While the quirky show “Portlandia” has given Portland, Oregon, extra exposure, there are plenty of reasons why visitors are drawn to this Pacific Northwest mecca.
There are a ton of fun things to do in Portland, Oregon. It’s a relaxed city intertwined with art and museums. It’s got a rich coffee and beer scene, not to mention some of the nicest people around. Plus, it’s just under an hour car ride away from the Willamette Valley wine country, Mount Hood and the Oregon coastline.
If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, here are some of the best experiences and hot spots for your own Portland, Oregon, travel guide.
Gardens and hiking
What’s great about Portland is that there is so much nature available in and around it. Portland wasn’t nicknamed the City of Roses for nothing; the annual festival of roses draws thousands of people every year, and it has the most spectacular International Rose Test Garden, where from April to October you can view thousands of roses in bloom.
Portland also has a Japanese Garden, the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden and the Lan Su Chinese Garden – all worth a visit if you have some time to explore. There are miles of hiking right around the city, and Council Crest is just one of the various hiking trails that offers expansive views of the city from the top.
Take note, people in Portland don’t mind the rain, so grab your rain slicker if you’re an East Coaster and enjoy the outdoors.
Eat your way through Portland
With no lack of restaurants to try, eating is easily one of the most fun things to do in Portland, Oregon. Prepare your taste buds for a truly dazzling culinary scene, with restaurants of every stripe, from local eats to cultural fusion restaurants. Portland is a city where food trends begin.
Don’t be fooled by the vegan status of Farm Spirit; part show and part communal dinner party, even your grandfather will want to come back for the stellar service and local eight-course tasting menu that changes every night. The 14-seat restaurant only offers two seatings per night, so be sure to make your reservations in advance.
If you’re looking for more of a casual vibe, visit the food trucks in downtown Portland or better yet, take a food-themed walking tour. Review the Portland AAA Travel Guide for restaurant recommendations and more.
Adventure and wine country
Only about a 45-minute car ride away from Portland proper, the Willamette Valley is a world-class wine destination. It’s also home to Vista Balloon Adventures, which is one of the most memorable ways to see the valley. The hot air balloons float over the beautiful wine country and the twisting Willamette River, with views of 10 mountain peaks on a clear day and several other balloons flying around you. This is a bucket-list item you can’t miss out on because of any fear; the gentle experience will stay with you forever. Plus, you can visit some of the wineries after your flight. Brooks Winery recently opened a massive tasting room with views of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens.
If hot air ballooning is too high for you or you just don’t want to venture too far from the city, try iFly, an indoor skydiving company that makes the dream of flight a reality by giving customers “wings” in a safe environment. You’ll fly with an instructor in small time increments and experience the rush of flight. They’ve had customers from 3 years old to 103 years old fly. Needless to say, this is a fun thing to do in Portland, Oregon.
Boating and relaxation
If you’ve been to PDX and want to see the city in a different light, book a boat ride on the Portland Spirit and explore by river. Also known as the Bridge City, Portland is filled with magnificent bridges, thanks to the channels running through the heart of the city.
If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Portland, Oregon, on the weekend, you can catch the Portland Saturday Market. It’s filled with all sorts of local goods and things you didn’t even know you needed.
Stay at the AAA Three Diamond Rated River’s Edge Hotel & Spa and overlook the Willamette River, just steps away from the vibrant city center. The hotel has a very Portland-esque Scandinavian-minimalist design and the largest full-service spa in Portland at 13,000 square feet. Time for some R&R after a day of fun!
What’s your favorite thing to do or see in Portland? Tell us in the comments.
Check out more buzzworthy destinations at AAA.com/CityScape.