The Best Things to Do in Portland: A Local’s Guide

The Best Things to Do in Portland: A Local’s Guide

Portland Oregon skyline|Fremont Bridge in Portland

Posted October 11, 2023

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Portland, Oregon, a city often dubbed the “City of Roses,” is a gem in the Pacific Northwest that offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and outdoor adventures. Nestled between the picturesque Willamette and Columbia rivers, its scenic beauty is undeniable. 

This vibrant metropolis is bursting with character, from its historic neighborhoods to its buzzing downtown, making it a favorite among travelers. When you dive into the heart of the city, you’ll quickly realize that there are countless best things to do in Portland, each promising an unforgettable experience.

An increasing number of people have recognized the allure of Portland, with its eco-friendly initiatives, thriving arts scene, and welcoming community. The city has become not just a popular destination for travelers but also a desirable place for many to call home. 

It’s no surprise that many individuals and families are making the move to embrace Portland’s unique lifestyle. Consequently, movers in Portland are helping newcomers smoothly transition and settle into their new homes in this dynamic city.

With its rich tapestry of cultural events, tantalizing gastronomy, lush parks, and myriad recreational activities, Portland offers a spectrum of experiences to both its residents and visitors alike. 

Whether you’re a nature enthusiast eager to explore the verdant trails, a foodie ready to dive into its diverse culinary landscape, or an art lover keen on immersing in its creative scene, there’s no shortage of best things to do in Portland. Every corner of the city presents an opportunity to create lasting memories and discover something new.

Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon
Fremont Bridge in Portland, Oregon

Why Visit Portland

The City’s Charm

Portland’s allure lies in its ability to combine urban sophistication with natural beauty. The city’s skyline, punctuated by skyscrapers, offers a stark contrast to the lush green landscapes that surround it. Such juxtapositions aren’t found just anywhere. In the midst of urban hustle, nature is never too far away in Portland. One can’t help but wonder, how does a city maintain such harmony between man-made marvels and nature’s masterpieces?

It’s also worth noting the friendliness of Portlanders. Walk down any street, and you’re likely to be greeted with smiles. Locals take pride in their city and are always eager to share its stories with visitors. This welcoming nature, coupled with the city’s scenic beauty, makes it a must-visit. With so many best attractions in Portland, each visit feels like a new adventure.

Unique Cultural Blend

“Keep Portland Weird” isn’t just a slogan; it’s a way of life here. This motto reflects the city’s eclectic mix of artists, entrepreneurs, and free spirits. Dive into Portland’s art scene, and you’ll discover creativity at every corner. From murals that transform walls into canvases to art galleries showcasing avant-garde pieces, the city is a haven for art lovers.

This cultural blend extends to Portland’s events calendar, too. Throughout the year, the city hosts a medley of festivals celebrating everything from music to film and food. For those who thrive on unique experiences, Portland’s cultural scene promises endless discoveries. The city’s diversity ensures that there’s something for everyone, making it one of the best attractions in Portland.

Then there’s Portland’s rich history, deeply intertwined with its present. Historical sites and museums offer a peek into the city’s storied past. Visit any of these, and you’ll walk away with not just knowledge but also a deep appreciation for Portland’s journey.

Top 5 Attractions

Portland Japanese Garden

Envision a serene oasis where nature’s best elements come together. The Portland Japanese Garden is exactly that. Designed with precision, every element, from the koi-filled ponds to the manicured bonsais, exudes tranquility. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the heart of a bustling city when surrounded by such peace.

For those seeking solace from their busy lives, this garden offers a respite. Walk along its winding paths, and you’ll feel your stresses melt away. Each season brings with it a new reason to visit. Cherry blossoms in spring, vibrant foliage in fall – nature’s cycle ensures the garden’s ever-changing beauty. Among the best things to do in Portland, a visit here is akin to a meditative journey.

Portlands Japanese Garden
Portlands Japanese Garden

Powell’s Books

To say Powell’s is a bookstore would be an understatement. It’s a universe of books, a place where literary dreams come alive. Spanning an entire block, its vast collection ensures that readers of all tastes find something to pique their interest. From rare editions to bestsellers, Powell’s boasts an enviable collection.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

A testament to Portland’s diverse cultural landscape, the Lan Su Chinese Garden transports visitors to the heart of China. Built in collaboration with Portland’s sister city, Suzhou, this garden exemplifies Ming Dynasty-style design. As you step in, you’re welcomed by intricate wooden carvings, ornate stonework, and tranquil water features.

Portland Art Museum

Art, in its myriad forms, finds a home at the Portland Art Museum. Established in 1892, it’s one of the oldest art institutions in the US. Housing over 42,000 pieces, the museum’s collection spans various genres, from Native American art to contemporary installations.

Oregon Zoo

Nestled in Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo spans 64 acres and houses a diverse range of animals. Established in 1888, it’s one of the oldest zoos in the US. Today, it’s home to over 1,800 animals representing 300 species, both native and exotic.

Experience the Local Lifestyle

Food Trucks and Culinary Delights

When pondering the best things to do in Portland, diving into its culinary scene is a must. The city’s gastronomic landscape is as diverse as its culture. And at the heart of this are the food trucks. Each truck, with its unique offerings, promises a culinary adventure. From authentic Asian dishes to gourmet burgers, the options are endless.

Portland Oregon BBQ
Portland Oregon BBQ

Vintage Shopping

Portland’s shopping scene is as eclectic as its residents. Amidst the myriad stores, vintage shops hold a special place. Each store, with its curated collection, is a treasure trove of yesteryears. From vintage clothing to antiques, the range is vast and diverse.

Music and Nightlife

Portland’s musical heritage is rich and varied. From jazz and blues to indie rock, the city’s music scene has something for everyone. As night falls, the city comes alive with melodies. Bars, clubs, and music venues host live performances, ensuring there’s never a dull moment.

Adventure Awaits Outdoors

Forest Park

Covering over 5,200 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the US. With its dense canopy and winding trails, it offers an escape from city life. For nature lovers and fitness enthusiasts, exploring its trails is among the best things to do in Portland.

Mount Hood Adventures

Just an hour’s drive from Portland, Mount Hood beckons adventure seekers. Towering at 11,250 feet, it’s a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. From skiing and snowboarding in winters to hiking in summers, Mount Hood promises year-round adventures.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Mount Hood’s snow-clad slopes are a haven for winter sports enthusiasts. Resorts like Timberline Lodge and Mount Hood Meadows offer varied terrains, catering to both beginners and experts. As you glide down the slopes, the adrenaline rush is unparalleled. For many, conquering Mount Hood’s slopes is among the best things to do in Portland.

cross country skiing
cross country skiing


Portland, with its mix of urban and natural attractions, is a city that promises diverse experiences. Whether you’re an art lover, a foodie, or an adventure seeker, the city has something for you. 

It’s a place where memories are made, stories are discovered, and experiences are cherished. So, when pondering the best things to do in Portland, remember that the city’s essence lies in its ability to offer something for everyone. Dive in, explore, and let Portland’s charm weave its magic!

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