Portland offers a wide variety of activities from eating out in fabulous restaurants to enjoying the outdoors. There is plenty to do and see to meet anyone’s interest. Given that summer is now upon us and tourist season is about to kick into high gear, I thought I would make a list of my favorite things to do in Portland.
1. Food, Food, and More Food
Portland truly is a food lover’s paradise. Not sure how we ended up this way but I am glad we are. Here is a random list of restaurants I think are woth a visit. For breakfast: Pine State Biscuits, Tasty and Sons (or Tasty and Alder), Gravy, and Mother’s Bistro. For Lunch: Food carts! For Dinner: Podnah’s (my review is for breakfast but the dinner it is 10 times better for dinner), Killer Burger, Nostrana, Pok Pok, Higgins, Ken’s Artison Pizza, Lincoln…I could go on forever. Add a comment below for your favorite restaurant.
2. Grab a Beer
Portland is called Beervana for a reason. There are 40+ individual breweries in Portland. Many have multiple locations and when you include these I have lost count how many there are. I once read somewhere that nowhere in Portland is more than a 15 minute drive from a brewery. I’m pretty sure that is outdated because I think no matter where you, it is probably under 10 minutes from a brewery. If you want to try some of Portland’s famous craft beer my suggestion is to look at my beer map and walk to places close to where you are staying. I recently did a pub crawl in SE that you can read about here.
3. We Have Great Wine Too
I will admit that I am not much of a wine drinker, but I must acknowledge that the Willamette Valley is well known for producing some high quality wines. To go on a proper wine tour will require you to leave the city. Fortunately, there are many wineries a short drive outside the city. This is where my knowledge ends however, so check out this site for more information on Oregon wineries, http://www.oregonwinecountry.org/.
4. Explore the City on Foot
One of the great things about Portland is how walkable the city is. Some of my favorite city walks include walking along the waterfront, the Pearl District, Northwest, and Hawthorne. Each place offers great people watching and great places to sit down for a drink when you are done. If you are interested in exploring this great city on foot I highly recommend getting a copy of Portland City Walks.
5. Day Trips to the Coast, Gorge, and More
There are some phenomenal day trips from Portland. If you are only going to take one day trip from Portland, I think it is close call between the gorge and the coast, but I think I would give the nod to the coast, by a slight edge. The Oregon coast is absolutely amazing. One knock I have against Portland is the lack of good seafood restaurants. Fortunately, the coast is less than 90 minutes away and has no shortage of good seafood. The Columbia River Gorge is also not to be overlooked. There are lots of great hikes and awesome view points. Other good day trips include Mt. St. Helens and if you want more hiking, Silver Creek Falls.
6. Forest Park
After packing away all the extra calories from the awesome food, beer, and wine you have been consuming head up to Forest Park and go for a hike. Forest Park is a huge park in NW Portland offering miles of trails to hike. If you have a rental car, I suggest driving to the parking lots along Germantown Road and hiking to the northwest end of the park. It is more remote and there are less people. The scenery is very pretty and quiet.
Portland has a number of gardens that are worth walking around. First on the list is the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. The International Rose Test Garden is a must visit for anyone visiting the Rose City. It can be accessed by the zoo train, bus, or a short, although uphill, walk from the W. Burnside area. Near the rose garden is the Japanese Garden. Other gardens worth visiting if you have the time are the Lun Su Chinese Garden and the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
8. Washington Park
Speaking of the Rose Garden, it is just a small area inside one of Portland’s great parks, Washington Park. This park offers a plethora of activities. There is great hiking, at the Hoyt Arboretum, the Children’s Museum, the Forestry Center, Vietnam Memorial, tennis courts, and more. This park is fantastic.
9. The Zoo
The zoo is a great place, especially if you have kids. During the summer the zoo also a summer concert series that can be a lot of fun. Make sure to take the train out to the Rose garden. For a money saving tip, if you are here on a second Tuesday of the month admission is only $4. Read more here.
OMSI is Oregon’s science museum and offers exhibits for people of all ages. Right now there is a mummy exhibit taking place. I have not seen this exhibit yet, but it looks pretty cool. For adults OMSI also offers the OMSI after dark program that is also a lot of fun.
I have listed these in order of priority. Basically, I think if you are visiting Portland you should experience our great food culture, explore the city on foot, and then experience the amazing outdoor experiences outside the city. If you have time through in some of the other experiences. Also keep a look out for any events or festivals taking place during your visit like the Bite of Oregon and Oregon Brewers Festival.by