If you’ve been to one city, you’ve been to them all. Fancy bars, dive bars, an urban park, a hipster neighborhood and a museum or two. Unless you’re talking about Portland.
With a town slogan like “Keep Portland Weird”, who wouldn’t want to spend their time here? From pods of food trucks to outdoor recreation and cafes that double as motorcycle shops, there is something in Portland for everyone. Whether you are a local who got caught up in going to the same corner bar with the same friends every night and are looking to spice things up, or you are a first-timer looking to explore the city, here are some suggestions for a few of the best things to do in Portland.
Get a book at Powell’s City of Books
In a society where the world of printed words is becoming lost, a stop at the city’s iconic bookstore is a must. While there are multiple locations throughout the city, the Pearl District store occupies a full city block and claims to be the largest independent bookstore in the world. Grab a cup of coffee from the attached cafe, and spend hours getting lost in literature.
Visit the Japanese Garden
This 12-acre garden features meandering walkways through serene gardens, flowing streams and a traditional Japanese tea house. Located in the West Hill of Portland, the garden offers visitors views of the city and Mount Hood as they enjoy the tranquility of eight different garden styles.
Escape the city without leaving
At 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the country’s largest urban parks — so it’s easy to escape to the woods without actually leaving the city. And while you’re there, hike up to one of the things that keeps Portland weird — the Witches Castle — which is actually an old ruin that has nothing to do with witches.
Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest, and is internationally recognized for its permanent collection, which consists of over 42,000 objects displayed in 112,000 square feet of galleries. Explore the history of art dating back to the natives of North America through current day.
Visit Multnomah Falls
If you’ve ever scrolled through the instagram feed of someone who just visited Portland, you’ve probably seen a picture of Multnomah Falls. At 611 feet, this impressive waterfall draws visitors from around the globe to admire it from the Benson Bridge, which spans the falls at its base. To get some exercise and escape the crowds, hike the mile to the top for spectacular views of the Columbia Gorge. While it is technically outside of city limits, it is definitely worth the trip.
Grab a bite at the Portland Mercado
You don’t have to sit down at a high-end fine dining establishment to experience Portland’s culinary scene. As a matter of fact, that’s probably the opposite of what you should do. Instead, head over to one of the city’s many pods of renowned food trucks, such as Portland Mercado, which is a collection of Mexican, Central and South American food trucks in a community-driven Latino public market. Cartlandia is another cart pod that may be worth a look if you’re not feeling tacos and arepas.
Get fresh eats at a farmer’s market
Of course, everyone likes a good brunch. But if waiting in line isn’t on the agenda for the day, grab a cup of coffee and a pastry from one of the city’s many farmers markets. Sample some locally-grown fruits and vegetables and enjoy live music at the Portland State University Farmers Market.
Hike (stroll) up Mount Tabor
This 636-foot dormant volcano is located in Southeast Portland, and is the site of an urban park where visitors walk, run, cycle and jog a network of trails and paved walkways. Follow one of the trails uphill, and you will be rewarded with views of Mount Hood and downtown Portland. In August, don’t be surprised to see a soap box car cruising down a paved trail, as the park is the site of the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby.
Explore Portland’s coffee scene
Before heading straight to Stumptown for a cup of joe, take a long around and realize that the city is full of locally-owned cafes with plenty of delicious options to get your caffeine fix. If you’re a motorcycle enthusiast, head over to See See Motor Coffee Co. which is a cafe (they do serve Stumptown) and motorcycle shop in one. Or visit Upper Left Roasters for one of their coffees and an egg, ham and cheese croissant.
Have a drink (or a few) at a distillery
Nowadays, every city (including Portland) is talking about its micro-brewery scene. And while everyone loves a good beer, there’s something to be said about a good craft liquor. Distillery Row is a collection of craft distilleries around the city — many of which are located in a small section of the Southeast neighborhood — where visitors can taste a variety of spirits from fruit-infused whiskies to grappas.