Categories > Guides and Tips


The 20 Best Free Things to Do in Portland That You Need to Try at Least Once

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in Portland, it’s that the best things in life are free… mostly because we’re all broke from spending too much on artisanal coffee and locally sourced kombucha. 

Now, after countless tips from friendly locals and a few trips of my own, I’ve compiled a list of free things to do in the city. Here you’ll find everything from free outdoor escapades to artsy city jaunts. Thank me later!

Explore Washington Park


Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-319-0999 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Washington Park is home to stunning attractions like the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden. Apart from these spots, you can also enjoy the Hoyt Arboretum where you can find trees from all over the world.

For those with kids, the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Children’s Museum are right within the park. There’s also a large playground, soccer fields, tennis courts, and even an archery range – there’s plenty of fun for families!

Finish the trails at Mt. Tabor Park

Media by lilydunlap


Address: SE 60th Ave &, SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97215, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-823-7529 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Located just 5 miles east of downtown, Mount Tabor is a dormant volcanic cinder cone that offers an activity worth taking. For the adventurous, there are three trails that lead to the summit where you get views of downtown Portland and Mount Hood.

One of the most interesting features of Mount Tabor is the three reservoirs you pass on the trails. These used to be the city’s main source of drinking water, so as you walk or run through the trails, you get a bit of history on your way. 

Shop at PSU Farmers Market


Address: 1803 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97201, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-241-0032 

Operating Hours: Saturday: 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM

If you’re in Portland on a Saturday, don’t miss the PSU Farmers Market. This market is packed with vendors offering fresh produce, meat, dairy, and even chocolate. There are also prepared foods in case you go hungry.

But even if you don’t buy anything, the place is worth visiting just for the experience. You can see talented musicians playing lively tunes. Stay longer and you’ll start to smell the delicious smell of smoked fish or enjoy the sights of beautiful flowers. 

Spend a day at the International Rose Test Garden


Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-3636 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM

The International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park is the oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the US. Here you can find a whopping display of over 10,000 rose bushes!

Visit mid-June and you’ll see the roses at their peak. Make sure not to miss the Test Garden that features current trial programs for new varieties that might soon hit the market.

To complete your day trip, check out Shakespeare Garden that’s filled with roses named after characters from William Shakespeare’s plays. The Gold Medal Garden, on the other hand, is where you can find award-winning roses in full bloom.

Get on an adventure at Multnomah Falls

Address: Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah County, Oregon, U.S

If you’re up for an adventure, take a trip about 30 miles east of downtown Portland to see Multnomah Falls. Standing at 620 feet, Multnomah Falls is a sight. You can even brave the 1/4-mile trail to Benson Bridge, which offers an up-close view of the falls!

For the more adventurous, there’s a 1.25-mile hike that takes you to the top of the falls. The climb is steep (and dangerous for beginners), but the incredible views of the Columbia River Gorge make it totally worth it.

Hike to Columbia River Gorge

Address: Oregon, United States

Contact Details: +1 541-308-1700

If you’re seeking a stunning adventure in Portland that won’t break the bank, look no further than the Columbia River Gorge. While some areas may require a printed pass and fees during peak times, many trails offer free access.

For dog lovers, most trails welcome furry friends, although leashes are a must. And if you’re planning to visit, hiking during the summer months is the best time so you can enjoy the stunning views of the falls. 

Get bewitched at the Witch’s Castle

Media by serenabramblebush


Address: Lower Macleay Trail, Portland, OR 97210, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-4000 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM

Hiking to the Witch’s Castle is like stepping into a storybook, but more like a horror book because the place is said to be haunted!

Parking is available, which is a huge plus, and the hike itself is short – only about 8-10 minutes to reach the castle. However, if you want to take the longer trail, it’ll be about an hour round trip. 

The castle, also known as the Stone House, is a great place if you love history and nature. However, being a popular tourist spot, not everyone may be as courteous as you’d hope when it comes to taking photos (which is the real horror!).

Enjoy the views at Pittock Mansion


Address: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, United States

Contact Details: 503.823.3623 

Operating Hours:  Monday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM 

If you’re exploring Portland on a budget, don’t miss Pittock Mansion. Built in 1914, it offers a glimpse into the city’s early days. The self-guided tour is informative too, with signs providing interesting tidbits about the house and its history.

The views from Pittock Mansion are the vest. On a clear day, you can see Mt. Hood and the entire city spread out before you.  The steep climb is about 0.7 miles, so consider it if you want a bit of workout!

Visit Powell’s Books


Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, United States 

Contact Details: +1 800-878-7323

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 AM – 9:00 PM 

Powell’s Books in the Pearl District is a book lover’s paradise, spanning a whole city block and four floors. You can even explore the Gold Room for rare and expensive finds – like an 1814 Lewis & Clark Journal for a whopping $350,000!

For bookworms, the highlight of the place is the themed color rooms which make book browsing more unique. And for the non-hardcore bookworms, there’s a cafe inside where you can refuel (this one’s not free though!).

Stroll through Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Media by minnaleejamison


Address: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-823-7529

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 12:00 AM

Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a 30-acre green space along the Willamette River. It offers some of the best views of Portland’s skyline and hosts various events throughout the year, including the Oregon Brewers Festival.

Even on regular days, the park is buzzing with activity. Locals flock here for leisurely strolls, picnics, and to cool off at the Salmon Street Springs fountain. There’s also the Pine Street Market for local eats.

Spend a day at Forest Park


Address: Portland, OR 97231, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-4492

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM

If you’re looking for an outdoor adventure without a long drive, Forest Park is the perfect spot. Spanning 5,200 acres, it’s one of the largest urban parks in the country, offering plenty of outdoor opportunities. 

One of the park’s highlights is the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, perfect for runners to explore various pedestrian and trail routes. Additionally, bird watchers can have a great time spotting barred owls, Cooper’s hawks, and pileated woodpeckers in the area.

People-watch at Pioneer Courthouse Square

Website: +1 503-223-1613 

Address: 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-223-1613 

Operating Hours: Monday – Friday: 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Pioneer Courthouse Square is perfect if you just want to soak up the city’s energy and watch people go by. And if you visit during the holidays, you’ll be treated to a massive Christmas tree that adds a festive touch to the area! 

One of the best parts about the square is the variety of events it hosts throughout the year. Plus, the surrounding buildings and the iconic Portlandia statue add a unique charm  – it’s called Portland’s living room for a reason!

Cross the Tilikum Crossing Bridge

Media by blazersprophet

Address: Tilikum Crossing, Portland, OR 97201, United States

If you’re looking for a unique, free activity in Portland, walking the Tilikum Crossing Bridge should be at the top of your list. Also known as the “Bridge of the People,” this pedestrian-friendly bridge is perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride.

What makes this bridge even more interesting is a quirky attempt to rename it. A local resident tried to raise $5,000 through Kickstarter to rename it after Captain Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek!

Take a tour at Hoyt Arboretum


Address: 4000 SW Fairview Blvd, Portland, OR 97221, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-865-8733

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 10:00 PM  

Founded in 1928, Hoyt Arboretum is a 189-acre arboretum that is home to over 170 different tree families and 6,000 individual trees from all over the world. 

There are family-friendly activities like seed paper workshops and “Tree Time” for preschoolers. For adults, there are classes on forest bathing and mushroom identification, which makes this place perfect for visitors of all ages. 

The arboretum offers 12 miles of trails and although the paths can be steep at times, it’s a great workout for those who love staying active. For something more chill, you can learn about each tree by reading the labels on each one. 

Visit Mill Ends Park – World’s Smallest Park

Media by keenan_jeff


Address: 56 SW Taylor St, Portland, OR 97204, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-7529 

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 12:00 AM 

If you’re looking for a quirky and free activity in Portland, a visit to Mill Ends Park is a must. Recognized by Guinness World Records in 1971, this tiny park measures just two square feet, making it the smallest park in the world.

Located in the middle of Naito Parkway, the park itself consists of a single tree and a bit of greenery. Fun fact, at one point, someone even stole the tree, only to feel guilty and return it a week later!

Have a picnic at St. Johns Bridge

Media by stjohnsbridge


Address: 8600 NW Bridge Ave, Portland, OR 97203, United States 

Contact Details: +1 503-731-8326 

If you want to enjoy St. Johns Bridge, the best time to visit is on a sunny afternoon. For the perfect picnic spot, head to Cathedral Park and pick a space under the bridge – the underbelly of the bridge alone is a great sight!

Now, if you visit during the summer, don’t miss the Jazz Festival. It’s an event where you can bring a blanket or chairs, soak in the music, and enjoy the laid-back vibe with fellow jazz enthusiasts.

Take a photo with the White Stag Sign

Media by mayuminoyu 


Address: 70 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209, United States 

Operating Hours: Open 24 hours 

If you’re visiting Portland for the first time, you really can’t miss taking a mandatory photo-op with the city’s White Stag. This historic sign, once owned by a sportswear company called White Stag, has become a beloved symbol of the area.

The best time to visit the sign is at sunrise or sunset when the sky creates a stunning backdrop. But you can also schedule your trip during the holiday season when the stag gets this vibrant and bright red nose! 

Soak the scenery at Council Crest Park

Media by natureinfluencer


Address: 1120 SW Council Crest Dr, Portland, OR 97239, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-7529

Operating Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:00 AM – 12:00 AM 

Perched in the Tualatin Mountains, Council Crest Park offers breathtaking views of the city and nearby volcanoes, including Mount Hood. It’s a great place to enjoy a picnic in the meadow or watch the sunset over Portland.

One tip: the view of the city is especially magical at night. Just be sure not to park in front of the locals’ houses to avoid any issues! The park also has great hiking trails and other viewpoints if you’re in the mood for a little adventure.

Bike down the Eastbank Esplanade


Address: SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214, United States

Contact Details: +1 503-823-7529 

Operating Hours: Open 24 hours 

Biking down the Eastbank Esplanade is a fun activity if you love Portland’s scenery. This 1.5-mile path along the Willamette River offers stunning views of downtown Portland’s skyline and iconic landmarks like the Hawthorne Bridge.

Other than biking, the place is also great for leisurely strolls thanks to its well-maintained pathways. Don’t forget your camera though, as you’ll enjoy taking pictures for your IG of the cityscape against the water’s edge!

Take pics at the Keep Portland Weird sign

Media by bastilledan

Address: 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Whether it’s on bumper stickers, t-shirts, or posters, the Keep Portland Weird slogan is everywhere. That’s why you can’t miss out on this iconic symbol during your visit to Portland!

So why not take a stroll and snap a photo with this famous mural? it’s fun and more importantly – it’s free!

Related topics