Being the largest and most populous city in the state of Oregon, there’s no shortage of things to in Portland, OR. The city has many famous attractions, including Washington Park and the International Rose Test Garden. Portland is known as a very liberal and hip city, with a vibrant café culture and progressive political views. The city has a population of around 640,000. The city slogan is ‘Keep Portland Weird,’ which reflects its off-beat nature and refusal to conform. This makes it a vibrant and atmospheric city where there’s always something exciting on the go.
So, let’s take a closer look at the city and explore all the great things to do in Portland, OR on your visit.
The Pittock Mansion was built in 1914 and is a French-style chateau. It was built for the publisher, Henry Pittock, and is now owned by the city. The mansion sits on 46-acres of land, and the house itself has 46 rooms. It’s constructed from Tenino Sandstone and is the finest historic house in Portland. Visitors can tour the home, the gate lodge, and the well-manicured grounds. Here, you can learn the story of the Pittock family and their impact on the city, through their ownership of The Oregonian newspaper.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $8-$12
Washington Park covers 410-acres of land and offers a massive range of things to do in Portland OR. It’s quite a hilly park, with 15 miles of trails. It’s popular with walkers, hikers, and cyclists. Within the park, there are numerous attractions which make it a draw for residents and visitors. Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, the Japanese Garden and the Oregon Holocaust Memorial are all located in its boundaries. Washington Park also has a wide range of public art on display. There are also some lovely focal points for meeting with friends or just chilling out. The highlights are the Washington Park Fountain, the Lewis and Clark Memorial Column, and Les AuCoin Plaza. Spending a day out at Washington Park is a great thing to do in Portland with kids.
International Rose Test Garden
Although the Rose Garden is located within the boundaries of Washington Park, it deserves to be singled out as one of the best things to do in Portland. The garden is the oldest, continually open, test garden in the US and has been a feature in Washington Park since 1924. With more than 650 varieties and 10,000 roses, it’s a vibrant and colorful attraction. A visit to the garden is a great thing to do in Portland with kids. Within the Rose Garden are two smaller gardens; the Shakespeare Garden and the Alpine Garden. The Washington Park Amphitheater is also located here and is a venue for many concerts and festivals held in Portland.
Oregon Zoo is also located in the boundaries of Washington Park and was founded way back in 1888. It is the oldest zoo to the west of the Mississippi. With 64 acres of land, 232 different species and more than 1,800 animals, it’s the top visitor attraction in the city. Oregon Zoo has many themed exhibits covering the African Savanna, African Rainforests and Elephant Lands. The Elephant Lands exhibit is due to welcome a baby in 2020 as Chendra, a 26-year-old Asian elephant is currently pregnant. Some of the zoo’s most famous residents include elephants, Amur Tigers, American Black Bear, and the Cheetahs. Some of the more creepy animals include a Mexican Red-Kneed Tarantula and the Giant African Millipede. A day out at Oregon Zoo is one of the top things to do in Portland with kids.
Tickets required, available online or at the entrance, $12.95-$17.95
Pioneer Courthouse Square
This 40,000 sq. ft. city block is known as Portland’s Living Room by locals. Since it opened in 1984, it’s become the top place in downtown to chill out or meet up with friends. Pioneer Courthouse Square is the world’s fourth-best square and it’s used throughout the year to host festivals, events, and concerts. As well as being the premier downtown meeting place, the square is home to some excellent pieces of public art. It also has a milepost sign that lets you know how far you are from various major cities and places of interest. Pioneer Courthouse Square is an excellent thing to do in Portland at night. It’s always bustling, and the light from the buildings surrounding the square are pretty in the evening.
Shanghai Tunnels Tour
Also known as the Old Portland Underground, the Shanghai Tunnels lie beneath the streets of Chinatown. The complex of tunnels was built to allow the movement of goods underground, and they connect to various hotels and pubs. Today, visitors can book on to a series of themed tours. These include a Heritage History Tour and a creepy sounding Ghost Tour. A weekend tour is a great thing to do in Portland at night; particularly if you’re fond of being underground in dark, haunted places.
Wine Tours in Portland
You will be pleased to hear there are many things to do in Portland, OR under the wine tour category. Mainly based around the Willamette Valley region, numerous vineyards can be toured from the city. Some include lunch, a walk around the hills, and an experienced guide to take you around the facilities. All include tasting, which is really what we all go for, right? Some of the top-rated wine tours in Portland are Willamette Valley Wine Tour from Portland with Lunch, Columbia Gorge Waterfalls and Wine Afternoon Tour from Portland, and Multnomah Falls & Hood River Wine Tour.
Tickets required prices dependent on the tour operator and package.
Off-beat Portland, Oregon
One of the best things to do in Portland, OR in the off-beat category is to visit the Float-On. The Float-On is a set of 6 tanks, specially built for all your sensory deprivation needs. If you like to be immersed in water and Epsom salts, this is the perfect way for you to relax. Alternatively, if you like to keep it odd but appreciate being dry; get your photo taken under the ‘Keep Portland Weird’ sign. Visiting the sign is a great free thing to do in Portland, but it does get quite busy during the summer months.
Frequently Asked Questions by Travelers About Portland OR
We’ve compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the city and things to do in Portland, OR. These will help your research, planning, and general education about all this Pacific Northwest gem has to offer.
Why is Portland, Oregon called Rip City?
Portland was given the nickname Rip City by mistake during a broadcast of a Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers basketball game in 1971. After Portland came back from 20 points down to tie the game, commentator, Bill Schonely, blurted out ‘Rip City, alright!’ and it stuck. The actual nickname bears no relation to anything in the city.
What is Portland OR famous for?
Portland has gained international fame as the City of Roses. This relates to the International Rose Test Garden and the 10,000 roses on display. Portland, OR is also famous for the number of micro-breweries in its city limits. It’s thought the city has more brewpubs per capita than anywhere else in the US. It’s not only beer that’s popular in Portland, though. Although not as famous as California, the city is building a reputation for quality vineyards and wineries.
What is there to do at night in Portland, Oregon?
One of the best things to do in Portland at night is to take a stroll around the Portland Night Market. If your visit coincides with the dates of the Night Market, it’s an excellent way to spend an evening.
Is Portland, Oregon safe?
Yes, Portland is generally a safe city but, like every significant area, it has areas that are less safe than others. Portland’s violent and property crime rates are lower than the national average for similarly-sized cities. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your sensible hat on and your wits about you while you’re out and about. Most activities and things to do in Portland, OR are very safe.
Portland is an upbeat, liberal city with a diverse mixture of cultures and history. Being the home of the so-called ‘café culture’ means it has tons of places to rest your bones and do a spot of people watching. Portland is also a hub for wine and beer lovers, with a wide range of breweries and wineries to visit. The city also created the Mai-Tai cocktail, so it’s clear Portland has a real passion for alcohol production. Although this is one side to Portland, it is also a very family-friendly city. It has something to offer to all age ranges and interests. We hope we’ve convinced you to take a trip to the town and get busy with all the wonderful things to do in Portland, OR!