Portland is one of the best cities to visit in the United States. With several excellent parks, a thriving music and arts scene, and an abundance of food trucks and breweries, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in Portland, Oregon!
A popular slogan here is “Keep Portland Weird”, as the city and its residents are known for their creativity and independence.
The city hosts Great annual events such as the World Naked Bike Ride and the Mature Soapbox Derby. It’s also home to places like the Freakybuttrue Terrarium and a vacuum museum-oh yeah, there are a ton of weird things to do in Portland!
Strangeness aside, there are plenty of great attractions to visit in Portland, from one of the largest city parks in the country to a French Renaissance mansion.
Add to this all the museums, galleries, markets and concert halls, and you will never be bored while traveling around the city.
I’ve traveled all over the country and Portland is by far one of my favorite American cities to visit. What can I say? I’m a fan of the outdoors, efficient public transport and craft beer.
Here is a list of the top 7 things to do in Portland.
1. Take part in a walking tour
Get to know the city known as Portlandia by taking a walking tour. There are several options for exploring the best of what Portland has to offer on foot.
Around Portland Tours organizes her daily Intro to Portland walking tour and it’s just that-the perfect introduction to the city.
On this entertaining and informative tour, you will learn why Portland is considered one of the best cities in the United States. After the tour, you may want to move here!
Tickets are per person for the 2.5-hour tour. Click here to learn more about this affordable, fun and informative tour.
If you prefer to add craft beer to your walking tour, take a look at this tour.
You’ll visit the inner Eastside with an expert guide, while stopping at breweries to sample sours, craft barrel aging, Belgians, spirits, imperial IPAs, and more. This fun, drunken thing to do in Portland takes about 2.5 hours. More information can be found here.
2. Visit Pioneer Courthouse Square
Nicknamed The” Living Room ” of the city, it has been a central Portland hangout for 35 years.
An interesting feature of the Square is that there are more than 70,000 stones with names. Citizens and businesses purchased the stones with donations of to help fund the construction of the Square in the early 80s.
Inside the square you will find the waterfall fountain and various works of art.
One of the most famous is allow me, which represents a businessman offering his umbrella. The Square is also home to the weather machine — a sculpture that predicts the weather the next day at noon with a little fanfare.
There are more than 300 events taking place in the square throughout the year. From concerts to fitness classes to movie screenings, a lot happens here. Be sure to check out their event calendar to see what’s going on.
Pioneer Courthouse Square is also home to an Information Center where you can get plenty of information about the various attractions in Portland.
3. Enjoy Washington Park
One of the best things to do in Portland is to visit Washington Park. In fact, this huge park consists of several attractions in one. There is so much going on that the park could be its own list!
In the city of Roses, you should start your tour of the park at the International Rose Garden. There are more than 10,000 rose bushes here, which bloom between April and October. The Rose Garden is included in this morning tour.
The park is also home to the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden. It has eight unique gardens, as well as a cultural village where you can immerse yourself in Japanese culture.
We don’t even have the surface area of everything under pressure in the vast Washington Park. There you will also find the children’s Museum, the Hoyt Arboretum and much more.
With over 15 miles of trails, it’s also a great place to enjoy a little walking in the city. Check their website for a detailed overview of all the different attractions.
The park is open every day from 5 am to 10 pm. You can easily reach the park by tram. From May to October, there is also a free shuttle bus that makes a loop of the park and stops at the main attractions. Click here for directions to Washington Park.
4. Go to the Museum
While you can easily fill your days outdoors in Portland, it tends to rain here in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, there are several great museums that you can add to your bucket list in Portland Oregon for the inevitable rainy days.
Hotels near Portland Museum of Art
One of the best choices is the Portland Art Museum, known for its impressive collections of Native American and Asian art. They’re always adding exciting new exhibits, so be sure to check out their website to see what’s currently on display.
The art museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm from Wednesday to Sunday. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets are for mature and children 17 and younger are completely free. Click here for directions.
American Historical Society
Across the street is the Oregon Historical Society. This fun and interactive museum aims to make the history of the state both visible and accessible to visitors.
Here you can learn all about the people, places and events that formed the state of Oregon. It is open from Monday to Saturday from 10.00 to 17.00, and on Sunday from 12.00 to 17.00. Tickets to the museum are for mature and for children.
Strange museums to visit in Portland
Remember when I said the city had a slogan that said “Keep Portland Weird”? Well, this is certainly true here, because you will also find museums dedicated to hats, dolls, toys and even vacuum cleaners…
5. Visit Powell’s City of Books
It may be hard to believe in 2021, but one of the best things to do in Portland Oregon is hang out at a bookstore.
It’s not just any old bookstore, though — Powell’s City of Books is the largest new and used independent bookstore in the world!
The store occupies an entire city block and consists of nine color-coded rooms with more than 3,500 sections.
They claim to buy over 3,000 used books every day and house up to a million books at any one time! The place is so massive that they hand out maps to help you find your way.
6. Visit the Forest Park
If you are like me and prefer walking in the forest than walking in the concrete jungle, you should visit Forest Park.
Located a few minutes west of the center, this huge urban forest covers more than 5000 hectares. It is one of the largest in the country and one of the best places to visit in Portland.
Stretching for about 8 miles on the eastern slopes of the Tualatin Mountains and overlooking the Williamette River, this is an incredibly scenic area. It is a short drive from downtown Portland, allowing you to experience a true Northwest forest within the city limits.
The Wildwood Trail section of the famous 40-mile loop that goes around town is part of the park if you want to do some serious hiking. You can see a map of all the different starting points with descriptions on their website.
The park is open daily from 05: 00 to 22: 00. They also do regular tours of the park, so you’ll want to take a look at their calendar to see if you can join one. If so, it’s definitely worth adding to your list of things to do in Portland.
7. Take A Walk In Chinatown
While not as famous as its New York or San Francisco counterparts, Portland’s Chinatown is well worth a visit. It is also known as the Old Town, which is an appropriate name given that it is the oldest district of the city.
On the corner of 4th Avenue NW. and W Burnside St, you will find the Chinese gate and the lion statues. Find Chinatown on the map, here.
After taking a picture there, you can head north to visit the Portland Chinatown Museum. It is open from Thursday to Sunday from 12h to 17h in summer.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of this part of Portlandia is the Lan Su Chinese Garden. It was built after Suzhou became a sister city of Portland, as it is famous for its traditional gardens.
The Chinese name translates as” garden of awakening orchids”, and it is an absolutely wonderful place to spend a few hours.