Located only three hours south of Seattle, Portland is always a fun trip for me to make when I’m looking for something to do on the weekend. I often do the drive in just one day and have been there countless times for beer tasting, hiking, concerts, and more. There are so many things to do in Portland that it was hard to compile a list, hence why there are 55 in this article!
You’ll find a wide variety of activities, whether it’s relaxing in a peaceful rose garden, delighting your taste buds with unique donuts, or educating yourself about Portland’s history. Of course, you can’t expect to complete all of these in just one weekend, so start a list of your favorite ones to check off as you have time.
Whether you’re in Portland on a weekend getaway from Seattle or a local who wants to explore the city more, here are the best things to do in Portland, Oregon.
1. Go on a Brewery Tour
It’s no surprise this is on the list, as Portland has dozens of breweries to visit. In fact, Portland is home to more breweries than you’ll find in any nearby city. Hop on a guided tour and enjoy a pint or two at some of the top breweries in Portland.
This way, you can make friends with others on the tour and enjoy your drinks paired with laughter and chatter. Or, find your way around and pick out the breweries that seem the most interesting. If you do it solo, be sure to find Upright Brewing. This is an ideal thing to do during winter in Portland, as you can stay warm and dry.
2. Drink at Distillery Row
Like the brewery scene, Portland has many local distilleries worth checking out. Located on Southeast Portland’s Distillery Row, you’ll find several micro-distilleries within walking distance. It’s not actually a row, but more an area where you’ll find many distilleries.
This is a great place to come for a tour and some tastings. Try some unique spirits you can only find in Oregon. Westward Whiskey and New Deal Distillery are two places that come highly recommended. You’ll love doing this when looking for what to do in Portland in January.
3. Arrive Hungry at the 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod
Besides beer and spirits, Portland is also the city of food! Several food cart pods are found along the city, but this one is a must-visit. You’ll want to stop here especially if you’re on a Pacific Northwest road trip and stopping in the city.
With over 60 food carts to choose from, the 5th Avenue Food Cart Pod is a great place to come when you’re feeling hungry. Located in downtown Portland, this is one of the city’s most popular places to eat, and you’ll find Asian, Mexican, and Korean delights. If you’re still hungry, try a guided tour of the city’s other food cart pods.
4. Support Local at the Portland Farmers Market at PSU
The Portland Saturday Market is the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. This is the place to come if you’re looking for unique gifts or souvenirs.
Held every Saturday from March to December, the market features over 250 vendors selling everything from jewelry to clothing to pottery. This is one of my favorite things to do in Portland in summer.
5. Learn More About the City at The Oregon Historical Society Museum
The Oregon Historical Society Museum is located in downtown Portland, and the museum features exhibits on the history of Oregon, as well as a research library. This is one of the must-visit Portland things to do, which is why the museum sees around 44,000 visitors each year. It’s also home to the Portland Penny.
6. Expand Your Knowledge at OMSI
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a great place to visit if you’re interested in science and technology. With over 200 hands-on exhibits, there’s plenty to see and do here.
You can also catch a film at the IMAX theater or participate in one of the many educational programs. If you’re visiting with kids, be sure to check out the Discovery Zone, where they can have fun and learn at the same time.
7. Bring the Bookworms to Powell’s Books
Powell’s is the world’s largest independent bookstore and takes up an entire city block in downtown Portland, and the store features over 1.5 million books, a cafe, an events space, and a Rare Book Room. Powell’s is a must-visit for any book lover!
I love to spend a few hours here when I can be curled up with a latte and a good book. Even better if it’s raining outside – it makes it that much cozier! Many people I know have taken a road trip from Seattle just to come here.
8. Spend Some Time in Alberta Arts District
The Alberta Arts District is a great place to come for some shopping and dining. With over 150 businesses, there’s plenty to keep you busy.
You’ll find everything from art galleries and antique stores to cafes and restaurants. Check out the Last Thursday street fair, where you can enjoy live music and street performers, and discover local artists.
9. Smell the Flowers at the International Rose Test Garden
The Rose Test Gardens are located in Washington Park and offer incredible city views. With over 10,000 rose bushes, this is one of the best places to smell the roses — literally. The gardens are free to enter and make a great place to stroll around on a sunny day.
10. Party It Up in Old Town Chinatown
This is Portland’s oldest neighborhood and a great place to start a weekend in Portland. The area is packed with cultural and historical significance. It’s home to fantastic Chinese restaurants and some of Portland’s best nightlife options. There’s tons of entertainment here, and it’s a shopping haven for those looking to splurge.
11. Get a Bird’s Eye View From the Portland Aerial Tram
Undoubtedly one of the fun things to do in Portland is to take the aerial tram. The tram will take you from South Waterfront to the Oregon Health and Science University campus, which offers some great views of the city.
The ride takes only a few minutes, but it’s a must-do in Portland. And it’s even more amazing if you take the ride during sunrise.
12. Hike or Bike Through Forest Park
Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country and a great place to go for a hike or a bike ride. Go with a group of friends or join a guided hike to enjoy the park to its fullest.
With over 80 miles of trails, this is one of the top Portland, Oregon, things to do for outdoor lovers. If you get tired, you can always take a break and enjoy the views of the city from one of the many lookout points. This is also a good starting point if you want to eventually do some hikes in Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park.
13. Take a Break at Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is a beautiful place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city. With over 12 acres of land, the garden features ponds, streams, and bridges.
There are also several different gardens to explore, including a bonsai garden and tea garden. The park offers cultural programs and events if you’re interested in learning more about Japanese culture. This area is an especially relaxing place to stop when on a Seattle to San Diego road trip.
14. People-Watch at Pioneer Courthouse Square
Pioneer Courthouse Square is one of the most popular places to visit in Portland. Also known as “Portland’s living room,” this is a great place to people-watch or just relax in the sun. There’s always something going on here, so check the events calendar before you visit.
15. Enjoy a Day in the Sun at Washington Park
Washington Park is a large park located in the west hills of Portland. The park is home to several Portland attractions, including the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Garden, and the Oregon Zoo. There is also a playground, a pedestrian bridge, and hiking trails.
Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a place to explore, Washington Park is worth a visit. The park is a great place to stop if you’re on a dog-friendly vacation in Oregon (just make sure to keep them on a leash).
16. Seek Out Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion is in the west hills of Portland. The historic house museum was built in 1914 and was home to the Pittock family until 1963. Today, the mansion is open to the public for tours and features beautiful gardens, stunning views of the city, and historical exhibits. This is on many people’s PNW bucket lists, so you may want to book your tour in advance.
17. Learn The History of the Witch’s Castle in Forest Park
The Witch’s Castle is a small ruined castle located in Forest Park. The castle was built in the 1850s and used as a private residence, restaurant, and dance hall. The castle is open to the public for tours. Visitors can explore the ruins, take in the views, and learn about the castle’s history.
18. Look for the Troll Near Portland Troll Bridge
If you’re looking for a fun and unique photo opportunity, seek out the troll bridge in Portland. The troll is located under the St. Johns Bridge in Cathedral Park and is one of the coolest things to see in Portland. Bring your camera so you can snap a picture of the troll!
19. Make a Wish on The Wishing Tree in Washington Park
The Wishing Tree is located in Washington Park, and the tree is a Japanese maple that was planted in the early 1900s. Visitors to the park can write their wishes on slips of paper and tie them to the tree.
It’s said that if you make a wish on the tree, it will come true. So, if you’re looking for a little bit of magic, be sure to visit the Wishing Tree.
20. See the Stunning Multnomah Falls
Multnomah Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in the Columbia River Gorge. These falls are just outside of the city but make for an ideal day trip from Portland.
The falls are about 620 feet tall and are one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oregon. There is a lodge at the falls where you can get a bite to eat or buy souvenirs. You can also hike to the top of the falls for a stunning view. If you feel like you need some guidance, book a tour of the falls.
Want to explore the outdoors even more outside of Portland? Consider going on a weekend trip from Portland or an Oregon Coast road trip!
21. Stroll Through Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a beautiful park located along the Willamette River. The park features walking and biking trails, a playground, and a fountain. It is also home to several events throughout the year, including the Portland Saturday Market and the Oregon Brewers Festival.
Take advantage of the sunny weather and spend a day walking or biking along the river. Then, relax in the park and enjoy the views. Pack a picnic and make a day of it!
22. Walk Through the Flowers of Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
The Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden is a 9.5-acre public garden in southeast Portland. The garden features over 2,000 rhododendrons, azaleas, and a variety of other plants. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, relax on the lawn, or picnic in the park.
For a small fee, you can visit between 10 am and 4 pm most days of the week. This is one of the best things to do in Oregon in the spring.
23. Visit Laurelhurst Park
Laurelhurst Park features a playground, walking and biking trails, a basketball court, and a picnic area. It is also home to the Laurelhurst Community Center. This 38-acre park provides a great respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, if you’re looking for a place to relax and breathe fresh air, this is the ideal spot.
24. See the Smallest Park: Mill Ends Park
Mill Ends Park is the smallest park in the world at just two feet wide and two feet long. The park is located in downtown Portland and was created by journalist Dick Fagan in 1948. Today, the park is a popular tourist destination. It won’t take very long to explore, but it’s a unique place to visit and a cool thing to do in Portland.
25. Tackle a Walking Trail Inside Mount Tabor Park
Mount Tabor Park is an oasis in the middle of the city. The park is on the volcano vent of Mt Tabor, an extinct volcano. Here you’ll find picnic areas, playgrounds, a basketball court, and walking trails. You can also take in the views of the city from the top of the volcano.
The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset and is free to visit. Be sure to visit the amphitheater, where you can catch a concert or movie in the summer.
26. Explore Willamette Valley
Portland’s got beer, whiskey, food carts galore, and the cherry on top — delectable wines.
Portland is set within the Willamette Valley, the heart of Oregon. This valley has over 600 wineries, so you can easily spend a day (or two) wine tasting in the area. Book one of the many wine tours, or rent a car and explore on your own.
27. Admire The Beauty of Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is a beautiful garden located in Chinatown. The garden was built in 1999 and features traditional Chinese architecture and landscaping. Visitors can stroll through the gardens, enjoy the views, and learn about Chinese culture. The garden is open daily from 10 am to 6 pm.
28. Get Involved at The World Forestry Center Discovery Museum
Located near the Oregon Zoo, this museum is family-focused and offers interactive displays and educational exhibits. The center aims to teach visitors more about forest and tree sustainability in the Pacific Northwest and the world.
29. Marvel Inside the Lincoln Street Kayak & Canoe Museum
Visit this compact museum to learn more about indigenous cultures and the history of canoeing and kayaking. Harvey Golden has spent years creating his collection of kayaks, and most are replicas of those used by indigenous groups in the Arctic.
The museum is only open to the public on Thursdays between 5 pm and 7 pm. But you can always try to schedule an appointment with Golden if that doesn’t work for you.
30. Reflect in The Grotto
The Grotto is a Catholic shrine and botanical garden located in NE Portland. Its official name is The National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother. You can visit the shrine to pray or reflect, stroll through the gardens, or hike up to the upper level for views of the city. The Grotto is open daily from 9 am to 8:30 pm. The lower level is free to visit, but there is a fee to access the upper level.
31. Take the Kids to Oregon Zoo
For those not sure what to do in Portland with the family, the Oregon Zoo is located in Washington Park and is a great place to take the kids. The zoo is home to over 2,000 animals, including elephants, lions, and tigers. There are also several educational exhibits, such as an African rainforest and an Amazon floodplain.
The zoo is open daily. Hours differ throughout the week, but you can safely visit between 9:30 am and 5:30 pm. Admission is free for Oregon residents and seniors, but there is a fee for everyone else.
32. Have Lunch in the Downtown Park Blocks
The Downtown Park Blocks are a series of 12 city blocks that make up a park in the center of downtown Portland. The park is a great place to stroll, people-watch, or relax in the sun. Food carts, a farmers market, and a playground are located within the park. The park is open daily from 5 am to 9 pm.
33. Browse the Masterpieces at Portland Art Museum
If you’re an art lover, then you won’t want to miss a visit to the Portland Art Museum. With over 42,000 pieces of art in its collection, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Highlights include works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Rembrandt. But, even if you’re not an art history buff, it’s still worth a visit to see some of the stunning pieces on display.
34. Hear the Dark History of the Shanghai Tunnels
The Shanghai Tunnels are a series of tunnels located underneath the city. The tunnels were used to kidnap men and women, sell them into slavery, or force them to work on ships. Today, the tunnels are open for tours. The tunnel tours include a history lesson and a visit to the tunnels themselves.
You can also visit the Shanghai Tunnel Bar, located near the tunnels. The bar has a speakeasy vibe and offers a variety of cocktails.
35. See the Living Museum of Trees: The Hoyt Arboretum
Hoyt Arboretum is a 12,000-acre forest located just west of downtown Portland. The arboretum is home to over 6,000 species of trees and plants from all over the world. There are also 12 miles of hiking trails to explore.
36. Have Some Fun in the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is a museum dedicated to the strange and unusual. The museum features exhibits on aliens, ghosts, and serial killers — all the freaky things that the owner loves.
You can also buy items from the gift shop, such as shrunken heads and barrels of monkeys. The museum is open daily from 11 am to 7 pm. It’s not a place to take the kids, but it’s a fun place for adults.
37. Book a Tour of the National Hat Museum
The National Hat Museum is located in Portland, Oregon and is dedicated to hats and the history of hatmaking. The museum features a collection of over 200 hats, as well as interactive exhibits. The only way to visit is by pre-booking tours, which provide you with a guide who will take you through the museum.
Note: The museum closed due to the pandemic, but it is still there. Contact the owners before you arrive in Portland to see if it’s open before you plan your trip.
38. Bask in the Views From Cathedral Park
Cathedral Park is located in north Portland and is home to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Rosary. The cathedral was built in 1926 and is a beautiful example of Gothic Revival architecture.
The park is underneath St John’s bridge and features a playground, picnic tables, and a walking path. It’s also a popular place for photographers and photoshoots.
39. Relax at Sellwood Riverfront Park
Whether you’re looking to relax or get active, Sellwood Riverfront Park is a great place to spend some time.
Sellwood Riverfront Park is a 12-acre park located along the Willamette River. The park features walking and biking trails, a playground, a picnic area, and a boat ramp. Visitors can also fish from the shore or go for a swim in the river.
40. Confuse Your Taste Buds at Salt & Straw Ice Cream
Have you ever had olive oil ice cream? Or how about pear and blue cheese ice cream? No? Then you need to check out Salt & Straw. This unique ice cream shop features rotating seasonal flavors made with local ingredients. They even have a vegan line.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try the flavor flight and sample a few of the more unique flavors. But beware, they might just confuse your tastebuds.
41. See the Statues at Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden
The Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden is dedicated to children’s author Beverly Cleary and features sculptures of her characters, including Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. The author grew up in Portland and based her beloved children’s classics on the city.
The garden also has a playground, picnic tables, and a walking path. It is open daily from dawn to dusk and is located in northeast Portland.
42. Have a Drink at Revolution Hall
Revolution Hall is a concert venue located in downtown Portland. The venue is located in the historic George Fox Building and features a variety of musical acts. This spot also has a restaurant and bar.
If you’re looking for things to do in Portland at night, then attending a show at Revolution Hall is a great option. The venue is located near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Portland Art Museum.
43. Locate All of the Windows of Wonders
Windows of Wonders is a public art project that features a series of large-scale murals. The murals are located on the windows of businesses in downtown Portland. The project was created to bring some color and life to the city during the pandemic.
Checking out the murals is a great option if you’re looking for free things to do in Portland.
44. Take a Photo Under The “Keep Portland Weird” Sign
The “Keep Portland Weird” sign is located in downtown Portland. The sign is a popular spot for photos and has become an iconic symbol of the city. It fits the city’s unofficial slogan, “Keep Portland Weird.”
The sign is located near the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry and the Portland Art Museum, so you can do a quick stop-by as you’re exploring the city. If this is your first time in Portland, getting a photo under the sign is one of the top things to do.
45. Track Down the Morrison Street Mini Gallery
With all the cool stuff to do in Portland, you may miss this mini gallery, but try not to. The small gallery on Morrison Street is run by husband and wife team Alissa and Jerry. Exhibits comprise various miniature but life-like sculptures and other artistic works.
The gallery is simply inside a shadow box, sitting outside a Victorian-style home. You’ll find something new and exciting inside there each month.
46. See Stark’s Vacuum Museum
You might not think a vacuum cleaner museum would be one of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon, but Stark’s Vacuum Museum is a pretty popular attraction. The museum is located in the basement of Stark’s Vacuum cleaners and features a collection of over 200 vacuum cleaners.
47. Explore The Pearl District
This is where Portland’s art scene began. Today, it’s one of the city’s hippest places to live, work, and play. The Pearl District is home to various art galleries, boutiques, restaurants, and cafes. This area is one of my favorite places to visit, with plenty of things to do in Portland.
48. Try Out the Famous Voodoo Doughnut
There are several Voodoo Doughnut locations in the US and even one in Taiwan, but the original shop is located on Southwest 3rd Avenue, Portland. The brand features a wide variety of unique and delicious donuts and has been featured on many TV shows. They seem to have different ones every time I visit (I/m holding a bubble-gum flavored donut above), and they’re especially creative with their donuts around the holidays.
Because of their fame and the Insta-worthy donuts, this shop gets busy. So come prepared to stand in a line. If you don’t have time to wait, why not take a tour of the city’s many other donut shops.
49. Watch a Soccer Game at Providence Park
Providence Park is a soccer stadium located in downtown Portland. The stadium is home to the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer (MLS). Providence Park also hosts a number of other events, including concerts and college football games.
If you’re a soccer fan, then watching a Timbers game is one of the top things to do in Portland. The stadium is located near several other attractions, including the Oregon Zoo and the International Rose Test Garden.
50. Sample Spirits at Multnomah Whiskey Library
How would you like to sample over 1,000 different types of whiskey? That’s what you can do at the Multnomah Whiskey Library. This bar features a massive collection of whiskey from all over the world. And with such a large selection, they are sure to have something to suit everyone’s taste.
In addition to their impressive whiskey selection, they also have a menu of delicious food. So you can enjoy a nice meal while sipping your favorite whiskey.
51. Visit Portland International Raceway
To enjoy the Portland International Raceway, you don’t have to be a gearhead. This world-class racing facility hosts various events throughout the year, including drag races, drift competitions, and go-kart races.
But even if you’re not into racing, you can take a walk, ride your bike around the track, play in the grassy areas, or just enjoy the views of Mt. Hood and downtown Portland.
52. Catch a Show at Portland Center Stage
There’s always something going on at Portland Center Stage. This theater company produces a wide variety of plays, musicals, and other live performances. With three different performance spaces, there’s sure to be a show that interests you.
If you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day or just want to enjoy some live entertainment, check out Portland Center Stage.
53. Adventure Through Columbia River Gorge
Only a short drive from Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is one of the best places to go for a hike. Rent a car to drive yourself or book a guided tour to take you from the city and back.
With over 80 miles of trails, this is a must if you’re in Portland for a longer period. There are also several waterfalls to explore, including Horsetail Falls. If you’re looking for an adventure, you can go whitewater rafting or windsurfing.
54. Find Portland’s Magnificent Street Art
You can’t spend time in Portland without admiring the fantastic street art. From murals to graffiti, there’s art around every corner.
Head to North Mississippi Avenue, Alberta Street, or the Pearl District to see some of the best. If you want to learn more about the artists and the history of Portland’s street art scene, there are several tours you can take.
55. Visit the Oregon Jewish Museum
This is the only Jewish museum in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s located in Portland. The museum features a variety of exhibits on Jewish history and culture and is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm.
If you’re interested in learning about Jewish history and culture, visiting the Oregon Jewish Museum is one of the top things to do in Portland, OR.
Which of these things to do in Portland are you looking forward to the most?