Portland, located between the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, is known for its natural beauty, great coffee, and craft beer — not to mention eco-minded, flannel-wearing hipsters (if you've seen Portlandia, you know of which we speak). But Portlanders can't be bothered with all that. Besides, they're too busy hiking beside waterfalls, sipping IPAs, and dining in award-winning restaurants that showcase the Pacific Northwest's diverse bounty. Here are the top things to do in Portland.
1. Hop Aboard the Aerial Tram
For a bird's-eye view of the city and, on a clear day, Mount Hood, take a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram, which goes back and forth from the South Waterfront district to Marquam Hill. It's a quick ride — just four minutes each way — so be sure to have your camera ready!
2. Explore Washington Park
You could spend several days in this Portland Japanese Garden and the International Rose Test Garden, you'll also find the Hoyt Arboretum and the Oregon Zoo (don't miss the Asian elephants and the California condors).and still not see everything. In addition to the
3. Museum-Hop Like a Pro
At the Portland Art Museum, check out the Native American collection, including masks and clothing from Northwest coastal tribes, then tour the French-Renaissance Pittock Mansion, built in 1914 for The Oregonian newspaper owner Henry Pittock.
4. Have Lunch in a Food Hall
Ready for lunch? Head to Pine Street Market, the city's first food hall. Housed in a historic 1886 building, stalls include Bless Your Heart Burgers, Marukin Ramen, and Wiz Bang Bar for delicious soft serve. You can also check out the recently opened Portland Food Hall.
5. Buy a Book at Powell's
Powell's City of Books is a must-see when visiting Portland. This independent bookstore, which takes up an entire city block, has been in business since 1971, and it sells more than a million new and used books. It's impossible to leave here without buying something.
6. Take a Coffee Break
Portland is famous for its coffee. Stumptown was founded here, and another top spot to get your caffeine fix is Coava Coffee Roasters. Not only does this Portland coffee shop brew exclusive single-origin coffees, but it shares an industrial-chic space with a woodworking studio.
7. Shop at the Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market, in Tom McCall Waterfront Park, is one of the largest open-air arts and crafts markets in the country (it's open on Sundays, too!). Shop for everything from handcrafted soaps to glass art and beaded jewelry, and nosh on exotic fare at the many food stalls.
8. Check out Pioneer Square
There's always something happening in downtown's Pioneer Courthouse Square, the city's main urban park, affectionally known as "Portland's living room." Throughout the year, more than 300 events take place here, including a summertime movie series and the Christmas tree lighting.
9. Don't Miss the Donuts!
Portland has plenty of fabulous donut shops, but trying one from Voodoo is a must. There are several branches, but the original is right in downtown. Try a classic, like the bacon maple bar or the Portland cream. At Blue Star, another top PDX donut shop, feast on yummy flavors like lemon poppy and chocolate almond ganache.
10. Check Out the Craft Beer Scene
There are so many good places for craft beer, it's hard to narrow it down, but the Pearl District has a few fun ones like Deschutes Brewery & Public House, 10 Barrel Brewing Co., and BridgePort Brewery, which is considered Portland's first craft brewery (it opened way back in 1984).
11. Hike in Forest Park
You won't be lacking for outdoor adventures while in Portland. Forest Park, just west of downtown, is a large city park filled with 70 miles of scenic hiking trails. Walk a portion of the popular 30-mile Wildwood Trail, where you'll pass Douglas fir and big-leaf maple trees.
12. Listen to Live Music
Portland has plenty of hotspots to catch some indie music, including the retro-chic Doug Fir Lounge, at the trendy Jupiter Hotel, and Mississippi Studios, a concert venue in a former Baptist church — pre- or post-show have a drink in the venue's beer garden called Bar Bar.
13. Take a Day Trip
Immerse yourself in Pacific Northwest scenery by taking a day trip to the Columbia River Gorge, known for its 90 waterfalls, including Multnomah Falls. Continue on to 11,249-foot Mount Hood, Oregon's tallest peak — while you're there, be sure to visit historic Timberline Lodge.
14. Tour Nearby Wineries
Less than an hour's drive from Portland is the Willamette Valley, with more than 250 wineries. Have a tasting at Erath Winery, known for its pinot noir and pinot gris wines, and after a tour of the winery and vineyards at Sokol Blosser, sample pinot noirs and rieslings on the outdoor deck.
15. Dine in a Gabriel Rucker Restaurant
One of Portland's top chefs is Gabriel Rucker. He has several restaurants around town, including downtown's Little Bird for traditional bistro fare and the East Side's Le Pigeon, serving more adventurous French-inspired cuisine (his latest, Canard, opened this past April).
16. Stay in a Room With Award-Winning Artwork
Rooms at the Hotel Lucia, a stylish Portland hotel in the Pearl District, feature photographs from Pulitzer Prize-winning artist and Portland native David Hume Kennerly. Another perk offered by the hotel is a free craft beer hour in the lobby starting at 5:30 p.m.
17. Sip Small-Batch Whiskey
If you want to sample all manner of whiskey, spend some time in downtown's Multnomah Whiskey Library, which offers the largest selection of the spirit in PDX. Expect a cozy spot with exposed brick, leather couches, and bartenders who'll make your cocktail tableside.
18. Shop Local
All the products sold within MadeHere PDX shops (there are three of them) are made within the greater Portland area. Currently, it carries more than 200 brands, including Jasmine Pearl Tea, Cascadia Candle, Caravan Pacific lamps, and Woolly wallets.
19. Kayak on the Willamette River
The Portland Kayak Company has everything you need for an active day out on the water. You can rent kayaks here, or sign up for a tour on the Willamette River, which takes you around Ross Island. Keep an eye out for blue herons, bald eagles, and ospreys.
20. Overnight in a Historic Hotel
The Heathman Hotel, which dates back to 1927, is one of Portland's most historic and beloved properties. One of its traditions, afternoon tea in the Tea Court, is still available, and there are also 150 pet-friendly rooms, a well-stocked library, and Headwaters Restaurant, serving Pacific Northwest seafood.
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