Things to Do – Portland, Oregon Travel Guide


A recent Money Magazine article named Portland as the number one place to live in America.

The reasons for the selection are manifold: growing industry, beautiful scenery, quality schools, walkable city blocks, a thriving cultural climate. But if you’re just visiting the city you might say, “so what!” What does the city offer for someone who is just passing through, looking to have a good time?

As I’ve experienced, some of the best places – solid communities, places you’d want to raise your children – can also be the most boring! But this is not the case with Portland. This respectable community also knows how to have a good time.

Portland’s list of things to do is as long as the Willamette River, and picking from the wide array of indoor and outdoor activities can be harder than climbing Mount Hood! If you’re only in town for a few days, the task of narrowing down your choices can be daunting. But fear not!

If you’re on a timeline, here’s a list of Portland’s top 10 things to do – but there’s plenty more. These are the events, sights and places that you just have to experience before you leave town. Drum roll please…

See the Portland Rose Garden.
When you visit Portland make sure you stop to smell the flowers. Portland is world-famous for the garden, and the variety of roses is breathtaking!
Check out the Garden online, too.

Shop NW 23RD and Hawthorne Boulevard.
In Portland, NW 23rd is more than just another street. It’s a long stretch of upper-end clothing stores (possibly the best shopping street in the NW) and amazing restaurants.

Hawthorne Boulevard is 23rd’s diametric opposite. Hawthorne is low-key, anti-yuppie and extremely earthy. And it’s more than just the vintage shopping, the specialty food or hip atmosphere that make Hawthorne worthwhile. Walking Hawthorne Boulevard is a totally unique experience. It gives you a glimpse of a whole subculture and a feel for the gritty nature of Portland.
Get a taste of Hawthorne.

Visit Powell’s Book Store.
Powell’s covers an entire city block and is the largest new/used bookstore in the world. Need I say more?
URL: www.powells.com
Or read what the guide says about Powells.

See the Chinese Gardens.
The largest garden of it’s kind outside of China. The Garden is a glimpse of ancient China and a serene experience.
URL: www.portlandchinesegarden.org
Or read what the guide says about the Gardens.

Visit the Pittock Mansion.
Situated high in the West Hills, this majestic marvel is well worth the drive. Built by one of Portland’s most prominent pioneers, Henry Pittock, the mansion is also a portal to the city’s history.
URL: www.pittockmansion.com

Drive the West Hills.
I know this sounds weird, and you won’t find this suggestion on any other guide, but Portland’s West Hills contain some amazing sights. You know the Everclear song with the line, “I will buy you that big house, way up in the West Hills”? Yep, Everclear is from Portland, and those are the same West Hills. The hills are littered with mansions and even have a couple castles. Be sure to check it out.

Take in a big-ticket event at the Rose Quarter.
Rock Concerts, NBA games, Figure Skating, the circus. Anything big in town happens at Portland’s newly built Stadium, The Rose Quarter. URL: www.rosequarter.com

Go to the Portland Saturday Market.
If your trip to Portland happens to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, make sure you check out the Portland Saturday Market! You’ll find a huge variety of arts and crafts from over 300 artisans in a fair-like atmosphere.
URL: www.portlandsaturdaymarket.com

Take a cruise down the Willamette River.
The Willamette River winds through the heart of Portland under a succession of beautiful bridges. An evening cruise down the river is about the best way I can think of to see the city.
Start your cruise online.

Hit First Thursday.
On the first Thursday of every month every art gallery in downtown opens for the evening and the streets flood with art lovers. But First Thursday is more than just an art affair. It’s a total social experience with most galleries providing refreshments and live music to encourage mingling. Also check it out online, any day of the month.

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