We moved to Portland for a year in 2017 to explore the city in depth. 1 year is always great because it’s long enough to dig into hidden gems but short enough that you’ll make yourself get out and see the city.
Jacob’s cousins have also lived in Portland for more than a decade, so we enlisted their help to put together the ultimate Portland bucket list. We couldn’t handle the gray seasons, but we’re always excited to revisit during the summer to dig into more good eats and hike in the area (there are hundreds of waterfalls hikes).
Click the links to see full posts with photos and more details on each spot. This list will continue to evolve as we discover new and better things to eat, see, and do.
THE ULTIMATE PORTLAND BUCKET LIST (101 Things to Do in Portland Oregon)
Last updated: August 12, 2019. Originally Created: August 3, 2015
- The Ace Hotel – take your photo at the photo booth
- The Belmont Goats
- Glowing Greens Putt Putt
- The Grotto (Christmas lights during the holidays)
- International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park (best month: generally June)
- Keep Portland Weird Sign(s)
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Portland Aerial Tram – for commuters to OHSU but has great views at the top.
- Portland Japanese Garden, Washington Park
- Powell’s Books
- Mill Ends Park (World’s Smallest Park)
- McMenamins Kennedy School – Wach a movie or stay overnight
- Oregon Zoo, Washington Park
- Paul Bunyan Statue
- Pittock Mansion
- The Shanghai Tunnels of Portland
- Voodoo Doughnuts or Voodoo Too (our literal neighbor)
Their donuts aren’t great (We live next to one and hate that it smells so good but the taste always disappoints). What they do excel at is branding and it is one of those iconic Portland tourist attractions everyone visits. The lines are always crazy. It’s also popular for the gram.
MUSEUMS + MEMORIALS
- First Thursday Art Walk (or Last Thursday on Alberta Art Walk)
- Fort Vancouver National Historic Site (on the Vancouver WA side)
- Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
- The Hat Museum
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
- Portland’s Children Museum, Washington Park
- Portland Art Museum
- Stark’s Vacuum Museum
- World Forestry Center, Washington Park
URBAN PARKS + OUTDOORS
- Cathedral Park (St John’s Bridge)
- Council Crest Park
- Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
- Eastbank Esplanade
- Elk Rock Garden
- Hoyt Arboretum, Washington Park
- Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain Park
- Mount Tabor Park
- Portland Rock Gym – try indoor rock climbing or join one of their outdoor field trips
- Rent a bike – easiest ones to find all over are Biketown.
- Rocky Butte Park – Joseph Wood Hill Park at Rocky Butte is the highest point
- Skidmore Bluffs (Mocks Crest Park)
- Tom McCall Waterfront Park (best during cherry blossom season)
- Forest Park is the largest park within city limits. Take the short hike to Witch’s Castle)
- Pick Fruit at Columbia Farms (or Hood River Fruit Loop Day Trip)
- Portland Farmers Market at PSU (locals)
- Portland Saturday Market (more touristy)
- New Seasons Market – Like Whole Foods but on a new level.
EVENTS + SHOWS + VENUES
- Aladdin Theater
- Dive-in Movies
- Evergreen Curling Club – Take curling lessons
- Festival of Balloons in Tigard (next one: Jun 23-25, 2017)
- McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
- The Naked Bike Ride (June)
- Oregon Brewers Festival (next one: July 26–30, 2017)
- PDX Adult Soap Box Derby (Aug)
- Portland Meadows (horse racing)
- Providence Park – Watch a Timbers Game
- Rose City Rollers (roller derby – 2016 international champions)
- Rose Quarter Moda Center
- Top Down: Rooftop Cinema
FOOD + DRINK
- Brewery Tour (or try drinking through all the Portland Breweries)
- 180 Xurros
- Apizza Scholls – our fave pizza spot so far
- Ava Gene’s
- Blue Star Donuts (that blueberry bourbon basil <3 but can be hit or miss)
- Coco Donuts
- Farm Spirit (great vegan option, but we really enjoyed it as non-vegetarians)
- Hair of the Dog Brewing Co – Beer Advocate’s Top 50 American Breweries
- Heart Coffee (other local favorites: Good Coffee, Barista, Water Ave, Coava)
- McMenamins Bagdad Theater (BrewPub Movie Theater)
- Multnomah Whiskey Library (only Mondays are open to the public)
- Nong’s Khao Man Gai’s Chicken and Rice (regular spot)
- Olympia Provisions (Portlandia was filmed here)
- Park Kitchen
- PDX Sliders – the Hawthorne is our fave.
- Pine State Biscuit
- Pip’s Original – get the flight of chai tea. The doughnuts can sometimes be over-fried.
- Smith Teamaker Tea Flights
- Pok Pok (want to try making their famous wings at home?)
- Portland Distillery Row Tour (get the passport!)
- Salt and Straw Ice Cream
My favorite is the strawberry honey balsamic with cracked pepper! I also saw that they opened up a location in LA! Pro Tip: You can skip the long lines if you buy a pint instead. They also opened up a sister soft serve shop called Wizbangbar, which got a lot of hype, but we still love Salt and Straw better.
- Screen Door (brunch: chicken + waffles are good, but the praline bacon – mouthwatering!)
- Tasty n Alder or Tasty n Sons
- Toro Bravo
- Stumptown Coffee Roasters Flagship Cafe (SE 45th and Division)
- Clackamas River Trail (13 miles / 25 mins)
- Oregon Lavender Farm (21 miles / 34 mins away)
- Oneonta Gorge Hike (30 miles / 35 mins away)
- Angel’s Rest Hike (26.7 miles / 25 mins away)
- Multnomah Falls (30 miles / 35 mins away)
- Latourell Falls (30 miles / 35 mins away)
- Elowah Falls Hike (36 miles / 36 mins away)
- Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls (36 miles / 38 mins away)
- Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm (36 miles / 45 mins away, next festival: Mar 23-Apr 29, 2018)
- Wahclella Falls (39 miles / 40 mins away)
- Silver Falls State Park Trail of Ten Falls (56 miles / 1 hr 10 mins away)
- Trillium Lake (59.6 mi / 1 hr 19 min away)
- Rowena Crest (75 mi / 1 hr 20 min away)
- Cannon Beach (80 mi / 1 hr 30 min away)
- Kelly’s Brighton Marina, Oregon Coast Crabbing (89 mi / 1 h 51 min away)
- Timberline Lodge + Timberline Trail (62 mi / 1 hr 25 min away) – Also, best time to summit Hood: May – Mid-July
[ NOTE: The majority of the hikes in the Gorge are currently closed due to the Eagle Creek Fire. It will be a while until they clear out all the dead trees. ]
DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST
101 THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND MAP
Honorable mentions / knocked off the list:
- Dog Mountain Hike (worth it during spring when the Balsamroots are in full bloom)
TIPS FOR FIRST TIME VISITORS
- When to Visit: High season is mid-May to Oct, low season is January to March, and shoulder season is November to December and April to mid-May according to the Portland Oregon Visitors Association.
- Get a Car: You can get around via bikes, public transportation etc, but one of the best things about Portland is the easy access to outdoors. Check for Rental Cars here.
- What You Need to Know About Parking: If you are paying for street parking, you always have to put your ticket on the curbside window whether it’s the driver’s side or passenger side. You can still get a ticket if it’s in the wrong place.
- Public Transportation is Great in Portland. Between the MAX and the buses, you can get everywhere (as long as you don’t mind some walking). Some of our friends don’t own a car.
- Pack a Rain Coat: There are a lot of rainy days, though it’s more of a drizzle than a downpour. Rain doesn’t stop Portlanders from going out.
- There’s no sales tax in Oregon. Buy all your high ticket items here. We’re going to try to buy a new car here and definitely any new electronics we need.
- East Portland is the Most “Hipster” Part of Portland. That’s where a lot of Portlandia is based.
- Portland is the Beer Capital of the World. It has the most breweries in the metro area and the number of breweries continue to grow.
- Renting a car? It’s illegal to pump your own gas in Oregon. At first it was strange, but now it’s the best and we feel spoiled!
- 25 Free Things to Do in Portland
- Essential Portland Fine Dining Guide
- Best Day Trips from Portland
- Portland Breweries Bucket List
- The Ultimate Oregon Waterfalls Bucket List
- 10 Most Underrated Things to Do in Portland Oregon
- Walking Portland Oregon Guide
- 19 Things You Have to Explain to Out of Towners About Portland
- 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles of Portland Oregon
- Moon Oregon Handbook
STAYING IN PORTLAND? HERE ARE THE BEST HOTELS
All the accommodations below have Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence
- The Sentinel, Downtown (luxury)
- Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel, downtown (luxury) – pet friendly!
- Hotel Eastlund, NE Portland (mid-range)
- The Heathman Hotel, Downtown (mid-range)
- The Society Hotel, Old Town (budget)
READ REVIEWS AND FIND BEST PRICES
OTHER CITY BUCKET LISTS
Have you been to Portland?
Anything we’re missing or doesn’t deserve to stay on this list?