Portland, Oregon, is a great vacation destination for outdoor enthusiasts and urban explorers alike. The things to do in Portland are endless with its lively downtown and nearby mountains.
If you love the outdoors, you’ll want to take advantage of all that Portland offers. Hiking, biking, and fishing are all popular activities in the area. There are also several parks and gardens to explore, including the International Rose Test Garden.
If you’re looking for some city life on your vacation, Portland won’t disappoint. The downtown area is full of shops, restaurants, and bars. There’s also a lively nightlife scene if you want to let loose and have fun. And no visit to Portland would be complete without taking a tour of one of the city’s many breweries.
With so much to see and do, Portland is the perfect place to spend your next vacation. Below, we’ll explore some of the more popular things to do in Portland, Oregon.
[This article contains affiliate links from trusted partners.]
Unique Things to Do in Portland, OR
1. Alberta Arts District
The Alberta Arts District is a vibrant and creative corner of the city and is home to various local businesses, including art galleries, studios, restaurants, and shops. Whether you’re interested in exploring the local art scene or just doing some shopping, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy in the Alberta Arts District.
2. Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Courthouse Square is a public square located in the heart of downtown Portland, Oregon. The square is home to various shops and restaurants, as well as a number of events and activities throughout the year. Visitors to the square can enjoy a variety of things to do, including watching street performers, listening to live music, or exploring the many local shops.
3. Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s City of Books is a must-see for any book lover visiting Portland, Oregon. It is the world’s largest independent bookstore, with over 68,000 square feet of space and over 1.5 million books. Powell’s is more than just a place to buy books; it is also a destination for literary events, art exhibitions, and community gatherings. And with its convenient downtown location, Powell’s is the perfect place to start exploring all that Portland has to offer.
4. Nob Hill (NW 23rd and 21st Avenues)
If you’re looking for things to do in Portland, look no further than Nob Hill! This neighborhood, located on NW 23rd and 21st Avenues, and is home to some of the city’s best shopping, dining, and entertainment. From intimate cafes to tasty restaurants, you’ll find something to suit your taste in Nob Hill. And if you’re looking for a unique shopping experience, you’ll love the boutiques and specialty shops that line the streets of this historic district.
5. Central Eastside
The Central Eastside is a neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, known for its industrial history and recent regeneration as a hub for creative businesses. The area is home to many art galleries, coffee shops, breweries, distilleries, start-ups, and tech companies.
The Central Eastside is also home to two of Portland’s most popular parks: Tom McCall Waterfront Park and Lee Brown Deer Park. Visitors to the Central Eastside can enjoy various activities, from strolling along the Willamette River to exploring the neighborhood’s many shops and restaurants.
Markets, Carts, and Food Tours
6. Portland Food Tours
Portland, Oregon, is a foodie’s paradise, with its endless supply of farm-to-table restaurants, craft breweries, and food carts. And what better way to experience all that Portland offers than on a food tour? You’ll get to sample some of the city’s best cuisine and learn about the history and culture of Oregon’s food scene. Whether you’re a foodie or just looking for something different to do, a Portland food tour is worth checking out.
7. Portland Food Carts
Portland, Oregon, is home to more than 800 food carts, making it one of the largest concentrations of mobile food vendors in the country. With such a wide variety of options, there’s sure to be something for everyone’s taste. The carts are clustered together in “pods” around the city, so it’s easy to sample a few different cuisines in one trip. And with many carts open late into the night, they are an excellent option for a quick bite or a late-night snack.
8. Portland Saturday Market
While you’re in the city you’ll definitely want to check out the Portland Saturday Market! Held every weekend from March to December, the market is a great place to find local arts and crafts, enjoy live music, and sample delicious food. Over 250 stallholders sell a variety of items, including handcrafted jewelry, pottery, woodwork, and clothes.
9. PSU Farmers Market
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the PSU Farmers Market is one of the biggest and best farmers markets in Oregon. With over 100 vendors, the market offers a wide variety of fresh produce, baked goods, flowers, and more. The market is open year-round, so you can always find something delicious and seasonal.
Visiting Portland, Oregon Gardens
10. Portland Japanese Garden
Portland Japanese Garden is a beautiful place to visit. The property includes a stroll garden, a tea garden, an authentic Japanese house, and an exquisite koi pond. You can spend hours walking around the different gardens admiring the plants, flowers, and of course, the koi fish. If you’re looking for things to do in Portland that are unique and relaxing, Portland Japanese Garden is worth a visit.
11. Lan Su Chinese Garden
Nestled in the heart of Portland’s Chinatown, Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis of peace and beauty. Featuring traditional architecture, stunning gardens, and an authentic teahouse, the garden is a must-see for any visitor to Portland. In addition to exploring the grounds, you can also participate in a number of cultural activities, including calligraphy and tea ceremonies.
12. International Rose Test Garden
The International Rose Test Garden is one of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon. The garden is home to over 10,000 rose bushes, making it the perfect place to stop and smell the roses (literally). In addition to its beautiful floral displays, the garden also offers stunning cityscape views.
You can stroll through the gardens at your leisure, or take a guided tour to learn more about the different types of roses. No matter how you choose to explore the International Rose Test Garden, you’re sure to leave with a new appreciation for these beautiful flowers.
13. Hoyt Arboretum
The Hoyt Arboretum is home to a collection of over 1,000 different species of trees and plants, making it the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors. You can explore miles of hiking trails, have a picnic in one of the many scenic areas, or even take a class to learn more about the plants and trees.
Parks to Explore in Portland, Oregon
14. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a lovely place to spend an afternoon in Portland, Oregon. Located along the Willamette River, the park offers a variety of activities for you to enjoy. Several walking and biking trails wind through the park, making it a great place to get some exercise. The park also features sculptures and public art installments, providing a beautiful backdrop for a picnic lunch. In addition, the park hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including concerts and festivals.
15. Washington Park
Washington Park is a beloved oasis in the city of Portland, Oregon. This urban park is home to a variety of attractions, including the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Oregon Zoo. With over 400 acres of space, there’s plenty of room to explore, and the park also offers a variety of events and activities throughout the year.
16. Mt. Tabor Park
Mt. Tabor Park is one of the many things to do in Portland, Oregon. The park is home to a cinder cone volcano and offers stunning views of the city. You can hike to the top of the volcano, or they can explore the hiking trails that wind through the park. In addition, Mt. Tabor Park is a great place for picnics, and it also has a playground and a disc golf course. Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a relaxing picnic spot, Mt. Tabor Park should be on your itinerary.
Popular Things to Do in Portland, OR
17. Pittock Mansion
The Pittock Mansion was built in 1914 by newspaper magnate Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana. The mansion is set on 46 acres of land and features stunning views of the city. You can tour the house and grounds as well as the on-site museum. Pittock Mansion is a great place to learn about the history of Portland. Whether interested in history or just looking for a unique place to visit, the Pittock Mansion is worth a trip.
18. Oaks Amusement Park
Oaks Amusement Park is a family-friendly attraction with more than 30 rides, including a historic wooden roller coaster. You can also enjoy mini golf, arcade games, and a variety of food options. In addition, Oaks Amusement Park is home to one of the largest outdoor skating rinks in the country.
19. Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals from around the world and is a must-see for any visitor to Portland. Take a stroll through Africa and see lions, elephants, and giraffes in their natural habitat. Or explore the Amazon rainforest and meet some of the world’s most fascinating creatures. The Oregon Zoo also features a variety of educational programs and events, making it a great place to learn about the natural world.
20. Mt. Hood National Forest
Mt. Hood National Forest is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering endless hiking, camping, and fishing opportunities. Mt. Hood National Forest is home to many stunning waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls, the tallest waterfall in Oregon. While not in Portland, the forest is only an hour and a half’s drive from the city.
There are also scenic drives that wind through the forest, providing breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and the surrounding area. In addition to its natural beauty, Mt. Hood National Forest is also rich in history. The Lewis and Clark expedition passed through the forest in 1805, and today there are several historical sites to explore.
21. Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state of Oregon. Situated just east of Portland, the gorge is home to various things to do and see, from hiking and biking to kayaking and fishing. The gorge is also popular for camping and picnicking, and many visitors come just to enjoy the stunning views.
Museums in Portland, Oregon
22. Portland Art Museum
With over 45,000 pieces of art, the Portland Art Museum is one of the top things to do in the city. The European art collection includes works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Monet. The Asian art collection features Japanese, Chinese, and Korean art. And the Native American art collection includes works from tribes across North America. The museum also has an impressive collection of contemporary art.
23. Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
There’s no shortage of things to do in Portland, Oregon, but if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, be sure to check out the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI). This world-class museum has exhibits on everything from physics and chemistry to biology and earth science. You can also see live demonstrations, participate in hands-on activities, and even explore a real submarine.
24. Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is a museum devoted to the strange and unusual, and the collection includes everything from two-headed animals to shrunken heads. You can also explore a giant spider web, play with optical illusions, and learn about cryptids like the Yeti and the Loch Ness Monster. With its mix of education and entertainment, the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium will delight everyone in your group. So if you’re looking for something truly unique to do in Portland, be sure to add this one-of-a-kind museum to your list.
25. Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals
The Rice Northwest Museum of Rocks and Minerals is one of the most popular things to do in Portland, Oregon. The museum is home to an impressive collection of rocks and minerals, as well as interactive exhibits that allow you to learn about the formation of the earth and the history of mining. The museum also offers a variety of educational programs for children and adults, making it a great place to visit for all ages.
Day Trip to the Oregon Coast
Visiting the Oregon Coast is a wonderful experience that everyone should have the chance to enjoy and it’s only an hour and a half drive from Portland! With its beautiful, windswept beaches and breathtaking rugged coastline, this area of the Pacific Northwest is truly one of a kind. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to get away from it all or an action-packed destination to fill your days with adventure, the Oregon Coast is a unique destination that should not be missed! And, if you like exploring lighthouses, the Oregon Coast has no shortage!
There’s no shortage of things to do in Portland, Oregon. The city is home to a thriving art and music scene and numerous restaurants, cafes, and breweries. There are also plenty of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to exploring the many parks and gardens.
And, of course, no visit to Portland would be complete without spending some time at one of the city’s famous food carts. Whatever your interests, you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Portland.
Alexandrea Sumuel is a travel writer and the founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog, where she provides vacationers with trip ideas, travel guides, news, and itineraries. She travels to experience, eat, explore, and, on occasion, escape! Alex’s mission is to help peopl find the perfectv acation destination.