If you’re going to Portland, Oregon for business, pleasure, or just exploration, you won’t have trouble finding fun things to do or see. It’s an exciting city and a great place to visit. I should know, I grew up in Portland and lived there until I was about 24. You may have heard that it rains a lot in Oregon (it does) but it’s not nearly as bad as most people would say. In fact, if you visit between June and early September you will most likely see some of the best weather you can imagine. However, weather shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the city, so get out there and make it happen!
While this is definitely not a definitive list of Portland tourism spots, these are some of my favorite spots to visit whenever I go back.
Sites and Landmarks
- Powell’s City of Books. If you like books, then this place is absolutely for you.
- The International Rose Test Garden. Portland is called the Rose City, so you should probably make your way up to see this at some point. The view alone is worth the trip.
- Portlandia Statue. The second-largest copper statue in the United States, after the Statue of Liberty. This makes an excellent photo op.
- Pioneer Courthouse Square. This is the center of downtown Portland. They have a wonderful New Year’s Eve event here each year.
- Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Great concert hall with many events. I always felt like the Portland sign here was a little iconic. Make sure to go see the White Stag Portland Oregon sign as well.
- Keller Fountain Park. I always liked this fountain and it’s a great spot to rest up while you’re exploring downtown.
- The Pittock Mansion. There is a lot of history in this house, and it also provides an excellent view of the city.
- The Simpsons landmarks. Matt Groening, creator of the Simpsons, is from Portland. A lot of the character names were inspired by Portland streets and landmarks.
Food and Drinks
You won’t have trouble finding great eats in PDX. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Jake’s Famous Crawfish. Founded in 1892, this historic seafood restaurant will not disappoint.
- Voodoo Doughnut. Everyone’s heard of this place, right? It’s awesome, go check it out.
- Portland City Grill. They get bonus points for offering an amazing view of the city.
- Food Trucks. The food truck scene in Portland is legendary.
- The Old Spaghetti Factory. Yes, it’s technically a chain now, but it all started in Portland and it’s quality.
- Oregon Microbrews. Portland has the most breweries of any city in the world and it’s recognized as one of America’s top beer towns.
- Oregon Wine. Oregon has a huge wine industry. If you like reds and pinots then you definitely should visit some of the local vineyards.
- Burgerville. California has In-N-Out Burger, the Pacific Northwest has Burgerville. Great fast food burgers and shakes made with local ingredients.
Outside of Portland
If you want to get outside of the city, these places are close and absolutely worth seeing. Grab a car and go explore (just remember that you’re not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon).
- Multnomah Falls
- The Columbia River Gorge
- Timberline Lodge (also known as “The Overlook Hotel” from The Shining)
- Mount Hood
- Mount St. Helens
- Trillium Lake
- The Vista House
Additional destinations around Oregon
Looking to experience more around the state of Oregon? If you’re ready to do some driving then be sure to add these places to your trip and hit the road!
- Crater Lake. This strikingly blue lake is 1,943 feet (592 m) deep, which makes it the deepest lake in America and the seventh deepest in the world. It’s also featured on U.S. currency as the state quarter for Oregon. 5 and a half hours south of Portland.
- Bend, Oregon. The high desert of central Oregon is worth a visit. White water rafting, skiing, snowboarding, hiking trails, and more. 3 hours east of Portland.
- The Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Colorful rock formations in eastern Oregon. 4 and a half hours east of Portland.
- The Sea Lion Caves in Florence, Oregon. America’s largest sea cave and home to hundreds of Steller sea lions. 3 hours south of Portland.
- Lewis and Clark’s Fort Clatsop in Astoria Oregon. 2 hours west of Portland. The classic 80s movie Goonies was filmed in Astoria. Be sure to go see Haystack Rock and the house from the movie if you’re a fan.
- Oregon Vortex in Gold Hill, Oregon. Gravitational anomoly, optical illusions, or paranormal activity? Not sure, but it’s pretty cool. 4 hours south of Portland.
- Seaside, Oregon, end of the Oregon trail. 1 and a half hours west of Portland.