Ultimate Portland Bucket List (101 Things to Do in Portland)

Ultimate Portland Bucket List (101 Things to Do in Portland)

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.

101 Things to Do in Portland Oregon

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Last Updated: June 24, 2020

THE ULTIMATE NYC BUCKET LIST (101 Unique Things to Do in New York City)

Tourist Attractions

Take your photo at the photo booth.

  1. The Belmont Goats

Pet goats for free!

  1. Glowing Greens Putt Putt

Indoor pirate-themed course for mini-golf played under black lights.

Christmas lights during the holidays.

(Washington Park) The best month to go is usually June.

  1. Keep Portland Weird Sign(s)

(Flatiron District) another iconic and historic landmark

Keep Portland Weird Sign + Best Places to Take Pictures in Portland Oregon // localadventurer.com
The Ace Hotel Portland Oregon + 25 Best Instagram Spots in Portland
  1. Lan Su Chinese Garden

Admission includes the garden, Chinese Teahouse, public tours and events and activities during regular hours.

  1. Portland Aerial Tram

For commuters to OHSU but has great views at the top.

  1. Portland Japanese Garden

(Washington Park) Beautiful Japanese maples in the Fall.

  1. Powell’s Books

World’s largest independent bookstore.

Powells City of Books (+ 25 Free Things to Do in Portland Oregon) // localadventurer.com
Powells Books (+ 25 Free Things to Do in Portland Oregon) // localadventurer.com
  1. McMenamins Kennedy School

Watch a movie or stay overnight

  1. Oregon Zoo

(Washington Park) Oldest zoo west of the Mississippi River.

  1. Paul Bunyan Statue

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in January 2009.

Historic home and one of our favorite views of the city.

  1. The Shanghai Tunnels of Portland

The old Portland underground, mostly under Chinatown. Go on a tour to check it out.

  1. Voodoo Doughnuts or Voodoo Too

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.

Voodoo Doughnut + Your Guide to the Best Portland Murals // Local Adventurer #pdx #portland #oregon #traveloregon

Museums + Memorials

  1. First Thursday Art Walk

Or the Last Thursday on Alberta Art Walk.

  1. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

On the Vancouver WA side.

Oddities museum and unique art gallery.

  1. The Hat Museum

90 minute tour guided by a docent who is an expert in the the history of hats.

  1. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Three auditoriums, a large-screen theatre, planetarium, and exhibition halls.

  1. Portland’s Children Museum

(Washington Park) Adult visitors must be accompanied by children.

  1. Portland Art Museum

Free admission on the first Thursday of every month from 5–8pm.

Over 100 vacuums from the late-1800s to the 1960s. Admission is free.

  1. World Forestry Center

(Washington Park) Learn about the world’s forests and trees and sustainable living.

Urban Parks + Outdoors

  1. Cathedral Park

Located under St. Johns Bridge. Great photo op.

  1. Council Crest Park

Unpaved hiking paths, a dog off-leash area, and a cool view point.

  1. Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

Huge trees, variety of shrubs and flowers.

  1. Eastbank Esplanade

Pedestrian and bicycle path along the east shore of the Willamette River.

  1. Elk Rock Garden

Great photo op. No public restrooms at the garden!

  1. Hoyt Arboretum

(Washington Park) Open 365 days a year, free admission.

  1. Ira Keller Forecourt Fountain Park

Beautiful urban fountain.

  1. Mount Tabor Park

Check out the dead Volcano.

Try indoor rock climbing or join one of their outdoor field trips.

  1. Rent a Bike

Easiest ones to find all over are Biketown.

  1. Rocky Butte Park

Joseph Wood Hill Park at Rocky Butte is the highest point.

  1. Skidmore Bluffs

Mocks Crest Park

  1. Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Best during cherry blossom season.

  1. Forest Park

Forest Park is the largest park within city limits. Take the short hike to Witch’s Castle.

Biking Portland (+ 25 Free Things to Do in Portland Oregon) // localadventurer.com
Biking Portland (+ 25 Free Things to Do in Portland Oregon) // localadventurer.com

Shopping

  1. Pick Fruit at Columbia Farms

Where locals go to shop.

More of a touristy market.

  1. New Seasons Market

Like Whole Foods but on a new level.

Events + Shows + Venues

  1. Aladdin Theater

Revived as a classic movie and live music venue.

  1. Dive-in Movies

Catch a movie either from the pool deck or while floating in the pool itself.

Take curling lessons.

Live music, balloon glow in the evening.

  1. McMenamins Crystal Ballroom

Dance revivals were held here through the Great Depression.

  1. The Naked Bike Ride

Happens in June. Be sure to wear a helmet!

  1. Oregon Brewers Festival

Usually in July. It’s a craft beer destination.

On the west side of Mt. Tabor, historically on the third Saturday of August.

  1. Portland Meadows

Go see a horse race.

  1. Providence Park

Watch a Timbers Game.

  1. Rose City Rollers

Roller Derby – they were the 2016 International Champions.

  1. Rose Quarter Moda Center

Catch a Portland Trail Blazers game.

  1. Top Down: Rooftop Cinema

Free 2-hour street parking.

Food + Drink

  1. Brewery Tour

Or try drinking through all the Portland Breweries.

  1. 180 Xurros

Where locals go to shop.

  1. Apizza Scholls

Our fave pizza spot so far.

  1. Ava Gene’s

Get the Buzzy Babka Waffles.

  1. Aviary

Electric European small plates in an artsy, industrial setting.

  1. Beast

Meat heavy, prix fixe six-course, with selections changing weekly depending on what is in season.

Blue Star Donuts and Coffee (+ The Ultimate Portland Food Bucket List - 49 Best Places to Eat from cheap eats to fine dining and everything in between) // localadventurer.com
  1. Blue Star Donuts

That blueberry bourbon basil <3 but can be hit or miss.

  1. Castagna

Progressive fine dining.

  1. Coco Donuts

Try the lavender donut!

  1. Farm Spirit

Great vegan option, but we really enjoyed it as non-vegetarians.

  1. Hair of the Dog Brewing Co
  1. Heart Coffee

Other local favorites: Good C.offee, Barista, Water Ave, Coava

  1. McMenamins Bagdad Theater

BrewPub Movie Theater.

  1. Multnomah Whiskey Library

Only Mondays are open to the public.

  1. Nong’s Khao Man Gai’s Chicken and Rice

We frequented this spot.

  1. Olympia Provisions

Portlandia was filmed here.

  1. Ichiza Kitchen

Sake, tea, asian flare. Portland Eater’s 38 Essential Restaurants, Winter 2020.

  1. PDX Sliders

The Hawthorne is our fave.

  1. Pine State Biscuit

Made from scratch buttermilk biscuits and fixin’s.

Pips Original Doughnuts & Chai Portland Oregon // localadventurer.com
Pips Original Doughnuts & Chai Portland Oregon // localadventurer.com
  1. Pip’s Original

Get the flight of chai tea. The doughnuts can sometimes be over-fried.

For tea flights!

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Get the passport so you can visit a bunch!

  1. 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.

  1. Screen Door

Brunch: chicken + waffles are good, but the praline bacon – mouthwatering!

  1. Tasty n Alder or Tasty n Daughters

Innocative steak concepts, American brunch that’s worth the long wait on weekends.

  1. Toro Bravo

Lively spot, Spanish small plates and wines.

  1. Stumptown Coffee Roasters Flagship Cafe

The flagship store is at SE 45th and Division.

Stumptown Coffee (101 Things to Do in Portland Oregon).

Day Trips

  1. Clackamas River Trail

(13 miles / 25 mins) Visit early, pretty crowded by mid day.

  1. Oregon Lavender Farm

(21 miles / 34 mins away) Check out the Aromatic Herb Garden which contains numerous herbs.

(30 miles / 35 mins away) Currently closed as of April 2020, due to Eagle Creek fires.

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn Oregon // Local Adventurer

(26.7 miles / 25 mins away) Great views of the gorge from Angels Rest summit.

  1. Multnomah Falls

(30 miles / 35 mins away) A moderate, 2.2-mile hike with 700 feet of elevation gain to the top of the falls.

(30 miles / 35 mins away) One of the most photogenic falls of the gorge.

(36 miles / 36 mins away) Easy hike, can get a little crowded.

  1. Horsetail Falls and Ponytail Falls

(36 miles / 38 mins away) Be careful with younger kids, trail can be a little narrow.

(36 miles / 45 mins away) Vast variety of tulips and daffodils.

(39 miles / 40 mins away) Day use fee of $5/vehicle/day.

(56 miles / 1 hr 10 mins away) Moderate trails. As you get closer to the falls, expect muddy footing.

(59.6 mi / 1 hr 19 min away) Tons of activities year round.

(75 mi / 1 hr 20 min away) Landmark viewpoint, visit early to beat the crowds.

  1. Cannon Beach

(80 mi / 1 hr 30 min away) Made famous by movies such as The Goonies, Point Break, and Twilight.

(89 mi / 1 h 51 min away) Some of the best crabs we’ve ever eaten. If you chose to go crabbing, pricing is $100 for 2 hrs.

  1. Timberline Lodge + Timberline Trail

(62 mi / 1 hr 25 min away) Also, best time to summit Hood: May – Mid-July

DOWNLOAD THE CHECKLIST

101 THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND MAP

Honorable mentions / knocked off the list

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!

STAYING IN PORTLAND? HERE ARE THE BEST HOTELS

All the accommodations below have Tripadvisor’s Certificate of Excellence

Have you been to Portland? Anything we’re missing or doesn’t deserve to stay on this list?

Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later

101 Things to Do in Portland Oregon - the Ultimate Portland Bucket List - from the touristy spots everyone has to do at least once to the spots a little more off the beaten path. // localadventurer.com

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Portland OR.

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