Portland is a truly interesting and unique city. There are many things to do and places to visit. It’s no surprise that Portland’s motto is “Keep Portland Weird”, which includes the largest independent bookstore in the world, many microbreweries and the famous murals.
We love to spend time in Portland and its surrounding areas and have compiled this list to help you plan your visit.
Portland’s Best Things
Portland is a great city full of quirky and fun things to do. It also has a lively food, drink and coffee scene. This list includes the top things to do in Portland, whether you’re visiting for a weekend or as a starting point on your Oregon Coast Road Trip.
Portland: Where to Stay
There are many options when it comes to where to stay in Portland. We stayed downtown Portland, and we highly recommend it because it is close to many of the sights and old town. These are our top recommendations for hotels.
The Inn at Northrup Station was our choice of accommodation during our stay in Portland. We cannot recommend it enough. It’s quirky, colourful and conveniently located to explore Portland. These suite-style rooms are large and come with fully equipped kitchens. They are ideal for Portland stays.
Mark Spencer Hotel – This is a well-located hotel in the Pearl District. It has been renovated recently and is one of the most sought after hotels in the area. It is worth a visit.
Portland Map of Things To Do
We have compiled a map showing all the top Portland attractions that you can download to your smartphone and save it for your next trip.
Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s City of Books in Portland is a landmark that must be seen by anyone who visits the city. Powell’s, the world’s largest independent bookstore has every kind of book, new and old, as well as rare books. Powell’s occupies nearly a whole block of Portland’s central area.
Powell’s Bookstore is packed with books, and there are over 1,000,000 in total. There are also reading areas that allow for relaxation. This book store is among the best we’ve seen on our travels. The store is a joy to explore and the children love the area for reading in the kids section.
Powell’s has a wide selection of pre-owned books. This means you can get great deals on used books. The mountains of books can be admired for hours.
Powells’ City Of Books is open all year, every day. There is also a small coffee shop.
Washington Park, located on the southwest side of Portland, is home to some of the most popular things to do in the city and is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. Redwoods Observation Deck, Oregon Zoo and the beautiful Japanese and International Rose Test Gardens are just a few of the attractions in the park.
- Take a stroll around the Portland Japanese Garden
- We loved Portland’s Japanese Garden. It is a peaceful oasis in Washington Park.
Adults pay $18.95 to enter the gardens, but it is well worth the price for the beautiful views. Shuttle bus transportation from the parking lot to the gardens is included in the admission price.
Take in the colours at the International Rose Test Garden
This beautiful garden, located across from the Portland Japanese Garden is lined with more than 10,000 rose plants. It is maintained by Portland City.
There are over 650 rose varieties in the garden, making it a great place to enjoy a picnic on a sunny day.
The garden is open every day. Roses are usually in full bloom between late May and October each year. June is the peak season. It’s free to enter, making it a great place to stop after visiting the Portland Japanese Garden.
Portland White Stag Sign
The White Stag, Portland’s most famous sign, should be at the top of every Portland visitor’s list.
Two popular spots to view the White Stag sign are the Burnside Bridge pedestrian walkway and the Burnside Bridge park on Pacific Highway. These are both great places for taking photos.
Take a Tour of Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion, a French chateau originally built as a home in 1914 for the Pittock family, is now a museum. In 1965, the Pittock Mansion opened as a museum to the public. Walking through the Pittock Mansion is a joy. It gives you a glimpse into the life of people at the turn century.
You should take a walk through Pittock Mansion’s gardens to see one of the most beautiful views of Portland, the Cascade Mountains and Mount Hood. The view was breathtaking and we were able to see it on a clear day.
We did a self-guided tour through the house. Each day, there are 50-minute guided tours. Entry is $12 for adults, $8 for children 6-18, and free for those under 6.
Voodoo Donuts in Portland is a Portland landmark! The doughnuts are known for their unique toppings and crazy variety. There is a lot of people waiting in line.
Voodoo Portland has two branches: the first on 3rd Avenue, and the second at 1501 Northeast Davis.
If you are passing by, the Davis store is worth a visit for its bright pink exterior or amazing mural.
Explore the waterfalls on the Columbia River Gorge
Some of the most beautiful waterfalls are located near Portland. The Columbia River Gorge is an 80-mile stretch of canyon located 40 minutes from Portland. It is known for its beautiful waterfalls, which are scattered along the gorge walls. This area is beautiful and has the most waterfalls in the USA.
The Historic Columbia River Highway runs alongside the Columbia Gorge and features a number of Columbia Gorge waterfalls. It is possible to visit several waterfalls in one day because they are so close together. It’s a beautiful drive from Portland with many stops and viewpoints along the way.
Multnomah Falls is the most well-known waterfall, but we also love Horsetail Falls and Latourell Falls.
Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is a must-see if you’re in Portland on Saturdays. The Portland Saturday Market, which was established in 1974, has grown to be a very popular market. It is the oldest continuously running arts and craft market in the US.
A Saturday morning spent at the market is a wonderful way to spend time, walking among the many stalls selling everything from trinkets and clothing to arts and crafts and local fruits and flowers. The market is worth exploring for around 2 hours. If you feel hungry, there are many stalls that offer quick food.
Explore Portland’s Street Art
You will find many beautiful and fun murals all over the city. Keep Portland Weird is one of our favorites, as well as the Pink Flamingo at Pi Spot and The Rhino Collector. The murals are a great spot for Instagram if you love Portland.
Try some of Portland’s Best Coffee
Portland is home to some of the finest coffee in America. There are many independent coffee shops in the city, and many of them offer their own beans.
Stumptown Coffee Roasters is the most well-known Portland coffee shop. They have several stores in Portland and supply coffee shops all over the US. Their downtown location at 3rd Avenue is undoubtedly their best. They regularly host art exhibitions.
Other coffee shops worth visiting include Ovation Coffee Roasters, Deadstock Coffee, and Coava Coffee Roasters.
11 | Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden, a walled Chinese Garden located on NW Everett Street, is inspired by the Ming dynasty Chinese gardens. In collaboration with Suzhou, China, the garden was first created. Named after the Chinese characters for orchid (Lan), and awaken (Su), the garden is also known as the “Garden of the Awakening Orchid”.
It is peaceful and serene and a great place to take a walk. The botanical garden contains 90% of the Oregon’s indigenous Chinese plants.
Keep Portland Weird Sign
The city’s iconic slogan, “Keep Portland Weird”, can be found on bumper stickers, souvenirs and clothing all over the city.
The slogan was initially intended to promote local businesses after the success of ‘Keep Austin Weird” in Texas. The motto has evolved to encompass all that is unique about Portland, regardless of whether it’s a strange or unusual aspect.
This slogan can be found in a parking lot right next to the Old Town Voodoo Donuts Shop.
Hike to Witch’s Castle
Witch’s Castle is an abandoned stone structure that can be found at the edge of Portland’s Forest Park. According to legend, one of the owners of the land killed his worker who was in love with his daughter and then eloped with him.
The hike to Witch’s Castle takes about half a mile and is moderately strenuous. It starts at NW Cornell Road, but descends steeply on the return. It is a beautiful trail that follows Balch Creek to Witch’s Castle, especially in fall.
14 | Paul Bunyan Statue
The massive Paul Bunyan statue, located in the north end of Portland, was constructed in 1959 to honor those who worked in Oregon’s timber industry. The statue, which is 31 feet high and made of steel and concrete, has been well maintained throughout the years.
Portland Tip: It can be difficult to park near the Paul Bunyan statue due to its location. But you won’t want to miss it!
15 | Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
Crystal Springs is a 9-acre park that houses a diverse collection of rhododendrons. Although the park is accessible all year, it is best to visit in spring and summer, when the flowers are at their peak.
For everyone 11 years and older, the entrance fee is $5 Mondays are free.
16 | Visit Sauvie Island
Sauvie Island, a natural island in the river that is just 10 miles north from Portland, can be found on a short drive. There are many things to do on the island, from biking and beaches to picking fruit at the farms and picking fruit along the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Sauvie Island is worth the short drive from Portland and is a great place to take kids.
- It was great fun to visit Sauvie Island in the fall, when the pumpkin patch was open.
- Pioneer Courthouse Square (aka Portland’s Living Room)
Another fun thing to do is to stop by the Pioneer Courthouse Square. This urban park, also known locally as Portland Living Room hosts more than 300 events every year. It is a great place to have a good time.
Silver Falls State Park
Silver Falls, a beautiful state park located 20 minutes south of Portland, is a must-see. It’s a great day trip from Portland, and you can visit it in just a few hours.
A 7-mile looped circular hike, called the Tail of Ten Falls, takes you to the park. The park’s most famous waterfall is South Falls. A viewing trail runs behind it is also very cool.
Visit the smallest park in the world (Mill Ends Park)
Portland is the city with the smallest park in the world. Mill Ends Park, a small circular park on the Willamette River’s Pacific Highway, is located on an island. It’s an enjoyable thing to do in Portland, and it is just a short walk away from Pioneer Courthouse Square.
It is just 0.292 m squared (452 sq inches), so it’s very easy to walk past. A small sign is located at the intersection next to the park so you will know where you are.
Aeroplane In The Woods
Bruce Campbell lives in the Aeroplane in the Woods, a short drive from Portland. He purchased a Boeing 727-400 in 2003 and shipped it to a small area in the woods outside Portland. From there, he converted the plane into his home.
Enjoy some craft beers
Portland is a great place to be if you like beer. Over 70 breweries are located in Portland, which has been producing the finest beer in America since the 1980s. Portland is known for its delicious IPA beer.