Things to Do in Portland, Oregon: Fun Rose City Adventures
Portland is a beautiful city with relaxing waterfront areas, a bustling downtown area, plenty of green spaces, and stunning views of the Cascade Mountains. As the name implies, Portland is a port city; it's bordered by the beautiful Columbia River to the north and bisected by the Willamette River, which flows through the center of town. Whether residents are looking for indoor or outdoor adventures or bustling nightlife, all of the homes in Portland are close to something fun for everyone. Keep reading to learn about all of the things to do in Portland, OR.
Portland Outdoor Adventures
With 2.5 million people living in the metro area, the influx of new residents moving to Portland has transformed the city drastically from its days as a rough-and-tumble logging town on the U.S. frontier. But this urban area is still brimming with plenty of outdoor activities for adventure seekers.
Parks in Portland
Popular Portland Parks
- Council Crest Park
- Gabriel Park
- Overlook Park
For jogging, dog-walking, or simply relaxing, Portland offers a plethora of inviting parks are recreation spaces. For starters, everyone should check out Council Crest Park. Council Crest Park is one of the highest-elevated spots in Portland (1,073 feet above sea level) and provides spectacular views of the city and the Cascade range. Dog lovers will adore Gabriel Park, an off-leash dog park near 45th Avenue and Vermont Street. The park is fenced-in and provides both winter and summer areas for pets to run and play. Overlook Park offers plenty of shade trees and a great view of the city, especially Fremont Bridge. Overlook Park is gorgeous in the fall when the leaves change color.
Water Recreation in Portland
Portland Water Recreation Options
- Willamette River
- Poet's Beach
- Audrey McCall Beach
- Stand-up paddleboarding
- River cruises
There are too many water adventures in and around Portland to list. Want to go swimming in the Willamette River? Try Poet's Beach, Audrey McCall Beach, the beach near Waterfront Park, or the docks at the Eastbank Esplanade. If stand-up paddleboarding is desired, head to George Rogers Park or Cathedral Park. Portland Spirit Tours and Willamette Jet Boats offer river cruises for a new view of the city and the surrounding areas. The more adventurous sorts like to go windsurfing in the Columbia River Gorge between June and September of each year.
Hiking & Biking Trails in Portland
Popular Portland Trails
- Washington Park Loop
- Latourell Falls Trail
- Classic Waterfront Loop
- Bikes to Books Trails
Portland beautifully merges Oregon's natural beauty with urban areas. To explore nature within city limits, trek any of the hiking and biking trails in Portland.
Washington Park is 400 acres in size and features a 30-mile hiking trail called Washington Park Loop. The trail begins near the Portland Zoo and traverses past landmarks like the Portland Japanese Gardens and the Hoyt Arboretum.
Latourell Falls Trail is a short 2.5-mile hike that rewards visitors with an up-close view of the stunning 200-foot-tall Latourell Waterfall along the Columbia River Gorge.
Classic Waterfront Loop invites bikers to enjoy a rewarding ride in Rose City. This bike trail traverses with Willamette River between the Sellwood Bridge and the Steel Bridge. The trail is flat, mostly paved, and just over 10 miles in length.
For a leisurely jaunt in the city, check out Bikes to Books Trails. This loop through the north part of the city starts at the Portland Library and covers a 3.5-mile paved route suitable for walking or biking.
This shortlist has barely scratched the surface of the outdoor adventures just waiting in and around Portland. The city has dozens of additional outdoor activities waiting everywhere, just waiting to be discovered by the adventurous types!
Portland Shopping Destinations
- Pioneer Place
- Washington Square Mall
- Woodburn Premium Outlets
- Lloyd Center
Looking to hit the shops? From designer names to box stores, Portland has everything you need.
Residents don't have to live in Portland for very long before hearing about Pioneer Place, the city's premier shopping mall. It's located in the heart of the downtown area and is considered the premier shopping destination in the city.
Located in the Tigard suburb just southwest of Portland, Washington Square Mall features some unique shops that can't be found anywhere else in the Metro area.
The Woodburn Premium Outlets are located a 20-minute drive south of Portland, located off I-5 in the town of Woodburn. It's a tax-free outlet that allows shoppers to save a little money from most outlet stores found in traditional malls.
The Lloyd Center is the largest mall in Oregon, but it has some of the most unique shopping opportunities to be found. Located in Old Town, it has more than 200 stores, movie theaters, and more.
Popular Portland Restaurants
- Proud Mary Cafe
The most iconic restaurants in Portland serve cuisine from around the world. While the city is famous for adventurous eateries, there are establishments to satisfy any palette.
Located on Alder Street, the chefs at Bullard made it to the finals of the 2014 season of Top Chef. The fare includes delectable smoked meats, a largely Tex-Mex menu, and pitchers of margaritas.
Proud Mary Cafe cafe serves an all-day brunch as a work of art on the plate. But the real draw is the artisanal coffee which includes many beans that can't be found anywhere else in Portland.
Mae is a classy sit-down restaurant on NE 42nd Avenue and is one of the finest Cajun dining experiences to be found. It offers a ten-course meal that takes approximately three hours from appetizer to dessert.
Jacqueline takes its name from the submarine in the comedy film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. While the restaurant is named and themed on a comedy, it takes its seafood seriously.
Arts & Culture in Portland
Portland is a wonderful city to live in for patrons and appreciators of the arts. From its lively concert scene to its upscale (and sometimes quirky) museums and art galleries, the Metro area offers dozens of incredible experiences for those willing to seek them out.
Museums in Portland
Popular Portland Museums
- Oregon Maritime Museum
- Portland Japanese Garden
- Oregon Museum of Science & Industry
- Oregon Historical Society Museum
Portland's museums make it easy to immerse yourself in culture and history. The Oregon Maritime Museum is housed on an operating stern-wheeler boat moored in the Willamette River. It features a lot of history related to Portland's role in shipbuilding during World War II. Venture to the Portland Japanese Garden to find a stunning 12-acre garden/museum that welcomes thousands of visitors each year. Its stunning displays include multiple separate spaces and a cultural village.
Oregon Museum of Science & Industry is one of the biggest science centers in the U.S. Its exhibits include touring historical features, dinosaurs, a Pixar exhibit, and traditional artworks. Oregon Historical Society Museum features more than 200 years' worth of Oregon history. It's filled with historical artifacts that reveal the progression of Portland from a logging camp to a thriving city.
Art Galleries in Portland
Popular Portland Art Galleries
- Portland Art Museum
- Blue Sky Gallery
- Froelick Gallery
- Hap Gallery
You'll never need to travel far to get your art fix in Portland. An array of high-end museums and low-key galleries await throughout the city.
Portland Art Museum is one of the best spots in the city to view incredible works of art from Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Located in the Pearl District of Portland, Blue Sky Gallery features local, national, and international award-winning photography exhibits.
Froelick Gallery begins a new exhibition on the first Thursday of each month. It brings in local, national, and international artists to showcase. Finally, The Hap Gallery exists to showcase local artists' paintings, sculptures, glasswork, and other styles.
Dance & Theatre in Portland
Portland Dance & Theatre Opportunities
- Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
- Northwest Children's Theater
- Northwest Dance Project
- Portland Center Stage
- The Keller Auditorium
Performing arts are alive and well in Portland, too. Head to the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall to hear iconic orchestral arrangements. This Italian-style concert hall was built in 1928 and is a fixture on Broadway in Portland. It features everything from rock concerts to regular performances by the Oregon Symphony.
The Northwest Children's Theater in Nob Hill features multiple stage performances each year that are geared toward people of all ages.
Another fun thing to do with kids in Portland is visiting the Northwest Dance Project. This dance troupe performs amazing shows several times a year in Portland. They don't have a central "headquarters" but they perform on different stages throughout Portland.
The Portland Center Stage is a local theater company that's housed in a renovated armory on Northwest 11th Avenue. It performs classic and contemporary stage plays year-round. Additionally, The Keller Auditorium is a venue for all types of nightly shows, from performances of The Nutcracker during the holidays to comedy shows and concerts.
The city of Portland has too many arts and cultural events to list here. It's not unusual to see a new band debut on Saturday Night Live one weekend, only to have them show up and perform at a hole-in-the-wall bar in Portland. Whether one's tastes run toward the symphony or a heavy metal concert, Portland has just as many arts and cultural opportunities as any major city in the U.S.
Portland Nightlife Destinations
- The BrewCycle
- Multnomah Whiskey Library
- Haunted Pub Tour
- Revolution Hall
- Altabira City Tavern
The fun doesn't stop when the sun goes down. Check out a few of the awesome nightlife options in Portland.
The BrewCycle is a one-of-a-kind pub crawl that takes off from Flanders Street in north Portland, and it's hard to even describe. Groups pedal a unique vehicle (with a sober driver/guide) along a pub crawl that hits many of the prominent craft breweries in Portland.
Multnomah Whiskey Library is a popular nightspot nestled beneath stylish Portland lofts that features every style of distilled whiskey in the world in one location. It's an excellent place for a grilled steak while sampling the world's most famous scotches and bourbons.
The Haunted Pub Tour is a chilling pub experience in Old Town that takes place in two local Portland pubs that are supposedly haunted. The two-hour historical drinking tour also takes visitors into the notorious Shanghai Tunnels under the city.
There are three rooftop venues in Portland that offer cocktails and amazing 360-degree views of the city. Revolution Hall, Departure, and the Altabira City Tavern all offer this experience.
Fun Activities Never End in Portland, OR
Fun activities and entertainment are big contributors to the Portland economy. A person could live their entire life in Portland and only scratch the surface of all the adventures that the city has to offer. Despite its location in the Pacific Northwest, Portland offers relatively mild winters. Light snowfalls are possible, but cloudy and rainy skies are the norm, which means that Portlanders have four seasons to get out and enjoy the sights and sounds of this thriving city.