Gothic style arches of St Johns bridge in Portland, USA

Things to do in  Portland

Quirky is the new black

Long known for its proximity to gorgeous natural areas, Portland offers lots to experience within city limits. Highlights include the serene Portland Japanese Garden and the massive urban woodland of Forest Park, plus plenty of places to ride your bike. While the outdoors is a big draw, some of the best things to do in Portland are great, rain or shine, from perusing the tomes at massive Powell’s City of Books to checking out some of the city’s many award-winning restaurants.

Top 15 attractions in Portland

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge, one of the great natural treasures of the Pacific Northwest with its many dramatic waterfalls, channels the mighty Columbia River through the Cascade Range to the Pacific Ocean, marking much of the border between Oregon and Washington. The gorge figures in early United States history, as it was here that the Lewis and Clark expedition completed its final stretch in 1805. Today the area is popular with hikers, windsurfers, and wine lovers.More

Latourell Falls

One of 90 waterfalls along Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, Latourell Falls are the closest to Portland. Plunging from a height of 249 feet (76 meters, the waterfalls offer dramatic scenery and photo opportunities, while a hiking trail makes it easy to get up close and personal.More

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 620 feet (189 meters) and one of the state’s top natural landmarks. The falls are made up of two waterfalls fed from Larch Mountain and are recognizable for their setting tucked into sheer rock faces. The cascades are made more fairytale-like by the Benson Bridge, which spans the top of the lower falls and provides great photo ops.More

Willamette Valley

A short jaunt southwest from downtown Portland, the Willamette Valley is known by wine lovers worldwide for its delectable pinot noirs, often produced in small batches. This picturesque region is also dotted with tasting rooms and is a popular spot for wine-tasting excursions from Portland.More

Mt. Hood

A short drive from Portland, Oregon, majestic Mt. Hood stands at 11,249 feet (3,429 meters), making it Oregon's highest peak and one of the highest mountains in the Pacific Northwest. The dormant volcano often has steam rising from its fumaroles, adding to the serenity of the surrounding vista. Many hikers summit the mountain for views of the Cascade Mountains and the valleys and cities below.More

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Designed for science fans of all ages, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) features five separate halls, eight hands-on science labs, a real submarine, an OmniMax giant-screen theater, and a planetarium. The museum is a science playground, with 200-plus interactive exhibits covering subjects such as climate change, chemistry, the human body, and technology.More

Pioneer Square

Sometimes called Portland's living room, Pioneer Square lives up to its reputation as a place that's welcoming to all. Though not the most scenic spot in the city, this centrally-located urban hub is surrounded by shops and eateries, and offers easy access to Downtown Portland attractions, whether you're walking or taking public transit.More

Portland Steel Bridge

With more than a dozen bridges spanning the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, Portland is certainly a city of bridges. However, there’s one that stands out; Portland's Steel Bridge is the only telescoping, double-decker truss bridge ever built. You can ride the light rail across, admire its expanse on a cruise, or just stroll along the century-old landmark.More

Powell’s City of Books

Encompassing an entire city block in downtown Portland, Powell’s City of Books is the world’s largest independent new and used bookstore and a top attraction for book lovers visiting the city. Here you’ll find upwards of a million books, including rare finds, first editions, and autographed copies of bestsellers and little-known titles alike, all under one roof.More

Portland Pearl District

Portland’s Pearl District lives up to its evocative title. The small neighborhood in the heart of downtown is packed with local finds, from avant-garde art galleries to craft breweries to fine dining, with many establishments housed in renovated warehouse spaces. Plus, a bike- and pedestrian-friendly trail along the Willamette River accents the Pearl’s waterfront location.More

Wahkeena Falls

Situated on the Oregon side of the scenic Columbia River Gorge, Wahkeena Falls cascades 242 feet (74 meters) in tiers through lush green forest. It’s one of the most popular waterfalls in the area, not only because of its beauty, but also because getting to it requires only a very short hike.More

International Rose Test Garden

Free, outdoors, and centrally located, the International Rose Test Garden is an easy addition to your Portland vacation. Take time to smell some of the 10,000 roses representing 650 species when you stroll through the active test garden, located in Portland’s popular Washington Park.More

Vista House

Originally built as a rest stop in 1917, the octagonal, dome-crowned Vista House offers some of the best views in the Columbia Gorge region. While many visitors come to take in the views, it's worth heading inside to check out the museum, which chronicles the history of the building—and the Gorge region—through interpretive displays.More

Mt. Hood National Forest

Encompassing over a million acres of forest and mountains east of Portland, Mt. Hood National Forest is known for its year-round recreation opportunities. The winters are ideal for snow sports, and Mount Hood is among the most popular ski destinations in the region. Summers are equally fantastic, especially for hiking.More

South Park Blocks

South Park Blocks offers respite from Portland's bustling city energy. The verdant green space in the heart of Downtown Portland covers 12 blocks, and runs through Portland State University. You can walk along SW Park Avenue—between Jackson and Salmon Streets—to enjoy a leisurely stroll on this public art-adorned, tree-covered arcade.More

Top activities in Portland

Half-Day Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall Hiking Tour
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Mt Hood Day Trip from Portland to Multnomah Falls and Hood River
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Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Tour from Portland, OR
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Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Tour from Portland, OR

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Waterfalls, Mt Hood, and Wine Tour (Tasting Fees Included)
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Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls & Mt Hood Tour from Portland, OR
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Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls & Mt Hood Tour from Portland, OR

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Oregon Coast Day Trip: Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock
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Portland, Oregon City Tour!

Portland, Oregon City Tour!

Hike and Bike Tour to Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls
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Oregon Coast Tour from Portland

Oregon Coast Tour from Portland

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All about Portland

When to visit

The city is very much a summer destination, and while there’s plenty of things to do in Portland throughout the year, you’ll get the most out of your trip if you visit between June and September when there’s generally less rainfall. Festivals run throughout the summer, too, starting with the annual Portland Rose Festival, which kicks off June with parades and a fun fair.

Getting around

Portland is compact and very easy to get around. Many people rely on bikes to get around, but if you’re worried about rainfall, you can always rent a car—parking is generally pretty easy to come by. There are also plenty of bus and trolley lines, along with an extensive light rail network, known as the MAX, that connects downtown with the airport and area suburbs.

Traveler tips

Portland is known for many things, including its quirkiness and its coffee shops, so it should come as no surprise that the city also has its fair share of quirky coffee shops. Rimsky-Korsakoffee House is arguably the city’s finest (and weirdest) of the lot. Occupying an old Victorian house tucked behind a minimart, it features tables that slowly change position or rotate as if they were enchanted. Come for the whimsy and stay for the decadent desserts and tasty espresso beverages.

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A local’s pocket guide to Portland

Margot Bigg

Margot is one of the few Portlanders who was born and (mostly) raised in the city. Although she’s lived all over the world, she now calls Portland home again.

The first thing you should do in Portland is...

plan out where you’re going to eat. There are way too many fantastic dining spots, so having a good plan (or going on a food-tasting tour) is an absolute must.

A perfect Saturday in Portland...

involves an early breakfast on SE Hawthorne Boulevard, followed by a hike in the nearby Columbia Gorge. Come back in the afternoon to visit the Portland Japanese Garden and spend the evening at one of the town's countless music venues.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Powell’s City of Books. It’s the world’s largest independent new-and-used bookstore—taking up a full city block—but it’s well organized, making it a delightful place to spend a few hours getting lost amongst the stacks.

To discover the "real" Portland...

While some might argue that the “real” Portland is no longer, you’ll find some of that old-school vibe if you venture away from the center—St. Johns in North Portland and Multnomah Village in Southwest Portland are good places to start.

For the best view of the city...

head up to Washington Park’s International Rose Test Garden, where—on a clear day—you can see not only the downtown skyline, but also Mt. Hood in the background.

One thing people get wrong...

is assuming that Portland is constantly in a state of riot. While people in the city are politically and socially engaged, it’s not as dangerous—or as wild—as it’s often portrayed.


People Also Ask

What are some things Portland is known for?

Portland is known for its food and craft beer scenes, coffeeshops, and easy access to many of Oregon’s most celebrated outdoor attractions, from the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge to the forested Oregon coast. Although the city gets plenty of rain, it’s also famously bike-friendly, with lots of designated bike lanes.

How do I spend a day in Portland?

With one day in Portland, split your time between downtown and Washington Park. Spend the morning downtown, shopping, sampling donuts, and searching for a title at massive Powell’s Books. In the afternoon, head to Washington Park, home to the Oregon Zoo, Portland Japanese Garden, and International Rose Test Garden.

What is the number 1 attraction in Oregon?

While Portland gets more visitors than anywhere else in Oregon, the state’s number-one attraction is Crater Lake National Park, home to the deepest lake in the United States. It’s the only national park in Oregon and a popular spot for hiking, camping, and taking scenic drives in summer.

What do people in Portland do for fun?

Portlanders are an outdoorsy bunch, and hiking is one of the most popular activities among locals, especially in the warmer months. Other popular things to do in Portland include attending live music and theater performances and going out to sports games—the city’s basketball team (Trail Blazers) and soccer team (Timbers) have solid local fan bases.

Is Portland worth visiting?

Yes. It’s a great city for dining out, with tons of restaurants and food carts, not to mention wineries and breweries. Outdoorsy folks will find no shortage of gardens and hiking trails within the city limits and plenty of forestland a short drive away.

What do locals do in Portland?

Locals spend a lot of time outdoors, skiing and snowboarding in the winter months and hiking and camping in the warmer season. Going out to eat is also a common pastime in the city; despite its smaller size, the city has a ton of restaurants.

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