Portland, OR Travel Guide

USA  #5 in Best Places to Visit in Oregon
Credit

Courtesy of Photo by Matt Payne of Durango, Colorado/Getty Images

Best Things To Do in Portland, OR

If you're looking to pub crawl, try the excellent bars and breweries. If you travel in June, take part in the annual Portland Rose Festival at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park or stop by the International Rose Test Garden to see why Portland is known as the City of Roses. For sightseeing, rent a bike and tour the storefronts in the St. Johns neighborhood. To catch up on your reading, try Powell's City Books. In the winter, the area is an ideal ski and winter sports destination, especially around Mount Hood.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated August 30, 2018

  • #1
    Washington Park
    View all Photos
    #1 in Portland, OR
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Many critics, travelers and locals agree that of all of Portland's parks (and they are numerous), Washington Park is perhaps the best. Home to such notable landscaping feats as the Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden, as well as the World Forestry Center, Hoyt Arboretum and several memorials dedicated to pivotal points in Oregon's history. 

    ...Read More »
  • #2
    International Rose Test Garden
    View all Photos
    #2 in Portland, OR
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Not until you visit these sprawling gardens will you fully understand the reasoning behind one of Portland's nicknames, the City of Roses. Established in 1917 by the American Rose Society, it began as a sanctuary for European grown hybrid roses during World War I and is now the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States.

    ...Read More »
  • #3
    Portland Japanese Garden
    View all Photos
    #3 in Portland, OR
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    When the hustle and bustle of Portland start to get the best of you, you can seek out the Zen-like tranquility at the Japanese Garden within Washington Park.

    ...Read More »
  • #4
    Lan Su Chinese Garden
    View all Photos
    #4 in Portland, OR
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Occupying an entire city block, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is among some of the only authentic Chinese gardens in the country. Modeled after China's Ming dynasty gardens, the Lan Su Chinese Garden aims at being a place where people can escape the hustle of everyday life and connect with nature. In addition to featuring plants and trees native to China as well as an 8,000 square feet lake, the garden also hosts a variety of Chinese cultural events, ranging from tai chi to tea tastings.

    ...Read More »
  • #5
    Powell's City of Books
    View all Photos
    #5 in Portland, OR
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Shopping, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Whether or not you're an avid reader, Powell's City of Books is worth checking out. It occupies a square city block and rises three stories high; in fact, this bookstore is so large that exploring it actually requires a map.

    ...Read More »
  • #6
    Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
    View all Photos
    #6 in Portland, OR
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Whether you need to keep the kids entertained for a few hours or just need a way to spend a rainy day, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is the place to go. This interactive museum (referred to by residents as the OMSI) makes learning fun with five halls and eight labs filled with hands-on exhibits devoted to physics, chemistry, paleontology, and more. Other interactive offerings include a science playground specifically designed for young children. Recent visitors said that the museum is fun and educational for all members of the family, though some do gripe about the price of admission. If you've got kids in tow, past visitors said you'll want to spend several hours here.

    ...Read More »
  • #7
    Portland Art Museum
    View all Photos
    #7 in Portland, OR
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    As the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Art Museum set the bar high for its followers. It is home to Oregon's most prestigious collection, including works from the European masters, Japanese screen prints and contemporary American pieces. There is also a sculpture garden and an area devoted to photography. But the museum's Native American gallery – which houses more than 5,000 ancient and modern objects from more than 200 different tribes – is not to be missed.

    ...Read More »
  • #8
    Pittock Mansion
    View all Photos
    #8 in Portland, OR
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The 16,000-square-foot Pittock Mansion is one of Portland's few historic attractions and definitely one of the most unique. Commissioned in 1912 by Henry Pittock – the owner of The Oregonian newspaper – and designed after the French Renaissance style, this 23-room mansion contains a Turkish smoking room, a library, a music room, and two sleeping porches, among other features.

    ...Read More »
  • #9
    Forest Park
    View all Photos
    #9 in Portland, OR
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Free
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you're looking to spend some time outside but aren't willing to make the trek to Mount Hood, Forest Park is the place to go. With more than 5,000 acres, it's one of the largest urban parks in America.

    ...Read More »
  • #10
    Tom McCall Waterfront Park
    View all Photos
    #10 in Portland, OR
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Named for a former Oregonian governor, this 30-acre park stretches alongside the Willamette River in downtown Portland and provides some of the best views of the city's skyline. Because of its prime location, it hosts many of Portland's special events – including the ever-popular Oregon Brewers Festival and the Portland Rose Festival.

    ...Read More »
  • #11
    Mount Hood
    View all Photos
    #11 in Portland, OR
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Skiing
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Towering over the Portland skyline is Mount Hood, the region's prime skiing area. When the snow begins to fall, grab your gear and head east, where numerous powdery downhill and cross-country trails await. Test your skills on the expert slopes at Mt. Hood Skibowl or conquer your vertigo at the Timberline Lodge, which sits at 6,000 feet. You can also spend the night here if you plan on enjoying the slopes for more than a day.

    ...Read More »
  • Oregon Zoo
    View all Photos
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Multnomah Falls
    View all Photos
    Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Willamette Valley Wine Tasting
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours, Wineries/Breweries
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

  • Forktown Food Tours
    View all Photos
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Read More »

Explore More of Portland, OR

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019