50 Unique Things To Put On Your Portland Bucket List

If you’re looking for Oregon vacation ideas, we’ve put together a list of 50 things to put on your Portland bucket list. This magnificent city is nestled in the Pacific Northwest, boasting a diverse mix of natural beauty, cultural delights, and a rich culinary scene.

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.

50 portland bucket list ideas

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. Being such a large and diverse city, there’s an abundance of attractions to see and places to go in Portland. And the city has so many free activities as well!

Whether you’re an urban explorer, a nature lover, a foodie, or a history buff, Portland has something to satisfy every wanderlust. Grab the free printable Oregon Bucket List Packet for even more things to see, do, and taste in this cool state!

Oregon Bucket List Packet optin
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What to Pack for a Trip to Oregon

  • Rain jacket – always be prepared for rain while you’re visiting Oregon, especially near the coast. 
  • Hiking shoes – If you’ll be exploring any hiking trails in Oregon, we recommend hiking shoes instead of sandals. After the umpteenth time of getting rocks out of the sandals, you’ll thank us!
  • Hiking socks – Darn Tough socks help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry, and are guaranteed to last. 
  • Water shoes – You’ll want shoes that are made to get wet AND protect your feet from the rocks. If you’ll be visiting the coastal beaches and tidepools, pack water shoes.
  • Sunscreen 
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Healthy snacks
  • Camera Gear Checklist for Travel Photography
International Rose Test Garden
International Rose Test Garden

Portland Bucket List: Tourist Attractions

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!

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!

International Rose Test Garden in Portland

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. 

More Portland Tourist Attractions: 

Freakybuttrue Peculiarium in PortlandFreakybuttrue Peculiarium in Portland.

Portland Bucket List: Museums 

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! 

Freakybuttrue Peculiarium in Portland

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! 

Stark’s Vacuum Museum in Portland

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.

More Museums in Portland: 

Mt. Hood from Fort Vancouver in Portland.Mt. Hood from Fort Vancouver in Portland.

Portland Bucket List: Memorials

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. 

First Thursday Art Walk

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. 

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

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. 

More Memorials in Portland: 

Portland bucket list: Japanese gardenPortland bucket list: Japanese garden

Portland Bucket List: Urban Parks & 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. 

Portland Rock Gym

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! 

Cathedral Park 

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! 

More Urban Parks and Outdoor Activities in Portland:

Portland sign in downtown.Portland sign in downtown.

Portland Bucket List: Shopping

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. 

Portland Farmers Market

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. 

Portland Saturday Market

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. 

More Shopping in Portland: 

Oregon Wooden Shoe FestivalOregon Wooden Shoe Festival – Photo Credit: The Navy Blonde

Portland Bucket List: Events & Shows

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. 

Festival of Balloons in Portland

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. 

Portland Adult Soapbox Derby

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!  

Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

One of the best places to visit in Oregon in March and April is the famous Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival in Woodburn, Oregon. The festival is a major family affair, offering miniature train rides, hay wagon tours and a children’s play area. The festival is one of the few attractions that appeals equally to both children and adults, since the beauty of Oregon’s tulip fields is impressive at any age.

The festival is also styled in a Dutch-german fashion, complete with food carts and an onsite tasting room where those over 21 and over can sample local beers and wines.  If you take only one tip away from this, remember that it’s best to visit on a weekday, unless you want to wait in line for hours and join hundreds of other visitors in the fields on Saturday and Sunday. When visiting the tulip festival, keep in mind that it rains very frequently in Oregon and fields are often muddy. Plan to wear closed shoes and bring a jacket, as well as bringing along a camera for family photos in the fields. If you are interested in planting your own tulips or just taking a few fresh cuts home with you, both planting bulbs and fresh-cut flowers are available for purchase at the festival. (Recommended by Denise, The Navy Blonde)

More Shows and Events in Portland: 

four stacks of doughnutsPut Voodoo Doughnuts on your Portland bucket list.

Portland Bucket List: Food & Drink 

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. 

Castagna Restaurant Portland

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”.

Blue Star Doughnuts

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! 

More Food and Drink in Portland:

Silver Falls State Park near Portland, OregonVisit Silver Falls State Park on your trip to Oregon.

Portland Bucket List: 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. 

Portland Angel’s Rest Hike

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. 

Silver Falls State Park

Portland is well known for its waterfalls. Did you know there are over 200 of them?! Silver Falls State Park is one of the best Oregon photography locations for taking pictures of waterfalls! The Trail of Ten Falls 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.

More Portland Day Trips:

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Portland, Oregon Lodging & Tours

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