Visiting Portland on a budget? Fear not, the City of Roses has more than enough to keep you entertained without spending a dime. Whether it's browsing through the massive Powell's City of Books or enjoy some time in nature, these are the best things to do for free in Portland.
Local farmers and food vendors sell the goods they’ve grown or made locally. In addition to excellent produce, you’ll find baked goods, meats, cheeses, and a variety of gourmet foods. There are four seasonal markets at locations around the city but for local produce sold year-round head to Portland State University on any Saturday. The market is open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. November to May and from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. April to October.
Portland's Forest Park covers a staggering 5,200 acres and is one of the biggest urban parks in the United States. There are more than 80 miles of trails and roads to explore including a portion of the 30-mile Wildwood Trail. If hiking isn't your style you can also bike or ride horses through Forest Park.
The Portland Saturday Market is one of the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country and is the place to go if you're interested in seeing what the city's artisans and artists are up to. More than 250 vendors selling everything from playing cards to ceramics to food to fine art gather in the Old Town Neighborhood.
The market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from March until Christmas Eve. It's also open for an entire week leading up to Christmas Eve for what’s called “The Festival of the Last Minute.” If you're ever in need of a last minute, handmade gift, the Saturday Market is the place to go.
Pioneer square is in the center of downtown, and is also known as “Portland’s living room.” The square hosts hundreds of events each year, including concerts and cultural fairs. In the warmer months, it’s a great place to sit and people watch.
This gorgeous park in the larger Washington Park is why Portland is called the City of Roses. More than 10,000 rose bushes of 650 global varieties bloom here. While the park is open all year the roses don't start blooming until early May and they reach their peak around the first week of June.
Powell's is a must-see bookstore that takes up an entire city block and holds more than a million volumes. Every Portlander must get lost here at least once. Beyond books, Powell’s also has a coffee shop and an art gallery in the Pearl Room.
Also in Washington Park, Hoyt Arboretum stretches over 190 acres and has 12 miles of trails. The arboretum was founded in the 1920s to conserve endangered tree species. It's very close to the Oregon Zoo and is home to 2,300 species of trees and shrubs from around the world. The grounds are open every day from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. While visiting the arboretum is completely free, if you'd like to learn more about the trees you can join a guided tour for $3.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
This 36-acre public park in Downtown Portland on the Willamette River is a popular resting spot for residents. It was first opened to the public in 1978. There are walking and biking trails, fountains, several memorials, and grassy areas perfect for a picnic. Tom McCall Waterfront Park is also home to several festivals like the Waterfront Blues Festival, Oregon Brewers Festival, the Portland Pride Waterfront Parade & Festival, and Bite of Oregon.