10 Non-Touristy Experiences in Portland, Oregon

Portland, OR Grain Tracks | © Ian Sane / Flickr
Portland, OR Grain Tracks | © Ian Sane / Flickr
Photo of Anna Kramer
20 April 2017

Portland isn’t just hipster coffee shops, vegan eateries, and microbreweries. There’s plenty of greenery to explore beyond the renowned rose garden and much more to see than the inside of a museum. Here are some ideas for how to venture off the beaten path.

Clear your mind in a natural sanctuary

Southeast of the famed International Rose Test and Japanese Gardens, visitors will find another, lesser-known urban oasis: the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Take a stroll along the water and across the bridge, weaving your way through wooded patches and various native Oregonian plant life. Admission is $5, except for Mondays and Tuesdays when folks may enter free of charge.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, 5801 SE 28th Ave, Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 771 8386

Explore the Columbia River Gorge

Leave town and head west along the Columbia River. Hidden treasures await, like creaky old railroad towns; beautiful green hiking trails dotted with dazzling creeks and cascades like Bridal Veil, Horsetail, and Multnomah Falls; the inviting waters of Trillium Lake; and Mount Hood itself.

Wahkeena Creek-Columbia River Gorge | © Forest Service/Flickr

Or buy some straight from the source

Make a meal from ingredients sourced solely from items you find at one of Portland’s many farmers’ markets. Stay for a bite of freshly baked bread and local cheese or whatever treats the season’s vendors have in store. You might even catch some music; this city takes its farmers’ markets seriously.

Carrots at Portland Farmer's Market | © Ian Sane/Flickr

Catch a flick on the big screen

There’s no shortage of movie theaters in Portland, Oregon—and not the kind you find at the local mall. The city’s full of historic cinemas playing your pick of vintage, indie, and foreign films—sometimes even on actual film. Living Room Theaters is a local favorite, offering comfy recliner seats and food and wine service.

Living Room Theaters, 341 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR, USA, +1 971 222 2010

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Bike everywhere

Portland’s one of the country’s bike-friendliest cities, and with traffic getting worse thanks to an influx of inhabitants, bicycles are an ever-increasingly popular mode of transportation. Hop on one of Biketown’s orange set of wheels (the city’s bike share), or rent one from a shop. And remember: it doesn’t have to be a fixie.

Bicycle in Portland, OR | © Jamie Tidwell/Flickr

Drink like a local

Walk or pedal yourself through a few out-of-the-way neighborhoods to get a true sense of everyday Portlandian life. You’ll find quiet corner cafés, hole-in-the-wall shops, and you’re bound to stumble upon a local dive or two. One such place? Northern Portland’s Red Fox bar, which offers a roofed patio for outdoor imbibing and is a perfect spot for people-watching.

Red Fox, 5128 N Albina Ave, Portland, OR, USA, +1 503 282 2934

Grab a bite at the Portland Mercado

Locals have to eat. When they’re craving something south of the border, there’s only one place to go: Portland Mercado. This place is an insider favorite, self-proclaimed as Portland’s Latin America, and boasts Mexican, Colombian, Salvadoran, and Argentinian food trucks—and as many churros as you can fit in your belly.

Portland Mercado, 7238 SE Foster Rd, Portland, OR, USA

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