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

Photo of Benjamin M. Smith
9 February 2017

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 | © Mike Rohrig/Flickr

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!

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.

Drink Some Craft Beer

With 58 breweries within its boundaries and counting, Portland has more grass roots beer houses than any other city on earth. Deservedly nicknamed ‘Beervana’, hops come by the heavenly handful here, with such well-known brands as BridgePort Brewing, Deschutes Brewery, and HopWorks Urban Brewery. The city has many brewpubs to enjoy what’s fresh on tap, but look to stop at BridePort Brew Pub, serving draught from Portland’s oldest microbrewery.

BridgePort Brewpub, 1313 NW Marshall St, Portland OR, USA, +1 503-241-3612

Visit the Portland Saturday Market

Market, Bazaar
Books, Powell’s City of Books
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!

Browse the Shelves at Powell’s City of Books

As the largest used and new book store in the world, Powell’s City of Books helps make Portland one of the most literate cities in the country. The store takes up an entire city block in Portland’s downtown, boasting an average of 3,000 in-store customers a day. Grab a cup of coffee and peruse the shelves for an hour or two; you are sure to find anything and everything of interest on Powell’s shelves.

Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W Burnside St, Portland OR, USA, +1 503-228-4651

Take a Segway Tour

Portland By Segway offers the most popular historical tour of the city. With a twenty-minute Segway training class before the tour, this company ensures that everyone is ready to ride downtown, exploring the Willamette River, Portland’s green architecture, and important Portlander cultural sites. Tour hosts are knowledgeable and open to ideas from the group, so be sure to voice an opinion about your interests and what kind of history you would like to learn about along the way.

Portland Glide Segway PT Tours, 150 SW Harrison St, Portland OR, USA, +1 503-946-3361

Tour the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

About 30 minutes outside of Portland lies the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, a 292,500-acre park whose spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge and the Cascade Mountains are unsurpassed in the Portland area. Whether on foot or by car, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is completely worth the trek; with various waterfalls along the way, be ready with your camera to snap some memorable shots.

Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Cascade Locks OR, USA, +1 541-308-1700

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.

Visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Whether you’re travelling with kids or just feel like acting like one for a couple hours, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has everything to bring out your inner child. Featuring over 200 interactive exhibits, a planetarium, a movie theater, and a real submarine, this museum is a must-see – whatever your age. Oh, and be sure to check out the Ripley’s Believe It or Not exhibit before it leaves for good!

Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland OR, USA, +1 503-797-4000

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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