City Guides

33 Best Things to Do in Portland

Published on May 20, 2022 | 0 Comments
things to do in portland

Looking for awesome things to do in Portland? The good news is that there are a ton! Portland, Oregon is one of the most desirable cities to live in in the United States and attracts millions of eager tourists each year. No matter the season, Portland is stunning, with picturesque nature views in the snow and in the sunshine, and streets lined brightly with local art.

More importantly, Portland is a foodie’s heaven. With some of the best food in the country, including prize-winning pizza, coffee and donuts, you’ll be able to try new foods and find the best of your favorite traditional cuisines. 

Whether you’re looking for things to do in Portland that involve food, nature or just plain old fun, this vibrant, eclectic city will surely not disappoint. 


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Foodie Things to Do in Portland

All that great food in Portland might make you want to learn how to make some of it! The good news is that there are some awesome cooking classes in Portland that will make for a fun, educational activity to break up your day. Search for cooking classes near you for the perfect date night or group outing. If it’s rainy or you just want to stay in, online cooking classes are always a great option!

cooking classes on cozymeal are a fun thing to do in portland
via Cozymeal

2. Private Chefs in Portland

Take gourmet food to the next level and hire a private chef in Portland for a luxurious night of fine dining. Your private chef will come fully prepared with all they need to concoct an elegant, five-star meal for you and your partner or pals  they’ll even cover clean-up. Sit back, relax, pop open your favorite bottle of wine, throw on some mood music and enjoy an evening in Portland with private chefs near you.

3. Food Tours in Portland

Portland’s food scene is one of the major reasons it’s such a popular city, so if you visit, make sure to make the most of it. The best way to do this is by attending guided food tours in Portland led by experts who have connections with the local food scene. On a food tour, you’ll get exclusive access to the most popular restaurants and the best hidden gems, where you’ll get a taste of the most delicious cuisines that they offer. To plan one of the best things to do in Portland, search for food tours near you!

people enjoying a tray of raw oysters with lemon on a food tour
via Cozymeal

4. Virtual Tastings

For the ultimate night in, and one of the best things to do in Portland, cozy up for a virtual wine tasting or virtual whiskey tasting. You’ll enjoy the exclusivity of sipping without a boisterous crowd around you, and you’ll learn a lot about gourmet wines or spirits. For a super fun date night idea, you and your partner can also sign up for an online mixology class to get to learn how to master the art of mixology from home. More of an early bird? Try an online coffee class for a slow morning in before you hit the town and enjoy Portland. 

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Try some of the iconic restaurants that make Portland such a desirable tourist spot. Start the day with the Portland institution, Stumptown Coffee, which has been a local staple on Division Street since 1999. Try out a variety of restaurants on the buzzy Mississippi street, home to the Prost Marketplace. For dessert, indulge in a mango-ginger donut at Voodoo Donut or head to Salt & Straw, where you can get a scoop of pear and blue cheese ice cream (or choose from an array of drool-worthy vegan scoops).

visit iconic restaurants and cafes like stumptown roasters for a fun thing to do in portland
via Stumptown Roasters

6. Eat at Quirky Food Carts

You can’t skip out on Portland’s famous food carts — eating there is one of the best things to do in Portland. They’re parked in pods all over the city, so no matter where you are, you’re bound to run into one. For things to do in Downtown Portland, check out Fifth Avenue, Pioneer Courthouse Square or Third Avenue to enjoy a smorgasbord of delectable food cart dishes, from Halal to Vietnamese to Thai to tacos and so, so much more.

Fun Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

The beloved Portland Saturday Market runs from March through December. This marketplace located in the Old Town and Chinatown neighborhoods features over 150 vendors each Saturday, including an array of craft booths and a smorgasbord of great local foods. 

friends sharing fried dough at the portland saturday market
via Portland Saturday Market

8. Stroll Through Alberta Arts District

Take advantage of a sunny day and stroll through the colorful Alberta Arts District as a relaxing date idea in Portland. You’ll catch a glimpse of stunning street art and murals, and you’ll have the chance to try some great restaurants and bars on your way.

9. Portland Aerial Tram

There’s no better way to get a breathtaking view of Portland in all of her glory than from the actual sky! Hop on a quick but stunning ride on the Portland Aerial Tram for views you won’t forget. 

a ride on the aerial tram is a fun thing to do in portland
via Portland Aerial Tram

10. Powell’s City of Books

Whether you’re a bookworm or not, you’ll be impressed by this Oregon landmark. With 10 rooms, several floors, one million books and a café, Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It’s one of those places you simply must visit while in Portland.

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Located only a few miles south of downtown Portland, the Oregon Zoo is the perfect way to spend your day. With over 60 acres and hundreds of wild animals, this is one of the most adventurous, fun things to do in Portland, Oregon. 

sea lion with snow on his nose in the oregon zoo
via Oregon Zoo

Things to Do in Portland at Night

Head down to Mississippi Street for a live music show at Mississippi Studios! Check out their website to see their upcoming events and performances.

13. Visit Breweries

Portland’s foodie scene includes tons of local breweries that locals and tourists flock to for incredible brews that can only be crafted in the Pacific Northwest. There are close to 100 breweries in Portland, so consider boarding the Brewvana tour bus for a guided tour, and one of the most memorable things to do in Portland.

young man and woman enjoying beers at a brewery
via Canva

14. Moda Center at the Rose Quarter

If you are looking for things to do in Portland at night, head over to the sports arena, the Moda Center. No matter the time of year, you’re bound to find entertainment at the Rose Quarter, whether it’s a basketball game, a hockey game, a concert or a theater performance.

15. Bible Club

In addition to breweries, there are lots of pulse-thumping nightlife options in Portland. If you are looking for things to do in Portland tonight, check out one of the many eccentric, intimate speakeasies! Bible Club is an antique-looking bar, but their cocktails and music are anything but outdated!

grab craft cocktails at the bible club for a fun thing to do in portland
via Bible Club PDX

16. Guardian Games

For gamers who want something a bit different than arcade games, Guardian Games is a one-of-a-kind spot to purchase and play hundreds of tabletop games. There’s even a bar inside!

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17. Arcade

The crowd in Portland is known to be quirky, eccentric, artsy and maybe even nerdy. As such, there are actually lots of popular arcades in Portland, making a game night one of the most popular things to do in Portland, Oregon. Some are family-friendly and some are more like bars, so there’s something for everyone.

classic sega and ninja turtle arcade games under neon lights
via Canva

Free Things to Do in Portland

One of Portland’s most popular parks, Washington Park is a sprawling outdoor area spanning over 450 acres. The park is completely free to enter, and inside of it lies the Oregon Zoo and the Portland Japanese Garden. There’s also an archery range, an arboretum, numerous memorials and statues, and much more. 

19. International Rose Test Garden

Brighten up your day with a visit to the International Rose Test Garden, which is home to over 10,000 colorful rose bushes! Stroll around, enjoy the view and inhale the floral scent of roses for one of the best things to do in Portland. 

visit the international rose test garden for a fun thing to do in portland
via Portland Parks Foundation

20. Gabriel Park 

Gabriel Park is a sprawling, 87-acre park fit for walking, biking, running, hiking and more. There are designated areas for dogs, soccer fields, wooded areas for hiking and even a skatepark!

21. Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

The Cathedral Park Jazz Festival in Portland is the longest-running free jazz festival west of the Mississippi! Held annually outdoors at the Cathedral Park, it features numerous local jazz, blues, soul and Latin artists. This is one of the best free things to do in Portland, so take advantage!

attend the cathedral park jazz festival for a fun thing to do in portland
via Cathedral Park Jazz Festival

Outdoorsy Things to Do in Portland

Located in Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden is a tranquil oasis that locals and tourists have flocked to for over 60 years. It is 12 acres, with eight different gardens, a tea house and plenty of walking paths for a lovely outdoor day in Portland. 

23. Portland’s Forest Park

If you’re looking for things to do in Portland outside, take advantage of the sunshine and do a hike with unbelievable views at one of the largest urban forests in the United States. There are dozens of trailheads to choose from, depending on how difficult or long of a hike you’d like to do. Either way, look forward to seeing numerous indigenous and protected wildlife species. 

sunlight peeking though a heavily wooded trail in oregon
via Canva

24. Witch’s Castle

While you hike through Forest Park, be sure to stop at the iconic Witch’s Castle. It’s not technically haunted, but ask a bunch of locals and you’ll hear a variety of spooky theories about the 200-year-old little stone building. It’s one of those things to do in Portland that you’ve got to try once!

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Lots of Portland’s outdoor trails accommodate horseback riding in addition to walking and biking. If you’re a seasoned rider, there are plenty of local places that will lend you a horse for the ride, and if you’re a beginner, you can take a fun private lesson!

young man and woman riding horses at golden hour
via Canva

26. Walk Your Dog at Wallace Park

One of many dog-friendly parks, Wallace Park includes a designated puppy play area and lots of open spaces for your four-legged friends, making this one of the best things to do in Portland with your dog.

27. Mt. Tabor Park

Ever wanted to walk on top of an extinct volcano? Head to Mt. Tabor Park, where they’ve smoothed over an extinct volcano with volleyball courts, basketball courts, tennis courts, playgrounds and plenty of walking paths. Bring your dog, because there’s an off-leash area just for them.

mt tabor park reservoir with a view of the portland skyline
via Canva

Museums in Portland

In a city that embodies the word “artsy,” how could you skip out on visiting an art museum? The Portland Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the country, they offer a variety of events, historical collections and exhibitions including Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism.

29. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Attend an educational film at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry's large-screen theater, or at one of the museum’s many auditoriums. Stroll through incredible exhibits about natural sciences and technology, and don’t forget to check out the planetarium!

visit the oregon museum of science and industry for a fun thing to do in portland
via Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

30. The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium and Museum

As they say in Oregon, keep Portland weird. You can do so by supporting the Peculiarium Museum which is just as weird as it sounds  in a good way! Be prepared to see some scary, creepy and plain old strange exhibits.

31. Pittock Mansion

Visiting the Pittock Mansion is one of the most popular things to do in Portland, and it’s said to be the spot with the best views in all of Portland. This historical building was home to one of the most influential families in Portland’s history. Visit the mansion for a special event or to view their informational exhibits.

exterior of pittock mansion in portland in the snow
via Pittock Mansion

32. Stark’s Vacuum Museum

Dying to know the history of the vacuum? Ever wondered what a vacuum from the 1800s looks like? Head to downtown Portland and view a timeline of the entire history of the vacuum, plus over 100 vacuums at the Stark’s Vacuum Museum.

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33. Oregon Maritime Museum

Appropriately, the Oregon Maritime Museum is located on an actual steam-powered tug boat. Attended an educational guided tour or stroll through the museum to learn about maritime history in Oregon!

the oregon maritine museum on a steam powered tug boat floating down the river
via Oregon Maritime Museum

Portland is the kind of city that offers something for everyone. It’s impossible not to have a good time in this historical city, from incredible food options to endless outdoor activities, scenic views and friendly people. Whether you’re taking a girls’ trip, looking for a date night or spending quality time with family, there are tons of awesome, unique things to do in Portland.

For even more fun things to do in Portland and beyond, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.

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