Portland has a reputation as an eco-friendly: when visiting Portland, there’s no need to rent a car! It’s easy to get around by foot, bike, and even boat. Start your journey in Portland’s “living room,” Pioneer Courthouse Square, and head in any direction.
Portland on Foot
Portland is a pedestrian-friendly city with short 200-foot blocks laid out in an easy-to-navigate grid, and crisscrossed by two MAX light rail lines, the Portland Streetcar and bus routes. Explore on your own, or take one of Portland Walking Tours’ guided outings. The Best of Portland tour is a primer of its history, culture and “green” legacy. The Underground Portland tour delves into its sordid history and urban legends. The Beyond Bizarre tour covers local paranormal phenomena. Foodies will love the Epicurean Excursion, Chocolate Decadence, or Flavor Street tours. The latter includes tastings at some of the city’s best food carts.
Don’t miss Portland Saturday Market, open Sundays as well. This colossal open-air arts and crafts market at Tom McCall Waterfront Park features one-of-a-kind items made by local artisans. In addition to coffee, pizza, and ice cream, vendors offer a tantalizing array of ethnic foods.
You can shop the Portland Farmers Market every day except Tuesday, but check the website as it moves to different locations throughout the week. Choose from a variety of fresh produce, dairy products, bakery items, nuts, organic meats and seafood, plus other farm products and enjoy live music, demonstrations by local chefs and other special events.
Portland by Bicycle
One thing you notice when visiting Portland is the number of bicycles. The city encourages cycling as an alternate form of transportation. Bring your own, or rent a cycle at a local shop such as 21st Avenue Bicycle or Fat Tire Farm.
One fantastic loop ride encompasses both banks of the Willamette River. A broad, paved pathway extends the entire length of Tom McCall Waterfront Park along the seawall from the Hawthorne Bridge to the Steel Bridge. Cross these bridges to connect with the Eastbank Esplanade which runs parallel on the opposite shore. Highlights of the approximately 4-mile round-trip ride include fountains, public art, a 1,200-foot floating walkway section and spectacular views of the river and downtown skyline.
For a more ambitious ride, take the Springwater Corridor starting at SE 4th Ave. and SE Ivon St. The trail follows the Willamette River past Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge, through the charming Sellwood neighborhood, then eastward along Johnson Creek. Ride about nine miles to the SE Flavel St. MAX station; then, load your bikes on a Green Line train to return Downtown.
Portland by Boat
Another outstanding way to explore the city is on the water. Enjoy a leisurely sightseeing cruise aboard the Portland Spirit, or book a private, personalized tour on a classic, wooden motorboat with Portland Boat Tours.
If you prefer to go under your own power, rent a kayak or canoe from Portland Kayak Company or Alder Creek Kayak. Both companies are within easy paddling distance of Downtown, Ross Island and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge for outstanding city views, and possible sightings of eagles, osprey and herons.
Should inclement weather curtail outdoor activities, visit some of the city’s standout museums. The Portland Art Museum wide-ranging collections include American, Asian, European, Northwest, Indigenous and Modern art, plus graphic arts, photography and traveling exhibits. Tour iconic Pittock Mansion overlooking Downtown, a grand period-furnished historic home built in 1914.
Food and Drink
Refreshment options are endless in the foodie-haven that is Portland. Experience breakfast at Mother’s Bistro & Bar, or the walk-up Waffle Window. For lunch or dinner try Clyde Common, Meriwether’s, Farm Café, or Pok Pok.
Portland’s thriving food cart scene offers more than 600 vendors serving nearly everything imaginable. Try garlic- and ginger-seasoned chicken with rice and dipping sauce at Nong’s Khao Man Gai, sweet or savory combinations from Perierra Creperie,or a tender, roast porchetta sandwich with arugula and apple slices at The People’s Pig.
Welcome to Beervana—the self-proclaimed craft beer capital of the world. Sample some local brews at Lucky Labrador Brew Pub, Hair of the Dog, BridgePort Brewing, or ride on over to the Hopworks BikeBar.
Evening entertainment options abound with Portland’s many live music venues, theater, dance, opera, and symphony performances. For some wacky adult fun, take in the midnight showing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” at Clinton Street Theater, screened weekly on Saturday night since 1978.
Don’t Miss This
No Portland visit is complete without a pilgrimage to Powell’s City of Books and a sweet treat from Voodoo Doughnut. Insider’s tip; avoid the lines at the Voodoo Doughnut on SW 3rd Avenue by visiting one of their other two locations, or come at night—the stores are open 24 hours.