Places to Visit and Things to Do in Portland

30 Places to Visit and Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

Wondering about things to do in Portland Oregon when you visit? Or maybe even things to do in Portland with kids? There are so many cool places in Portland, so it should be quite simple to find 30 places to visit and things to do while you are visiting! Portland is the biggest city in Oregon with a population of about 600,000 people. It’s slightly elevated at 15m above sea level and operated on PDT time. The best time to visit Portland is whenever you can, but of course, fall and winter months are generally better if you want to avoid the crowd while still enjoying some decent weather. And if you do go, be sure to try a couple other things to do near Portland –  perfect if you have a little time to venture a few miles outside the city! 


30 Places to Visit and Things to Do in Portland

1. Visit Washington Park

There is so much to do inside Washington Park and in fact, you may hear this park mentioned numerous times as you continue down this list! The reason for this is that many of Portland’s popular attractions are located within this park.

Zooliner train, Washington Park - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

A few of those attractions include the children’s museum, zoo, arboretum, and the Japanese Gardens. If you are looking for some free things to do in Portland, Washington Park has plenty of options. The playgrounds, large open green spaces, and fifteen miles of trails are all free for you to use. 

2. Get a Massage at the Tiny Massage Cart

One of the coolest things to do in Portland is getting a massage at the Tiny Massage Cart. The building is actually a tiny cart, but don’t worry, it is definitely big enough for a massage. You will find this massage cart down a small path. If you happen to spot the Great Notion Brewery, Thicket Nursery, and Sip Juice, you will know you are in the right area. They only do massages by appointment, so you will not be able to just drop in when you feel the urge for a massage. 

3. Wander Through Pittock Mansion

One of the best Portland points of interest is the Pittock Mansion and it should make it to your must-see Portland, Oregon list of things to do. This large mansion was constructed back in 1909 for Henry Pittock and his wife.

Pittock Mansion - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

This forty-six-room mansion is on forty-six acres of land, so you will have plenty to see, both inside and out. When you are on the outside, you must take the time to do some birdwatching, as the location near the sea makes it the perfect spot to see many of the different species of the area. 

4. Lan Su Garden

One of the best Portland places to visit is the Lan Su Garden, especially if you are looking for true beauty. This garden happens to be the most authentic Chinese garden outside of the country of China. The entire garden area is surrounded by walls, so you will forget you are still in the middle of Portland as you are wandering around. This is one of the best places to visit in Portland, Oregon if you are looking for ways to relax and recharge. And also one of the best things to do in Portland tonight. 

5. Live Outside in Pioneer Courtyard Square

Okay, so you won’t be living outside when you are exploring Portland. However, you can spend as much time as you want to in Pioneer Courthouse Square, which is also known as Portland’s Living Room. You will find this Portland attraction in the center of downtown.

Pioneer Courtyard Square - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

When you arrive, you will be amazed at the forty thousand square feet of space and all the features it has. Grab a seat on the stairs to watch the people passing by, make new friends at the outdoor chess table, or relax by the fountain with a drink in your hand. This is certainly a nice free thing to do in downtown Portland.

6. Explore Tom McCall Waterfront Park

If you decide to add this Portland point of interest to your list, you will want to be prepared to be surrounded by people walking, running, biking, and even skateboarding. This is definitely an active park, and people use it to get their workouts in everyday. There are five different zones inside this park, and you will want to take the time to explore them all. We recommend beginning over at the Esplanade, which is the walkway along the river. From there, you can go to The Bowl, Salmon Street Springs, the John Yeon Building, and the Central Lawn. Oh, and if you plan your trip to Portland just right, you can see the cherry blossom trees in bloom at this park. Certainly one of the top things to do in Portland, Oregon with kids. 

7. Relax at the Grotto

In case you haven’t noticed yet, there are many peaceful and relaxing things to do in Portland, Oregon. The grotto is one of the best and you can find your own little piece of paradise within the sixty-two acres of space. Looking for fun things to do in Portland? Here you go! 

Grotto, Portland - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Our Lady’s Grotto can be found in the middle of it all and it is a rock cave that was carved into the base of a cliff. In the middle of the cave, you will see a marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta. There are so many different walks you can take at the Grotto, so you may want to plan on staying for at least a couple hours if you want to do a couple of them. This is a great family activity if you’re looking for things to do with kids in Portland Oregon. 

8. Eat a Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnuts

When you are looking for stuff to do in Portland, a stop at Voodoo Doughnuts must be towards the top of your list. This iconic Portland attraction is one of the best things to do in Portland with kids or even just adults traveling on their own! There is usually a line for these yummy doughnuts, so you may want to go before you are completely starving. The doughnut selection changes regularly, but you should be able to find a few favorites amongst them all. A few of their options include the almond cannolo, dirt, grape ape, chuckles, mango tango, viscous hibiscus, and voodoo doll. 

9. Wander Through the International Rose Test Garden

This gorgeous garden was started back in 1917 by the American Rose Society. It all began as a place to grow European hybrid roses during the first World War. We think it’s a top thing to do in Portland this weekend. 

International Rose Test Garden - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

It currently has the distinction of being the oldest public rose test garden within the US. There are more than ten thousand roses within this garden. The best time to visit is in June, because that is when most of the roses are in full bloom. 

10. Read Your Way Through Powell’s City of Books

One of the more unique things to do in Portland is read your way through Powell’s City of Books. This bookstore takes up an entire city block and there are three stories filled with books. They have a map that they give out to customers, so make sure you grab one if you want to know where things are located in advance. Prior to your time in Portland, you may want to check out the scheduled authors and readings at this store. There are more than five hundred events every year, so chances are someone will be there when you are. It might sound one of the weird things to do in Portland, but we think it’s something unique that you should do on your visit to Portland. 

11. Visit Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is a massive six hundred twenty-foot waterfall. There are two viewpoints you can consider and they both require a hike. The first hike is only a quarter of a mile long and it will take you directly to the Benson Bridge. This bridge is located at the first tier and will allow you to see the waterfall up close. This is actually one of the top things to do in Portland, Oregon, and also a fun thing to do. 

Multnomah Falls - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

The other hike is a mile long, and it is quite steep. However, it will take you to the top of the waterfall where you will also see the Columbia River Gorge. Make sure you stop at the gift shop, because you will find some amazing souvenirs of this fabulous Portland attraction. 

12. Conquer Mount Hood

There are plenty of fun things to do in Portland, but some of the best will be over at Mount Hood. It doesn’t matter what time of the year you visit, because Mount Hood has something special for everyone year-round. Winter months can be spent skiing and snowboarding, while the warmer months bring hiking, mountain biking, and even summer skiing. 

13. Visit Oregon Zoo

There are quite a few animals located at Oregon Zoo. This is one of the best things to do in Portland with kids, especially if they love animals. You will see everything from reptiles and insects to furry big cats and elephants.

Oregon Zoo - Places to Visit in Portland

Don’t forget to give the polar bears some love during your visit as well! You may also want to take a little time to do a behind-the-scenes tour or two. If you plan your trip well, you might also catch a summer concert during your visit. We think it’s a cool thing to do in Portland. 

14. Explore Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels

One of the unique things to do in Portland is to explore Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels. These tunnels share many secrets of the criminal past of this city. In fact, did you know that this port city was considered one of the most dangerous ones between 1850 and 1941? It’s true, and a lot of that history can be found within these tunnels. Captives were locked in these tunnels and it is thought that approximately three thousand people ended up down in them every single year. You must be with a tour group to explore these tunnels, but it is worth it for the knowledge you will gain when you are down there.  Now this might top our list of awesome but weird things to do in Portland. 

15. Have Fun at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

The locals call this museum, OMSI, so keep that in mind as you are considering things to do in Portland. This is one of the best things to do in Portland with kids, because there are five halls and eight labs for them to do multiple types of hands-on experiments.

Oregon Museum of Science - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

There is even a submarine inside this museum, which was used for the film, The Hunt in Red October. It is best to plan on spending a few hours at this museum, but you can make do with less time if you can manage to drag the kids away. 

16. See the Art Inside the Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum is the oldest art museum within the Pacific Northwest. Inside, you will find Japanese screen prints, European masterpieces, American contemporary pieces, and an entire Native American gallery. The exhibits are all within three connected buildings, so make sure you grab a map before you start to wander around. We also recommend determining which exhibits you really want to see, so you do not miss them during your visit. This is a great indoor activity or something to do when the weather is bad and you’re wondering what to do in Portland on a rainy day. 

17. Shop at the Portland Saturday Market

The Portland Saturday Market has everything from food to souvenirs, so you will always find something you want when you are there.

Portland Saturday Market - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

You will find this market at the northern end of the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. There are more than two hundred booths set up every Saturday, so prepare to be there for a while as you do your shopping. If your kids love discovering treasures then this is one of the best family things to do in Portland. 

18. Experience History at the Oregon Historical Museum

Want more fun things to do in Portland? This historical museum opened back in 1898 and there are now more than eighty thousand artifacts inside. One of the most famous artifacts is the Portland Penny. That penny is a copper penny that is from 1835. According to history, that penny was used during a coin toss to determine the name of this city. The choices were either Portland or Boston, and obviously, Portland won. 

19. Explore Nature at the Hoyt Arboretum

The Hoyt Arboretum is on one hundred eighty-seven acres of land and it is only a couple miles from downtown Portland. Inside this park, you will find ten thousand trees and shrubs.

Hoyt Arboretum - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Doug Kerr, Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

There are many different trails for walking, so you can choose the one that looks the most interesting to you. Of course, you can also walk them all, but just be prepared, since they total twelve miles in all. This is a great outdoor and also one of the best free things to do in Portland! 

20. Pay Your Respects at the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education

The Holocaust was an important part of history and one of the best places to learn about it is in Portland. This is the largest Jewish and Holocaust museum within the US. It never used to be though. Before this museum, there were two museums, and the owners decided to combine them into this amazing space. This is something to do in Portland for adults, or with family if you think your kids are old enough to handle it. 

21. Capture a Glimpse of the Keep Portland Weird Sign

While there are many weird things to do in Portland, one of the weirdest is the Keep Portland Weird Sign. You will find this sign across the street from Voodoo Doughnuts.

Keep Portland Weird - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Most people will go out of their way when doing a little Portland sightseeing to make sure they get to capture themselves with this sign in a selfie. It’s certainly a fun thing to do in Portland and the sign confirms that you really were in Portland, Oregon! 

22. Go Shopping at Alberta Street

If you love arts and culture, then you are going to love the Alberta Arts District in Portland. This area is full of boutiques, stores, bars, and restaurants. It is very easy to find unique gifts while shopping on Alberta Street, so you may want to visit if you have time during your stay. And if you can’t find what you need here, you can always head over to Nob Hill, where the stores are a little more upscale. We think shopping here is a cool thing to do in Portland.

23. Grab a Beer at a Brewery

There are so many breweries in Portland, which is perfect if you love to try all types of beer. One of the best breweries is Deschutes Brewery, but you can basically just wander into any brewery you pass by for a pint or two.

Brewery - Places to Visit in Portland

 If you don’t want to go into a brewery, you can usually grab their beers at many of the local restaurants. Of course this is on our list of fun things to do in Portland for adults and in Portland at night.  

24. See the Bridges

There are twelve different bridges in Portland, but the best of them all is St. John’s Bridge. This is a Gothic style suspension bridge, and it is located within Cathedral Park. We recommend seeing all the bridges while you are in Portland, but if you simply do not have the time, then at least make sure this one is on your list. You can’t visit Portland, Oregon without seeing at least one bridge. 

25. Visit Mill Ends Park

Visit might be too strong of a word for this park, since it is the smallest park in the entire world! You will find this park in the middle of a street, in the middle of a crosswalk, down by the waterfront. We have to say that so many people miss it when they are actually looking for it, so don’t be surprised if you happen to walk past it a few times before you realize it!

Mill Ends Park - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: daveynin, Flickr CC BY 2.0

There is usually a tree inside this small park, although someone did steal the one that was planted there back in 2013. A new one has replaced it and the rest of the beauty changes with the season and the inspiration of the person in charge of this park. Something weird and totally cool to do in Portland? We think so! 

26. Relax on Cannon Beach

If you are looking for things to do near Portland, you may want to consider visiting Cannon Beach. This is one of the best Portland family activities, so you should probably add it to your things to do in Portland this weekend list. This is considered the best of all the beaches in Oregon and the views are incredible. The most famous view though is that of Haystack Rock. This rock sticks out over the water to create a picture-perfect view every single day. It is usually cold on this beach, so we recommend taking a jacket with you.  Cannon Beach is about a 90-minute drive from Portland and is the beach to go to if you’re looking for best beaches near Portland, Oregon. 

27. Visit the Portland Japanese Garden

Finding Zen in Portland is as easy as visiting the Japanese Garden. This is exactly what you will want to see in Portland when you are seeking tranquility and a place to meditate. Spending time here with a loved one is also one of top romantic things to do in Portland. 

Portland Japanese Garden

This garden is twelve acres, so there is plenty of space, even if it appears crowded when you first arrive. The main feature is the Kashintei Tea House, but you will love all the water, stones, and plants that are scattered around this garden area. 

28. Wander Through Forest Park

Forest Park happens to be one of the largest urban parks in the US and that is why it is often at the top of everyone’s list of things to do in Portland, Oregon. There are multiple trails within the five thousand acres of this park, but the most popular one is the thirty-mile Wildwood Trail. There are many birds in this park and the Portland Audubon Society, as well as the Wildlife Care Center, will make it easy to learn how to birdwatch if you are a beginner. 

29. See the Views at Mount Tabor Park

Mount Tabor Park is one of the things you can do near Portland. Mount Tabor is a dormant volcanic cinder cone and a trek to the top will have you seeing extraordinary views of the city of Portland, as well as Mount Hood.

Mount Tabor Park - Places to Visit in Portland
Credits: Wikimedia Commons

If you want to do something unique in Portland, you may want to visit this park in August when the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby is held. 

30. Eat Your Way Through the PSU Farmers Market

The PSU Farmers Market is held every Saturday near the center of the city. While there is a lot of fresh foods and flowers for sale, you may be more interested in the prepared foods that are offered each week. This is an excellent place to grab a bite to eat, especially if you are craving burritos and cookies. You never know what you will find when you take the time to wander through this farmers’ market, so plan on spending at least an hour there during your visit. 

These are the best thirty places to visit and things to do in Portland, so you will want to make sure that at least a few of them are on your itinerary for your vacation there. Whether you are looking for Portland family activities, Portland points of interest, or the coolest things to do in Portland, you will discover so many options to fill your days. You probably won’t be able to do everything you want during your visit, but you will enjoy what you can do with the time you have available. 

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