Portland, Oregon, is one of America’s most unique cities. While it often gets overshadowed by Seattle to the north, Portland is one of the US’s best and most interesting metropolises. With a world-class food scene, plentiful local breweries, and postcard-perfect scenery, it’s surprising that more people don’t visit this eclectic place.
Nicknamed “the City of Roses” (after roses became a common garden staple in the late 19th century) and “Stumptown” (due to lots of tree stumps remaining after the city expanded and clear-cut the surrounding area in the mid-19th century), Portland is known for its liberal tendencies, its food trucks, and its hipsters (thanks, Portlandia).
My first trip here was back in 2011 for Thanksgiving. While in Spain I made friends who lived in Portland and paid them a visit on my way to Asia. What started as “like” during my first trip turned into love on my second.
And, since then, I’ve visited nearly every year. Portland is on the very tiny list of cities I would actually live in.
What I really love about Portland is the high quality of life. It’s compact and easy to get around, there is good public transportation available, the locals are friendly, it’s environmentally friendly, and, most importantly, the food and beer scene here is killer (so many food trucks).
To help you make the most of your visit, here are my favorite 14 things to see and do in Portland:
- Take a Walking Tour
I always start my visits to a new city with a walking tour. It’s the best way to learn about a destination, get the lay of the land, see the main sights, and have an expert local guide answer all your questions.
Portland Walking Tours offers more than half a dozen different tours around town, focusing on food, the main sights, and Portland’s underground and alternative culture. Tours last a couple hours and cost around $23 USD. They’re a great way to kick off your visit. I really liked the Underground Tour especially, which focuses on a series of tunnels below the city that have been used for all kinds of nefarious purposes.
If you’re on a budget, Secrets of Portlandia is a top-rated free walking tour that will give you a fun and informative intro to the City of Roses (they’re closed until 2021 due to COVID-19 though).
- See Pittock Mansion
The stately Pittock Mansion in Portland, Oregon on a summer day
Built-in 1914, this is a stunning French Renaissance-style mansion located in the western part of town. The 46-room estate, originally owned by a wealthy couple from England, is part of the National Register of Historic Places and contains beautiful artwork and furniture collected by the original owners. You can explore the grounds (which span over 40 acres) and buildings by yourself or take a guided tour (the price is the same; however, guided tours are only scheduled when volunteers are available).
- Hike Forest Park
The lush greenery of Forest Park in Portland, Oregon
Forest Park is one of the nation’s largest urban parks. Covering a sprawling 5,000 acres, it’s home to over 70 miles of hiking and biking trails. There are over 100 species of birds here, as well as 62 different species of mammals. It’s also home to the Witch’s Castle, an abandoned stone building covered in moss. (It has no connection to witches. The name came from students who used to use the site for secret parties in the 1980s).
- Browse at Powell’s City of Books
This is the largest independent and used bookstore in the world, home to over a million books. Established in 1971, it has 3,500 different sections and buys over 3,000 new and used books each and every day. If you’re a book lover like me, you could easily spend a good chunk of time here. There’s also a café (World Cup Coffee and Tea House), so you can grab a coffee or tea and cozy up with your new purchases.
- Devour Delicious Donuts
Tasty donuts from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon
Portland is known for its donuts. If you Google the city or search for it on social media, donuts will inevitably pop up. Voodoo Doughnut put the city on the map with its weird and wonderful combinations, such as Cap’n Crunch or maple bacon. It also makes cream-filled phallic donuts as well — so you can see why it’s become a quirky staple of the city.
Some locals might argue that Voodoo is for tourists, preferring donuts from Blue Star instead. You can’t go wrong with either choice. Why not try both and see for yourself. You only live once, after all!
- Wander the International Rose Test Garden
Home to over 10,000 rose bushes and 650 varieties, this garden is where many companies test new varieties of roses (some are tested here years before they are commercially available). It’s the oldest rose test garden in the country. It also hosts an annual competition for the city’s best rose. The roses are in bloom between April and October, though there is also an amphitheater here that holds all kinds of events, such as classical music performances and plays. Don’t miss the Shakespeare Garden, which only has types of roses referenced in Shakespeare’s plays.
- See the Japanese Garden
A beautiful waterfall in the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
Located near the Rose Test Garden, these Japanese gardens were created in the 1960s as a symbol of peace between World War II adversaries. Today, it’s considered the best Japanese garden outside of Japan. Spanning 12 acres, it contains traditional gazebos, waterfalls, ponds, Zen sand gardens, and lots of walking paths. It’s super relaxing and serene and beautiful all year round, though it’s particularly stunning in the autumn when the leaves are changing. It receives no funding from the city, so it’s not cheap, but if you want to escape the city for a while, then it’s worth every penny.
- Visit The Freakybutture Peculiarium and Museum
If you’re looking for something decidedly weird and unconventional during your trip, visit The Peculiarium. This creepy emporium is full of all kinds of weird drawings and souvenirs, gag toys, unknown oddities in jars, and even a giant Bigfoot statue. There are fake severed body parts (which are super lifelike), and they also serve fresh-baked cookies…with bugs, scorpions, and mealworms inside and on them.
The city’s slogan is “Keep Portland Weird.” This place reflects that perfectly.
- Take a Food Tour
If you’re a foodie like me, you can’t visit Portland without taking a food tour. You’ll get to sample some of the city’s best food, learn about its culture and history, and meet other foodie travelers like yourself. It’s the best way to get the culinary lay of the land before you head off on your own to eat your way around town.
Forktown offers a few different food tours focused on different cuisines and regions of the city. It will give you a solid overview of what tasty offerings Stumptown can dish up.
- Relax at Laurelhurst Park or Washington Park
Portland has tons of green space to relax in and enjoy. Laurelhurst Park was designed by the same team that designed Central Park in New York. It has a laid-back atmosphere and is popular with locals and visitors alike. There’s a duck pond, bike paths, and the off-leash dog area.
Washington Park is another great choice if you’re looking to lounge with a book and enjoy the weather. The park contains memorials for the Korean and Vietnam Wars, the Holocaust, and the Lewis and Clark expedition, and also offers beautiful vistas of Portland and Mt. Hood.
USA to PORTLAND Airline Fare by Travelagentmall.com
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NYC-New York, NY (NYC) to PDX-Portland International, Portland, OR (PDX) Portland Travel Agent Mall Fare: 70$ Round Trip
Note: This is Published Fare, Agents Can Apply on TravelagentMall- Airline Consolidators USA & Airline Consolidators Canada & can get 20%-70% commission on each ticket. Travelers can purchase Group Ticket on Agents Price. Call @+248 488 7700
Travel Dates: Travel Between 14th Feb 2021 according to the destination (May Vary). Last Date
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Additional Fees: Fares listed do not include applicable government taxes and airport fees. Baggage charges and other additional fees may apply.
Further Restrictions: Fares listed are for round trip travel. Further restrictions may apply.