For the last few years Portland, Oregon has become the cool new spot to visit. With so many weird and fun things to do around Portland, it is no wonder that more than 9 million visitors flock to Portland every year.
If you are one of those people on your way to visit Portland, you are probably wondering what there is to do and see around this unique city.
After living in Portland for over a year and exploring every corner of the downtown area, these are my top 15 suggested “must see and do” things for anyone visiting Portland:
- Air Tram
- Keep Portland Weird Sign
- Voodoo Doughnuts
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters
- Powell’s Books
- Blue Star Donuts
- Pine Street Market
- Pittock Mansion
- Redwood Grove
- St Johns Bridge
- Speakeasy Kombucha Bar
- Mill Ends Park
- Multnomah Whiskey Lounge
- Portland Oregon White Stag Sign
You could be really ambitious and visit all of these places in one day (believe me, I have), or you could take your time and spread them out over a weekend or a few days.
A great way to start off your Portland tour is by riding the Aerial Tram and getting a good view of Portland from up above. The aerial tram starts off at downtown Portland and takes visitors up to the hospital on the Marquam Hill and back. I know… a hospital doesn’t sound like a typical tourist destination, but nothing in Portland is “normal”.
The hospital is newly renovated and offers some of the best panoramic views of downtown Portland from the aerial tram station. If you are deathly afraid of hospitals, you don’t even need to enter it! The aerial tram station is located right outside of it and visitors can take the tram up, exit and board the next tram back down. The view is definitely worth the ride.
Map of the air tram HERE
Keep Portland Weird Sign
Downtown Portland is filled with iconic spots but nothing represents Portland more than the “Keep Portland Weird” sign. Before heading on to any adventures around downtown, stop by this sign and take a few pictures. After all, how would all of your friends know that you were in Portland for a fun weekend if not for this sign?
Map to the sign HERE
Right across the street from the “Keep Portland Weird” sign is the world famous Voodoo Doughnuts shop. After being featured on Travel Channel and various other shows this doughnut shop is one of the most popular tourist destinations in downtown Portland. With lines that wrap around the corner, it may take more than 30 minutes before hungry tourists can hold their signature pink box full of delicious doughnuts in their hands. Even if you are not willing to wait in the line, the Voodoo doughnut shop is a cool spot to visit. It’s most famous for its pink glam/grunge interior decorations and unique doughnut flavors.
At Voodoo doughnuts, shoppers can purchase anything from crazy toppings like crushed Chico stick, strawberry dust, and Butterfinger to vegan doughnuts or a simple glazed doughnut.
Note that Voodoo Doughnut shop does not accept credit or debit cards and is a cash only establishment.
Map to VooDoo Doughnut shop HERE
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
After having a few doughnuts you might start feeling a bit tired, so head down the street to the nearby Stumptown Coffee Roasters for a cup of fresh and delicious coffee. Or if you want to grab a bag to go, for around $20 you can bring a bag of Stumptown Coffee back home with you.
Map to Stumptown Coffee Roasters HERE
Powell’s City Of Books
A few minute walk away from Stumptown Coffee Roasters is Powell’s City of Books, the world’s largest independent bookstore. Divided into different sections based on various categories, this bookstore has anything from bestsellers, kid’s books, entertaining souvenirs to antique and rare books. It’s a great place to stroll around, pick up a few new books and relax away from the city noise.
Map to Powell’s City Of Books HERE
Blue Star Donuts
If you haven’t had enough doughnuts for the day yet, another popular Portland doughnut shop is the hip Blue Star Donuts. Blue Star Donuts are known for their amazing flavor combinations and freshness which store customers can experience for themselves since the doughnuts are being made right in front of them. The doughnut choices are fewer than Voodoo’s, but the flavors have been made to perfection.
Some of the store favorites are Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Passion Fruit Cocoa Nib, and Cointreau Crème Brulee.
Map to Blue Star Donuts HERE
Pine Street Market
Sometimes one of the hardest parts about traveling is finding a lunch or dinner spot that will make everyone in your group happy. At the Portland Market, you can do just that! This market is filled with various vendors that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Some of the favorite food stands in this market are Kim Jong Smokehouse Korean BBQ, Marukin Ramen, OP Wurst and the super delicious Salt & Straw dessert bar.
Map to Pine Street Market HERE
One of the best spots for a city panorama view in Portland is located at the historic Pittock Mansion. Built in 1909 as a private residence for a local businessman, now it serves as a museum for visitors. For a small fee of $10 visitors can take a tour of the inside of the house or just stroll around the gardens for no charge.
The front of the yard provides a clear view of downtown Portland and is quite the popular spot for panoramic photography.
Map to Pittock Mansion HERE
Oregon is known for its luscious green mossy forests, but what most visitors usually don’t expect to see in Portland are redwood trees. Tucked away in the midst of the Washington Park hikers can find a small grove of redwood trees and lookout platforms with benches. The grove is not very big, but long enough for visitors to take a stroll at.
Map to Washington Park HERE
St. Johns Bridge
A popular landmark just 15-minute drive outside of the downtown Portland area is the beautiful St. John’s Bridge. Famous for its turquoise green color and giant arches supporting it on the bottom, this bridge stands tall across the Willamette River and calls for attention to anyone driving by. Bridge admirers can hang out at the park underneath or take a walk across the bridge that ends right outside of the Forest Park.
Map to St. John’s Bridge HERE
Speakeasy Kombucha Bar
Portland is filled with many weird & unique attractions, but something you don’t get to see every day is a self-serving speakeasy kombucha bar. At SOMA Speakeasy Kombucha bar guests can try a variety of kombuchas right out of a tap, enjoy a cup at the lounge or even take some home. The bar is self-serving meaning there is no attendant and it’s based on an honor system. It’s the perfect place to grab an ice cold refreshing kombucha before heading back to the downtown area for more adventures.
Map to SOMA Kombucha bar HERE
Mill Ends Park
The Mill Ends Park, located across the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, is considered the smallest park in the world. For visitors walking or driving by this park is easy to miss since it consists of one tiny tree. Although this park is located in the middle of a street divider, on St. Patty’s day it is a popular hangout spot because of its history and alleged leprechaun sighting. Whether it’s true or not, locals love and take care of this park and it has become a big part of downtown Portland attractions.
Map to Mill Ends Park HERE
Whenever you ask somebody what they liked the most about Portland, the answer usually is “Food and drinks”. Portland is well known for its local breweries so a trip to Portland could not be complete without trying some of its local brews. But with more than 100 breweries in the Portland Metro Area how could one possibly choose which ones to visit? The choices really are unlimited but some of the local favorites are Deschutes, Widmer, Rogue and 10 Barrel. Each brewery in Portland has its own unique style, atmosphere and has something interesting to offer.
Tip: most breweries serve beer flights that are a great way to try out a variety of beers before committing to a single one.
Map of breweries in Portland HERE
Multnomah Whiskey Lounge
The Multnomah Whiskey Lounge is a speakeasy bar that is a hidden gem in the downtown Portland area. To enter this bar guests are usually asked to wait at least 30 minutes to over an hour for a seat. Then the host will escort guests to an upstairs area behind a secret door that leads to this whiskey lounge. Inside you will find any type of whiskey or liquor possibly imaginable while sitting in luxurious lounge chairs around the bar area. Entering this lounge feels like stepping into another world surrounded by fine liquors, men smoking cigars and discussing business as if in a movie. But that is just the illusion this bar gives off. The reality is that we all just want to experience something different and this bar definitely offers that feeling.
Map to Multnomah Whiskey Library HERE
Portland Oregon White Stag Sign
Before you leave downtown Portland, the last stop on your list should be the signature Portland Oregon White Stag sign. Although the sign is visible during the day, the best view of the Portland Sign is at night when it lights up in bright colors and welcomes visitors entering downtown area and says goodbye to those leaving it.
Map to Portland Sign HERE
Portland is weird, we all know that. It has some of the most unique attractions from the world’s largest independent bookstore, self serving kombucha bars, weird doughnut shops to the smallest park in the world. There is so much to see and do in Portland, Oregon and we hope this list gives you a great place to start.
Written by Laura Sausina