15 Fun and cool things to do in Portland- Must try adventures

A guide to the most fun, quirky, and adventurous things to do in Portland. Don’t miss any place. Let’s explore! 

Portland is always on top of tourists’ minds for some adventure, cool, and perfect places to enjoy. Its popularity starts with doughnuts and ends with hidden gems to explore. 

A city, which is cool, dazzling, foodie, and blessed with nature. You can have endless things to do in Portland. With its image as a perfect destination for tourists, you can explore mouth-watering foods in Portland. 

While if you choose to hike in Portland or enjoy its dazzling city or get your hands on Donuts. We are here with some hidden tips and secrets of Portland that will put an extra stretch to your smile.  

Portland is keeping its fun and excitement on top in intermingling nature treats for you. 

Let’s start with a perfect plan for you to munch on the best things to do in Portland. 

  • 1- Hike near Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall  
  • 2- Hike to the “Witch’s Castle”
  • 3- Enjoy Portland’s famous eateries(Food Tour)
  • 4- Explore and hike at “Forest Park”
  • 5- Shop at the famous “Portland Saturday Market”
  • 6- Enjoy the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden.
  • 7- See Pittock Mansion
  • 8- Relax at Laurelhurst Park or Washington Park
  • 9- Visit the Portland Art Museum 
  • 10- Explore the Mississippi Neighborhood
  • 11- Visit Shanghai Tunnels in Portland 
  • 12- Browse at Powell’s City of Books
  • 13- Visit Portland International Rose Test Garden
  • 14- Visit Oregon Zoo to see 2600 types of animals
  • 15- Visit Lan Su Chinese Garden

1- Hike near Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall  

Hiking and trailing in area of River Gorge is one of the best things to do in Portland
Autumn leaves litter the banks of Bridal Veil Creek in the Columbia River Gorge

River Gorge is 30 miles (48 km) east of Portland, it’s major attraction in Portland. Largest scenic area which is full of waterfalls, scenic vistas, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. 

Ideal destination for tourists in Portland, that’s why it’s on top of our list. The most amazing thing about the place is it has plenty of food options if you get hungry. 

The viewpoints are beautiful and calming. One can have a refreshing day in Columbia River Gorge. The place itself have 100s of fun things for you. 

Start by a long drive along scenic roadway of the U.S. Don’t miss to capture the beautiful landmarks that fall on the way. Multnomah Falls, the Bonneville Lock and Dam, and the Bridge of the Gods are some unknown and beautiful attractions you can capture. 

After this long drive along the beautiful landscapes, you can Enjoy the views from top. Trust me nothing is amazing than this view. Vista House and Crown Point let you take a top view of the Columbia River. With the heart melting beautiful and freshness of nature you will instantly forget all your worries here. 

Columbia River brings you amazing opportunities to enjoy water sports. Tourists have fun windsurfing, standup paddle boarding, and others. The fun at the Hood River is never ending. To relax more enjoy the Yoga class that will help you to rejuvenate. 

After enjoying some water sports, you have an amazing spot that is Oregon’s Tallest Waterfall- Multnomah Falls. Beautiful and Salmon Swim Upstream. 

Why visit? 

Th place is most famous for its fun and beautiful landmarks. One should plan a 2-3 day trip to enjoy this huge place completely. This place is always on top of tourists rating being most fun for a vacation. With its refreshing sites and landmarks, no doubt it’s one of the best places to visit in Portland. It has endless things to do in Portland. 

Things to do in Portland, Columbia River Gorge-

2- Hike to the “Witch’s Castle” 

Witch Castle is one of the top attractions in Portland and Forest Park

Blend of creepy and cool things to do in Portland on our list. Goofy stories around the Castle. Locally one of the most popular for hikers. 

Dive into its story to explore more. Here is where the interesting part is hidden. A story of mystery, haunt and murder. The place will be cool for adventurous people. 

About a 5-minute drive from downtown, the castle attracts a huge crowd for its weirdness and fun. You will see many families heading here with a picnic box. Best for hiking, running, dogs walk, and peaceful time. 

Why visit? 

The house and the land of the forest are covered with mysterious clouds. The house was once a relaxing stop for hikers. It was never a house. Stories and young teens made this place a hub for late-night parties and fun, now popular as “Witch’s Castle”. 

Pack your hiking trails essentials to explore this most fun site in Portland. Right next to the riverbank, you will find the Witch’s Castle. 

Things to do in Portland, Witch’s Castle-

Hiking, running, picnic, explore the site, Visit Upper Macleay park, Film a short horror movie for fun, Explore the beauty of Forest Park. 

3- Enjoy Portland’s famous eateries(Food Tour)  

Popular Voodoo Donuts of Portland. Food tours in Portland
Various colorful donuts on blue background, top view

Portland and its Donuts have a whole different love story. From social media to Google all witness the breeze of Portland’s Donut love. 

Well, other famous eateries and food trucks are also amazing. But, Voodoo Donuts need a special mention here. 

Do try the famous maple and bubblegum Donuts. Must try those cream-filled phallic doughnuts that taste like heaven in the mouth. Voodoo serves well with their motto- “magic in the hole”. 

Portland has other tasty options for you. Wineries being the most famous, also try the taste of handmade pasta of Portland. Bao buns and crepes are one of the favourites of people here. You will find many food trucks offering the most amazing foods. 

Blue Star Donuts is the choice of locals. Some mostly prefer to eat Donuts from Voodoo but some locals prefer Blue Star Donuts. Because some believe Voodoo is for tourists. 

Why a food tour? 

Portland has an amazing range of cuisine with seafood, chicken and wines being the favourite of all. Smoked chicken to shrimp wrapped in betel leaves is most tasty. Try your hands on the Fried chicken combo of Hat Yai. On the other hand, Reggie is best for breakfast. With bacon, cheese and BBQ grills you will have an amazing treat in Portland. 

While in Portland, you must try Potatoes Bravas, pork and chive dumplings. 

Things to do in Portland, Food tour-
Must try food trucks, Voodoo Donuts, Shrimp and BBQ chicken of Hat Yai, Dumplings and Pork of Portland, Bao buns and crepes. 

4- Explore and hike at “Forest Park” 

Forest Park in Portland offers best things to do in Portland. With adventure and fun. Activities in Portland.

Forest Park is ready to pull you inside the beautiful forest of lush green trees. It’s the nation’s largest Urban Park and the pride of all Portlanders. Beautifully coated with green trees and a small curvy path stretching from the middle. 

Spread over 5,000 acres, with 70 miles of hiking and biking trails. Willamette River is the main attraction with sprawling waters. 

Just take a short hike in the park and you will be appreciating Portland’s beauty. 

One can stroll, hike, ride a bike, or enjoy the serenity in these woods. 

Don’t forget Ridge Trail. It lets you glimpse most photogenic bridges. Tolinda Trail to Waterline is ideal for girls hikers as it organises a Camp Fire Girls camp. 

While you are in Forest Park, don’t miss out on its most famous attraction- “The Witch’s Castle”. All in all, it’s one of the best things to do in Portland for all tourists and hikers. 

Why visit? 

No doubt it’s best for hikers, but that’s not it. It lets you explore the beauty and serenity of nature. You can set a picnic here at the park or come to just stroll around. 

Maple Trail Loop, Lower MacLeay, Tolinda Trail, Ridge Trail being the most fun sites here. 

Things to do in Portland, Forest Park-

Explore Trail loops, hike in the park, visit “Witch’s Castle”, Visit Shanghai Tunnels, Take tour to popular sites, Visit Washington Park, Visit popular bridges, take Ariel view from top peaks.

5- Shop at the famous “Portland Saturday Market”

Saturday Market is one of the most famous market of Portland

Largest and most popular for operating arts-and-crafts fair in United States. Portland’s Saturday Market is also popular for amazing concerts and fairs. The market is totally fun for a tourist. 

The market is huge with almost 750,000 visitors coming yearly. The market is in glory during festivals, especially during Christmas. 

One can shop for wares handcrafted, themed apparel, ceramics, home décor and photography. It’s popular for clothes, food, furniture, and much more. 

Around the year it attracts huge crowds, especially tourists. The place is at its peak during Festival of last minute. Which is a weeklong version of the market that runs through Christmas Eve. Operating since 1974, is one of the most popular shopping destinations for locals. It’s one of the top things to do in Portland for fun day. 

There are lot other things to do near Saturday Market. You can visit Ankeny Plaza which is 1 minute distance from Saturday Market. Cycle Portland is another best things to do in Portland. Visit Skidmore Fountain to see some showers of water in cool evening. Or else enjoy the cool beer treat at BeerQuest. 

The place is all in all one entertainment especially during festivals. There are many other tourists destinations here as well. 

Why visit?

The market is most fun for tourists in Portland. Especially during festivals. The place is illuminated with beautiful lights during festivals. You will have many things to do here other than just shopping.

Things to do in Portland, Saturday Market-

Shop for antiques, gifts, furniture, clothes, food and much more in Saturday Market.

6- Enjoy the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden. 

Famous Japanese Garden of Portland which offers endless fun activities to do in Portland for Culture lovers.

The most authentic Garden of Japan will make you believe that you are in Japan. Was made as a symbol of peace after World War II. 

Spread over 12 acres, it offers a view of beautiful waters, trees, waterfalls, walking paths and much more. 

Tourists enjoy walking and exploring the Cultural Village. The village is designed by a famous architect-Kengo Kuma. The Village is home to many festivals like traditional Japanese arts, activities, performances, and demonstrations. 

You will find many tourists wearing Kimono(Japanese Traditional wear). You can go on the tour, visit exhibitions, or enjoy the authentic tea at Umami café. 

Why visit?  

Japanese Garden is one of the best things to do in Portland. The Garden contains traditional gazebos, waterfalls, ponds, Zen sand gardens, and lots of walking paths. People enjoy walking on the Zen sand or Dry sand structure. 

Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden are nearby which makes it easy for tourists to visit both landmarks of Portland. 

Things to do in Portland, Japanese Garden-

Explore Japanese Garden, Do things of Japanese culture, Wear Kimono, Taste Japanese snacks, walk around the calming bridge, watch performance related to Japan and it’s culture.

7- See Pittock Mansion 

Famous renaissance style mansion of Portland. Amazing mansion has lots of things to do in Portland for you.

Another destination in Portland that holds grounds in tourists mind. A beautiful mansion built in 1914 inspired by a French Renaissance–style mansion. 

The mansion is 16,000-square with 46 rooms and designed with a Turkish smoking room, a library, a music room, and two sleeping porches, among other features. 

Considered as Historic artwork,  of its beautiful artwork and furniture. Start your journey by exploring the grounds or instead take guided tours. You can do many things in the mansion. Also, stop by the gift shop nearby. After exploring the mansion you can relax in the public park. If you take any tourists to guide you will also get Forest Park on your list. Cause forest park and Pittock Mansion are close to each other. 

Why visit? 

Pittock Mansion is best for exploring the historic sites of England. The mansion holds small features of Renaissance-style houses. The stunning mansion is none less than a palace. The palace exhibits showcasing art, artefacts, photographs and more that inform visitors. During Christmas, the place is dazzled with beautiful lights that stop the gaze of many. Try this place if you are in Portland during Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. 

Things to do in Portland, Pittock Mansion- 

Explore the whole mansion, picnic near the palace, Visit showcasing artworks, Take trips to other popular sites of Portland. 

8- Relax at Laurelhurst Park or Washington Park 

Washington Park is best known for its Serene waters and Beautiful scenery.
Aerial shot taken from above Washington Park in Portland, Oregon, looking across two reservoirs towards the downtown area.

Washington Park is adding into Portland’s beauty since 1871. The park is itself a home to many other tourist attractions. 

Situated in downtown Portland, it’s home to most beautiful park, with a zoo, rose garden, a musuem, a Japanese Garden and much more. 

The famous Oregon zoo is situated in Washington Park. Such noteworthy destinations make it an ideal and must visit place in Portland. These park is one family friendly pack for all tourists. Children’s museum is the most appealing features for childrens. To learn several things and leisurely stroll down one of the many shady paths is most likely thing. One can do several things here. Oregon zoo is home to 2600 species of animals. The zoo itself has a different level of fandom. From polar bears to tigers the zoo is best for kuds. Visiting zoo is itself one of the best things to do in Portland. 

Why visit?

The famous Rose Test Garden is in Washington Park. Japanese Garden which is the best garden of all is also situated here. The place has endless things to do for fun in itself. No doubt it’s one of the best places to visit in Portland anyone would suggest. 

Things to do in Portland, Washington Park

Visit Washington Park, Oregon zoo, Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, and other attractions nearby.

9- Visit the Portland Art Museum 

Portland Art Museum is one destination for strong Native American and Northwest collections. 

Largest art museum in Oregon with a large and wide-ranging collection of art. Since 1892, the museum has been used to showcase exhibitions and artworks. The museum has huge prints and drawings collections and art forms. It attracts huge number of people interested in art and culture. 

5,000 ancient and 200 ancient tribes sets the bar high for tourists visiting the musuem. Many visitors totally fall for the art of Portland. No doubt it’s one of the best things to do in Portland. The museum is open for visitors from Tuesday to Sunday. It’s one of the best places to visit in Portland for kids. 

Why visit?

Portland’s Art Museum is top attractions to visit in Portland. The Musuem carries the culture of America, Japan, and other countries. The artworks are truly admirable and alluring.

One can visit this museum or attend exhibitions and artwork event. Mostly the ticket charge is from $20. Dive into the art of Asia, America and Japan in here.

Things to do in Portland, At Museum-

Attend Events, See artworks of great artisan, Take tour of other Portland’s attractions.

10- Explore the Mississippi Neighborhood

Famous food of Portland
A delicious barbecue pulled pork sandwich at Portland, Maine’s Salvage Barbecue restaurant.

Mississippi is one of the trendy area of Portland, with fancy shops, quirky bars and houses turned into trendy restaurants. The neighborhood is known for its food and flavours. You cannot leave Portland without tasting delicious food from the Mississippi area. 

Tacos of “Por Que No Taqueria” are Portlanders favourite. Try their tacos or signature margaritas. 

It’s just not about the food!!! This neighborhood has much more fun for you. Explore the brunch spots and cools bars with loads of atmosphere along Mississippi Ave Portland. 

Visit eccentric shops, Sunlan Lighting, and The Rebuilding Center for much more fun. 

Why visit?

The Mississippi Neighborhood is an ideal destination for foodies. With beers, margaritas, tacos, ice creams being much popular dishes here. The area is home to many amazing Restaurants in Portland. 

Must try food- Biscuits and gravy, country fried steak, chicken and waffles, and griddle cakes.

Things to do in Portland, Mississippi Neighborhood

Visit famous eateries and Restaurants in here, Visit antiques shops, Visit famous food streets in Mississippi.

11- Visit Shanghai Tunnels in Portland 

Shanghai Tunnels is the most haunted area in Portland

Explore these tunnels of the late 19th century which once were a way to sneak illegal goods. But now it is one of the most fun things to do in Portland for tourists. Now it is one big reason for you to experience the walking tours to Shanghai Tunnels.  

Why visit? 

Well, there is a big reason to visit this place in Portland. It’s an intriguing backstory!!!

The place has kept many stories inside, the tour starts with its history. 

Much hidden, but truth starts to mingle with myth. One story also tells that a Portlander would wake up to find himself aboard a merchant ship known as “Shanghaiing”. 

As soon as you sneak into the tunnel you will feel you are in a subterranean world with cue dimmed lights. 

Most fun as you will also get to see some hidden trapdoor tunnels that were used once for illegal gambling and deeds. 

Want to sneak a bite of Pizza with a ghost? True or not, the place is most famous for this. For those who are into mystery and adventure. Do try this! After exploring the Shanghai Tunnels sneak a bite with resident ghost “Nina” — but that’s another story. 

No matter what, a must-visit place for the one who loves some mysterious and adventurous sites. 

Things to do in Portland, Shanghai Tunnels- 

Explore the hidden tunnels of Shanghai Tunnels, Dip yourself into some fun stories of the place, Take a walking tour to Shanghai Tunnels, Grab a bite of Pizza at Old Town Pizza & Brewing with ghost “Nina”. Take other ghost and vampire guided tours. 

12- Browse at Powell’s City of Books 

For the one who loves books, Powell's books City is one of the best things to do in Portland.
Editorial March 11, 2017 – Powell’s book store in Portland, Oregon

One of the most visited landmarks of Portland is the world’s largest bookstore. Portlanders are proud to say that it’s home to more than 1 million new, used and rare tomes. 

A hub for bookworms? You will find every book in this place. The book library is so huge it’s easy to get lost in Powell’s 68,000 square feet, nine rooms, three floors and 3,500 sections. 

There is a purple room on the 2nd floor for relaxing and doing other stuff. It also has a machine which can publish your book till you make a coffee. 

To make it more fun you can visit at the time of The Portland Book Festival, Quiet place made for reading and much more. Powell’s book store is around other popular attractions of Portland. 

The sheer number of books is mind-boggling, for a true book lover this is heart-melting

Why visit? 

Powell’s book city is one of the most visited places. Apart from that, it’s a wonderful treat for a book lover. You can enter the Rare books section that has some rare copies. 

Grab your favourite book and enjoy reading at the coffee shops specially made for reading. 

After reading or buying some books here you can visit the International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and much more. 

Things to do in Portland, Powell’s books City- 

Read rare books, visit cafés specially made for reading, publish your own book.

13- Visit Portland International Rose Test Garden 

Rose Test Garden is one of the best things to do in Portland.
Image of the Washington Park Amphitheater located in the International Rose Test Garden in Portland, OR.

The Garden takes place in everyone’s heart. Beautiful, blooming, and majestic are the words one will use to describe this Garden. 

Home to over 10,000 rose bushes of 650 varieties. One of the oldest and signature landmarks of Portland. From April to October, the garden is at the peak of its beauty. It’s the time when all the roses are blooming with glory. This time most visitors are attracted here. 

This big Garden has other popular gardens inside it like-  the Royal Rosarian Garden, the Shakespeare Garden and the Miniature Rose Garden. Visit all. 

The garden is in the glory every year as it helps an annual competition for the city’s best rose. 

Shakespeare Garden has many roses featuring some Shakespeare plays. 

Why visit? 

Portland’s best landmark to see great fauna. The Garden’s speciality is its beautiful roses that bloom all year long. The place is soothing and relaxing. One must also attend festivals and events at this place. After relaxing in this garden one can visit other landmarks like the Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden, Pittock Mansion is a museum near by. 

Things to do in Portland, International Rose Garden 

Visit Famous parks of Rose Test Garden, Picnic in the park, Explore other sides of Park, Explore different species of roses, Visit Shakespeare Garden, The Miniature Rose Garden, Participate in competitions of rose.

14- Visit Oregon Zoo to see 2600 types of animals 

Portland Zoo is the most popular destination for children's in Portland.
Polar bear and reflection in Portland Zoo

Oregon zoo is one of the oldest Zoo located downtown. With over 2600 animals and over 200+ species of animal species. It’s one of the best attractions of Portland. 

Oregon zoo is top attraction it has many other features included. Near the zoo you will find top fun things to do for kids. Portland’s children museum, Washington Park, Wildwood trail and Rose Test Garden are among them. 

Zoo includes the Pacific Shores, which features sea otters, polar bears and sea lions. Sea lions, Polar bears, and sea otters are most famous animals here. As you explore the zoo more, you will find several fun things for you. 

Zoolights, an awesome event where more than a million bulbs create a shimmering wonderland called Zoolights. For more entertainment, the zoo has kids trains, parks, festivals, and much more. 

One can pack a picnic box and come to relax in this zoo. The place is beautiful with bushes, trees and fresh air. Pack your favourite snack and enjoy the much popular Bird show. 

Why visit? 

Oregon zoo is a place to grow habitats. The place is ideal for kids and family. With over 2600 animals and different species, you will have much fun here. Other than that, Oregon zoo is located inside Washington Park which is most popular attraction of Portland. The destination is home to Rose Test Garden, and many other things. There is lot to explore in this place. No doubt it’s one of the best things to do in Portland for kids. 

Things to do in Portland, Oregon Zoo-

Bird show, Animal watching, Train rides, Zoolights, Events, festivals, Live Music show. 

15- Visit Lan Su Chinese Garden 

Lan Su Chinese Garden of Portland
Pagoda reflecting in a pond at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, in Portland, Oregon.

An authentic and beautiful garden of Portland featuring over 1000 activities and 250 plant species. The garden is known for its immense beauty. Dipped with beautiful views the garden offers a soothing respite. 

As soon as you enter the place you will find some amazing teahouses, a serene lake, beautiful gardens, and much more here. You can even try some exciting activities like carving calligraphy with brushes. 

The lake is the main attraction of the garden, with clear water, ducklings swimming and fishes enjoying in water. Not just this, Mosaic rock paths and bridges are best to stroll here. 

You will also see some amazing cultural things used to spread positivity and happiness around the place. 

To enhance the look of this Chinese garden you will find many cravings on the wall. This replicates strong Chinese culture. Chinese snacks, rain curtains, and cravings make the place more appealing. 

Why visit? 

Incredibly beautiful and replicating the culture of the Ming Dynasty. The place is ideal for peace lovers. When you are inside you will feel completely lost in the beauty of the palace. 

To relax and enjoy the weekend in peaceful garden of Lan Su Chinese Garden. 

Things to do at Portland, Lan Su Chinese Garden- 

Experience great views of Chinese Garden, try to explore Chinese culture, wear Chinese culture dress, Do cultural things of Japan, Drink Japanese style tea, Fish in the pond, Explore other attractions of Portland nearby.

Conclusion

Even if you are a first-time visitors in Portland.

Even if you are a person much into adventure, fun and want excitement in every corner.

Or Even if you are searching for a calm places to relax and kick out the stress for a weekend.

Portland is for you!!! It has amazing destinations that suits all. With dazzling citylights it let’s you taste nightlife, cool music, and events. On the other hand, Portland has got so many beautiful Gardens, parks, bridges where you can explore the beauty of nature. Or if you are a bookworm, then Portland has got a whole book store for you which is not less than a treat for a book lover.

Adventure in every corner of Portland- With places like Forest Park, Witch’s Castle and Shanghai Tunnels you will get some adventure in Portland. And one must explore the quirky and haunted stories of these places on their own selves.

I have listed some amazing things to do in Portland which will fill your Portland trip with loads of memories. Take a look at each and let us know which suits you the best.

FAQ’S

What are the top 15 things to do in Portland?

Portland is fun and amazing place with top Destinations in Oregon. Experience fun, excitement, and joy with this Best things to do in Portland.
#1 Hike near Columbia River Gorge and Waterfall  
#2 Hike to the “Witch’s Castle” 
#3 Enjoy Portland’s famous eateries(Food Tour)  
#4 Explore and hike at “Forest Park” 
#5 Shop at the famous “Portland Saturday Market”
#6 Enjoy the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden. 
#7 See Pittock Mansion 
#8 Relax at Laurelhurst Park or Washington Park 
#9 Visit the Portland Art Museum
#10 Explore the Mississippi Neighborhood
#11 Visit Shanghai Tunnels in Portland 
#12 Browse at Powell’s City of Books 
#13 Visit Portland International Rose Test Garden 
#14 Visit Oregon Zoo to see 2600 types of animals 
#15 Visit Lan Su Chinese Garden 

What are the top attractions to visit in Portland?

What should I do in Portland?

Portland is amazing for vacation and trips. You can do amazing things in Portland. If you want to explore Portland, start with hands on Donuts, Street foods, food trucks in Portland. For some adventure visit Pittock Mansion, Shanghai Tunnels, Witch’s Castle, and Forest Park. For a relaxing trip step into calming gardens like Japanese Garden, Rose Test Garden, and Lan Su Chinese Garden of Portland. There are much more things to do here in Portland.

Is Portland worth visiting?

Travellers in Portland cause it’s usually a must-visit in the Pacific Northwest. Oregon’s is a city, known for its funky culture of food trucks, bicycles, and “weirdness. No need to mention, being the end of the famous Oregon Trail. Portland is a really cool city.

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