It doesn’t always rain in Oregon. Perfect for a quick weekend getaway or a relaxing week-long vacay, Portland is the place to stop this summer. Whether you come for the coffee, “weird” culture, Beervana, or the beautiful outdoors, the Rose City holds something for every adventurous traveller. Have trouble choosing? Peruse my list of what to do in Portland this summer:
Stroll (or run!) the waterfront
The waterfront pathway runs along the Willamette River, bordered by benches and green lawns. Locals know what to do in Portland since the waterfront is the best spot to stroll, run, bike, people watch, enjoy the scenery. You’ll get an idea of why Portland’s also known as “Bridgetown, USA.”
Take a food tour or eat at a food cart
The best way to get to know a city is to taste it. Let Portland’s resident experts do the talking while you chow with the Flavor Street Tour or the Epicurean Excursion Tour. Flavor Street introduces visitors to the innovative world of food truck cuisine – a culinary revolution that’s made Portland the city to visit for affordable deliciousness. Epicurean Excursion is for the true foodie in us all: tasting and sipping the best that local Oregon culinary geniuses have to offer.
Even if you can’t make Flavor Street – or, more likely, if you still want more – no visit to Portland is complete without eating at a food cart. The most notorious of these eateries cluster in “pods” throughout the city. Find a pod close to your location here, then get whatever looks yummy.
Tour the city’s seedy history
Okay, so maybe the only creepy villain walking what’s left of the infamous Shanghai Tunnels is me. However, the Underground Portland Tour is still a must for any curious visitor. Your resident expert guide will lead you above and below ground to explore Portland’s seedy history. Fascinating for story-lovers and history-buffs alike, the Underground tour will definitely surprise you.
Get lost in Powell’s Books
Bookworms, rejoice! Powell’s City of Books is a massive bookstore boasting both new and used volumes.
Shop (and eat) your way through the Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is nationally recognised as the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. Buy souvenirs and tasty treats (on both Saturday and Sunday).
Drink at a local brewery
A list of what to do in Portland can’t be missing BEERS! You’ll find so many breweries in Portland, more than any other place on Earth, rightly earning its nickname, “Beervana.” Even if you don’t love beer, check out a local brewery for great pub fare.
Smell the roses
How many nicknames can one city claim? Also, the “City of Roses,” Portland boasts an award-winning public Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. No summertime visit is complete without a Rose Garden trip to see (and smell!) these glorious blooms.
Taste the city’s chocolate
Chocolate snob? You’re in the right place. On the mouthwatering Chocolate Decadence Tour, I recently learned that Portland has more local chocolatiers than any other city in the country. (Take that, beer and roses!) If you think of chocolate as art rather than simply dessert, then consider the Chocolate Decadence Tour your 3.5 hours of paradise.
What to do in Portland if you’re not into cocoa? Maybe you prefer a doughnut? Though the infamous Voodoo Doughnut draws crowds with innovative and weird creations, doughnut lovers would miss out without visiting the Donut Byte Labs food cart.
Listen to a (FREE) concert in the park
Through July and August, parks across the city host free concerts. Musical variety spans everything from African jazz and Bluesy-Americana to Latin pop and Celtic folk-rock.
Sip a Stumptown coffee
The local Portland coffee roaster, Stumptown Coffee, takes the art of coffee seriously. The shop hosts a free daily tasting at 3 pm for true coffee enthusiasts.
Visit the Japanese Memorial
Historically, much of Old Town was a thriving Japanese Town. All that changed after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the evacuation of the Japanese citizens of Portland. When they returned after the war, their homes and business places were already gone, bought up by the remaining Portlanders, and Japan Town was lost forever.
Today Portland honours this devastating history with the waterfront Japanese Memorial. Walk by the art, read the poetry, and say a prayer for those who lost their homes.
Explore the Oregon Zoo
Easily an all-day event, a visit to the Oregon Zoo delights tourists and locals alike with thorough exhibits and a diversity of wildlife.
Snack through the Portland Farmer’s Market
Portland State University’s Farmer’s Market gives visitors a real taste of the city’s farm-to-fork obsession. Come hungry.
Hike Forest Park
If you’re wondering what to do in Portland if you are a nature-lover, learn that Forest Park is the largest urban forest in the United States. Go for a hike to get a feel for the greenery of Oregon.
Stroll the Chinese Garden
Portland’s Lan Su Chinese Garden is a lush oasis within the city centre. Poetically, the garden’s name can be interpreted: Garden of Awakening Orchids.
Visit the Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum hosts a ‘$5 after 5’ event every Friday evening, where admission is a mere $5. To peruse upcoming exhibits, click here.