After living in Portland for three years, I still feel like I only just grazed the surface of all the activities the city and surrounding areas offer.
In my previous post about places to stay in Portland, I talk a bit about how the city is structured. In summation, Portland is divided in to the Eastside and Westside by the Willamette River. Both sides of the river offer no shortage of activities.
In the years before I moved to Portland and even as a resident, I did my share of tourist essentials. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with spending a day in Powell’s (Seriously! I have done it many, many times and it’s a perfect way to spend the day!), Portland has so much to offer outside of Downtown!
When I worked my first Portland job as a concierge at a Downtown hotel, I met so many visitors to the city who were either terrified to leave Downtown or thought there was nothing to do across the river. I made it my goal to get people out of the Portland tourist attractions and in to the real heart of the city!
Here are a few of my favorite, tried and true, Portland activities.
Once a month the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry closes its doors for the day and reopens as a 21+ themed evening of science, drinks, and games for adults! I used to go to OMSI After Dark every single month and it was one of the things that I looked forward to the most. It is always held on a Wednesday, and if you happen to be in Portland on an After Dark night, you absolutely can’t miss it!
The Portland Night Market is an indoor/outdoor market open several times a year that showcases over 175 local vendors. You can find food, drinks, crafts, jewelry, home goods, clothes, and so much more. The Night Market makes for a fun evening that is amazing both as a date night or a family friendly evening out.
Portland has 12 bridges within the city. Spend a day choosing some of your favorites and going for a walk across them. Personally, I love the St. John’s Bridge, the Hawthorne Bridge, the Steel Bridge, and the Tillikum Crossing Bridge.
Mississippi is my favorite street in Portland. With a mix of highbrow, lowbrow, amazing food, and cozy bars, it is a perfect mix of everything Portland. Some of my favorite spots are The Meadow, The Rambler, Mississippi Studios/Bar Bar, Prost!, Paxton Gate, and Interurban.
Hawthorne has some of the best thrift stores in town. My personal favorite is House of Vintage, which has over 60 vendors under one giant maze of a roof. It is a must see!
NW 23rd is an upscale dining and shopping district that still manages to be quaint. Though it can be a bit touristy, it is still a lovely place to spend the day and one of the first places that I ever visited the first time I came to Portland!
Forest Park is one of the largest urban parks in the US and is full of amazing hikes and trail runs. For an utterly amazing view of Portland (see above), hike up to Pittock Mansion. Forest Park is a great place to get out of the hustle and bustle of the city and work up an appetite for all that delicious Portland food and beer.
The Bagdad Theater is my absolute favorite theater in Portland. This small, intimate theater is a McMenamin’s property, which means you get to drink delicious McMenamin’s beer and cider and eat cajun tots while enjoying your movie. Plus, it is an absolutely beautiful theater, ripe with history and detail.
Cathedral park is a beautiful park located underneath the St. Johns Bridge. The arches of the bridge appropriately form what looks like a cathedral that you can sit underneath. Pop by a New Seasons grocery store on the way out for some amazing pre-made meals, enjoyed best with a view.
Sellwood is like a small town within the big city. This sweet neighborhood has lots of local restaurants, bars, and, most importantly, amazing antique shops. Sellwood has a reputation for its amazing antique shopping. Even if you can’t fit a beautiful vintage armoire in your suitcase, trinket shopping is never frowned upon.
In Portland we don’t have football or baseball, but to make up for that, we have fanatical soccer and basketball fans. Seeing a Timbers or a Blazers game inserts you right in to the thick of Portland ports fandom and it is so. much. fun.