19 Must See Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

February 23, 2022

The towering majesty of Mount Hood, the rugged beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, and an illustrious collection of roses make Portland, Oregon a true haven for any outdoor enthusiast.

However, Stumptown offers more than breathtaking expanses of verdant forests and cascading waterfalls. This city is known for quirk, characters, and buckets of offbeat charm. So follow along as we walk you through every last ''can't' miss'' Portland attraction.

Pull-on those galoshes and pack that flannel because you are going to the Pacific Northwest! We are spilling all the secrets on what to do, see, and eat in Portland, from craft beer to historic mansions to sensational street food.

Amazing Outdoors

Washington Park

Searching for a slice of serenity? Allow yourself to achieve inner peace and score some scenic photos when you make the trip to Portland's renowned Washington Park.

This 410-acre park has allowed residents to commune with nature for over a century. Located atop the hills, west of downtown, this lush oasis contains:

  • The Oregon Zoo
  • Two museums
  • Japanese garden
  • The iconic International Rose Test Garden 

Spend hours wandering through the Oregon Zoo, marveling at the lions and the massive Asian elephants.

Those traveling with tiny tots should be sure to check out the park's playground featuring slides, giant castle structures, ramps, bridges, and swings, while avid gardeners won't' want to miss the International Rose Test Garden. 

Portland's' particular climate makes it prime growing grounds for these floral delights. Visitors can gasp in awe at varieties like Apricot Candy and Burgundy Iceberg, plus thousands of others. This garden is the oldest official and continuously operated public rose test garden in the US. 

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Conclude your day of tree-focused tranquility with a stroll through the Japanese Gardens. This breathtaking homage to the land of the rising sun is thoroughly authentic and contains eight unique gardenscapes. View a strolling pond, a ceremonial teahouse, and natural, flat, and sand-stone gardens.

Pro Tip:  If you visit in March, you must document the sensational scenery of the cherry blossom trees. They will be in full bloom.

View looking down over the Washington Park Rose Test Garden full of people walking and roses of all different shades of red and pink on a sunny day in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Portland 360 via Facebook

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Sparkling riverside views, fascinating historical monuments, and plenty of space for outdoor exercise make the Tom McCall Waterfront Park a downtown destination of note.

Strap on your in-line skates, grab that bike or that pooch and prepare for an afternoon of Stumptown exploration. This 36 plus acre public park hugs the winding Willamette River and is home to many events, festivals, and cultural monuments.

Observe a moment of silence as you pay your respects at the Japanese American Historical Plaza, an area set aside in 1990 to commemorate the 120,000 Japanese Americans forced into internment camps during World War II. 

Visiting Portland during the sweltering summer months? Cool off at the Salmon Street Springs fountain, and soak in the sensational river views from the stepped seating. 

From the annual Cinco de Mayo festivities to fleet week to the positively fragrant Rose Festival, something is always happening at the Waterfront. Be sure to check the full event calendar to see what's brewing when you're in town. 

Close up of the Salmon Street Springs fountain at night with city buildings and lights in the background in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Kirkland Worobec via Facebook

Mount Hood

Less than two hours from downtown Portland, but a world away, the dazzling snow-covered peaks of Mount Hood demand to be seen.

At over 11,000 ft tall, Mount Hood is considered the highest point in Oregon and the fourth highest peak in the Cascade Mountain Range. An integral part of Oregon's history, culture, and natural environment, Mount Hood is an attraction synonymous with the Pacific Northwest's natural beauty.

Snow bunnies will be in heaven here, as her craggy peaks provide picture-perfect slopes for skiing, snowboarding, tubing, and snowshoeing. So whether you scale her during the winter or stop by in summer for scenic hiking and fishing, Mount Hood offers up a plethora of opportunities for pleasurable outdoor pastimes.

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View of Mount Hood with clear skies from the highway with trees lining it near Portland, Oregon, USAForest Park

An urban wilderness may seem like an oxymoron, but Forest Park provides just that.

This densely forested emerald escape is situated northwest of downtown and serves over 70 miles of trails for hikers, cyclists, equestrians, and runners alike. So pack your water bottle and your camera, as you'll' want to document the awe-inspiring views of the historic St. Johns Bridge, as well as any animal life you come across.

Wide shot of St. Johns Bridge from the side on a cloudy day with forrest in the background in Portland, Oregon, USAKeep your eyes peeled as over 112 birds, and 62 mammal species call the park home.

Those up for a challenge can tackle the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, which connects Forest Park to the Audubon Society Sanctuary, the Pittock Mansion, and Washington Park. Short on time or stamina? Don't' fret, as there are endless loop options with shorter paths, so you don't' have to commit to the whole trail length.

Many visitors opt for the five-mile Macleay Park Trail for a laidback hike with equally inspiring views.

Relish the sounds and sights of the gurgling creek and ravines, and be sure to note the spooky remains of a stone building erected by the Works Progress Administration in 1936. Affectionately referred to as the Witch's Castle, or Stone House by locals, this two-tiered structure was formerly a restroom.

Close up of the Stone House or Witch's Castle, an old stone building covered in moss and other greenery in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Abandoned World via Facebook

Multnomah Falls & Columbia River Gorge Tour

Revel in the raw power and enchantment of mother nature when you reserve your spot on the Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge Tour.

Tap into your inner explorer when you spend a half-day following in the hallowed footsteps of Lewis and Clark. Pick your jaw up off the floor as you gaze out at the splendor of the tumbling multi-tiered Multnomah Falls and the glittering Columbia River Gorge.

Snap endless selfies, as you'll' have 30 minutes at the Falls to capture the Benson footbridge as well as the renowned Depression-era Multnomah Falls Lodge. Then, listen up, as your knowledgeable guide will be espousing intriguing facts and history regarding the area's mesmerizing geography and landscape.

Your intrepid group will cover tons of ground as you move to the Historic Columbia River Highway and the world-famous waterfall corridor.

Enjoy scenic sights at the Latourell Loops and Falls, Sheppard's Dell, and Crown Point. Then, wrap up your day of wild waterfall adventure with unforgettable panoramas of the Columbia River, Beacon Rock, Mist Falls, Cape Horn, and Rooster Rock. 

Wide shot of Multnomah Falls and the bridge that goes over it with lush greenery on either side in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Multnomah Falls via Facebook

Culture, Art, and Sights

Pink Trolley City Tour

Bring on the pink! Discover even more of the City of Roses when you climb aboard the Pink Trolley City Tour. Enjoy two hours of nonstop sightseeing, including stops at such famed Portland locales as the International Rose Test Garden, the Hoyt Arboretum, and the Pearl District.

Stop and smell the roses as you hop on/off at will and relish the fantastic river, city, and park views from the open-top trolley. Then, dig into the most storied landmarks and neighborhoods of Stumptown as you weave your way through Washington and Waterfront Park, Pioneer Square, Portland's art museums, and more. 

Wide shot of a walking trail with trees over it and grass on either side at the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Hoyt Arboretum via Facebook

Stumptown Tour

Whisk your Portland partner in crime away for an aerial escapade like no other. Capture the mesmerizing scenery and sights of the city from a birds-eye view on your 20-minute Stumptown Tour.

Take to the skies above as you stare in wonder at the Downtown Portland skyline, the International Rose Garden, the Eastbank Esplanade, and more.

Bring your camera as you'll' be dying to capture the glittering lights of the city, the splendor of the Willamette River, and the magnificent might of Mount Hood. 

Related Post: Current Festivals and Events Near Portland

Aerial view of downtown Portland with a pink sunset and fall trees in Portland, Oregon, USAPortland Saturday Market

Start your Saturday off right when you grab an extra-strong coffee and head to the largest continuously operated market in the United States. The Portland Saturday Market is bursting with vibrant handmade artisanal goods, crafts, and food items from the Pacific Northwest.

After a COVID imposed break, the market will be returning on March 5th, 2022. Browse wares ranging from original oil paintings to boutique wines and ceramics.

Come hungry as you'll' be more than tempted to sample delicious eats such as homemade acai bowls, carrot fries and melt in your mouth locally sourced caramels. 

Ground view of the busy Portland Saturday Market with a women in sunglasses pointing at the sign in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: YoYoYogi via Facebook

Portland Art Museum

When you've' hit your limit of craft beer and cold brew and are craving some serious culture in Bridge City, crawl on over to the Portland Art Museum.

This leading cultural institution seeks to engage and support the community through dynamic exhibits, programs, and Film Center. For over a century, this edifice of creativity and innovation has served the Pacific Northwest and today houses a collection of over 40,000 objects.

The museum is often lauded for its focus on the work and art of the Native American community of North America and modern and contemporary pieces.

Peruse their permanent collection, and allow yourself to be transfixed by the works of American Impressionists like Childe Hassam and J. Alden Weir. Or take a beat to bask in the baroque works from masters like Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux.

Pittock Mansion

For over a hundred years, the Pittock Mansion has stood as a testament to Portland's rich history and spirit of ingenuity. A true symbol of the city's transformation from a pioneer town to a modern, industrial city. This turn-of-the-century mansion is nestled high above the West Hills of Northwest Portland.

Named after its steadfast creator, Harry Pittock was one of the first settlers of Portland and helmed the city's newspaper which today we know as the Oregonian. An intrepid businessman, Henry Pittock and his wife Georgiana broke ground on the mansion in 1912.

This massive property is equally picturesque in winter as in summer. This massive property features impressive architecture, 23 art, antique-filled rooms, and panoramic vistas of the Willamette River, the Cascade Mountains, and the city.

Today locals and visitors alike can appreciate the significance of this lasting landmark by touring the property's grounds and unique artifacts.

Wander from room to room as you glimpse such heirlooms as the family's Steinway grand piano, Limoges china, and a Masonic sword.

Wide shot of the stone exterior of Pittock Mansion with a burnt red roof on a sunny spring day surrounded by different types of bushes and flowers in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Pittock Mansion via Facebook

Tamástslikt Cultural Institute

Dive into over 10,000 years of Native American history, culture, and hospitality when you spend a day at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute. Celebrate the vivid legacies and traditions of the Cayuse, Umatilla, and Walla Walla Tribes as you meander through exhibits, interactive artwork, and more.

Designed to tell the story of Western Expansion from a Native American point of view, exhibits here use multimedia sources to explore themes of balance, order, and survival in the natural world.

Wander through the ''We Were'' gallery and hear the sounds of horses galloping across the grassy plateaus, or absorb the hallowed words of the 1855 Treaty Council of Walla Walla in the tribal language.

Learn about the tribe's role in the Salmon Recovery process. Or spend time with the magical coyote Spilyáy, in the museum's theater.

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Powell's' City of Books

Calling all bookworms! Seek shelter from those gloomy Portland afternoons when you curl up with a juicy novel and piping hot latte at Powell's City of Books.

Occupying an entire city block, Powell's City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore globally. Approximately one million books are shelved here, in over 3,500 different sections.

Browse to your heart's content as you check out all ten of their themed rooms. Don't miss the Rare Book Room. It contains a staggering collection of autographed first editions and other collectible volumes.

Whether you seek graphic novels, romance, or science fiction, Powell's staggering inventory is sure to delight.

The store hosts author events almost daily, so be sure to check out their schedule to see what's in store.

Are you looking to nerd out on literature? Call ahead and arrange a private guided tour of the store's three-story collection. 

View of several book displaces with a wall of books in the background and light coming in a window to the right at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Powell's Books, Inc. via Facebook

Food and Brews

Portland Mercado

Chicharrón sandwiches, golden fried plantains, and heaps of frijoles and pibil. Is your mouth watering yet? Foodies with a desire for some Latin American flavor will be in pure foodie heaven when they make a date at the Portland Mercado.

In a city stuffed full of food trucks, Portland Mercado easily homes one of the best and biggest collections. A community of over 15 businesses, this public market is more than just empanadas and sublime sangria.

The Mercado was founded as a not-for-profit Latin American community development project. It seeks to unite the people of Portland through food, art, and entertainment.

Save up that appetite, as you'll' want to sample as much Mexican, Central, and South American food as possible. Cheers with a spicy Michelada at the Barrio Station Old World style cantina. Or savor rich mouthfuls of Oaxacan mole enchiladas. 

Portland Food Carts, Pods & Patios Tour

Three hours of eating and drinking your way through Portland's best food carts? Yes, please! Devour delectable morsels when you visit 5-7 of the city's premier food stalls and breweries with Portland Food Carts, Pods, and Patios Tour.

Prepare to get those steps in as you begin in Portland's Central Eastside neighborhood. Your foodie-loving guide will entice you with colorful stories and facts regarding the community's food stall owners and proprietors.

Dig into fresh-cut fries with savory cheese and gravy. Then linger over Lebanese bites of fried cauliflower and fresh slaw. Or satisfy your sweet tooth with still warm Belgian waffles. They're topped with succulent berries and whipped cream.

Conclude your hearty adventure with a sample of craft beer at one of Portland's most scenic patios. 

Huber's

Portland's' obsession with being properly caffeinated is well documented. But to get an authentic coffee experience, every PDX visitor must sip the Spanish Coffee at Hubers.

Prepared at one of Portland's oldest restaurants, this sweet treat of overproof rum, sugar, coffee liqueur, coffee, and whipped cream is pure pleasure in a cup. Order one to share and watch the pageantry of its tableside creation, including the dramatic flambé!

Those lucky enough to stop by Huber's on a Sunday should settle in for their house specialty of Roast Young Tom Turkey, served with sage dressing, fresh mashed potatoes with hazelnut butter, traditional gravy, or mushroom gravy, and cranberry sauce.

Close up of a bar tender lighting a coffee on fire at Huber's Coffee in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Huber's via Facebook

VooDoo Doughnut

Now ubiquitous, everyone's favorite little pink boxes got their start at Portland's original VooDoo Doughnut shop.

For almost a decade, this store of sugary delights has been a staple of the Portland dessert scene. VooDoo's' shops are known for their diverse array of deep-fried toppings ranging from Cap'n' Crunch cereal to grape dust. Plus, they're open 24 hours a day.

However, their signature Bacon Maple Bar has stolen the hearts of doughnut lovers nationwide.

Anthony Bourdain was said to have been a fan of this raised bar with maple frosting and crispy bacon. 

Wide shot of the black, white, and pink interior of VooDoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: VooDoo Doughnut via Facebook

Portland Brewery Bike Tour

With more breweries per capita than any other city in the U.S., visiting Portland without sampling a smattering of craft beer would be criminal. So get your fill of ales, lagers, IPAs, and more when you take to the streets on your Portland Brewery Bike Tour.

Embrace the city's preferred method of transportation as you tour several of the city's breweries. Kick things off with a leisurely five-mile pedal through the quirky metropolis' bustling west side. Stoping to rehydrate at:

  • Bridgeport
  • Deschutes
  • Lucky Labrador
  • New Old Lompoc
  • Rogue

Garner behind-the-scenes beer knowledge and info as you watch the master brewers at work. Meanwhile, pay attention as your local guide will be spilling all the tea on the best local haunts.

Distillery Row

Beer, not your thing? Stick with spirits when you sip the intoxicating libations of Distillery Row.

Distillery Row comprises over a dozen ambitious independent distillers spread out over Portland. Treat your palate to samples of over 80 tantalizing spirits, including Oregon Single Malt Whiskey, Aviation gin, and homemade vermouth.

Want to memorialize your afternoon of liquid adventures? Go for a Distillery Row passport. It not only serves as a keepsake to document each of your distillery visits but also provides access to special pricing programs at all the listed distilleries.

Stamped passports last for two years and are your key to unlocking future exclusive offerings within the distillery district. 

Close up of a bartended making row of cocktails on Distillery Row in Portland, Oregon, USA

photo credit: Distillery Row via Facebook

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Misty mornings, verdant forests, and the snow-capped peaks of the Cascade mountains make up the exquisite evergreen tapestry of the Pacific Northwest. 

Travelers with a spring in their step and adventure in their souls have been flocking to Portland for decades.

Whether you seek Native American artifacts at the Art Museum or scour the Saturday Market. Or choose to gaze in awe at the multi-tiered magnificence of Multnomah Falls. There are endless ways to enjoy the Rose City.

From sipping single malts to hearing your favorite authors speak at Powell's City Books. Visiting Portland has never been more appealing. So don't' wait. Plan your vacation to Stumptown today!

Tell us, what's your #1 Must-See Thing to Do in Portland?

Leave us a comment below!


isis with mural in background

Written By Isis Maya

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central America and her love o ...

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