Portland is the largest city in Oregon. It’s perfectly located on the Columbia and Willamette rivers, in the shadow of the beautiful, snow-capped Mount Hood.
The city of Portland is best known for its parks, bridges and bicycle paths, as well as for its eco-friendliness and its microbreweries and coffeehouses. Portland’s thriving art, theater and music scenes has also not gone unnoticed.
Being such a large and diverse city, there’s an abundance of attractions to see and places to go.
- Tourist Attractions in Portland
- Museums in Portland
- Memorials in Portland
- Portland Urban Parks and Outdoor Activities
- Shopping in Portland
- Events and Shows in Portland
- Food and Drink in Portland
- Portland Day Trips
- Things to Do in Portland With Kids
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Tourist Attractions in Portland
Being the largest city in Oregon, you can bet that there are some pretty unique tourist attractions you can add to your Portland bucket list!
You might have heard Portland referred to as the City of Roses, and there’s a very good reason for that. The climate in Portland makes it perfect for growing roses and you can see them blooming all over the city! The International Rose Test Garden is home to 10,000 rose plants of 650 different species, spanning 4.5 acres! June is the best time to put this on your Portland itinerary because that’s when the roses are in full bloom.
Portland Mill Ends Park – The Smallest Park in the World
What can you do in Portland that’s a little bit quirky? Check out the smallest park in the world! Mill Ends Park came to be when Dick Fagan, who served in WWII, adopted an unused hole in the median that was supposed to have a light pole installed. Dick planted flowers there and even wrote stories about it in a column called Mill Ends. In 1976, Mill Ends was officially declared a city park and still hosts St Patrick’s Day festivals every year.
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Museums in Portland
What Portland bucket list wouldn’t be complete without an educational trip to a museum or two? Well… let’s just say the museums in Portland aren’t like any you will have seen before!
Portland activities can be weird… But it doesn’t get much weirder than the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium! This one of a kind museum has everything strange and creepy. From Sci-Fi art exhibits and historical oddities to weird urban legend displays and fully immersive experiences, like what it feels like to be buried alive, I guarantee you’ll never have seen anything like this before! TOP TIP: If you wear a decent costume, you can get in for free!
All the things to do in Portland are one of a kind, and the Stark’s Vacuum Museum is no exception. Located inside a Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales and Service store is where you’ll find this unique museum. They have everything from wooden devices manufactured during the 1800s to spaceship-like vacuums from the 1960s. There are 300 vacuums in the museums collection that were all donated, traded in, or sent by people who didn’t want to toss out their old machine.
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Memorials in Portland
Every city has their own cherished memorials and traditions and Portland is no exception. On your stay in Portland, be sure to stop by some of these memorials as you make your way around the city.
If you like art, wine, music and walking, then this is one of the best Portland tours you can do. On the first Thursday of each month you can go from gallery to gallery in Portland as part of their monthly Gallery Walk that showcases all of the new art exhibits on display.
Once a 19th-century fur trading post that was the headquarters of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Columbia Department, Fort Vancouver is now a full-scale replica of what once was. It has been constructed with internal buildings and is open to the public as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. Named for Captain George Vancouver, the fort was located on the northern bank of the Columbia River. If you’re looking for things to do in Portland that are historic and educational, this is definitely one to check out.
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Portland Urban Parks and Outdoor Activities
There is no shortage of outdoor spaces and urban parks full of activities in Portland. I guarantee you’ll never be far from one part or another. All the outdoor spaces in Portland are beautiful and well looked after – definitely worth putting on your Portland bucket list.
Whether you’re an avid rock climber or you want to try something new, the Portland Rock Gym is one to keep in mind for your Portland itinerary. They offer indoor and outdoor classes for everyone – even beginners and kids. Rock climbing in Portland isn’t something that everyone can say they’ve done!
In a city so famous for its parks, one stands out from the rest. Cathedral Park. This understated park lies on the east shore of the Willamette River beneath the St John’s Bridge. The cathedral like footings of the busy bridge and the trees of Forest Park in the distance make this a surprisingly beautiful and tranquil park in the middle of an urban jungle. In addition, there is so much history in this park! In June of 1980 when the park was completed, a time capsule was sealed into the Wall of History in the Memorial Garden in the park. The time capsule will be opened in 2030. Be sure to add this to your list of places to visit in Portland!
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Shopping in Portland
Fancy a bit of retail therapy during your stay in Portland? There’s more than just malls in this city. Here are some more unique shops in Portland that you might want to check out on your visit.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good farmers market! All the smells and colorful fresh produce are heavenly! Portland Farmers Market’s aren’t something to be missed. Since 1992, this nonprofit organization has been helping to provide a direct connection to more than 200 vendors with deep roots in Oregon. Everything from nurseries and bakeries to meat and seafood providers. Even cheese makers and specialty food producers give residents access to farm fresh produce. Now that’s something worth adding to your Portland itinerary.
From Indian cuisine and jewellery to woodwork and functional goods, there is so much to discover at the Portland Saturday Market. You could easily spend hours walking around all the wonderful stalls.
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Events and Shows in Portland
There are plenty of unique shows and events in Portland that would make it on to my bucket list. Unfortunately, most of these are seasonal so you’ll have to check what’s going on while you’re in town. If you can, try and time your trip around one of these events.
Nothing is more magical than seeing thousands of hot air balloons fill the Portland sky. If you visit Portland in June, you might just be able to catch this wonderful event in action. It’s three days of fun and entertainment that can’t be missed if you’re looking for things to do in Portland during the summer.
On their website they say “Every year since 1997, Portland’s finest freaks have pulled their home-built creations to the top of Mount Tabor and let gravity guide them to the bottom of the hill.” If that doesn’t intrigue you and make you want to check out this weird and wonderful event in Portland… I don’t know what will! This summertime tradition draws up to 10,000 spectators every year and is certainly a crowd pleasing Portland attraction to add to the list!
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Food and Drink in Portland
No trip would be complete without some good, local food and drink! I’m such a foodie and love going to new restaurants and trying the local dishes. All of these places get a spot on my top 50 Portland bucket list.
Fine dining is definitely a treat when we go on vacation. Castagna is a progressive fine dining restaurant in Portland, Oregon. They have delightful tasting menus created by Chef Justin Woodward that are guaranteed to get those taste buds tingling. This restaurant has even been called “Portland’s most adventurous kitchen” and the food has been described as a “work of art”.
If you love doughnuts (who doesn’t) you cannot pass up Blue Star Doughnuts when in Portland. These aren’t just any doughnuts, they’re gourmet donuts! Made from scratch, with fresh fruits, herbs, spices and even liqueurs! They use brioche, the buttery queen of breads, as their raised-yeast base and partner with neighbors to use local products that support their communities. If you’re looking for things to do in Portland and want some unforgettable mouth moments, this is the place to be!
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Portland Day Trips
Of course you’re not just going to stay in the city! You want to venture out and see more of what the surrounding area of Portland has to offer. To sum it up – A lot! There are so many fantastic day trips that you could take from the city of Portland. Get out, enjoy nature and tick some of these breathtaking places off your Portland bucket list.
Angel’s Rest is one of the most popular hikes in the Columbia River Gorge. The trailhead is only 30 minutes from Portland, Oregon which makes it easy for everyone in the city to get to. Along the hike you’ll enjoy views of Coopey Falls and at the top there are breathtaking, panoramic scenes. For a longer hike, you can continue on to Devil’s Rest.
Portland is well known for its waterfalls. Did you know there are over 200 of them?! This one hike passes no less than 10 waterfalls which makes for a magical day out in Silver Falls State Park, the crown jewel of the Oregon State Parks system. This hike is best in the spring but there’s nothing to stop you walking it any time of year. You cannot miss this off your Portland bucket list, that’s for sure!
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PORTLAND IS FAMILY FRIENDLY
The attractions in the Portland area appeal to all ages.
Our family travel writer spent five days in Oregon with her kids – ages 9 months to 9 years – and several of their cousins.
Read her guide detailing the fun things to do in Portland with kids that include family friendly hikes, parks and more!
If you’re up to traveling a bit to explore other areas outside Portland, here’s a list of places to visit in Oregon with kids.
50 Things to put on Your Portland Bucket List
Who knew there was so much to see and do in the city of Portland?! All of it sounds so amazing but you’ll probably have to make more than one trip to squeeze in all these activities.
I could spend just about forever in Portland exploring everything it has to offer. From museums and memorials to food, drink and day trips, you certainly won’t be stuck for things to do in Portland!