The Best Time to Visit Portland

Portland Oregon Downtown Cityscape in the Fall

David Gn Photography / Getty Images

The best time to visit Portland, Oregon, is during summer. Days are long and the weather is dry and warm, so you can get out and enjoy the city’s attractions and beautiful natural spaces all day long. Yes, there will be more people in lines at the zoo or Japanese Garden or other popular places, but the lines generally aren’t prohibitively long. 

Other seasons can be fine times to visit as well. You’ll spot cherry blossoms in spring, pretty autumn leaves in the fall, and Christmas lights displays in winter. The main drawback of visiting during these seasons is a higher chance of rain, especially in the late fall and winter.

Weather

Portland has a temperate climate. Winter lows tend not to get too far below freezing, and it’s only on rare summer days that temperatures top 90 degrees F (32 degrees C). The city does not often get more than a dusting of snow, but if snow does happen, it’s usually in January or February. The biggest weather factor impacting your time in this Northwest city will be rain. Like most of the Pacific Northwest, Portland has pretty steady rain starting in September or October and lasting through about March, sometimes later. This doesn’t mean rain every day or constantly (though, especially in the fall, it can mean just that), but it does mean if you visit during this time, you should accept the fact that you might get rained on. 

Crowds

Portland does not have a major problem with crowds at attractions, but some times of the year do bring out more lines and crowds than others. This includes the summer when the weather is gorgeous, and at any point in the year when an especially nice day happens after a stretch of bad weather. Especially if you want to go to some place like the zoo where nice weather is a boon, expect other people will have the same idea. Yet, the lines are not prohibitively long so don’t let them hold you back.

Major Festivals and Events

Visiting Portland during a major festival or event can add a little extra fun to your time in this already enjoyable city. Portland in general is known for its craft brewery scene and if that appeals to you, don’t miss one of the beer festivals, such as the Oregon Brewers Festival in July or Portland International Beerfest in June. You’ll find music festivals like the Waterfront Blues Festival in July, cultural happenings like the Portland Greek Festival in October, and even some quintessentially quirky festivals (it is Portland, after all) like the Portland World Naked Bike Ride.

Summer

Summer is absolutely beautiful in Portland, filled with long and often sunny days, dry weather, and generally sunny skies. If you’re looking for the best time to visit the city, this is it! Temperatures range in the high 60s to high 70s Fahrenheit (19 to 25 Celsius) most days (with a few warmer and cooler spikes). Many evenings can dip to the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit, so make sure to pack a light sweater if you plan to be out. Don’t miss the city’s parks like the massive Forest Park or Washington Park with its tons of things to do (including the zoo and Rose Test Gardens).

Events to check out:

  • Portland Pride Festival and Parade: This free festival in June celebrates all things LGBTQ+ with events all around the city, but don’t miss the two-day Waterfront Park festival and, of course, the big parade.
  • Oregon Brewers Festival: Late July brings one of the largest and oldest beer festivals in the area where you can sip your way through craft brew aplenty. Summer is a popular time for other beer festivals, including PDX Beer Week and Portland International Beerfest.
  • World Naked Bike Ride: This is just what it sounds like. Naked people riding through the city streets! The location is announced close to the event happening, which is usually in June.
  • Waterfront Blues Festival: In July, the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi fills Waterfront Park with quality tunes, food, and fireworks on July 4.
  • Bridge Pedal: As one of the biggest community bike rides anywhere, Bridge Pedal celebrates Portland’s car-free bridges and streets in a unique way.
  • Feast Portland: Feast Portland celebrates the city’s culinary scene. The event is an umbrella for all kinds of happenings around the city, from events at local restaurants to events at Director Park and Pioneer Courthouse Square.

Fall

Autumn is beautiful in Portland. Leaves begin to turn, the weather cools down (but warm, sunny days are not uncommon either), and it’s good to pack layers as you never really know what you’ll get. The city’s theaters and art venues come alive in the fall, so if you’re a fan of the arts, check out venues large and small to see what’s on their calendars. Sports also comes to the forefront as the local NBA team, the Trail Blazers, starts its season too.

Events to check out:

  • Portland Open Studios: This October event lets you get up close to artists at work in their studios to learn what they do and how they do it.
  • Queer Film Festival: For more than two decades, this film festival at Portland’s Cinema 21 shows films by, about, or of interest to the queer community.
  • Portland Book Festival: Book lovers, unite! All in one day, this festival brings together more than 100 writers and about 9,000 readers, all from many genres.
  • Rose City Comic Con: With a focus on comics, Rose City Comic Con also highlights all kinds of interest including gaming, anime, and fantasy. Bring your best cosplay and jump into the fun.
  • My People’s Market: If you love shopping at local markets and also love supporting multicultural businesses, My People’s Market brings it all together with more than 80 local multicultural businesses represented, as well as live music, performances, and food.

Winter

Winter in Portland is not the best time to visit as daylight hours are short and rainy weather is common. If you visit during the winter, bring a rain jacket, an umbrella, and shoes that won’t get soaked if you step in a puddle. All the attractions are still open and you can still get out to enjoy the town...you’ll just be a bit soggier while you do it. That being said, if you’re a skier, snowboarder or just want to try your hand out at a hike on snowshoes, head out to Mount Hood. This time of year is for you!

Events to check out:

  • Holiday events: Look to the zoo, Portland Grotto, and more for Christmas lights displays! Also don’t miss holiday markets and keep an eye out for special holiday happenings.
  • Portland Winter Light Festival: February gets a lot brighter when the city lights up several major structures and bridges with bright lights!
  • PDX Jazz Festival: This jazz festival in February celebrates jazz and Black History Month alike.
  • Film and Art Festivals: There are a few film festivals through the winter months. Cascade Festival of African Films, Fertile Ground, and Reed Film Music Festival are just a few.  

Spring

Spring is a lovely time to visit Portland. Many days may still bring a shower or two, but with the days getting longer and leaves and flowers popping out all over town, this is a refreshing and beautiful time to explore Portland. Bring a raincoat and dress in layers.

Events to check out:

  • Portland Dining Month: Dining Month is a great time to test out a new restaurant. More than 100 restaurants around the city serve three-course meals for just $33.
  • POW Film Fest: POW Film Fest focuses on films by women and non-binary directors from the Portland area. 
  • Cinco de Mayo Fiesta: The Cinco de Mayo Festival is one of the largest multicultural festivals in the state and fills Waterfront Park with music, food, crafts, and culture.
  • Rose Festival: The Portland Rose Festival is the city’s biggest festival and encompasses more than 60 events over the course of a few weeks in May and June, including parades, dragon boat races, a carnival, and more.
  • Portland Beer Week: Beer Week brings limited-edition brews and special happenings at brewpubs throughout Portland.
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