This post is all about what to do in Portland Oregon for first-timers!
Located along the Willamette and Columbia rivers, Portland is fast becoming the place to go. Interestingly, named by a toss of a coin, Portland is also called the City of Roses.
It offers visitors a rich and vibrant culinary and art scene, balanced with a wide range of outdoor activities, as well as an eclectic nightlife that will please any night owl.
Stumptown is Portland’s oldest and first nickname. The locals began calling it such because of the various stumps trees left after they were cut down to make room for the rapid urban growth that was taking place.
Today the place has no stumps and is more about its well-established tradition of the annual World Naked Bike Ride, as well as plenty of other things that will please culinary, culture and art connoisseurs, and people who just want to have a little escape from their busy lives.
Download the Skyscanner app and set up alerts to any city in the world. I have about 30 different alerts set up at a time and whenever a price drops I get notified. Thanks to Skyscanner I booked a roundtrip ticket from Miami to London (no layovers) for less than $350, when the regular price was over $600!!
What To Do In Portland Your First Time
The largest independent bookstore in the world and one of Portland’s most iconic landmarks, Powell’s Books is a testament to the endurance of the printed word.
Powell’s Books is a maze of text and literature and it is not unusual for people to find themselves lost in its halls for hours. The shelves have plenty of titles you will never find anywhere else.
Portland is known for its lively food cart scene. It is not unusual to find pods offering great food throughout the town.
Most of Portland’s success stories start with a humble food truck and one of the best places to visit if you want to have a genuine food truck experience is Portland Mercado.
There you will be greeted with a plethora of South American, Mexican, and Central American food trucks. There is also a Latin American butcher, bar, and market.
Aside from being a great place where you can grab excellent bites, it is also a nonprofit Latino community development.
OMSI or the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a popular museum that features several exhibits that demonstrate astronomy, biology, chemistry, and physics.
It is one of the best places to take kids to ignite and indulge in their love for science.
Not just for kids though! Adults also get to enjoy the museum on their own when they stop by for the booze-fueled OMSI after Dark with tickets starting from $10.
If you want to do a trail walk in Portland (and I highly encourage you to do so!), take Macleay Trail to Witch’s Castle.
Located on the southernmost end of Forest Park, this dilapidated house is a sight to see. This structure has been slowly taken over by a forest with vines creeping up on all sides.
According to legends, Danford Balch, his wife, and their 9 children lived in the house back in 1850. He hired a man by the name of Mortimer Stump to help him clear the land.
Mortimer fell in love with 15-year old Anna which Danford disapproved of. The young couple eloped but when Danford saw them, he shot them in a drunken rage. Danford was later arrested and hanged but Mary Jane continued to live in the property long after her husband died.
It has been called the Witch’s Castle ever since it was rediscovered by high school students in the 1980s.
The zoo may be a depressing place for some people but the Oregon Zoo is where rescued animals are given a second chance at life.
The zoo provides education and rehabilitation and even puts efforts towards the conservation of vulnerable species.
There are plenty of adorable animals such as sea otters, tigers, and bats. Ticket fees go towards a good cause too!
Washington Park is the place to go if you would like to take a look at roses which the city is very popular for.
From April to October, peaking in June, the International Rose Test Garden brims with hundreds of blossoming rose bushes and they fill the air with scents and beautify the park with their color.
Because of its popularity, it is best to leave the car at home and catch the bus because it can be quite a challenge to find a parking spot.
Portland Art Museum
Portland may not be known for its museums like New York or Chicago but the Portland Art Museum should not be overlooked! It offers contemporary, classic, and Native American art pieces.
One of the country’s oldest museums, it is worth the trip for any person who loves art and is a great place to explore for families.
What To Eat In Portland
Check Out The Breweries!
If there is one city that does craft beer right, it’s Portland!
Portland has more breweries per capita and you are sure to find a beer (or a dozen) you absolutely love.
A couple of popular ones are Deschutes Brewery, 10 Barrel Brewing, Great Notion Brewing, and Breakside Brewery.
Stumptown Coffee Roaster’s
If you are in Portland, even for just a weekend, don’t leave without trying a cup or two of Portland’s best espresso!
Stumptown Café on Division is where it all started. Everything about this little coffee shop is just perfect, from the music, decor, to the service. Its a great place for a quick coffee break or even to spend an afternoon with a friend.
They also have a store in downtown Portland you can visit, but I definitely recommend going to the OG.
Arguably America’s best doughnuts, Voodoo Doughnuts will leave you wondering whether you just ate a doughnut at all or something entirely different.
If you haven’t had a Voodoo doughnut, then you better head to Portland (yes, these alone are worth the trip!).
Made with love, you will be greeted with funky décor and a plethora of freshly made choices when you enter their premises.
Salt & Straw
Locals seem to have an obsession with ice cream, just as they do with doughnuts.
Salt & Straw is very popular and is very well-known for its unique flavors such as olive oil, pear & blue cheese, and honey lavender.
Get in line and you will see just why people scream for ice cream!
If you’re curious, the ice cream above is goat cheese, strawberry, and habanero! Yum!
Pop Up Dinners
Portland is well-known for its pop-up dinners. They have creative cocktail pop-ups such as Zoo Bar, sporadic food of Guam pop-ups such as PDX671, Filipino Kamayan feasts, vegan supper clubs and many more.
You will always find something tasty for dinner. Just ask your local foodie friend where the next pop-up is or check Feastly!
Alberta Street Eats
Located on the northeast of Portland, Albert Street is another destination that must not be missed!
There you will find laid-back coffee shops, foodie restaurants, and even funky galleries.
For a breakfast you won’t forget, you should head to Pine State Biscuits and try their highly-recommended ‘The Reggie’ which is made up of fried chicken, gravy, and bacon and cheese biscuit sandwich
Don’t Forget To Pin Me, Like Me, Share Me!