19 Awesome Things to Do in Portland in the Summer (2024)

portland in the summer
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The summer months in Portland bring out some of the best activities, but because there is so much to do and see, planning an agenda can be challenging. I know I always want to do it all – walk along the river, try the latest restaurants, and more. I’ve been to the city over a dozen times and still haven’t seen half of what I want here, even though I often visit Portland. in the summer.

Any city in the Pacific Northwest really comes alive during this year (hence why you’ll rarely find me out of the city during summer during Seattle, with the exception of hiking around Washington). Portland has its own charm, though, and I always make sure to get down there a few times during this season. From hanging out at outdoor breweries to going to festivals, you’ll love summer in Portland.

That’s why I’ve put together a list of 19 fantastic summer activities in Portland so you can plan accordingly for the ones you want to do the most and save the others for later.

Tips for Visiting During Summer in Portland

When visiting Portland in summer, you’ll have plenty of things to see and do. The staggering amount of attractions and activities you can explore is enough to crowd up your itinerary. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when visiting The City of Roses.

  • Summer is peak tourist season in Portland, so it’s best to book your accommodation and tickets to must-see attractions well in advance. Skip-the-line tickets will make sure you don’t have to wait in long queues.
  • Pack light summer clothes, like flowy dresses, shorts, sandals, and t-shirts. Also, don’t forget to bring a light windbreaker or raincoat for wet days and cooler evenings.
  • The sun sets between 8 pm and 9 pm in Portland in the summer, so keep that in mind when you’re out.

Weather in Portland in Summer

Things to Do in Portland in the Summer

Summer is a great time to visit Portland. The days are warm (hot in some months), dry, and mostly have clear skies. There is very little chance of rain, and the days have low humidity. You can expect average daily temperatures in the summer to fluctuate from highs of 81°F and lows of 56°F.

Portland in June

It is a wonderful time to visit Portland in June, as the weather’s average daily temperatures range between 55°F and 78°F. The days are still quite comfortable, with an average of about three inches of rainfall. Many outdoor activities are waiting to be explored around this time, as June brings about 290 hours of sunlight to Portland.

Portland in July

July is one of the hottest months in the city. With summer in full swing, you can expect daily average temperatures to range from lows of 58°F to highs of 84°F. In July, Portland only gets about two days of rain, which is about 0.5 inches of rainfall. The sunset time slightly changes from 9 pm to 8:40 pm towards the end of the month.

Portland in August

August is as hot as it gets, although temperatures start cooling down toward the end of the month as it starts nearing fall time in Portland. August brings average daily temperatures ranging between 56°F and 81°F and peaking at 84°F. It has two days of rain, with an average rainfall of 0.8 inches. The sun sets earlier, at 8:30 pm at the beginning of the month and at 8 pm at the end.

Considering visiting Seattle? Here’s everything to know about Seattle and Portland.

Where to Stay in Portland in the Summer

Here are a few hotel options to consider when looking for where to stay in Portland during your summer trip:

  • Hotel Eastlund – Best Western Premier Collection — This Eastside Portland hotel gives you impressive views of the Lloyd District thanks to its expansive glass walls. There are two onsite eateries serving Pacific Northwest cuisine. The Portland Streetcar sits adjacent to the hotel, while the Portland Union Station is about 1.9 miles away, giving you easy access to the city center. (rates start at $219 per night)
  • The Society Hotel — Situated in the heart of downtown, Society Hotel offers charming retro-inspired rooms, an onsite American restaurant, and a rooftop terrace with gorgeous city views. The Lan Su Chinese Garden and Powell’s City of Books are within walking distance from the hotel. (rates start at $122 per night)
  • Park Lane Suites & Inn — Located in Portland’s funky Pearl District, this hotel features customized décor like cherry furniture, maple cabinets, and Aromae Botanicals bathroom toiletries. The hotel is less than 0.6 miles from the Oregon Symphony and the Portland Art Museum. (rates start at $117 per night)

19 Awesome Things to Do in Portland in the Summer

This season brings warm days and opportunities to explore some of the best things to do in Portland in summer. Here are 19 of the best things to do in Portland in the summer.

1. Stroll Through the International Rose Test Garden

International Rose Test Garden

The International Rose Test Garden is one of the best places to kick off your Portland summer itinerary. This rose garden in Washington Park features over 10,000 individual rose bushes, comprising about 610 species.

The garden gives you incredible views of the city while you leisurely stroll through its 4.5 acres. You can see (and smell) the colorful roses in the blooming season, from late May to October. Their peak blooming period is expected in June, but this depends on the weather. 

2. Visit Portland’s Weekend Markets

Farmers Market Stand Seattle

Wander through hundreds of stalls, shopping for crafts, jewelry, and souvenirs at Portland’s best weekend markets. You’ll also get to taste local delicacies, beers, and cocktails.

  • Portland Saturday Market — Hosted every Saturday at Tom McCall Waterfront Park, this open-air market is one of the biggest continuously operated markets in the United States. Here, you can buy unique handmade arts and crafts from over 250 vendors.
  • Portland Farmers Market at PSU — This flagship farmers market at Portland State University features over 100 vendors, from farms to restaurants. You can buy fresh produce here, like fruits, veggies, eggs, pastries, meats, and artisanal beverages. 
  • Portland Night Market — Blending the best of Portland’s food, music, and culture, this night market on 100 SE Alder Street brings over 175 vendors selling crafts, home decor, beauty supplies, and more under one roof while local DJs play their sets.

3. Explore the Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion

If you appreciate history, this French Renaissance-style hilltop château is a great spot to learn more about the city. Pittock Mansion was built in 1914 for London-born Henry Pittock, who was a publisher for The Oregonian, and his family.

Today, after surviving the Columbus Day Storm in 1962, this historic house museum stands as a display of how Portland transformed from a pioneer town to an industrialized city. 

You can look inside and catch great views of the city from this mansion daily, from 10 am to 5 pm, but note that the museum opens at noon on Tuesday. This is one of the better things to do in Portland in summer when you need a break inside from the heat.

4. See Wildlife at Oregon Zoo

Oregon Zoo

Summer in Portland is the perfect time to explore the great outdoors, but why not top it off with amazing wildlife sightings at the Oregon Zoo? Established in 1888, this 64-acre zoo in Washington Park is home to 2,585 animals, representing 215 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and fish.

You’ll also find 15 endangered species and seven threatened species living at the zoo in Portland, Oregon in summer. The Oregon Zoo is dotted with native Pacific Northwest plants along its pathways. Its botanical gardens also host exotic plants like the Heliconia firebird and pelican flower. This is a popular stop on a Pacific Northwest trip through Portland.

5. Admire Masterpieces at the Portland Art Museum

Portland Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum in downtown is a great place to immerse yourself in the city’s classic and contemporary art during Portland in July. If you’re an art lover, you’ll enjoy browsing through the museum’s 42,000+ permanent collection.

You’ll also find plenty of Native American art, a center for modern and contemporary art, and permanent exhibitions of Asian art. The Portland Art Museum also has an outdoor sculpture garden that you can stroll through. Visiting the museum is a quick and easy way to see the city’s artistic culture, and it’s a great way to escape the heat during a Portland summer vacation.

6. Walk Through the Portland Japanese Garden

Japanese Gardens

Get a glimpse of Japan in Portland at Washington Park. This traditional Japanese garden offers a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. The 12-acre lot has eight different gardens, each with a unique style, waterfalls, ponds, and flower-lined walkways.

It also has a learning center at its Cultural Village, where you can learn more about Japanese culture. You can also pick up a souvenir at the gift shop or stop for a drink at Umami Café.

7. Attend an Event at Pioneer Courthouse Square

Chinese Festival

Affectionately known as Portland’s living room, Pioneer Courthouse Square is a massive 40,000-square-foot outdoor space in the heart of downtown. This square hosts numerous events all year round. 

In summer in Portland, you can catch the Chinese Festival in August, where there will be lots of live entertainment, delicious food, and authentic arts and crafts. Pioneer Courthouse Square is also a great spot to just chill, grab a bite at the food carts, and people-watch after a long day.  

8. Find Peace at The Grotto

Pray

The Grotto, officially called the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is a place where nature meets prayer and meditation. This outdoor Catholic shrine in Portland’s Madison South district is a great place to reflect and let go of anything that’s bothering you.

If you’re not a religious person, The Grotto can still be a good place to visit. It covers over 62 acres of lush land, including a hilltop. So you can come here to explore The Grotto’s gardens and hike up its 110-foot cliff for panoramic views of Portland in summer.

9. Go for a Photoshoot at Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

azaleas

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is one of the best places to admire a myriad of colorful flowers in Portland. This 9.5-acre garden boasts rare and hybrid species of rhododendrons, ericaceous plants, azaleas, and many other plants and trees.

In Portland in the summer, the azaleas and rhododendrons will be in full bloom, showcasing a riot of color that deserves to be photographed. Other snap-worthy things include the three waterfalls, picturesque bridges, and wildlife found around Crystal Springs Lake.

10. Day Trip to Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

portland columbia river gorge

Take a much-needed break from bustling Portland and visit the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. Boasting incredible waterfalls, bridges, and scenic driving, biking, hiking, and horseback riding routes, this river canyon has everything any nature enthusiast would love.

This half-day Columbia River Gorge hiking tour takes you through the area’s most scenic overlooks, including waterfalls like Multnomah Falls. The Columbia River Gorge has cabins and camping grounds, making it an ideal place to embark on a weekend trip from Portland

You can also cross the river and check out some Washington waterfall hikes if you’re feeling active.

11. Take a Pearl District Coffee Tour

Coffee

The Pearl District is a hip area of Portland with cool shops, restaurants, bars, galleries, and craft breweries that are housed in old warehouses. It’s also home to lots of rustic coffee houses, artisanal bakeries, and creative donut shops.

If you’re a coffee lover, you’ll enjoy a tour of the best coffee shops in the Pearl District. You’ll see baristas whipping up steaming cups of caffeinated goodness and then get a behind-the-scenes look at how these perfectly rich blends are made at a local roastery.

Tip: Pair your coffee excursion with this underground donut tour and indulge your taste buds with Portland’s tastiest sweet treats. 

12. Get Silly at the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum

books

The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum is home to a vast array of strange and creepy exhibits, unique artworks, books, comics, and lots of interactive and quirky stuff to play with when you want a break indoors in Portland in the summer.

It’s not recommended for small children, but this museum would be a great addition to your family-friendly Pacific Northwest vacation in Portland if you have teens or older kids. The museum also houses a gallery and a gift shop where you can buy interesting souvenirs.

13. Go Kayaking in the Willamette River

Kayaking

Summer in Portland has warm weather that allows for plenty of outdoor water activities like canoeing, rafting, and paddleboarding. The Willamette River is a fantastic spot to kayak as well. You can follow the 187-mile Willamette River Water Trail as it meanders through thick forests and meadows.

The Willamette River is also a great outdoor public space where you can take a dip to cool off from the sun. You can also swim at one of the city’s many riverfront beaches or docks, like Poet’s Beach, Audrey McCall Beach, and Tom McCall Bowl Beach at Waterfront Park, when looking for fun things to do in Oregon in the summer.

If you want to extend your time, head west for an Oregon coast road trip to participate in even more water sports.

Tip: Looking for a way to unwind after a long day of exploring Portland? This sunset dinner cruise downtown along the Willamette River will do the trick.

14. Attend a Craft Beer Festival

beer tasting portland

With roughly 70 craft breweries dotted across the city, it’s no surprise that Portland is home to some of the best beer you’ll ever taste. The city’s affinity for special brews is quite evident, with numerous beer festivals taking place throughout the year.

I’ll be honest – this is one of the main reasons I love Portland, as they are the only other place in the world that has beer that rivals Seattle. You’ll find some amazing breweries in Portland, and many are kid-friendly breweries as well (something I always look for when on a Portland road trip).

In summer in Portland, Oregon, the Portland Craft Beer Festival, hosted at The Fields Park, brings a variety of beers, ciders, and wines made within the city limits, making it unique compared to others. For more information on dates and tickets, check the festival’s website.

Tip: If you miss the festival, you can always browse through Portland’s collection of brews on a craft beer walking tour around the city.

15. Visit the Famous Powell’s City of Books

Powell's City of Books

If you’re a bookworm, you’ll love spending time at the world’s largest independent bookstore. Powell’s City of Books sits in the heart of Portland’s downtown, taking up an entire block. You’ll find over a million new and used books and merchandise in a variety of genres. I’ve been here countless times because I find the selection so fascinating.

Powell’s City of Books houses an event space and the Rare Book Room, where you can pick up a limited first edition. There is also a coffee shop where you can sit down and enjoy a nice caffeinated drink while reading your newest book. 

16. Learn Portland’s History at the Oregon Historical Society Museum

History Museum

The Oregon Historical Society is an organization that promotes and preserves the state’s history, and there’s no better place to learn more than at its museum in downtown Portland. 

This three-story building boasts thought-provoking and interactive exhibits, showcasing rare documents and over 85,000 artifacts that shaped Oregon as we see it today. The Oregon Historical Society Museum also has a research center and library where you can snuggle up with a good read on a rainy summer day, which occasionally happens in Portland in the summer.

17. Stop By the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

oregon museum of science and industry
Image via Flickr

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI, is a great place to hang out on a rainy day, especially if you’re traveling with kids. The museum boasts tons of hands-on exhibits, labs where you can do real science, and playgrounds for the little scientists.

You can also enjoy submarine tours on a real-life submarine and head to the planetarium to see the universe like never before. OMSI also offers theater shows where you can catch the latest Hollywood movies and documentaries.

18. Hike to Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

Arguably one of the most scenic parts of the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon. You can hike up to this 620-foot waterfall on this half-day guided tour of Multnomah Falls, which is perfect for fun things to do in Portland in summer. 

You’ll have to trek 2.4 miles up and back to Multnomah Falls. Once at the summit, take some time to take in the scenic views of the lush surroundings. Multnomah Falls also features a lodge where you can stop by for lunch or to buy souvenirs at the gift shop.

19. Go Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley

things to do in willamette valley iris vineyards

Last but certainly not least, wine tasting in the Willamette Valley is one of the best things to do in the Pacific Northwest. This lush region in the heart of Oregon boasts over 700 wineries and 1,000 vineyards along its 150-mile-long valley, making it one of the tastiest things to do in the summer in Portland.

While we have Walla Walla in the southeastern corner of Washington, Willamette has us beat with some absolutely stunning wineries. I love going here and walking through the vineyards, having a glass of wine, and talking with the owners. Winter in Portland is a cozy time to visit, but you can’t beat sitting outside in the summer.

You can get an immersive experience of one of the country’s best wine regions by taking a Willamette Valley wine-tasting tour from Portland. You’ll taste wine at several wineries and vineyards while your expert guide gives insights into the unique varietals and how they are made. 

You’ll love all these things to do in Portland in the summer to explore this season.

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