25 Places to Visit and Best Things to do in Portland, Oregon

There are just so many uber-cool quirks to Portland that we can barely keep the count! To begin with, the largest city in the state of Oregon revels in being squeaky green, hipster by heart, and in love with craft beer. It has moved past its 20th-century reputation of being dangerously notorious, and now there are oodles of things to do in Portland. From claiming to have more strip joints per capita than any other cities in the country to having an impressive number of cyclists on the road, let us just dive into the best that Portland has to offer! 

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

You might be stumped to know that The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry had started as an exhibition at the businessman Ralph Llyod’s house. In 1958, the new center was set up in Washington Park.  

Whether you are on a solo trip or visiting with children, this coolest science facility in town has some fascinating tricks up its sleeve. If Northwest’s first-ever planetarium and the USS Blueback submarine do not thrill you, then you can also conduct your own experiments in one of the interactive labs. 

OMSI OMNIMAX exterior - Portland, Oregon
Outside the OMNIMAX theater at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland, Oregon | Source

Address: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214 | Timing: 10:00 am – 05:30 pm | Summer hours: 10:00 am – 07:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/fuabANxzp7pHpk8q8 | Phone Number: +15037974000 

Washington Park

To know what it feels like to have a forest in middle of a city, take a walk to Washington Park. This lush park boasts numerous hiking trails along with a zoo, Japanese Garden, children’s area, and picnic spots. From May through October, one can enjoy the glorious bloom of roses at the Rose Garden. For the animal lovers, the Oregon Zoo has a sustainable conservation for the animals. 

The Washington Park has so much for people to explore. If you are wondering what to do in Portland with children along, Washington Park is a safe bet. 

Reservoir 3 and gatehouse - Washington Park Portland Oregon
Reservoir 3 and gatehouse – Washington Park Portland Oregon | Source

Address: 4033 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, OR 97221 | Timing: 5:00 am – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/washington-park-portland?share | Phone Number: +15033190999  

Pittock Mansion

Built around the turn of the 20th century for Oregon’s then fabulously wealthy Henry Pittock, the Pittock Mansion draws in visitors for its French-Renaissance style architecture as much as its tree-fringed lawns. It is a city-owned center, picnic destination, and one of the most elegant Portland attractions all rolled into one. Paved trails connect the gardens of this mansion to Washington Park. 

If you are a morning bird, we promise that sunrise at Pittock Mansion is every bit worth it. What a beautiful wedding venue it would be! Sigh, only if they allowed it. 

Portland, OR — Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion | Source

Address: 3229 NW Pittock Drive, Portland, OR 97210 | Timing: 11:00 am – 04:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/wusLgcWps2Lx9EYn9 | Phone Number: +15038233623 

Lan Su Chinese Garden

When we said that Portland is cool, we also meant that it offers beautiful international cultural experiences with an eye for the historic. Lan Su Chinese Garden is a testimony to it. Visitors are guaranteed an authentic Chinese experience. Walk amidst trees that are indigenous to China in this garden, learn about Chinese history, and drink some tea at the Garden Teahouse.  

Lan Su Chinese Garden is nicknamed the ‘Garden of Awakening Orchids’. There are a lot of things to see in Portland, but Lan Su Chinese Garden takes the cake. 

Lan Su Chinese Garden - Portland, Oregon - DSC01628
Lan Su Chinese Garden | Source

Address: 239 NW Everett St, Portland, OR 97209 | Timing: Thursday to Tuesday: 10:00 am – 4:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/lansuchinesegarden?share | Phone Number: +15032288131 

Witch’s Castle

A fascinating hike in the middle of the city? Witch’s Castle has you covered. This place is shrouded in tales of mystery and murder. Located in Forest Park, this crumbling structure is said to have been around since 1850. 

Speed back to today and it is a remarkable sight, moss-covered and next to a riverbank. It is surrounded by a beautiful forest and the half-mile trail is pleasant for people of all ages. We would say that is one of those fun things to do in Portland when in Portland, Oregon. 

Macleay stone building
Witch’s Castle | Source

Address: Lower Macleay Trail, Portland, OR 97210 | Timing: 05:00 am – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/MBre1iFUpc6a9GMW9  | Phone Number: +15038234000 

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Pioneer Courthouse Square brings together of citizens and visitors of Portland to build an experience-seeking community of its own. No wonder the center is called ‘Portland’s Living Room’! If you are ever wondering about what to do in Portland, walk around this urban park and you shall find some quirky art structures, including the iconic Mile Post Sign and Umbrella Man bronze statue. 

Having worked up your appetite at the nearby market of Pioneer Place, you can also gorge on some hearty meals from the food carts lined up around the mall. The most endearing characteristic of this popular park is that it hosts close to 340 events a year! 

Pioneer Courthouse Square - west half
Portland’s Living Room | Source

Address: 701 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Timing: 5:00 am – 12:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/8rMCxT7rJ7THUdDC8  | Phone Number: +15032231613 

Urban Forest Park

It is the largest urban forest in the USA within city limits, spread across 5,200 acres of trails and dense trees along the eastern slope of the Tualatin Mountains. We were not kidding when we talked about how green Portland is! 

The verdant canopy of the Forest Park is a haven for people who love the outdoors. You can choose to walk or bike around, and you will sight owls, herons, raccoons or even egrets. If you have skipped out on zoo, the wildlife here will amaze you. 

Leif Erikson Drive, Forest Park, Portland Oregon 01
Leif Erikson Drive, Forest Park, Portland | Source

Address: Portland, OR 97231 | Timing: 05:00 am – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/1JLwGWoSK8Pd3UDz7  | Phone Number: +15032235449

The Shanghai Tunnels 

Do not be surprised if some places to visit in Portland have a murky past, like The Shanghai Tunnels. Spilling its historic story, these low-ceilinged tunnels in the underbelly of Portland are once said to have been used to connect hotels and taverns to the waterfront of the Willamette River for smuggling of illegal goods and people to Asia, prostitution, and opium trade. 

Most of the walls of The Shanghai Tunnels are now dilapidated or have collapsed. But you can still take a tour to get an idea of the infamous practice of shanghaiing.  

Stairway to the Shanghai Tunnels
Stairway to the Shanghai Tunnels | Source : Flickr – Bex Walton

Address: 120 NW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97209 | Timing: Monday to Wednesday: 6:30 pm, Thursday to Saturday: 4:00, 6:00, and 7:30 pm, Sunday: 4:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/A3fQ52kpSTz6sExC6 | Phone Number: +15036224798

McCall Waterfront Park

An idle afternoon is best spent at McCall Waterfront Park, in the downtown area. If you fancy some recreational activities such as roller-skating, skateboarding, people watching, or walking, then head over to McCall Waterfront Park. 

There is plenty to see too: a fountain at Salmon Street Springs, Waterfront Blues Festival at The Bowl in the first week of July, Battleship Oregon Memorial, and cherry blossoms at the Japanese American Historical Plaza during the spring months. It also hosts the Portland Saturday Market, an outdoor art and craft market. 

Waterfront Park, Portland.jpg
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Address: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204 | Timing: 05:00 am – 12:00 am | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/Y9hzpKykhg6kcMK19  | Phone Number: +15038237529

St. Johns Bridge

St. Johns Bridge of Oregon is a clever specimen of bridge engineering. This 124-meter (406 feet) high and 1219-meter (4000 feet) long structure of steel is built over the Willamette River. It is not just a pretty face, although the gorgeous gothic arches do not hurt.  

In fact, it has an interesting historical significance dating back to almost nine decades. Its romantic pull is so magnetic that Cathedral Park under the St. Johns Bridge has emerged to become a charming wedding venue. 

This suspension bridge is right up there when it comes to Portland attractions that make the city what it is. 

St. Johns Bridge, Portland, Oregon (23884097312).jpg
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Address: 8600 NW Bridge Ave, Portland, OR 97203 | Timing: 24/7 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/uTBu6Y9w3R5wsdGk6  | Phone Number: +15037318326 

Oaks Park

Oaks Park is overbrimming with rides, roller skating, and carnival games. An absolute thriller for children, this is a center where fun never ends! 

You have your regular activities like bumper cars, miniature golf, roller-skating, Ferris wheel, and roller coaster. But you can also enjoy their heart-racing rides that include Zero Gravity and Tree Top Drop. Oaks Park is the last amusement park in the country to continue the tradition of playing live pipe organs while roller skating at its popular Roller Rink. 

With children in tow, Oaks Park is one of the best things to do in Portland and have some old-school frolic! 

Oaks Amusement Park entrance Portland Oregon.jpg
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Address: 7805 SE Oaks Park Way, Portland, OR 97202 | Timing:  Temporarily closed due to the pandemic, Monday, Sunday: 12:00 noon – 07:00 pm, Tuesday to Friday: 12:00 noon – 09:00 pm, Saturday: 12:00 noon – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/oaks-amusement-park-portland?share | Phone Number: +15032335777  

Oregon Historical Museum

The Oregon Historical Society Museum was set up with the idea to make history accessible and visible.

This center houses permanent as well as traveling exhibits of historic importance. One of the most renowned permanent exhibits is ‘Oregon My Oregon’. Visitors can also view the famous Portland Penny, after which the city of Portland, Oregon is named.

Oregon Historical Society entrance 2019.jpg
By Steve Morgan, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Address: Oregon Historical Society, 1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Timing: Sunday: 12:00 pm – 05:00 pm, Wednesday to Saturday: 10:00 am – 05:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/oregonhistory?share | Phone Number: +15032221741

The Grotto

It is truly serene at The Grotto, an outdoor Catholic sanctuary dedicated to Mary, Our Sorrowful Mother. The lush trees, ponds, and beautiful biblical sculptures, and trails bordered with moss-covered trunks beckon people to take a walk around. The most remarkable center is the carved rock cave at the lower garden which shrines a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

It is especially beautiful during their annual Festival of Lights for Christmas. The Grotto is perhaps one of the lesser traveled of all things to do in Portland, but the park’s meditative atmosphere has its appeal.

The Grotto (Portland, Oregon) - upper level 02.jpg
By Joe Mabel, CC BY 4.0, Link

Address: 8840 NE Skidmore St, Portland, OR 97220, United States | Timing: 09:00 am – 05:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/euhC1J3wpyDvaFpQ7  | Phone Number: +15032547371

Portland Art Museum

The oldest museum on the West Coast will be quite an addition to your Portland activities in Oregon.  From contemporary to ancient, Portland Art Museum displays more than 45,000 pieces of art. 

A center of culture, it is divided across two historic buildings. It attracts thousands of visitors for its distinguished Native American art and the remarkable collection of English silver. The museum is an immersive experience for people of all ages and exhibits films, art as well as photography. 

Interior view - Portland Art Museum - Portland, Oregon - DSC08381.jpg
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Address: 1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Timing: Thursday to Sunday: 10:00 am – 05:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/YMw9o8EwWgLwXV878 | Phone Number: +15032262811

Hoyt Arboretum

A living museum, Hoyt Arboretum of Oregon comprises hiking trails that meander through 2,300 trees from six continents of the Earth. It is a conservatory and a research center in the wild.

The air is so crispy that a hike or a walk through the hilly terrain will recharge you. It is a treasure trove of flora and fauna regardless of any season, just minutes away from downtown Portland and Oregon Zoo. Hoyt Arboretum is so gorgeous that it is has four picture-perfect spots for an outdoor wedding.

Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon (48853062212).jpg
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Address: Hoyt Arboretum, 4000 SW Fairview Blvd., Portland, OR 97221 | Timing: 05:00 am – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/hoytarboretum?share | Phone Number: +15038658733

Portland Aerial Tram

Hop onto the Portland Aerial Tram (OHSU Tram) for a beautiful bird-eye view of the downtown and Willamette River. Getting aboard a cabin is an exciting way to overlook the green cover of the city. It connects the South Waterfront district and Marquam Hill neighborhood.

Hailed by Seattle Times as “a staggering view”, this is a fun Portland activity when you want to trade in walking with an aerial tour of Washington Park, Japanese Garden, and the mountains at the horizon.

Portland Aerial Tram - Portland, Oregon (14613516211).jpg
CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: Portland Aerial Tram, 3303 South Bond Ave, Portland, OR 97239 | Timing: Weekdays: 05:30 am – 09:30 pm, Saturday: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm, Sunday: Closed | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/9UH8dcx3uZKkg8qY8  

Portland Breweries

Can we call Portland the de facto Craft Beer Capital of the world? With over 80 breweries in the Portland metro area, the people of the city aren’t shy about their love for beer. It is infectious enough to place brewery hopping on top on our ‘things to do in Portland’ list. 

Home to popular breweries like Breakside Brewery, Occidental Brewing, Beer Base Brewing, and Deschutes Brewery, merrymakers will be spoilt for choices. Try Portland’s ales and beers once, and we guarantee that you’ll be racing for more. 

There are organized Brewery Bike tours for a sip-and-go experience. Forget happy hours, the Portland Breweries are your ticket to ‘Beervana’. 

Widmer Brewing Company headquarters - Portland, Oregon.JPG
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Portland International Raceway

Take a break from walking, it is time for racing at Portland International Raceway. The Grand Prix of Portland hosts everything from bicycle races and car shows to drag racing and motorcycle racing. If you feel adventurous, Late Night Drags gives you a chance to test the tracks with your car. Otherwise, you can also catch a show at Portland International Raceway. 

For many visitors, the highlight of this center is not the racing but its annual Winter Wonderland show – a stellar 12-day drive-through light show. This glittery affair of Christmas Lights and animated scenes is the largest light show in Oregon.

Portland International Raceway entrance.jpg
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Address: 1940 N Victory Blvd, Portland, OR 97217 | Timing: 07:30 am – 04:30 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/rYrZ7rrwn8B5XMUP6  | Phone Number: +15038237223 

International Rose Test Garden

Portland is not called the ‘Rose City’ for nothing. Located within the Washington Park, near Oregon Zoo, the International Rose Test Garden is a sight for the sore eyes. If you thought that the menu at a Portland brewery is extensive, then the variety of roses here will astound you. 

There are over 650 varieties of roses blooming on around 10,000 shrubs, with the peak blossoming season in June. Speckled with colors, the garden is such a stunning sight to behold! We can already imagine ourselves walking among bright roses. 

International Rose Test Garden in Portland, Ore. (2013) - 02.JPG
CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

Address: Washington Park, 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205 | Timing: 05:00 am – 10:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/AJMGkucK5j1sX3Cz9  | Phone Number: +15038233636

Keep Portland Weird Sign

It is almost sacred that you won’t run out of things to do in Portland. ‘Keep Portland Weird’ is such a spirit of the city that it appears on bumpers, stickers, and even has its own wall. A quick walk from Voodoo Doughnuts, the Keep Portland Weird Sign is quirky and a must-visit. 

Take a cute photo in front of it and it will become a keepsake of all Portland attractions.

Keep Portland Weird (17658598119).jpg
CC BY 2.0, Link

Address: 350 W Burnside St Portland, OR 97209 | Google Map Location: https://goo.gl/maps/JucJdmVcUBrSPgnc6  

Willamette Valley Tour

We mentioned beer, but Oregon’s Willamette Valley puts the city on the map for wine. Willamette Valley’s microclimate makes it a great place to grow different varieties of grapes. In fact, it is on the same latitude as Burgundy, France. 

Getting tipsy from sips of wine in a beautiful vineyard is the ultimate vacation goal. The best way to get there is to book one of the tours that include trips to the selected wineries and lots of wine tasting. Red wine or white, get a glass of Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and enjoy Oregon’s wine. 

Willamette Valley Vineyards.jpg
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Powell’s City of Books

Your trip to Portland, Oregon warrants a visit to Powell’s City of Books, aka World’s Largest Independent Bookstore. While there is no dearth of things to do in Portland, it is astounding to stand among a million books! From second-hand titles to rare signed first editions, this popular landmark is a booklover’s dream. 

People can spend good few hours walking around and browsing in this labyrinth of books.

Powell's Books - Portland - Oregon - USA - 01.jpg
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Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209 | Timing: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/powells-city-of-books?share | Phone Number: +18008787323 

Voodoo Doughnut

A great way to let the people of Instagram know that you have visited Portland is by sharing a picture of the scrumptious, over-the-top doughnuts from Voodoo Doughnut. They are not your regular market variety. From matcha and bacon to guava jelly and M&M’s®, Voodoo Doughnut is the de rigueur of all Portland attractions. 

There are two Voodoo Doughnut locations in the city; the original one is in Old Town. Both provide a taste of the art of doughnut-making. Beware, the queue to Voodoo Doughnut can be long. Very long. 

Captain My Captain, Voodoo Doughnut.jpg
CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

Address: 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204 | Timing: 08:00 am – 09:00 pm | Google Map Location: https://g.page/voodoo-doughnut-old-town?share | Phone Number: +15032414704 

Farm 2 Fork

Taste the freshest of what Portland has to offer by taking the popular Farm 2 Fork tours. It is all about local communities, sustainable farming, and the flavors of Oregon. A Farm 2 Fork tour can typically last for five to six hours and include snacks and tastings at three or four different locations. 

Be prepared, there is a fair amount of walking involved! They say the joy of eating fresh coastal fare and eating veggies straight from the farm is almost unparalleled. Even the children will get a kick out of it.  

Farm 2 Fork tours are one of the best things to do in Portland for an all-rounder feel of the city. 

Address: NE Tillamook St, Portland, Oregon | Phone Number: +14154654063 | Google Map Location: https://g.page/farm2forktours?share 

Board game cafes

For a board game aficionado, Portland is the city to be. They are welcoming and extremely comfortable to make an evening out of when looking for things to do in Portland. 

Game Knight is a popular place, known for its wide array of games and decently priced menu. Another cool café is Mox Boarding House which also hosts gaming events that you can join. Whether you are in the mood for a walk down the memory lane or trying the latest in board games, Board Game Café will cover you. 

As most of these cafés allow children too, one thing is for sure: Portland does know how to serve up some fun. 

Scrabble at Green Dragon Pub, Portland, Oregon (2013-09-12 19.06.46 by Jon Roberts).jpg
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This virtual tour has already got us dreaming about all the incredibly cool things to do in Portland, Oregon. From the great outdoors to a lively beer scene and the city being a historic center, Portland attractions know no bounds.  

things to do in portland

This city is so popular for its brand that it even has a TV show named Portlandia dedicated to it. Now, how many cities can boast of this?