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Portland is Oregon’s largest city and a vibrant destination in the Pacific Northwest that is definitely worth a visit. The “City of Roses” offers both big-city excitement but still maintains a small town charm.

Sitting in the shadows of the iconic Mt. Hood, Portland is well-known for its eco-friendliness, parks and bike paths, microbreweries and for being one of the best foodie cities in America. 

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood. Photo by Doc Searls via Flickr CC

Boasting some of the greenest urban policies in the country, and its urban parks and laid-back vibe, Portland is the perfect getaway for the eco-conscious traveler.

Best Time to Visit Portland

While the city is welcoming year round, and each season has something different to offer, the best weather is found between the months of June and August when skies are sunny and temperatures are warm.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Cityscape of Portland
Portland, OR. Photo by Jeff Gunn via Flickr CC

However, with the best weather comes peak tourist season and pricey accommodations. Those who are traveling on a budget may want to consider the shoulder season, between March-May and September-November. Temperatures are still mild, and showers are scattered.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: bike in Portland
Bike Portland by Kai Ward via Flickr CC

December-February is rainy season, so hotels often cut their prices by up to 50%. Those looking to travel on the cheap may consider this as a good time to visit, and Mt. Hood, Oregon’s highest peak, is a good day trip for winter enthusiasts.

Top Things to Do In Portland Oregon

Portland is the perfect destination for nature lovers, with almost 30% of the city’s land covered by tree canopy. Portland also has one of the best urban park systems in the country so you don’t need to leave the city limits to explore the great outdoors.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Inner Garden at Tea House
Inner Garden at Tea House. Photo by Barry Caruth via Flickr CC

The following parks are worth a visit during your time in Portland.

  • Washington Park
  • International Rose Test Garden
  • Forest Park
  • Waterfront Park
  • Mt. Tabor City Park

Explore Downtown Portland and the Neighboring Pearl District

Downtown Portland, also known as the “City Center”, is the city’s most densely built area. This neighborhood offers walkable streets, beautiful hill and river views and is home to many small parks and squares.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: N-S Line in Porrtland downtown
N-S Line. Photo by Ian Sane via Flickr CC

During your visit, make sure to have some fun in “Portland’s Living Room” also known as Pioneer Courthouse Square. Situated in the center of downtown and comprised of over 40,000 square feet, Portland’s Living Room is the perfect spot to hang out with your friends and people watch.

The space is home to interesting features such as an outdoor chess table and cascading fountain, along with the official visitor center of Portland, and dining options in the form of food carts which should come as no surprise.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Jamison Square Portland
Photo via The Inn @ Northrup Station

Pioneer Courthouse Square offers more than 300 programmed event days each year and has been recognized as one of the most successful public spaces in the country. Continue along to Pearl District, an artsy extension of downtown where you’ll find numerous galleries, coffee shops and independent boutiques.

Breweries

A visit to Portland wouldn’t be complete without stopping at one (or several) of Portland’s breweries. Featuring 75+ breweries, and home to more breweries than any other city in the world, it is only fitting that Portland has received the nickname ‘Beerlandia’.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: beer brewery tour

The breweries listed below by neighborhood are just a few worth checking out during your time in Portland.

  • Deschutes – Downtown Portland
  • Burnside Brewing Company – Lloyd District
  • Breakside Brewery – Northwest Portland
  • Rogue Eastside Pub & Pilot Brewery – East Portland
  • Cascade Barrel Brewing House – East Portland

Where to Stay in Portland

Portland is a unique city with a variety of distinct neighborhoods so there are a lot of options when it comes to deciding on a place to stay. First-time visitors to Portland should stay in one of the three following neighborhoods: Downtown Portland, Pearl District or Northwest Portland/Nob Hill.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Mornings in Portland
Good Morning Portland. Photo by Ian Sane via Flickr CC

Downtown Portland

If you want to stay in the downtown area, be sure to check out Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland. This luxury boutique hotel was the perfect place to stay thanks to the hotel’s attentive service and to-be-desired location.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Kimpton Hotel
Photo via Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland

This hotel is also perfect for the eco-conscious traveler. Kimpton was the first hotel brand to become 100% certified by the green key Eco-Rating Program. Kimpton has implemented over 100 practices to its hotels and restaurants to make the world a better place. The hotel uses non-toxic cleaning supplies, recycles extensively and minimizes water consumption to name a few of its eco-friendly practices.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Kimpton Hotel
Photo via Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland

Downtown Portland is a great neighborhood to stay in during your visit, as the area is compact and walkable allowing for convenient access to great restaurants and bars, galleries and cultural establishments, farmers markets and green spaces.

Pearl District

Located close to Downtown Portland, the Pearl District is the perfect example of urban renewal. This area of town which was once known for its industrial warehouses and abandoned railroad yards is now home to some of the city’s best dining, shopping and sought-after activities.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: bicylces in Portland
Photo via The Inn @ Northrup Station

Explore this vibrant neighborhood by bike with one of Cycle Portland’s many tours including Essential Portland, the company’s signature tour, Brews Cruise, a mellow ride featuring stops at some of the city’s world-class breweries or Foodie Field Trip as you explore Portland’s bustling culinary scene.

There are plenty of eco-friendly options when it comes to accommodations, such as Oakland Portland Pearl District or Hampton Inn and Suites by Hilton Portland-Pearl District

Find and book the hotels mentioned on our favourite accommodation search website: Booking.com

Northwest Portland/Nob Hill

This sophisticated neighborhood is the perfect mix of old Portland charm combined with trendy new boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Also, perfect for the nature-loving traveler, Northwest Portland is home to Forest Park, an urban wilderness that covers more than 5,000 acres and offers over 70 miles of trails for runners and hikers.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: The Inn King Suite
Photo via The Inn @ Northrup Station

The Inn @ Northrup Station located in Northwest Portland is ranked as one of the best hotels in the city and promises to provide you with a unique hotel experience.

From the hotel exterior reflecting the character of Northwest Portland to the interior featuring original artwork from local artists, this boutique hotel is worth a visit. A landscaped rooftop terrace is the perfect place to unwind after a day of exploring the city.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: The Inn outdoor patio
Photo via The Inn @ Northrup Station

Another great alternative for accommodation in Portland is Airbnb, where private rooms start at $50 a night and offer a unique way to experience the city from a more local perspective.

Don’t have an Airbnb account yet? Sign up now and receive a discount to put towards your first Airbnb stay!

Where to Eat and Drink in Portland

Portland, Oregon is a food lover’s paradise and has been long before the rest of the country was infatuated with the farm-to-table movement, international food carts and gourmet donuts. With so many dining options, Portland is easily one of the most interesting places in the country to eat.

Portland is home to more than 600 food carts, so it should be no surprise that the city has some of the best street food in the world.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Food Carts Pioneer Square
Food Carts, Pioneer Square. Photo by InSapphoWeTrust via Flickr CC

While staying in Portland, check out VooDoo Doughnut, where you’ll find every unusual-flavored donut you’ve ever dreamed of.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Voodoo Doughnuts
Photo via The Inn @Northrup Station

One of the best things about Portland’s dining scene is that it is a very friendly city – in the sense that the restaurants cater to all sorts of dietary preferences and restrictions, including those who follow a plant-based diet. Check out 17 of the best vegan approved restaurants in the city.

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Le Pigeon restaurant
Enjoy a meal at Le Pigeon via Le Pigeon website

While the options above are just a few of the hot spots in the city, Portland is well-known for many affordable and delicious restaurants. For the best of the best, check out the 38 Essential Portland restaurants this season.

READ NEXT: 6 Best Day Trips from Portland, Oregon

How Much Time Do You Need in Portland?

Portland is a city that one can comfortably explore in 3 days or so. For those who like to travel at a slower pace and are interested in exploring some of the areas outside of Portland like Mt. Hood National Forest or Bend, Oregon, I recommend adding a few extra days to your trip. 

Things to do in Portland Oregon: Fireworks over Portland
Fireworks over Portland, Oregon. Photo by Ryan Harvey via Flickr CC

If Portland has ever been on your radar as a destination to visit, then hopefully this city guide has inspired you to plan your trip. With an incredible food and beverage scene, world-class culture and arts, and the great outdoors right at your fingertips, Portland is a city that will give you what you are looking for, regardless of what kind of traveler you are!  

Can you think of anything else to add on things to do in Portland? Let us know in the comment section below!

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