this part of Portlandia is without a doubt that Lan Su Chinese garden, It was built after Suzhou became a sister city of Portland, famous for its traditional gardens. The Chinese name translates to “garden of awakening orchids” and it is a beautiful place to spend a few hours.
The Chinese garden is open every day at 10 a.m. The opening times depend on the season. They are open until 7 p.m. in summer, but from 4 p.m. in winter. Ticket prices also vary and cost $ 12.95 for adults and $ 9.95 for children in the summer months. Please check your calendar of events to see what’s going on and have a look at their beautiful tea house.
8. Eating at Food Trucks (one of the best things to do for foodies in Portland)
One of the tastiest things to do in Portland, Oregon is eating your way through the city’s countless food trucks. Portlandia has more than 500 different food trucks spread across the city.
Unfortunately, the largest food truck capsule in Portland had to close recently. The 10th and Adler capsule was formerly known as the largest concentration of street food in America.
These days the Pod on 3rd and Washington is one of the best places to get a variety of street food (Click here for directions). Choose from around 20 carts that prepare Mexican, Korean, Egyptian, Greek, and more.
Another excellent choice is Cartopia in East Portland. It’s mostly a nighttime place, so the perfect place to settle down after a long night in the city.
9. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
We already covered a few parks, but it’s definitely worth adding another one. The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in southeast Portland is a beautiful place to retreat to for a few hours.
It was founded in 1950 as an experimental garden and currently houses over 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas and many other plants. It lies on Crystal Springs Lake and has several paths that lead you through the garden. This is the place for your personal Zen moment in Portlandia.
In addition to all the pretty flowers, this is also a great place to watch birds. Over 100 species of birds and animals live here, including ducks, blackbirds, sparrows, herons and more.
The garden can be enjoyed all year round, but the best time to see rhododendrons is between late April and early May. During this time two big events take place – the Rhododendron & Daffodil Show and a bigger one on Mother’s Day weekend.
The visit is free from October 1st to February 28th and always free on Monday. From March 1st to September 30th, they charge $ 5 for adults. The garden is open all year round from morning to evening. Click here to get directions.
10. Watch live music
While it may not be as famous as its neighbor, Seattlethere is also a solid live music scene in PDX. Portland has music venues of all shapes and sizes, and shows are held every night of the week.
From local bands trying to make a name for themselves in pubs to well-known headliners playing in the arena, there are plenty of rocking opportunities in Portlandia.
Best places to enjoy live music include the Doug Fir Lounge, Roseland Theater, Crystal Ballroom, and Mississippi Studios.
We rolled through Portland on ours Month of music Travel around the country and had a great time. Check this out event Calendar to see who’s playing when you’re in town and to add an evening of live music to your list of activities in Portland Oregon.
11. Pittock Mansion
One of the most popular attractions in Portland is the Pittock mansion, This 46-room mansion was built in 1914 in the Victorian and French Renaissance styles.
In this beautiful manor house was Henry Pittock, who in the Oregonian Newspaper and his wife Georgiana. He chose the location on the West Hills above Portland for panoramic city, river and mountain views.
Unfortunately, both died within five years of moving in. The house remained family owned for decades, but was badly damaged and almost demolished during a storm. Locals helped raise almost $ 70,000 to protect the property, and the city of Portland eventually bought it and turned it into a museum.
The Pittock Mansion is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in summer and closes an hour earlier the rest of the year. It is also closed for the entire month of January. Tickets cost $ 12 for adults and $ 8 for children. Be sure to check your website to learn more about the different tour options.
12. Shop at the Saturday market
If you’re in town on a weekend, be sure to include a Saturday market trip in your list of fun things to do in Portland. This lively craft market is the largest of its kind in the whole country United States and is a really fun place to explore.
The market is located on the west side of the river just below Burnside Bridge. While in the area, you can also visit some popular photo locations like the Skidmore Fountain and the famous White Stag sign. Click here to get directions.
It is open every weekend from March to Christmas Eve. Saturdays are open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. In the week before Christmas, it becomes the “last minute festival” – the perfect place for loafers to do the Christmas shopping!
There is a lot going on at the Portland Saturday Market so you can easily spend a few hours there. In addition to the large selection of providers, there is also a children’s corner, live music and a food court. Go to your website to find out what’s going on while you’re in town.
13. Drive over bridges
In addition to its craziness, Portland is also known for its bridges and cycling. Why not just combine the two? After all, Portland is known as the most bike-friendly city in the country and Bridge Town is one of the many nicknames.
First you need a couple of bikes. BIKETOWN is the city’s bike share program and getting started is easy. Just log in, unlock the bike, ride and lock it when you’re done. There are over 1,000 bikes and 100 stations in the city, so they’re always easy to find. For visitors, you can only pay a registration fee of $ 5 and then $ 0.08 per minute. Check your website for all details.
If you prefer to experience the city with a group, you can register for one of the excellent groups Pedal bike tours, On their classic introductory tour to Portland, you’ll get an entertaining crash course for PDX. On the way you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the river and the many bridges that span it.
Tours cost $ 49 per person and last 3 hours. You drive a total of about 14 km, but the terrain is mostly flat. They also have a few other tours that focus on some of the finer things Portland is famous for – donuts and beer. Speaking of Homer Simpson’s favorite pastime, which leads us to the final points of our list of activities in Portland …
14. Experience Beervana
As if Portland didn’t have enough damn nicknames, we add another to the list – Beervana. However, this is well deserved, as there are more than 100 breweries in the underground zone! Do not you believe me? Just Click here to see the official count.
Where do you start with so much delicious beer? You can pedal on the Oregon Brewery Trail tour mentioned above, which includes visiting three different brewing bars. These tours cost $ 69 and last three hours.
If you’re a little more adventurous, check out one of the BrewGroup PDX options. Your BrewCycle tours are carried out on party bikes with 6, 11 or 15 seats, which are a lot of fun. You can also get into the water with your BrewBardge pedal boats. Tours cost between $ 30 and $ 40, depending on which one you choose and which day of the week. Check your website for all information.
If you prefer to walk rather than bike, the BeerQuest people have the perfect tour for you. The award-winning brewery tour also has three stops and you get 11 different samples! The tours cost $ 48 per person and take place on Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Click here online booking.
15. Donuts galore!
You can’t leave Portland without eating some donuts either! The obsession with fried dough in Portland started with voodoo donuts. Known for its versatile decor and unusual ingredients (cap’n crunch, dried chilli, bacon, etc.), this place is a local legend.
There’s almost always an hour-long queue, and many locals will dismiss it as “for tourists” these days, but it’s worth trying the famous donuts at least once! Your old town place is even open around the clock, so you can saturate your sweet tooth after a night of bar hopping if you want.
Another great option to satisfy your donut cravings is Blue Star. There are wild flavors like Blueberry Bourbon Basil and Mexican Hot Chocolate. These are definitely some high end donuts here. Both Blue Star and Voodoo have multiple locations in Portland, so you’ll never be too far from delicious bread doughs.
Do you want your donuts to have a page of information and fun with a group? Take a donut tour!
Are you ready for all the fantastic and weird activities in Portland ?!
Well, it does. If you haven’t already traveled to Portland, beer and donuts sealed the deal! At the very least, you will be hiking and cycling a lot to lose all those calories!
Writing this manual reminds me how much I love Portland. Although I visit frequently, I have not lived in the United States for over a decade and I am not really planning to retire. Otherwise Portlandia would be high on my list. It is a beautiful city in the middle of nature, you can get anywhere by public transport or by bike and it has a vibrant culture that is in itself.
I hope this guide will help you plan a great trip to the City of Roses. If you have recommendations for things to do in Portland, feel free to leave a comment and let us know!
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