Five Amazing Alternatives To Portland’s Top Five Tourist Attractions

Ok, I don’t actually know if these are Portland’s top 5 tourist attractions but they sure do get talked about a lot.

5.  Voodoo Doughnuts

If there is one business in Portland that has come to exemplify the “Portlandia” image of Portland, it’s Voodoo.  I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  This place is the biggest tourist trap in Portland.  The donuts are good, but certainly not worth waiting in a line like this:

Alternative:  Blue Star Donuts

If you want the actual best donuts in town and not wait in line forever, only to find out they are cash only…try Blue Star.  You will not be disappointed.

4. Portland Saturday Market

I like the Saturday Market, however, is it really any different than any other saturday market in any other city?  A bunch of hippies get together to sell some arts and crafts.  It’s fun, but not that special.

Alternative:  Saturday Farmer’s Market at PSU

The Farmers Market is definitely overshadowed by the Saturday Market, but for me this has come to embody Portland more than the Saturday Market.  Portland has developed such a foodie culture and the Farmers Market reflects that.  The number of vendors there is nearly endless and they are all local.  Local meats, cheeses, breads, fruits, and vegetables.  You name it, if you can cook with it, you will probably find it.  If you wanted to have picnic at the zoo or any one of our great parks, this would be the place to shop.

3.  The Pearl

Yes, there are lots of great places to eat.  Yes, there are lots of great bars.  Yes, this place is overhyped.   The Pearl has a lot of great qualities but the artsy soulfulness of the Pearl that once exemplified Portland is gone.  It has been replaced by million dollar condos and overpriced restaurants and shops.

Alternative:  North Mississippi / North Williams

There are probably more great restaurants and bars packed between these two streets than anywhere else in Portland.  In the last 5 years this neighborhood has exploded.  I swear everytime I look around there is something new going in and it is not going to stop anytime soon.  The next big thing in this area will be when the City reduces the two lane road that is N. Williams down to one lane so bicyclists can have their own lane.  How very Portland.

2. International Rose Test Garden

Rose Garden

The Rose Garden is awesome, but it is small and during the summer it can get pretty overcrowded.  It can be nearly impossible to find parking and good luck getting a picture without some strangers in it.

Alternative: Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden 

Crystal Springs Rhododendron

Crystal Springs, is definitely a local’s spot.  You will not see that many tourists here.  The garden is big, is built around a man made lake, and is just as pretty, maybe more so, than the Rose Garden.

1. Powells City of Books


Powell’s City of Books is awesome, it is so big you need a map. If you read, this place is a must.  As far books go, there is no alternative.  But what about those folks who are not big readers?  Well, if you are a movie fan then let me suggest a different experience.

Alternative:  Cinetopia

Unfortunately, you will have to make a trek out to the suburbs, but for the movie fan this is an unrivaled viewing experience.  You can even drink one of Portland’s delicious craft beers while watching the film.  You know this place is over the top (but in a good way) when they are going to be putting in a movie theater on the Las Vegas Strip.


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