Want to get away for a weekend? Portland is a fantastic destination. Close to nature, with great food and friendly locals, it is one of the easiest places in the United States to feel completely at home within 48 hours.
A lot of people have been moving to Portland recently, and once you arrive, it won't be hard to see why. Check out our list of our favorite ten things to do in Portland so that you can really get a feel for the city. You'll thank us later!
Top 10 Things To Do On A Weekend In Portland
10. Eat Donuts Like the Locals
Most tourists have heard of Voodoo Doughnut and their unique designs, like the signature Voodoo Doll Doughnut. But if you’re at all familiar with Portland’s donut scene, you know there’s another place to get some of the best fried dough in Oregon. Blue Star Donuts features flavor-packed donuts like the Blueberry Bourbon Basil and the Marionberry Pepper Jam with Peanut Butter Powder. These donuts are so popular among locals that Blue Star has opened new locations in Tokyo and Los Angeles, and customers in those places seem to like the donuts just as much as the folks in Oregon.
9. Hike Multnomah Falls
Just a quick, 30-minute drive outside of Portland, Multnomah Falls boasts a beautiful, 611-foot cascade of water along the Historic Columbia River Highway. The waterfall can be seen from a footbridge that’s just a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. For an even better view, and a quick workout, hike the paved footpath to the Benson Bridge which lets visitors enjoy the first tier of the falls. Here, you will get a thrilling view of the 69-foot drop to the bottom of the falls. Once you’ve had your share of excitement at the falls, head to the Multnomah Lodge which houses a restaurant, gift shop, and additional hiking information.
8. Stroll Down Mississippi Avenue
On Mississippi Avenue, you used to see things like a non-profit dedicated to recycling building materials or grungy pizza joints. These days, you’ll find sleek new buildings and storefronts, as the street is home to over 40 restaurants, book shops, art galleries and more. If you’re visiting in the summer, you’re bound to come across the Street Fair, which takes place all day on one Saturday during July. This free, family-friendly festival brings together over 100 local businesses to the street to advertise and sell their products. Whether you’re in town for the Street Fair or just want a hip place to stroll, check out Mississippi Avenue.
7. Stop by the Kennedy School
While not an operating as a school these days, the Kennedy School is known as the best school in town. After it closed down, the McMenamin brothers purchased the building and converted it into a hotel and entertainment hub, one of their many endeavors. The Kennedy School features a “Detention” room, where guests can smoke cigars and cigarillos, a boiler room with a full bar and restaurant, and an onsite movie theater. All in all, the place has 4 bars to keep you lingering just a little longer. This unique space is one of the more than 30 locations across Oregon and Washington that the McMenamins have purchased to preserve the original architecture of the building. It’s definitely worth a visit!
6. Go on a Brewery Tour
Oregon is home to over 100 breweries, so what better way to spend the day in Portland than by visiting a few? BrewCycle Portland offers customers three different routes to choose from, the Northwest Route, the Old Town Route, and the Dive Bar Route. All in all, there are 7 breweries on these routes and two dive bars. Sign up for one of the tours and hop aboard a bicycle-style trolley fully equipped with a sound system and pedal your way to each stop. This two-hour tour will take you to some great parts of Portland. If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, try the company’s BrewBarge where customers hop on a pedal-powered 14-person vessel and cruise through the Willamette River. Bring your own beverages on this ride and you’ll get to enjoy them on the river with a gorgeous view of the city.
5. Try Outrageous Ice Cream
With flavors like Zucchini Bread with Chocolate Freckles, Caramel Corn on the Cob, and Pear and Blue Cheese, Salt and Straw has arguably become one of the best ice cream establishments in Portland. In fact, the place is so popular, locals line up for an excess of over an hour in the summer just to get their hands on some of this stuff. With their success, Salt and Straw has expanded to 4 locations within Portland and three locations in Los Angeles, with a fourth coming soon! Try their self-serve location in Portland at 126 SW 2nd Ave. for a unique experience of their dessert bar.
4. Drink at The Whiskey Library
Located in downtown Portland, The Whiskey Library is home to one of the most exhaustive collections of spirits in the city. The place holds over 1,200 bottles of booze and an incredibly intimate atmosphere to go along with it. The Library takes reservations from members only, and though the place is not taking new members at this time, you can still drop in and hope to get a table. Bookshelves, a fireplace, and leather chairs make the Library cozy and beckon visitors to sit down and have a drink.
3. Explore Portland Japanese Garden
The Garden is known internationally as a place to see the fall foliage, but the beauty of this place really extends into every season. In the spring, the Portland Japanese Garden celebrates the traditional springtime festivals, including Hina Matsuri, a festival that displays ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, and attendants of the Heian period. In the summer, the Garden sees its most tourists. Visitors flock here to hide out in the shade of the Garden’s trees, see the view of the Garden’s waterfalls, and even experience the grounds at night. This beautiful place is not one to be missed on your trip.
2. Enjoy the Attractions at Washington Park
If you have an entire day to spend, Washington Park can provide the perfect place to do so. With attractions including The Portland Zoo, The Portland Japanese Garden (as mentioned above), The International Rose Test Garden, and 15 miles of trails, this park has it all. Washington Park is one of the oldest parks in Portland, as it was originally purchased in 1871 and developed into what was then called “City Park.” The name was officially changed in 1909 after some changes in the architectural landscape were made to the space. The Rose Garden within the park is used primarily as testing grounds for new rose varieties, so you’re sure to see at least one type of rose you’ve never come across before.
1. Time Travel at Lewis and Clark National Historic Park
Not only does this park have a replica of Fort Clatsop, the winter encampment for explorers in the Corps of Discovery back in 1805, but it also boasts a trail leading from the fort to the sea that visitors can hike to retrace the steps of the explorers. In addition, the park also hosts events like the Lewis and Clark Trail Run, hands-on learning classes, and the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. The Interpretive Center is a great place for families to enjoy interactive exhibits that help put the explorers’ achievements into perspective. The park is located about 2 hours outside of downtown Portland.
This article was written by Julianne Aiello.