21 Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

Dusk shot of Portland Oregon neon sign, city

David Papazian / Getty Images

The natural beauty of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest have turned the area into a prime travel destination, made only more appealing by the quirkiness of the city of Portland. Whether you're looking for outdoor excursions in the lush rainforest or more urban adventures at attractions that "Keep Portland Weird," as the city's motto proclaims, you won't be lacking for options. Best of all, the temperate climate means Portland is a comfortable place to visit year-round, rarely getting unbearably hot or frigidly cold—although it does rain a lot.

01 of 21

Get to Know Portland's Foodie Scene on a Food Tour

Lost Plate Food Tours in Portland, Oregon

Lost Plate Food Tours

Portland, OR, USA

There's no shortage of foodie tours in Portland, whether you're a food truck fanatic or you're looking to sample a bit of everything as you learn more about the local neighborhoods and the people who live there.

Eat Adventures Food Tours offers guided trips through Downtown and the Alberta Arts District, as well as specially themed tours focusing on chocolate, beer, food halls, and the city's best brunch spots. Portland by Mouth has several savory tours through the Kerns, Buckman, and North Mississippi neighborhoods. Lost Plate's tours take visitors on a palate-pleasing adventure through Portland's best food carts and patios, in search of the city's greatest coffee and doughnuts, and out to the wineries of nearby Willamette Valley.

02 of 21

Learn About Local Flavors on a Sustainable Farming Tour

Farm 2 Fork Tours

Farm 2 Fork Tours

Portland, OR, USA

For a twist on your average food tour, check out one of Farm 2 Fork Tours' sustainable farming tours, each of which focus on a separate area of the culinary experience.

The Coastal Exploration tour offers a deep dive into seafood and oyster farming, introducing guests to working fisherman—you'll also have a chance to try shucking oysters and catching crab before sampling the fruits of your labor. The Taste of Willamette Valley tour focuses more on the farms responsible for some of the best wine, cheese, olive oil, and fresh vegetables in the region, with a chance to meet the farmers who produce them. Whichever tour you choose, you're bound to end up learning — and tasting — a lot, so bring your appetite.

03 of 21

Sip Wine from the Source in Willamette Valley

Wine in Willamette Valley Portland Oregon

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Willamette Valley, Oregon, USA

Located about an hour's drive south of Portland, the Willamette Valley is famous for its more than 600 vineyards and tasting rooms, many of which specialize in Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and a number of other regional varietals. Whether you're planning a romantic escape or a getaway with your girlfriends, you're sure to have a fun time sampling your way around the area and checking out the incredible Valley views.

04 of 21

Day Trip to the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

Mark C Stevens / Getty Images

Hood River County, OR 97031, USA
Phone +1 541-308-1700

Just a short drive from downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area impresses with 149,400 acres of beautiful natural landscapes, including the ever-popular Multnomah Falls. If you're seeking some solace after a few days in the city, it's a fantastic place to kick back with a picnic or go for a hike or bike ride in a beautiful natural setting. Be sure to check the website for important information regarding wildfires and trail closures before you head out—and make sure you've secured a timed ticket to view the Falls—to avoid disappointment.

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05 of 21

Sip Some Craft Beer

flight of beer
Angelo DeSantis / Getty Images
131 NW 13th Ave, Portland, OR 97209, USA
Phone +1 503-820-7721

Portland has a reputation for having one of the best original craft beer scenes in the U.S., even though artisanal beer is now common in many cities throughout the country. With nearly 70 breweries in the Portland metropolitan area, your only problem will be narrowing down which ones you want to visit. Many of them, such as Von Ebert Brewing, are concentrated around the central Pearl District—it's a good neighborhood to start in, but don't stop there. There are scores of great taprooms just on the other side of the Willamette River, including Hair of the Dog and the Cascade Brewing Barrel House, that are worth visiting as well.

06 of 21

Escape to an Urban Jungle

Footpath in Forest Park, Portland
Sankar Raman / Getty Images
Portland, OR 97231, USA
Phone +1 503-823-4492

Portland is perhaps the only major city in the U.S. where you can walk from downtown and end up in a rainforest. The Pacific Northwest is home to the world's largest temperate rainforest and the best place to get outside around Portland is in the expansive Forest Park. One of the largest parks in a U.S. city, it has more than 70 miles of hiking trails, and once you enter, you'll completely forget about the rest of the city around you.

Keep your eyes peeled for old-growth trees, scenic views of the Willamette River, flying squirrels, the occasional bobcat, and all types of birds from woodpeckers to pygmy owls. Rain and flooding can often make trails impassable, so read up on any trail closures before you begin your trek.

07 of 21

Bring Your Kids (or Inner Child) to OMSI

Girl playing with magnetic sand at OMSI
Eri Morita / Getty Images
1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214-3356, USA
Phone +1 503-797-4000

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI, has noble roots dating back to 1896 when it first opened as "City Hall Museum" and was later run out of the home of a local businessman. As attendance continued to grow, the facilities needed to grow as well. A new building was erected by a group of volunteers in Washington Park and today OMSI receives over one million visitors each year, making it one of the most popular attractions in Portland.

The museum is huge and features hands-on activities by the dozens, a planetarium, a real nuclear submarine, a theater with a massive screen, and special exhibits that make regular appearances. It’s a hit with kids, but even adults who enjoy some scientific fun will get a kick out of OMSI.

08 of 21

Get Your Art Fix at the Portland Art Museum

Gallery in the Portland Art Museum

TripSavvy / Chris VR

1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, USA
Phone +1 503-226-2811

The Portland Art Museum may be one of the oldest art museums in the country, but the ever-changing collection is so refreshingly current and pertinent to present-day culture that it never feels behind the times. It's located in the heart of downtown and guests who are aged 17 or younger can enter for free.

While you can see works from some of the most celebrated European artists, such as Van Gogh, Monet, and Cézanne, the museum holds true to the ideals of its home city. The collections often have a focus on groups that have been historically underrepresented in the art world, with a particular emphasis on Indigenous artists from the Portland area and around the Pacific Northwest. The museum even provides a conversation guide to help spark dialogue so parents can guide curious children on difficult topics.

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09 of 21

Go Shopping in Nob Hill

Nob Hill

TripSavvy / Camille Christenson

Nob Hill, Portland, OR, USA

Nob Hill is a cute and low-key shopping district located along Northwest 23rd Avenue. It’s not far from downtown, only about a 10-minute drive, but the easiest way to get there is by catching the MAX train. Where downtown is busy, Nob Hill is quieter and more relaxed. Shops are mostly local with a few chains mixed in, while the restaurants are pleasantly varied and tasty. For a real treat, pick up some ice cream at Salt & Straw or a few pastries at Ken’s Artisan Bakery. You’ll also find spas and salons along the way if you want to spend the day in this district. The entrance to Washington Park is also about a 25-minute walk away.

10 of 21

Eat at Voodoo Doughnut

Donuts from Voodoo DOnuts

TripSavvy / Chris VR

22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204, USA
Phone +1 503-241-4704

Voodoo Doughnut is a legendary Portland stop, famous for its unique flavors, including raspberry-filled voodoo dolls, peach fritters, doughnuts topped with Fruit Loops or Captain Crunch, and bacon maple bars. Of course, this is Portland, and right across the street a giant mural proclaims “Keep Portland Weird,” so Voodoo Doughnut has to do its best to help out. To that order, you’ll also find a revolving selection of specialty flavors like the Kesey doughnut, decorated to look like a colorful LSD trip.

11 of 21

Visit Powell’s Books

Powell's Books

TripSavvy / Camille Christenson 

1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209-3114, USA
Phone +1 800-878-7323

Powell’s is the world’s largest indie bookstore, with three different locations in Portland, including the massive flagship store, Powell's City of Books, near Pioneer Courthouse Square. Stepping inside the original location of this independent bookseller, you won't doubt why it's known as the biggest of its kind—there's even a map of topics and locations to help prevent customers from getting lost, though it’s more fun to give yourself time to wander. Browse the books and gift items while sipping a coffee from the cafe near the entrance.

12 of 21

People Watch at Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square

TripSavvy / Camille Christenson 

751 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205, USA
Phone +1 503-223-1613

It's known as Portland’s living room for a reason. Pioneer Courthouse Square is located in the heart of downtown and is the perfect place to kick back for a while and watch passersby going about their day. Grab a coffee and light snack while you leisurely enjoy the afternoon, or catch an event—everything from farmers markets and live music to various festivals and holiday celebrations—if you happen to be there at the right time. Popular events include Valentine's Day crafting workshops, the annual Easterseals Oregon Bloomfest, and a whole lineup of Christmas holiday festivities.

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13 of 21

Wander Around Washington Park

Washington Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, USA
Phone +1 503-319-0999

Portland has no shortage of parks, but if you only have enough time to visit one, make it Washington Park, a spectacular 410-acre urban green space filled not only with miles and miles of trails but with some of the city’s best attractions as well.

Enter the park at NW 24th Place and Burnside Street, but expect a bit of climb if you’re on foot as the elevation ranges from about 200 feet to 800 feet above sea level within the park. You’ll find 15 miles of trails through the park overall, including some that connect it to nearby Forest Park.

Inside, you’ll also find the Rose Test Garden, the oldest continuously operating rose garden in the country, and Hoyt Arboretum, both great spots for photographers. The Oregon Zoo and Portland Japanese Garden are also situated within the park, and each is worth a visit.

14 of 21

Stroll Tom McCall Waterfront Park

A person walking along the McCall waterfront with an old industrial structure in the background

TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204, USA
Phone +1 503-823-7529

Any day of the week, a stroll along the pathways of Tom McCall Waterfront Park is lovely—the park is long and skinny, following the Willamette River. Views of Portland’s bridges greet you as you stand along the walkways. Few sights are more signature to Portland than this. The park is also home to a number of events, like the ever-popular Saturday Market. Held on weekends from March through December, the market fills the park with food vendors, artists, crafters, and live music.

15 of 21

Visit the Pittock Mansion

the exterior of the Pittock Mansion

TripSavvy / Chris VR 

3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, USA
Phone +1 503-823-3623

The Pittock Mansion is a French Renaissance-style château located in the Hillside area of Portland that now serves as a historic house museum. Visitors to the mansion can learn about its construction in 1914 and the first family who owned it—famed publisher of The Oregonian newspaper Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana Burton Pittock. The Pittock Mansion Society, a non-profit organization established to preserve historic buildings in Portland, maintains the museum and house.

16 of 21

Escape to Lan Su Chinese Garden

Lan Su Chinese Garden

TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209, USA
Phone +1 503-228-8131

If you'd like to take in a bit of culture while visiting the City of Roses, stop by Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland's historic Chinatown neighborhood. This tranquil, urban botanical garden features a variety of plants native to China that are housed in various Chinese architectural structures, including an authentic tea shop. The Lan Su Chinese Garden also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, most of which are free to attend.

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17 of 21

Meditate in The Grotto

The grotto surrounded by trees

TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220-5028, USA
Phone +1 503-254-7371

Also known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, The Grotto is a cliffside Catholic sanctuary located near Rocky Butte Park in Portland's Maywood Park neighborhood. The Grotto is known for its Pieta replica, which is nestled into a cozy grotto, as well as the serene botanical gardens that can be found in the sanctuary. The Grotto is open most days of the year from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., while daily masses take place within its sanctuary.

18 of 21

Go to Oaks Amusement Park


TripSavvy / Chris VR 

7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202, USA
Phone +1 503-233-5777

Located just a 15-minute drive south of Portland, Oaks Amusement Park is one of the oldest continually operating amusement parks in the country. Built in 1905, this spot is full of nostalgic attractions, including theme park rides, a wooden skating rink, mini-golf, and go-karts. Buy a day pass for the family to enjoy the rides, games, and attractions for discounted prices during special events.

19 of 21

Go Hiking in Mt. Tabor Park

A person walking on the path through Mt Tabor Park

TripSavvy / Ana Alarcon

SE 60th Ave &, SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215, USA
Phone +1 503-823-7529

While there are several volcanoes all around Portland, Eastern Portland is home to its own dormant volcano: Mt. Tabor. The large park that houses it features 360-degree views of the city and the chance to climb to the top of the volcano itself without even leaving Portland's city limits. While there are several different trail routes you can take to the summit, it's not a strenuous hike and is quite popular with families, with most loops only being about two miles long. Stop by the Mt. Tabor Visitors Center for more information about the trails, recreation, and history of this fascinating place.

20 of 21

Get Retro at Ground Kontrol

Pinball machines at Ground Kontrol

 TripSavvy / Chris VR 

115 NW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97209-3811, USA
Phone +1 503-796-9364

If you're a fan of gaming, beers, and music, head to the classic arcade bar known as Ground Kontrol, which features a variety of retro arcade games like pinball alongside modern-day favorites like Rockband. Until 5 p.m. daily, all ages are welcome in the venue, but afterward, it's 21 and over only. Ground Kontrol regularly hosts nighttime musical performances, so it's truly a great spot to go with friends any night of the week.

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21 of 21

Relive History at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Inside Fort Vancouver

TripSavvy / Chris VR 

1501 E Evergreen Blvd, Vancouver, WA 98661, USA
Phone +1 360-816-6230

Although technically across the river in Vancouver, Washington, Fort Vancouver is a popular destination for tourists who want to relive a bit of history while visiting the Portland area. Featuring blacksmithing and weapon-making demonstrations, exhibits about 19th-century life, and lantern-lit tours of the historic fort, this National Historic Site provides a great opportunity to learn about early life in the city.

Article Sources
TripSavvy uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial policy to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. OMSI. "History and Mission." Retrieved April 23, 2021

  2. Travel Portland. "Portland International Rose Test Garden." Retrieved April 23, 2021

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21 Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon