The Top 10 Things To Do And See In Portland, Oregon

Benjamin M. Smith

Known originally as “The Clearing” for the American, Canadian, and British traders, trappers, and settlers of the 19th century that regularly passed through the area, Portland has quickly gained its own distinct voice in American culture, as a city promoting such liberal ideas as sustainability, locally-sourced, farm-to-table restaurants, and of course, craft beer. Here are our top 10 things to do when in town.

Forest Park

1. Forest Park

Forest, Park

Forested area in Portland
As the largest wooded urban park in the USA at 5,157 acres, Forest Park has made its home in northwest Portland since 1948. Just a ten-minute drive from downtown, Forest Park is the quintessential urban forest of the Pacific Northwest, offering over 70 miles of walking and hiking trails under a lush, temperate rainforest canopy. Come here for a quick hike to refresh your senses before touring the city!

2. Catch a Movie at a McMenamins Theater-Pub

Pub, Pub Grub

What could be better than enjoying a film with a great local beer in a historic building? McMenamins has been converting ageing buildings into brewpubs, breweries, and theater-pubs in the Portland area since 1985, adding a visionary touch to the city’s many historical treasures. Enjoy a unique slice of Portland culture at one of the McMenamins theater-pubs, like the Bagdad Theater & Pub, or St. Johns Theater & Pub. © Adam Barhan/Flickr

3. Visit the Portland Saturday Market

Market, Bazaar

Books, Powell’s City of Books
© Kenny Louie/Flickr
Situated in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the Portland Saturday Market has run from March through Christmas Eve every Saturday and Sunday since 1973. With vendors selling everything from pet clothes to vegan soaps, this market is a must stop not only for the unique Portlander artifacts to be had, but also for the coveted food carts that gather in the area, including Jalisco’s Natural Food, a Saturday Market staple since 1974!

4. Taste Voodoo Doughnut

Dessert Shop, Bakery, American, Dessert

Voodoo Doughnut makes its home in Portland’s Old Town neighborhood, but the smell of its delicious doughnuts wafts right throughout the city. Long-time friends and founders Kenneth “Cat Daddy” Pogson and Tres Shannon set up shop in 2002 and let their creative juices flow. From their bacon ‘maple bar’, a raised yeast doughnut with maple frosting and crispy rashers, to ‘memphis mafia’ complete with its banana chunks and cinnamon glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter top and chocolate chips, Voodoo Doughnuts is a necessary stop to satiate that inevitable, very American morning craving for fried dough and sugar.

5. Tour the Pittock Mansion


Pittock Mansion | © Shutterstock
© Png Studio Photography / Shutterstock
Being the original home of influential Portland capitalists Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919, the Pittock Mansion is an essential stop for understanding this city’s formative period in the early 20th century, and also for the beautiful views of the city 1,000 feet above Portland’s downtown. On a sunny day, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainier are all visible, and stunning. Hike to the Pittock Mansion for a more strenuous outing, but enjoy the well-kept gardens for a picnic to refuel for a tour of the building itself.

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