Portland, Oregon | The Top Ten Best Things To Do
Over the last several years, I have visited Portland many times. From when my best friend and her hubby lived there, to work trips, and recently spent three months in the city with friends. Considering I don’t live there, I have been able to experience a lot of Portland. Here is a list of my Portland top 10 things to do.
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Table of Contents
The Top 10 Portland’s Things To Do (In No Particular Order)
Pittock Mansion was originally built in 1909 as a private home for newspaper publisher Henry Pittock and his wife, Georgiana. Now the house is a museum. The house has been kept as is and very beautiful inside as well as the grounds. If you want an excellent view of Portland, you can go behind the mansion without charge. There is a gate that closes at night, but you can catch a beautiful sunset here and even see Mount Hood in the distance.
I can never resist a museum and a view!
Love this gorgeous Portland view
2. Visit One Of The Many City Parks
Portland’s Washington Park is an urban oasis right in the heart of the city. You get to the park via the MAX (light rail) if you don’t have a car. Within the park, there is a zoo, two museums, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, and more. Sadly while I was in town the Japanese garden was undergoing some reno and will not be open till March 1, 2016
The photos below were from the International Rose Test Garden in the late summer.
Mount Tabor is a city park in the southeast of Portland but is also a dormant volcano. If you’re into running, there are trails there. I went to look for some photo opportunities here, but it was too gray out. I did, however, see excellent autumn leaves even at the end of November.
Rocky Butte Park
One day while having my car serviced in the southeast area of Portland, I found a vista online called Rocky Butte Park. There are great views of Mount Hood if it’s a clear day and a great place to shoot photos.
Admiring the surrounding views
Hanging out at Rocky Butte
3. Get Out In Nature – Hikes, Rivers, And Waterfalls
While I was in Portland for three months, I did a fair bit of hiking and going to see waterfalls. It was one of my favourite things about being in the area. There are so many places close to the city and if you have access to a car, don’t hesitate, just go.
The popular Multnomah Falls is a must!
Angels Rest, just 30 minutes east of Portland. A gorgeous November day
While I was in Portland for an extended stay, I didn’t get to go to Oneonta Gorge. It looks amazing and definitely on my to-do list for the future.
Since the city is not close to the beach, in the summer my friends go to the river and hang out. It was fun!
My PDX crew going to the river for summertime hangs
My friend Steve hanging out on a pizza float on the river
4. Eat At A Food Cart
When in Rome they say! If you’re going to Portland, you need to try at least one of the over 600 food carts. There are tons of great ones and a lot of average ones. They tend to be grouped in pods around the city in different sections.
My favourite is Nong’s Khao Man Gai, although she now has a stand-alone restaurant on SE Ankeny.
If you want my recommendations of where to eat in Portland, I wrote a food post here. Also, the best donuts are Blue Star, no question. That’s all.
Photo courtesy of Flickr
5. Visit one of the many farmers’ markets
Portland has several farmers markets and if you’re a fan of markets like I am, it’s worth a visit. Even if you’re travelling, you can pick up healthy snacks and just people watch. I went with some friends to the PSU Farmers Market (SW Park and SW Montgomery) and we picked up some coffee, breakfast, as well as food to cook. Pine State Biscuits as do Olympic Provisions. They had a local kimchi company that sold natural kimchi!
Veggies on veggies on veggies
6. Take A Craft Brewery Tour/Visit Breweries
Portland is very well known for their craft breweries. I am not even sure how many in total there are in the city, to be honest. You can either do a self-guided tour or take a guided tour. Since I’m a novice, I joined in on a guided tour. It was nice to have a designated driver. If you want to freestyle, you can pick a neighbourhood and just walk to several breweries.
7. Do A Self-Guided Distillery Tour
My friends from Chicago who own Chicago Distilling came out for a liquor tasting event and to explore Portland. While they were in town, I joined them when they visited a handful of local distilleries. It was a self-guided tour. I have to say though that they kept their liquor down. I, on the other hand, got really drunk. If you’re into craft liquor, visit the many local distilleries in town.
New Deal Distillery
8. Powells Books
No trip to Portland is complete without a visit to the popular bookstore, Powells. The downtown or main location is called Powell’s City of Books and is supposedly the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. It’s a must do!
Courtesy of Flickr
9. Visit The Many Bridges Of Portland
Also known as “Bridgetown”, Portland has 12 bridges that cross over the Willamette River. I visited and drove over a handful. Here are my favourites:
St Johns Bridge – this was taken from Cathedral Park below
The new Tilikum Crossing which is only for cyclists, pedestrians, and public transit
Just shortly after dark on the Tilikum Bridge
10. Drink coffee!
If you love coffee, you will be very happy in Portland. There are great roasters in the city like Stumptown, Coava, and Heart along with loads of coffee shops in every neighbourhood. I was in heaven! If you love good coffee, there’s no reason to purchase average coffee in this town.
The Portland classic…Stumptown!
A lovely latte at Coava
My local friends took me to Loyly. It’s a Nordic-style spa. While it’s nothing like Scandinave Spa in Whistler, which is set in a forest, it’s an amazing place to pamper yourself for a really great price. It was under $30 to do the whole soak, steam, and shower.
Photo courtesy of Loyly
Take Photos Of The Popular Signs
There is a handful of popular signs which I was not able to get photos of. I drove by (as a passenger) the sign below and they were blurry!
Photo Courtesy of Flickr
Photo courtesy from Flickr
Where to stay in Portland
Over the years, I have stayed at a handful of hotels in Portland. My favourite to date is The Kimpton. The Kimpton Hotel Monaco was roomy, had great robes (I’m obsessed with hotel robes), amenities like free bicycles to use, and great bathroom products, as well as a complimentary happy hour. It was walking distance to many great restaurants and cafes too.
Look up rates with cancellation for your Portland hotel here:
Accommodation rates are pretty high in the summer (June through September) in the Pacific Northwest. If you’re looking for better rates, try Air Bnb (click the photo below to get up to $40 your first stay) or even over the border in Vancouver in Washington State.
- If you are driving, be sure not to leave anything in your car. My car was broken into (window smashed in the night) and my suitcase was stolen and then the thieves went and sold my things at Buffalo Exchange. So don’t leave any valuables in your car!!!
- Avoid passing under the bridges at night. I tried many times to look for good places for night photos and the only place was Tilikum because it was well lit and lots of other pedestrians, cyclists, and transit. Everywhere is pretty bleak and dark.
I have not taken the “Max” or the bus but can recommend the following to get around:
Radio Cab is a local cab company. They have an app and the first time you use it, you’ll get a $10 credit.
Uber is in Portland. I used it once or twice, but it didn’t seem like they had too many cars at the time (at the time of 1st publication in 2015). It’s becoming more popular, though! Click here to get an Uber credit by using my referral code!
Car2Go is more of a local thing, but I’m a huge fan of the service when I travel. I’ll often drive a car one way and then take a taxi or Uber home if I’m drinking. If you know where you’re going and there’s a car near you, it’s so much cheaper than a taxi. I’m a huge fan.
One of the best things about Oregon is tax-free shopping. No sales tax! So many savings! Buy everything and anything here. I bought my camera at Shutterbug last year to save money. I would buy everything else if I could. Some of my favourite places to shop were the Adidas and Nike Employee stores (a handful of friends work there) but otherwise, I would recommend downtown as well as NW 23rd for stores. There is room for improvement with boutiques but if you know you’re going to be in Portland for a while, online shop, and have it delivered to you because there’s no tax if your address is in Oregon!
Great Food Find
If you’re in the Southeast and happen to pass by Zupan’s Market, go inside and try Ellenos Yogurt. It’s a brand from Seattle but they have a kiosk and it’s seriously my jam. I am addicted. Do it and tell me what you think!
Do you have any best of Portland recommendations? Please leave them in the comment section below.
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