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.
Pssst! For 10 Best Hotels To Stay In Portland Read More Here!
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.
1. Air Tram
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 in downtown Portland and takes visitors up to the hospital on 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
2. 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
3. Voodoo Doughnuts
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 epic things to do in Oregon.
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 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
4. 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
5. Powell’s City Of Books
A few minutes 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, and 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
6. 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 is known for its 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
7. 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
8. Pittock Mansion
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 a popular spot for panoramic photography.
Map to Pittock Mansion HERE
9. Redwood Grove
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 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.
Map to Washington Park HERE
10. St. Johns Bridge
A popular landmark just a 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 Forest Park.
Map to St. John’s Bridge HERE
11. 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
12. Mill Ends Park
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
14. 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
15. 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 the 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, and 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.
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12 thoughts on “15 Best Things That Make Portland Awesome”
Thumbs up to this! ??
this is enough to single handedly convince me that a trip to Portland is necessary. A+ Way better than an add.
I’m on my way to Portland as I write this, so your article is very handy! Thank you for your take on what keeps Portland great (and weird). Can’t wait for some kombucha and donuts!
Glad I could be helpful! : ) There are so many unique little gems in downtown Portland area like the kombucha bar and, oh, so many donuts to try. Hope you had a blast on your trip!
The redwoods in Washington Park get very little press (or awareness by locals), thanks for highlighting them. Glad you enjoyed our fair city!
I completely agree! The redwoods in Portland are amazing and one of my favorite places to go for a relaxing walk in the city.
I’m planning my first solo trip to Portland, OR. Do you have any tips for me as I set out on my adventure?
Hi Kaitlyn! That’s so exciting! I love Portland and there is just so much to see and do. Are you looking for tips on what to do, eat, hiking or for safety?
The good thing about Portland is that everything is within a short walk (or quick Uber ride) distance away. If you plan to get a rental car, I highly recommend spending a day exploring the Columbia River Gorge area and doing a few quick waterfall hikes. Here are some of my favorite ones: https://funlifecrisis.com/columbia-river-gorge-and-multnomah-falls-guide/
For Portland itself I always recommend doing the Air Tram, visiting Powell’s Bookstore, Blue Star Doughnuts, and Pittock Mansion. “Keep Portland Weird” sign and Voodoo Doughnuts are also super popular but this area is a bit more run down so just take more caution when visiting these solo.
Hope this helps a bit but let me know if you need any more specific tips on things you’re looking to see or do in Portland.
Thanks for a great article. Definitely came in handy on my trip to Portland. Had an amazing time and your article really helped. Best of luck on your own travels.
I am so happy to hear that! Portland is so amazing and there are so many fun things to do around the city. Glad you had a good time and that we could help : )
I love your blogs! & always check if you have visited a certain place before making my own itinerary!
We are planning to be in Portland over 4 days – could you please suggest a itinerary? 🙂
-Spending at least one full day exploring Portland itself.
-Spending a few hours exploring Multnomah Falls and other Columbia River Gorge waterfalls (I believe now they require day permits that you can get on Recreation.gov).
-Taking a day trip out to the coast and visiting Cannon Beach.
-Taking a day trip to Mt Hood.
Hope this helps! Enjoy your trip : )