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25 Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

25 Best Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

Whether you live in Portland or are just on vacation, the city can offer you a lot of things to do. There’s always something for everyone in the City of Roses.

To give you a quick guide, we gathered the 25 best things you could do in the city, whatever your passion is.

Top Things to Do in Portland for Nature Lovers

Top Things to Do in Portland for Nature Lovers

There are a lot of places and things to do in Portland if you love nature, given the rich natural scenery there. Here are the top ones:

1. Portland International Rose Test Garden | 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR

The Portland International Rose Test Garden, located in Washington Park in southwest Portland, is home to over 650 rose varieties that offer a variety of outdoor physical activities such as sightseeing, strolling, and birding.

On clear days, you can enjoy spectacular views of Mount Hood and the Cascade Range from this country’s oldest continuously operated rose garden.

The garden is open every day of the year and admission is free. While great city views are available all year, the best months for rose viewing are May through September.

2. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge | SE Sellwood Blvd & SE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR

The Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge is a more than 140-acre urban park in southeast Portland. The park, located on a floodplain along the eastern shore of the Willamette River, is well-known as a bird sanctuary.

Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge has a variety of natural features, including wetlands and a deciduous forest with walkways and trails. Birding, sightseeing, picnicking, hiking, and strolling are just a few of the outdoor activities available in the city park. 

3. Ross Island | 3126 US-26, Portland, OR

Ross Island has some of the best loops around the Willamette River for a peaceful and scenic kayaking experience in the heart of Portland. The said island is one of four in the Willamette River, totaling over 400 acres of natural land.

As you kayak down the Willamette River, you can take in the breathtaking views of Portland’s most beautiful natural landmark. Start your kayaking adventure at Sellwood Riverfront Park and paddle the loop around the island before heading to the river’s eastern shore.

4. Forest Park | 4099 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 

Forest Park is a public park in the Tualatin Mountains with extensive forest reserves, with about 70 miles of recreational trails that are surrounded by lush green vegetation. And that is why it is the premier destination for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts in northwest Portland.

Forest Park is essentially a free animal museum because it’s home to more than 112 bird species and 62 mammal species. Head north from the parking area to find the Nature Sanctuary, where you can see jaybirds, chickadees, various thrushes, and other wildlife.

5. Portland Japanese Garden | 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, O

The marvelous Portland Japanese Garden, located just a short drive from the city center, is yet another peaceful and picturesque place to spend some time in the city. It’s located within Washington Park and features beautiful paths, ponds, and pagodas.

The gardens have grown to include a variety of delightfully different areas for visitors to explore. While some have cascading ponds and waterfalls, others have mosses, ferns, and shrubs, as well as traditional tea houses and cherry blossom trees.

Top Things to Do in Portland for Foodies

Top Things to Do in Portland for Foodies

Of course, a trip to Portland isn’t going to be great without experiencing the culinary haven that it is. Let’s give you a tour of Portland’s best food places.

1. Ringside Steakhouse | 2165 W Burnside St, Portland, OR

Ringside, a West-side institution, has been serving slabs of beef and James Beard’s beloved onion rings since 1944. Its cozy dining room screams steakhouse, complete with fireplaces, burgundy booths, and white tablecloths.  

The real draw of Ringside is likely its roster of career servers as the restaurant is home to the best service in town. It’s open for indoor and outdoor dining as well as takeout.

2. Grassa | 1205 SW Washington St; 1506 NW 23rd Ave.; 1375 SE Hawthorne Blvd.

A true local treasure serving artisanal, handmade pasta at reasonable prices, Grassa is a pasta lover’s paradise. The food at this establishment tastes as if it belonged in an upscale Italian/New American restaurant, but the design is simple and the service is fast casual.

Try not to drool when you taste dishes like pork belly mac and cheese or cacio e pepe with truffle butter. Be prepared to be delightfully satisfied by the food while at the same time being confused by the restaurant’s aesthetic.

3. Afuri | 923 SE 7th Ave

The popular and fantastic ramen chain from Tokyo opened its first international franchise in Portland, and it is very popular among tourists. Their best seller is yuzu shio broth, for which  Portland’s proximity to a pure water source is ideal for the famous dish.

Unlike their Tokyo counterparts, the Portland locations also serve other traditional Japanese dishes. Afuri puts as much thought and precision into their sushi and tsukune as they do their ramen, which is literally heaven for Japanese food lovers.

4. Stumptown Coffee Roasters | 128 SW 3rd Ave.; 1026 SW Harvey Milk St.; 4245 SE Division St.; 3356 SE Belmont St.

There’s not much to say about this world-famous roaster except that they exude professionalism and quality. When you go to Stumptown, you probably know what you’re getting, but for those who don’t, the shop sells a variety of coffees that have been roasted by hand in small batches.

Stumptown is a great place to spend time honoring specialty coffee while also learning from professionals.

5. Voodoo Doughnut |  22 SW 3rd Ave.; 1501 NE Davis St.

Voodoo Doughnut is a unique Portland experience that has sold millions of bizarre snacks since the opening of its first store downtown.

This cozy corner shop, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, attracts lines of doughnut worshippers from breakfast until the last call for their candy as well as sugar cereal-covered doughnuts, slathered in colorful frosting, filled with flavored creams, and given clever names.

Top Things to Do in Portland for Art Fans

Top Things to Do in Portland for Art Fans

We know that one reason a person visits Portland is to personally see its art scene. Without further ado, here are the top art galleries and museums you can stop by. 

1. Portland Art Museum | 1219 SW Park Ave.

The Portland Art Museum, founded in 1892 (making it the Pacific Northwest’s oldest art museum), has a permanent collection of over 42,000 pieces and is known for its extensive Native American, Asian, European, American, and English silver holdings. 

It is actually Oregon’s largest and one of the country’s oldest art museums, housed in two historic buildings on Portland’s South Park Blocks.

Admission is free for children under the age of 17, but it costs $25 for adults. Reservations are encouraged and can be made both online and in person.

Don’t miss the Oregon Center for Photographic Art, which is the Blue Sky Gallery. The gallery focuses on local, national, and international artists as well as the incredible scenes they photograph. 

Here, visitors will find incredible artwork by both emerging and established artists.

Every year, the gallery hosts 20 to 30 exhibitions, primarily to educate the public and help its artists advance their careers. It also facilitates communication between viewers and artists during exhibits. 

3. Oregon Historical Society Museum | 1200 SW Park Ave

Across the street from the Portland Art Museum is the so-called “state’s collective memory,” the Oregon Historical Society Museum. 

This building houses a sizable collection of artifacts, photographs, maps, manuscript materials, books, films, and oral histories, as well as a large research library that is open to the public and free of charge.

The famous Portland Penny, the actual copper coin tossed by city founders Asa Lovejoy (from Boston) and Francis Pettygrove (from Portland, Maine) in 1845 to decide what to name the city, is housed in this museum.

Bullseye Gallery, which is part of the Bullseye Glass Company that produces colored glass for art and architecture, explores the use of kiln-formed glass in art objects and experiences, including glass in architecture. 

One of the important parts of the gallery’s program is its exhibitions, which are its most famous activities, and feature national and international artists and their innovative works. 

Besides that, they frequently host lectures, panel discussions, and other events to exchange perspectives on the contemporary art scene.

5. Pittock Mansion | 3229 NW Pittock Dr

Tour Pittock Mansion to get a firsthand look at how the wealthy lived and partied in the 1900s at this 16,000-square-foot French Renaissance masterpiece.

This museum’s special rotating exhibits include “Dining in the Gilded Age,” which displays the tableware and tools needed to throw a proper early-20th-century soiree.

You can also sign up for interactive talks like “They Ate What?” that cover popular food trends during the Pittocks’ era. This includes tasting cold-pressed meats, mushes, puddings, and jellied treats.

Top Things to Do in Portland for Shopaholics

Top Things to Do in Portland for Shopaholics

You might want to keep track of your finances first before hitting the shopping scene in the city. Be it to buy a souvenir, accessories, or even a market for food consumption, Portland has it.

1. Washington Square Mall |  9585 SW Washington Square Rd, Portland, OR

Washington Square Mall attracts customers with its abundance of shopping options and diverse merchandise. They have four department stores, a Lego store for kids, and major retailers such as Pottery Barn, Abercrombie & Fitch, and J. Crew. 

The mall also houses one of Portland’s only Brighton Jewelry Stores and the only Cheesecake Factory. The large food court and parking lots make shopping here extremely convenient.

2. Alberta Arts District | Along Alberta Street, between NE 12th and NE 33rd Streets

Every month, new shops are added to Alberta Street, making the shopping experience even better. As you walk around, you’ll notice a mix of shops selling handcrafted items and artsy boutiques alongside older stores and importing goods.

The cuisine available here ranges from trendy pubs and hip cafes to traditional taquerias. The majority of the shops and restaurants have rotating exhibits of local artists on their walls – after all, this is one of Portland’s most creative and funky neighborhoods.

3. Pioneer Place | 700 SW Fifth Avenue

“Pioneer Place,” located in the heart of downtown Portland near Pioneer Courthouse Square, is the city’s primary shopping destination, spanning four city blocks and housing designer name brands as well as top-quality dining and entertainment options.

The most upscale stores in Portland can be found here, including Tiffany & Co., Ann Taylor, Coach, Eddie Bauer, J. Crew, Francesca’s Forever 21, Loccitane, Kate Spade, and Nine West.

4. Lloyd Center | 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR

One of Oregon’s biggest malls is Lloyd Center. Over 150 stores, a 10-screen movie theater, an indoor ice rink, a food court, and the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Portland are all located within this huge complex. 

Notable retailers you can find include Barnes & Noble, H&M, Forever 21, Ross Dress for Less, Vans, and Dollar Tree.

There are plenty of stores in this 3-story mall where you can find what you’re looking for, but there are no large department stores.

5. Portland Saturday Market | 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR

One of the most well-liked shopping destinations in the city is the Portland Saturday Market. It’s regarded as one of the oldest continuously running open-air crafts markets in the USA.

Over 300 artisans sell arts, crafts, food, and gifts at the weekly market, which has over 150 stalls and booths. Local entertainment, such as live music and food trucks and stalls, is also available.

When you shop here, it’s best to have some cash with you for the small vendors, although most vendors do accept payment by card.

Top Things to Do in Portland for Beer Buddies

Top Things to Do in Portland for Beer Buddies

Portland did not get the nickname “Beervana” for nothing. You can even insert a beer trip on your day spa adventure since there are a lot of breweries and bars in the city to get your much-needed beer dosage.

1. Breakside Brewery |  1570 NW 22nd Ave.

Breakside Brewery is a Portland institution, and its impressive lineup of beers continues to win awards year after year. There’s a good selection of beers here, including a pilsner, sour, and session beer.

But what distinguishes the brewery is its emphasis on IPAs, particularly its flagship Breakside IPA.

You can also add a French-pressed fresh-hop infusion to any beer of your choice. And since they aren’t always bottled, a visit to the brewery will allow you to sample the entire menu.

2. Culmination Brewing | 2117 NE Oregon St

Culmination Brewing has the best kind of old-school microbrewery vibe with its wooden barrel tables and small bar. The brewery doesn’t specialize in any type of beer, instead, it’s renowned for its variety and originality.

You’ll be happy with their selection, whether you’re looking for a traditional Northwestern IPA or something bold and novel, like a black lime kolsch or a cucumber sour. They change their offerings every day, ensuring that the menu is consistently new and inventive.

3. Belmont Station | 4500 SE Stark St.

Your brewery hopping experience won’t be complete without stopping by Belmont Station, one of Portland’s top locations for craft beer.

Belmont Station specializes in offering a sizable variety of beers in various styles. On top of it all, they have over 35 free-flowing taps, each serving a different style of brew or flavor, in addition to regular bar service. 

Everything is available at Belmont Station, from the best regional beers to the widely favored West Coast craft beer.

4. Saraveza | 1004 N Killingsworth St.

Since 2008, when Saraveza began brewing beers, they have been providing both locals and visitors with some of the best craft beers and American-style beer brews in North Portland. In fact, for the past six years, Draft Magazine has named them “America’s Best Beer Bar.”

The tap selection at Saraveza is passable, but it unquestionably ranks among the best for the selection of bottled beers. They have artfully designed patios where you can relax and drink, or you can take a six-pack home.

5. Prost! | 4237 N Mississippi Ave.

Try a new beer at Prost if you’re tired of the standard American-style offerings. This neighborhood bar serves expertly brewed beers in a range of flavors and recipes in the German and Austrian styles. 

Along with beer, their menu offers freshly made pretzels, pate, and sausages, which you can eat while enjoying their high-quality beers. But you should probably look elsewhere if you want a beer with high alcohol content.

Still in the process of completing your bucket list? Find more activities to do with our list of articles!

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