Portland is a hip and easy town to spend a few days in. Easy because of the public transport infrastructure and because the whole city is small enough to cover on foot if you really want to. There are many mouth-watering restaurants and food pods to explore, unusual activities to try, and even outdoor recreation nearby if you're feeling inclined. Here is the ULTIMATE Portland Bucket List for your trip.
Portland Bucket List - 50 Top Things To Do Unique to this Wonderfully Weird City
1. St Johns Bridge
St Johns Bridge is iconic to Portland and structurally the most beautiful suspension bridge ever built. Spend some time strolling Cathedral Park underneath and viewing the Gothic arches of the bridge from below.
4. Washington Park
What other city do you know of that has a forest smack bang in the middle of the city? Where you can be shopping downtown one minute and then strolling through stands of Ponderosa Pines and groves of Redwoods the next? Portland! Washington Park boasts miles of hiking trails and good views of Mt Hood on a clear day.
5. International Rose Test Garden
It’s not called the ‘city of roses’ for nothing! Portland’s climate is perfect for growing roses. The International Rose Garden is home to over 8,000 rose plants with roughly 500 different varieties. It is a really beautiful place to be when the roses are in bloom. The best times to visit are between May and October although peak blooming happens usually in June.
6. The Japanese Garden
7. Portland Zoo
8. World Forestry Center
9. Portland Stag Sign
10. The Grotto
The Grotto is a Catholic Sanctuary set among 62 acres of botanical gardens containing beautiful statues and ponds. It is particularly beautiful in December when they hold their annual Festival of Lights event for Christmas. The spectacular event features concerts, outdoor caroling and other family entertainment but the biggest attraction is the quarter mile long trail displaying over a half million holiday lights.
11. Keep Portland Weird Sign
12. Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Cherry Blossom Season
UNUSUAL THINGS TO DO
13. Stark’s Vacuum Museum
Tucked away in the corner of Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner store is a collection of ancient vacuum cleaners where you can see how far we have come in vacuum cleaner technology. There are more than 300 types of vacuum cleaners displayed here.
14. Visit the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
It doesn’t get any weirder than the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium. An odd museum that showcases strange exhibits like a nightmare dollhouse, fake crime scenes, pop artifacts and creepy fake severed body parts.
15. See a Roller Derby Game
16. Shanghai Tunnels
Portland was once known as the Forbidden City for it’s illegal practice of shanghaiing. Taking a trip to the Shanghai Tunnels might help to explain why. Portland’s underground consists of tunnels linking Old Town to the central area of downtown and the waterfront which were used to smuggle illegal goods including humans and conduct other illicit activities. You can explore these tunnels on the Portland Underground Walking Tour.
17. Naked Bike Ride
The Naked Bike Ride is an annual, clothing-optional event like you have never seen before. Imagine thousands of people casually riding past on their bicycles, with no clothes on. Well, you could be one of them… if you want. You would have to time your visit with the month of June.
18. Go on a Booze Cruise
Get boozey on the river with Portland’s Brew Barge. A brew barge, in case you did not know is a pedal-powered 14 person vessel. Cruising begins in April and runs throughout the summer.
MUSEUMS & ART
21. Take an Art Walk
On the first Thursday of each month you can participate in the Art Walk for an evening of art, wine and music. Many art galleries in the Pearl District and Old Town open their doors for free viewings and sometimes complimentary beer and wine. See their website for more information.
FOOD & DRINKS
22. Spirit Tasting at a Distillery
Love your hard liqour? Then take a trip to Distillery Row where twelve independent distilleries produce everything from gin to rum, whiskey’s and other uniquely flavored spirits. You can find these locally handcrafted drinking holes in the Southeast and Northwest districts of Portland.
23. Sample Flights at a Brewery
Portland may very well be the Craft Beer Capital of the World with over 60 breweries in town! You simply must stop in at least one local brewery and sample some of the magic created here. Brewmaster’s in Portland add copious amounts of hops to create IPA’s that include flavors reminiscent of everything from pine to grapefruit. But don’t worry if IPA’s aren’t your thing, the breweries here have all the bases covered including lagers and sours too.
For fun: Join a guided brewery bicycle tour.
24. Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Stumptown got their start in 1999 and has been convincing their customers that they are the best coffee roaster’s in the nation since. I have to admit, I am not a huge fan of their coffee but that is because I prefer dark roast which they unfortunately do not serve. However, their Matcha latte’s are quite delightful.
25. Pine State Biscuits
26. Voodoo Donuts
Okay, so this donut shop constistanly makes everyone’s Portland Bucket List but many will tell you that they don’t actually taste as amazing as they look. I am going to say this is quite true although there are a few flavors I am partial too such as Grape Ape and the Pina Colada. What they lack in taste they make up for in their instagram-worthy appearance.
27. Doe Donuts
A much better tasting and lesser known donut store is Doe Donuts. They specialize in vegan donuts that are made from scratch using local ingredients. Doe offers year-round and unusual seasonal flavors. Be sure to find your way here, you won’t regret it.
This restaurant and bar makes it on the bucket list because of it’s incredible rooftop views of the city, river and mountains. Departure sits on top of the Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. Their menu consists of modern Asian cuisine and they boast the largest sake list in the city.
29. Salt & Straw
With flavors like Hibiscus with Rose Lemon Curd and Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies, you really would be missing out if you didn’t pay this ice cream store a visit.
30. Tea Tasting at Smith Teamaker
If you enjoy sipping tea you need to pay Smith Teamaker’s a visit. Be sure to order a tea tasting which is basically just like ordering a flight of beer. You can choose four varieties from the menu including black and herbal tea’s.
Portland is famous for its large number of food trucks found throughout the city and a trip to Portland would not be complete without a visit to one. Choose from a variety of trucks over at our favorite pod Cartlandia in the Southeast District.
Lardo is a sandwich shop in Southeast Portland and while their burgers are superb, it is the fries you need to come and try. Known as the ‘dirty bastard’, the hand-cut fries are cooked in bacon fat then tossed with fried herbs and Parmesan.
Pok Pok is on every foodie’s Portland bucket list for their famous chicken wings but we recommend checking out their other store, Pok Pok Wing too.
34. Wasabi Sushi PDX
Who doesn’t like sushi? This place serves instagram-worthy sushi donuts, sushi burgers, and sushi b-ritto’s that are wrapped in spicy cheeto’s but you can also order poke bowls and ramen noodles too.
35. The People’s Pig
Killer barbecue and delicious cocktails make it one of our favorite places in Portland to grab lunch.
36. Portland Saturday Market
I know it’s called the Portland Saturday Market but it is actually open on both Saturday’s and Sunday’s. The markets are located on the waterfront and host local arts and crafts stores along with a plethora of exotic food options.
37. House of Vintage
38. Buffalo Exchange
39. Powell’s Books
One of Portland’s most famous landmarks is the Powell’s City of Books. This place is literally a multi-level maze and you could quite actually spend a few good hours in here. Grab a coffee from the attached coffee shop and spend some time roaming. It’s a great way to spend a rainy day.
40. Watch A Movie At A Brew Cinema
41. See the Rocky Horror Picture Show
Over at the Clinton Street Theater they have been showing the Rocky Horror Picture Show going on 40 years. For a unique way to spend a night join the interactive crowd for a showing of one the longest running films in history. Doors open 11:30 pm every Saturday night and the show starts at midnight.
42. The Doug Fir
43. Crystal Ballroom
All sorts of events take place at Dante’s such as karaoke night (although the talent here are on another professional level), live bands and burlesque shows.
47. Moda Center
Whether you’re into music or sports, you can check out the Events Calender for the Moda Center and see if your favorite entertainer or sports team will be performing on your travel dates.
49. Chase Waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
Take a day trip out to the Columbia River Gorge and see Oregon’s tallest waterfall Multnomah Falls and many other stunning waterfalls that are in the area. You can rent a vehicle and drive yourself out or join this popular Portland Sightseeing Tour which includes a trip to the Columbia River Gorge or just take the cheaper Columbia Gorge Tour option.
50. Visit a Winery
The Williamette Valley is home to over 250 wineries and has become one of the nation’s leading producers of cool climate varietals like Pinot Noir. Portland is the perfect starting point for exploring quiet back country roads through Oregon’s wine country with more than half of the state’s wineries located only 45 minutes away. Take in beautiful vistas of rolling hills and the Cascade Mountains on this Wine Tasting Tour through the Williamette Valley.