With plenty of lush greenery and an attractive vacation center for outdoor enthusiasts, Portland is one of those cities with unique tourist destinations.

Whether you hope to see beautiful animals at the zoo or learn a bit about the town’s history, there are many things to do in Portland, Oregon.

Let’s walk you through the most unique adventures, the fun stuff, and the best free things Portland offers you once you get on its shores.

Stop by Pittock Mansion

Seated on top of Portland’s West Hills lies the historic Pittock Mansion, which was home to Henry and Georgiana Pittock. Built in 1914, this home sparks plenty of historic value for Portland. 

The Pittock Mansion showcases the French Renaissance-style construction of the early 20th century, and today, most of its original finishings still stand. However, in 1962, a storm damaged the house, and residents in Portland rallied together to restore the building, making it a historic museum.

Whether you recently relocated to The City of Roses or you’re simply a tourist, all Portland movers or your tour guide would always recommend her as a must-visit. The house has 46 rooms, a working 1900s elevator, antique interior furnishings, and stunning artwork—there’s much to see when you visit.

Pro tip:

It is best to go during the summer with clear skies; you could catch picture-perfect city views from the Mansion.

Check out Powell’s City of Books

As someone who loves book reading or refueling with new knowledge, you might find an afternoon or an entire day here in Downtown Portland as a perfect choice.

This five-story building in Portland is truly a heaven for book lovers. Covering 1.6 acres of floor space, you can find a map at the front desk to help you navigate the color-coded rooms throughout the bookshop.

If you have ever wondered what the world’s largest independent bookstore is, you’ll be glad to discover Powell’s City of Books. It houses a collection of over a million new, used, and rare books.

Pro tip:

There is more than one Powell’s City of Books outlet in Portland; however, the famous one with over a million collections sits at 1005 W Burnside Street.

Visit Portland, Saturday Market

Think of an outdoor market you can go to any time of the day and be sure of not getting drenched. Shopping at the market is one of the few things you can do in Portland, Oregon when it’s raining.

At Portland Saturday Market, residents can shop custom-made, unique crafts and arts. All sellers at the market sell works created by themselves there—you will find mainly original creations unavailable anywhere else.

The best part? The market has a glass-roof structure, so shoppers can get freshly cooked delicacies and eat them there while watching live music and stage performances without the fear of rain during the season.

Pro tip:

Portland Saturday Market opens every Saturday from March through to December. Even on Sundays, you can catch it open; you might have fewer options than on Saturdays.

Enjoy Some Time At Oregon Zoo

Looking to spice up your vacation or tour of the city with your whole family? Then, a time-out at the Oregon Zoo will do the trick.

Sitting on over 60 acres of land and housing thousands of animals from all seven continents, Oregon Zoo is among the first-class leaders in animal welfare and conservation in the U.S.

Visiting this zoo is a wonderful experience for anyone. There are many animals to see, like Asian elephants, African lions, and California condors. It’s all about the learning experience at the Oregon Zoo—showing visitors how these animals interact in a custom-made replica of their homes.

Pro tip:

The zoo has a miniature train ride; take advantage of riding it! It’s for kids and all adults.

Admire the Beautiful Green Spaces in Portland

Remember the praise given to Portland for its variety of outdoor activities and how it’s perfect for such enthusiasts? It’s exactly what you think it is.

The outdoor world in this city has some of the best things to do in Portland, Oregon. Let’s break down all the unique gardens and top green spaces that are worth the visit.

  • Lan Su Chinese Garden

Are you familiar with a bit of Chinese history? Then, the unique and tranquil experience of the Ming Dynasty-style gardens in Lan Su Yuan will be worth your visit. 

The “Garden of Awakening Orchids,” or the full name Lan Su Yuan, is the most authentic and accurate replica of what a traditional Chinese Garden is supposed to be.

Created in 2000, the garden was a joint working effort of Portland and Suzhou’s governments to create an urban oasis mimicking a historic Chinese garden. 

Walking into this culture-rich space feels like you have entered a different continent, and it has all the elements of a traditional garden: water, plants, rocks, fine architecture, and literary inscriptions.

Pro tip:

Ensure to try out the traditional Chinese teas at the Tao of Tea in Lan Su.

  • International Rose Test Garden

Home to over 10,000 roses and more than 500 varieties from across the globe, the International Rose Test Garden is one of the oldest public gardens in the U.S. Visiting hours into this garden is open all year round and completely free.

Roses are an important element in Portland, which is where the nickname, City of Roses” comes from. They are breeding all the finest rose collections in the world here at the test garden and creating unique sets of hybrid roses before being released commercially to the public market.

Pro tip:

It’s best to come here during the warmer months of the year to get the best bloom out of the garden.

  • Portland Japanese Garden

Koi-filled ponds, winding pathways, enchanting bridges, beautiful waterfalls, and scenic landscapes, that’s the Portland Japanese Garden.

Topping as one of the most attractive locations in all of Portland, this garden in Portland is the most authentic Japanese-style landscape outside of Japan. There’s a unique charm to the seasonal flora in the garden that makes every visit memorable and distinctively different

Pro tip:

Before leaving, try out the best Japanese-style tea at the Umami Café.

  • Forest Park

Spanning more than 5,000 acres, Forest Park is the largest urban forest within a city in the entire country. The park is full of dense trees, amazing waterfalls, rivers, and over 70 miles of trail for walking or taking a hike.

One highlight in the park is the famous Witch’s Castle,” running as far back as the 1850s. There’s plenty of history about the moss-filled house, and the locals have unique stories to tell about it.

Pro tip:

While exploring the park, you can make a quick stop by the Nature Preserve and Wildlife Sanctuary or even check out the Witch’s Castle.

Explore the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

If you are looking for fun things to do in Portland, Oregon, with the whole family, then you might want to visit the interactive hub of learning, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. 

Popularly known as OMSI for short, the museum is a welcoming environment for adults and children to learn and become fascinated by how the universe works.

There’s The Science Playground, which is a fun exhibition for kids, teaching them hands-on exploration of the wonders of science. Then, you’d love the Kendall Planetarium, which might benefit you and your kids if there’s a love for astronomy in the family.

Pro tip:

Check out the five-story domed-shaped screen in the Omnimax theater to immerse yourself in a movie experience about science and the world.

View Exhibits in the Portland Art Museum

Constructed in 1892, the Portland Art Museum (PAM) is a top tourist attraction in the city and is among the oldest art museums in the U.S.

There are tons of collective art and pieces from all continents around the world, but the Native American Arts from the Pacific Northwest hold the most collections. Inside the museum lies a wing dedicated to contemporary works and an entire gallery of photography.

Pro tip:

Try to match your visit to PAM with any day when film screenings are occurring in the Whitsell Auditorium of the museum.

Bring your Taste Buds to Life at Voodoo Doughnut

It’s all about doughnuts here and the rich, creative art of making one. The Voodoo Doughnut is Portland’s special doughnut institution. 

Known for innovative and deliciously made doughnuts, there’s a wide menu variety for imaginable concoctions, from bacon maple bar to chocolate doughnuts and an apple fritter mix.

You shouldn’t be in Portland for more than a day and don’t get to try one of the city’s most beloved.

Pro tip:

Try the ODB doughnut. It’s a combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and Oreos—you’d love it!

Try Wine Tasting in the Willamette Valley

Have you ever been wine-tasting? Whatever your answer might be, here’s your chance to try out the Willamette Valley’s famous Pinot Noir.

Coming here means two wins for you: you get to taste some of the world’s best savory wines and enjoy the stunning scenery of the beautiful valley.

There are over 500+ wineries in the valley, so there’s a lot of tasting to do. You could add some high-quality organic meals to your wine-tasting delight in Willamette Valley. 

Pro tip:

You might not want to visit Willamette Valley on a full stomach; try to keep room for lots of drinking and eating.

Final Words

The City of Roses is one for people with a love for the outdoors. There are tons of things to do in Portland, Oregon, and knowing how to plan your outing might make your trip to the banks of the Willamette River much more fun.

Whether it’s a relocation or a two-week vacation to Portland, you can spread your entire outing experience across every day, and it won’t still be enough. 

Take one day at a time, and you will find yourself wanting more of this lush green city.