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Portland is a vibrant and unique city packed with exciting things to do. It’s a place that encourages creativity and individuality. The city of roses is brought to life by the thriving arts and culture scene that can be experienced through galleries, theatre, markets, boutique shops, coffee, food, craft beer and, of course, the people. Portland is also a very green city with an abundance of public gardens, parks, forests and green spaces to escape from the urban landscape.

Top Things To Do in Portland, Oregon





Powell’s City of Books is the largest seller of used and new books in the world. That fact alone should be enough to spark your interest in visiting the store that houses around one million books and takes up an entire block in Portland’s Pearl District. The first step into Powell’s can be slightly overwhelming. There are ten rooms, with row after row of books up to a ridiculously tall height (too tall even for Clark to reach). Once inside, roaming the aisles, you will quickly become lost in your own world and will need to use your self-control not to blow the holiday budget in one shop.

Powell’s is popular and does get crowded, so if you prefer to browse alone, head down first thing when the shop opens.


The McMenamins family-owned company operate out of locations that are unique and steeped in history, and this place is no exception. The Kennedy School served as an elementary school from 1915 to 1975. It lay abandoned for years until the McMenamin family began restoration in 1997 to bring the building back to life in its new form. Today, inside the halls and rooms once filled with school children, you will now find bars, restaurants, hotel rooms, a gift shop, a cinema and soaking pools. You can explore the halls where the history of the building is told through photographs and artwork and then choose to drink in honours, detention or the boiler room.

The school is located near the Alberta Arts District on NE 33rd Ave and is easy to reach by public transport and a bit of walking.


Located in north-east Portland is the Alberta Arts District. This neighbourhood, stretching 13 blocks down NE Alberta Street, is full of character and artistic charm. You could easily spend an entire day exploring this district. Both sides of the street are lined with boutique stores, independent galleries, food cart pods, family-run restaurants, hip cafes and colourful murals.


Portland has gained a reputation as a must-visit destination for doughnut lovers, with many notable stores located across the city. You can get your classic cinnamon doughnut and a much-loved rainbow sprinkle, or branch out with a giant doughnut topped with maple bacon. The most famous of all the stores in Portland is Voodoo Doughnut. Voodoo has become a Portland institution and is easily spotted by the long line of people waiting to get their hands on weird and wonderful flavours packed into the bright pink boxes.

We stopped by Voodoo Doughnut at 9 am on a weekday and did not have to wait in line.

Another well-known store is Blue Star Donuts. These treats sit nicely between the traditional flavours and the more experimental, weird and wacky creations. Printed on the shop wall was the quote, “Donuts for Grownups”; a beautiful rhyme that rings true for their slightly more gourmet options.


There are many fantastic restaurants, cafes and bars in Portland, but when it comes to food, this city is known for their food trucks (better known here as food carts). There are food cart locations around the city, with many set up permanently in groups called pods. The cuisines on offer vary, providing loads of tasty and affordable options no matter the craving.

We visited two food cart pods in Portland and would recommend them both. The first is The Cart Blocks on W Burnside Street, where we ate from the Hua Li House. The second, near the Alberta Arts District, is the Piedmont Station Food Carts, which also had heated huts, a bar, and a games room.


Washington Park has 410 acres of trees, trails, gardens and attractions for everyone to enjoy. Most of the park is free, so lace up your walking shoes and pack a picnic lunch ready for a day of exploring. There are also paid attractions, like the Japanese Gardens and the Oregon Zoo.

It is very easy to get to Washington Park from Downtown Portland. The MAX red and blue lines stop at the park, in the deepest transit station in North America and the Western Hemisphere. The park also operates a free shuttle service, which stops at all the major sites within the grounds.

Top Things To Do - Portland Saturday Markets


If you are in Portland on a Saturday, you must visit the Saturday markets in Tom McCall Waterfront Park. From 10 am – 5 pm, you can browse through a collection of arts and crafts stalls, selling handmade goods from local artisans and small businesses. There is also entertainment, live music, food and bar carts, making for an exciting weekend atmosphere.


Running along the Willamette River in Downtown Portland is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This park was named after a past Oregon Governor who advocated for environmental sustainability and preservation within urban planning, which is quite fitting considering the very same site used to be a freeway. The riverside park and trail is popular with both tourists and locals and home to many annual Portland events.

Located next to the waterfront park, at SW Naito Parkway and Taylor Street, is the world’s smallest park – Mill Ends Park. There is not much to see at this 61 cm (24 in) diameter park, but the story behind its existence is beautiful enough to pay a visit. A local journalist decided he was tired of looking at the pothole that sat outside his office. So, he planted flowers in the hole and named it Mill Ends Park. He wrote newspaper articles about the park and a leprechaun called Patrick O'Toole, who called this park home. Today the tiny park has become a quirky and fun tourist attraction worth of our top things to do list.


When planning our travel destinations, we pin our bucket list of sites to see and recommended places to eat and drink on Google Maps. We are then never lost for ideas when travelling, and can easily share these lists for our friends and family to use too.

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