Nestled in among the trees and the mountains of the Pacific Northwest is a city with a growing reputation. Seen by many as a growing Foodie heaven, whilst a city of culture by others.
It has enticing scenic views which sets it apart from its more urban rivals and a bar scene that is up and coming. It even has the best-known bookstore on the west coast.
Portland, Oregon is a city of many identities. With a wealth of activities and things to see and do it’s quickly becoming one of America’s favourite locations.
So here for you is a list of what to do in Portland Oregon.
Hidden away in the hills above Portland is a beautiful historic home called Pittock Mansion. Built over 100 years ago Pittock Mansion shows the history of Portland through the lives of one of the city’s most influential families.
The house now acts as a museum of the history of Portland and the Pittock family. Out in the garden, you will get one of the best views of the City.
Blue Star Doughnuts
What can possibly be so special about doughnuts? Once you try a Blue Star Doughnut you will understand straight away. Blue Star Doughnuts are the best doughnuts you will find anywhere on the west coast, and maybe even the whole of the states.
Blue Star specialises in unique flavours and combinations and supports the area by using local produce. If you want to whet your appetite then check out their fabulous Instagram page.
When it comes to dougnuts Portland is truly blessed. In many peoples eyes, Vodoo Doughnuts is the place to go. Going back and forth between the two and deciding which one is best sounds like a great afternoon to me!
Portland food trucks are legendary. There are over 600 different portable kitchens roaming around the city. Well roam isn’t quite the right word because unlike most cities the food trucks in Portland stay put in areas known as pods.
That might mean you lose some of the underground feelings of scanning social media to find where your favourite truck is heading. But it does mean all you have to worry about is beating the queues to enjoy some mouth-watering food.
Words don’t do justice to the sheer size of this book store. It’s like the whole of the internet has been dumped into a seven-story building. Powell’s has been in Portland since 1971 and their book inventory exceeds two million volumes.
Powell’s is much more than a bookstore it’s a community that fosters a social experience every time you visit. In a world of kindles, e-readers and the internet is heartwarming to see books still having such a positive effect on a city.
Mt Tabor Park
After you’ve bought a book or five from Powell’s head to Mt Tabor Park to read it in peace and quiet. Mt Tabor Park is an excellent spot to run off some of those extra calories from the Portland food scene.
There are beautiful spots throughout the park and it offers some outstanding views back towards the city. There are various different hiking trials but just make sure to pick up the map because you can easily end up lost on the winding tracks.
Oven & Shaker (Pizza!!!)
For the best pizza in Portland (and dare I say the whole US) head down to Oven & Shaker. You can’t beat Pizza freshly cooked in a wood oven and that’s exactly what you get here. There are lots of pizzas to choose from so you have plenty of reasons to keep coming.
If you fancy a drink you’re in the right place as well. Overseen by barman Ryan Magarian, the bar at O&S is home to drinks as whimsical as they are unique.
In O&S’s own words their aim is to offer a beverage to remember. With a unique drink and a flavoursome pizza Oven & Shaker is a great place to spend any evening.
Portland Saturday Market
Recognised as the “largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country” the Portland Saturday Market is well worth a visit. Don’t be fooled by the name the Saturday Market is open both days of the weekend.
For 2 days each week, the Portland Saturday Market is home to local homemade arts and crafts and because it’s Portland, food. If you love to pick up souvenirs this is the place to head to for an authentic piece of the Pacific Northwest. This is always a popular thing to do in Portland, Oregon.
Mount Hood looms over the city of Portland as the tallest mountain in Oregon. You can find many spots in the city that offers views of the mountain but you should also venture out of the city and explore Mount Hood itself.
You can take a scenic drive around Mount Hood and see some of the other picturesque landscapes of the surrounding area. There are also plenty of scenic hiking trails you can take to get an even close look at the mountain.
Vista House at Crown Point
While you are out of the city make some time to stop at Vista House for a panoramic view of Columbia Gorge and across the Columbia River into Washington State. Vista House is just a 30-minute drive out of the city.
Vista House is a monument to Oregon pioneers and sits 733 feet above the Columbia River. It also serves as a museum and underwent a 5-year renovation in 2000.
20 minutes on from Vista House is Multnomah Falls, the most famous of the collection of waterfalls in the Portland area. The 611-foot tall roaring waterfall is only a 5-minute walk from the parking area off I-84.
According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe. Needless to say bathing there today is not recommended!
If you are driving there isn’t much parking so you might have to take a few trips up and down the road until you get to a spot. Multnomah Falls is not the only waterfall in the area. Take the time to also visit Horsetail, Wahkeena and Fairy Falls.
The park is situated on a steep hillside so even a sedate walk around the grounds is enough to work up a sweat. Coming in at over 410 acres, Washington Park is jammed packed full of activities and sights for all ages. Some of the highlights include:
Portland Japanese Garden
Describes as “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan,” the 12-acre garden offers a stunning view of Mount Hood.
The 64 acres play host to close to 2,000 animals and 200 different species. The zoo is visited by more than 1.5 million people every year.
Portland Children’s Museum
The museum offers creative and educational activities aimed at young children. Playful learning and fun problem solving is the mission of this museum.
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Nestled in the southeast of Pearl District the Lan Su Chinese Garden is an oasis of tranquillity in the middle of the city. The garden is the collaboration between Portland and it’s Chinese sister city Suzhou.
Lan Su translates as ‘Garden of Awakening Orchids’ which should give you an idea of what you’ll find in the Garden. Lan Su is one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China. It owes that authenticity by being built by Chinese artisans from Suzhou.
Pioneer Courthouse Square
Known as Portland’s living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square is a 40,000 square foot public space in the heart of the city. There are dozens of events held there each year as well as free shows in the summer. In 2006 it was even the setting for an all-city pillow flight and slumber party.
Pioneer Courthouse Square plays host to some of the best food trucks in Portland so it’s an ideal spot to grab some lunch. The square is ranked as the America’s third-best public square by Project for Public Spaces.
See the Timbers at Providence Park
Just walking distance from Pioneer Courthouse Square is Providence Park home to the Portland Timbers MLS team. Or maybe you’d prefer to watch the Portland Thorns, the city’s successful women’s team.
Both teams have won their respective Championships and the atmosphere at Providence Park is always electric. If you visit Portland during the season make sure you catch a match.
The Oregon Historical Museum
Did you know that the name of the city was decided by the toss of a coin? Yep, that’s right the ‘Portland Penny’ was used to determine the name of the city and you can see that coin in The Oregon Historical Museum.
The museum has 3 floors for exhibits chronicling the events that shaped the history of the state of Oregon and America. Open 7 days a week you can find the museum in the heart of Portland’s cultural district on the South Park Blocks.
These are some of the best things you can see or do when you visit Portland but by no means is this an exhaustive list. Portland is quickly growing the reputation of being a must-see city.
What do you think?
That was my guide to the best things to do in Portland, Oregon. Have I missed one of your favourite Portland spots? If so let me know what it is in the comments below.