Sick and tired of the same old recommendations other blogs give you on things to do in Portland?
Maybe you’ve been to Portland once or twice already and are looking for new things to do. Well, you’re in the perfect place!
You won’t find recommendations like hanging around downtown Portland, Powell’s Bookstore, Pok Pok, Salt & Straw, Pine State Biscuits, or Voodoo Donuts on this list. Here’s my list of affordable, unique, and off-the-beaten-path things to do in Portland.
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Table of Contents
AFFORDABLE AND UNIQUE THINGS TO DO IN PORTLAND
EXPLORE PORTLAND BY BIKE
Portland is known as being one of the greenest cities in the United States, so it’s no surprise that getting around by bike is a popular and effortless mode of transportation. You’re going to find tons of bike lanes across the city, so you don’t have to fear for your life when riding on busy streets. Not only is bike riding an eco-friendly way for locals to commute to work, but it’s also a great way to see the city as a visitor! The best part? You’ll get a little calorie burn in too. You can either rent a bike at one of the many bike rental shops across Portland, or stop by a Biketown bike rack, download the Lyft app, and pay per ride. So effortless!
OREGON MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
The OMSI is a fantastic hands-on museum that’s perfect for people who don’t want to just stare at are all day. Here, you can conduct your own experiments in the interactive labs or watch storms form on a giant globe. With a planetarium, a giant-screen theater, a retired navy submarine, endlessly rotating exhibits, and an “After Dark” event series for those 21 and older, the OMSI is one of the coolest and most interactive museums in Portland.
Washington Park is one of my favorite places to visit during the day in Portland. Within the park, you can do so many things, such as visiting the Portland Zoo, the Portland Japanese Garden, The Hoyt Arboretum, the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, and Portland Children’s Museum. One of the best free activities here is strolling around the Portland International Rose Test Garden and seeing all of the crazy rose varieties they have here. If you’d rather just enjoy the outdoors, Washington Park is a great spot to picnic, jog, or even hike.
VISIT THE INTERNATIONAL ROSE TEST GARDEN
The rose garden deserves a spot of its own here. I cannot say enough good things about this iconic rose garden in Portland (it’s absolutely free to visit, which is a huge plus). The rose garden is one of the most massive, free-admission flower gardens I’ve ever laid eyes on. It’s truly a sight to see and a must-visit when you’re on the west side of Portland. The International Rose Test Garden, located in Washington Park, is 2 miles away from NW 23rd. You can take the bus or grab a Biketown bike to get here.
VISIT THE PITTOCK MANSION
The Pittock Mansion, built in 1914, showcases the story of Portland’s transformation from a pioneer town to a modern, industrialized city through the history and legacy of the Pittocks, an affluent family. The mansion is characterized by its impressive exterior, as well as its 23 rooms filled with art and antiques. You can even take a 5.7-mile roundtrip hike to get here, with an in-town starting point, the Lower Macleay Park Trailhead. You can get a little bit of history in, a little bit of exercise, as well as a side of bird watching!
FREE WALKING TOUR
If you like learning about the history and culture of your travel destinations, try going on an affordable walking tour. Get to know more about the quirkiness of Portland as well as the history of the city!
Check out some of Portland’s best walking tours here.
FARMER’S MARKET AT PSU
Every Saturday, from 8:30 am–2 pm, downtown’s South Park Blocks transform into the city’s largest open-air grocery market.
The Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University features 140 farmer and vendor stands, making it a great place to browse and buy local produce, flowers, and natural products. With the many food booths that surround the market, it’s also a great place to grab a bite to eat for lunch.
PORTLAND SATURDAY MARKET
Operating since 1974, the Portland Saturday Market is the largest continually operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the nation. Shop and eat to your heart’s content, and then stroll by the waterfront afterward.
If it’s a nice and sunny day, this is the perfect place to sit on the grass, soak up the sun, maybe have a picnic, and watch all the bikes, scooters, and people drift on by. If you pass by the “elephant ear” food stand, try one! It’s basically a huge slab of fried dough dipped in cinnamon sugar.
EAT AT FOOD PODS
With more than 600 food trucks, food stalls, and tiny kitchens, Portland’s food-cart scene is unrivaled. I often prefer to eat at food trucks over actual restaurants!
It’s often cheaper, faster, and equally as delicious as real restaurant food. There are food truck pods dotted all across the city, but a few notable ones you might want to check out are:
- Alder Food Truck Pod
- Conveniently located in the center of the city near Powell’s Bookstore, this is one of the largest pods in the city. It’s pretty much three whole blocks of food trucks lined up! Despite its size, do note that many of these food trucks are only open for lunch, and some are closed on weekends. For the most food truch options, my recommendation is to stop by during a weekday, preferably for lunch hours.
- Portland State University Food Cart Pod
- Located in the south end of downtown, the PSU pod offers Thai, Mexican and Indian options, along with bento, sandwiches, and more. We hands-down recommend Tokyo Sando, serving up Japanese fried chicken sandos.
- Hawthorne Asylum
- The Hawthorne Asylum food truck pod sits on what used to be the grounds of a mental hospital. But don’t let the name deter you, they have a great variety of food trucks here. They also have a fun seating area, featuring a large patio covered by an awning and a communal fireplace, making this food pod accessible during any time of the year.
- Cartlandia: This is essentially a mega pod located in Southeast Portland. Here, you’ll find a full-service bar with beers and ciders on tap, as well as more than 30 carts offering 15 different cuisines.
PINE STREET MARKET
If you’d rather eat indoors, head to the Pine Street Market. This is an indoor food hall with tons of good dining options, as well as a Salt & Straw location.
Open from early morning to late night every day, Pine Street makes for a great lunch stop for visitors staying in downtown hotels, exploring the Portland Saturday Market, or waiting in line for Voodoo Doughnut or Stumptown Coffee.
SELF-GUIDED STREET ART TOUR
Portland has a lot of street art. You can simply wander around the city and effortlessly stumble upon a plethora of murals and street art. If you want to spend a few hours hunting for street art, start in the Alberta Arts District or Downtown. Alternatively, you can build your own walking tour route by referring to this Portland street art map.
EXPLORE THE VARIOUS NEIGHBORHOODS
There are so many pockets of uniqueness in this city, with each neighborhood possessing its own charm and personality. Please, I beg you to get out of the downtown Portland area and explore what else the city has to offer.
The Alberta Arts District, SE Division/Clinton, Southeast Burnside, Hawthorne Blvd, Hollywood District are some fun neighborhoods to check out, just to name a few.
TRY VARIOUS COFFEE ROASTERS
Coffee runs in Portland’s veins. Over the years, it’s gone from a mundane coffee ritual to now an art form. That’s great for coffee-loving travelers because there are so many independent coffee roasters to try out (Stumptown Coffee’s got some real competition now).
During your stay in Portland, check out Barista, Coava Coffee Roasters, Seven Virtues, Water Avenue Coffee and Heart Coffee Roasters.
GO BREWERY HOPPING
Portland’s climate is perfect for growing hops, which is why the growth of craft beer and independent breweries is unstoppable in Oregon. If you didn’t know, Portland is known as one of the best beer cities in the US!
If you’re going to be coffee tasting, you’ll need to make some room to go beer tasting too. Some of the best brewpubs to start your beer tasting adventures at include Breakside Brewery, Base Camp Brewing, Von Ebert Brewing, Little Beast Brewing Beer Garden, and Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House.
If that’s not enough beer for you, consider joining a brewery tour, where you’ll be shuttled around to some of Portland’s best breweries and not have to worry about drunk driving or drunk biking!
WALK OR BIKE ACROSS A BRIDGE OR TWO
The Tilikum Crossing Bridge in Portland is the first major bridge in the US that was designed to allow access to everything but cars. You can get across this bridge via public transit, biking, or simply walking.
While on the bridge, you’ll get a picturesque view of the neighboring bridges hanging over the Willamette River. Enjoy a few coffee shops and bars along the way, then return over a different bridge.
PICNIC AT LAURELHURST PARK
Laurelhurst is a great little picnic spot located in the Laurelhurst neighborhood. This is where locals go to hang out and let their dogs roam free!
On a warm summer day, we recommend stopping by Ken’s Artisan Pizza to pick up a box or two of amazing pizzas, then walk to this park for a dinner picnic. There are lots of people (and dog) watching opportunities here!
GO SHOPPING FOR VINTAGE THREADS
Portland has an awesome reuse culture. With that, you’ll find tons of antique, vintage, consignment and thrift stores throughout Portland. Hollywood Vintage and House of Vintage are two massive retailers of vintage apparel.
And by massive, I mean MASSIVE. If you’re looking for furniture instead, check out Hollywood Vintage, Lounge Lizard, and Artifact. When in doubt, start in SE Portland at Hawthorne Blvd—the mecca of all things vintage.
VISIT THE FREAKYBUTTRUE PECULIARIUM
Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is an emporium for all things odd and inexplicable. But that’s the fun of it!
The pure existence of this mini-museum really exemplifies the city’s slogan of “Keep Portland Weird”. In the gift shop area, you’ll find shelves jam-packed with weird artifacts, gag gifts, and preserved specimens that can best be described as curiosities.
In the Peculiarium itself, you’ll find a variety of exhibits include a nightmare dollhouse, odd drawings, an evil-looking Krampus figure, and even a life-size recreation of an alien autopsy (did someone say photo op?). They also serve fresh chocolate chip bug cookies, edible scorpions, mealworms, and crickets.
There is a $5 admission, but admission is free if you come in a costume. I know, even the discounts are weird and awesome.
VISIT THE VACUUM MUSEUM
Did you know there is a Vacuum Museum located inside of a vacuum store?
Located inside Stark’s Vacuum on NE Grand Avenue in Portland, this museum’s purpose is to teach you about all the vacuum cleaner history you need to know. They feature 25 of the most iconic vacuums in history. Hope you learn some fun facts and get a few good photos out of it!
VISIT CATHEDRAL PARK
Cathedral Park is situated in North Portland next to the banks of the Willamette River in the Cathedral Park Neighborhood. Above the park is St. John’s a beautiful and iconic bridge in Portland. The experience of being here is spectacular.
As you walk beneath the towering cathedral-like footings of the St. John’s bridge, soak in the beauty of the structure. The park also includes a boat dock, boat ramp, picnic tables, and an off-leash area for hanging out with your dogs.
The park is also home to many festivals, concerts, and community events such as the Cathedral Park Jazz Festival.
Fifty Licks is by far the best ice cream I’ve had in my life–like, ever. In my opinion, it’s a million times better than Salt & Straw. I’m smiling thinking about it now…
They’ve got uncommon yet delicious flavors like Thai Rice, Mango Sticky Rice, Cornbread with Honey Butter, Mochi Green Tea, French Toast, and Banana Pudding. The Banana Pudding and Green Tea Mochi flavors are my all-time favorites there. They have other locations throughout Portland as well.
If you can’t eat traditional ice cream made with whole milk, you’ll love 50 Licks’ large selection of non-dairy options.
VISIT THE PORTLAND JAPANESE GARDEN
Considered the most authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden is a haven of tranquil beauty in all four seasons. The view of Mount Hood on a clear day only adds to the serenity of the garden.
Expect to spend about 2 hours soaking in the enchanting views at the Japanese garden. However, the price for admission is pretty steep— it costs $18.95 for adults. They also have senior, student, and youth discounts as well.
If you don’t plan on visiting Japan in the near term, this garden is worth the price!
LAN SU CHINESE GARDEN
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is an authentic Ming Dynasty-style garden built by Suzhou artisans. This Chinese garden offers a sweet and peaceful escape in Portland’s historic Chinatown district.
If the price at the Japanese garden is too steep, consider going to this garden as an alternative! Admission is $12.95 for adults.
FIRST THURSDAYS IN THE PEARL DISTRICT
Calling all art lovers and wine aficionados! First Thursday in the Pearl is a district-wide art event that occurs on the first Thursday of each month.
Art galleries in the district are all open late into the evening for receptions and new show openings. Many of the galleries offer food and drink while the featured artists show off and discuss their work. The gallery receptions are free and open to the public, and the receptions usually go from around 6pm to 10pm.
Outside, you can usually find the streets packed with artists selling their creations and musicians playing live music on many of the closed-off streets. It’s a good time for sure!
LAST THURSDAYS IN THE ALBERTA ARTS DISTRICT
Once a month, the diverse neighborhood puts on a lively street fair called Last Thursday, which is a spinoff of the Pearl district’s “First Thursday” event.
Musicians, performers, and local artists line Alberta Street displaying their talents and goods while tons of artwork is showcased in and around surrounding galleries, bars, and restaurants. If you’re ever in Portland on a Thursday, this is an event not to be missed!
You can’t find a quirkier place for nightlife than The Funhouse Lounge. After all, it was voted one of “Portland’s Weirdest Bars” by The Oregonian.
This place is an arts-centric, theatrical lounge located in the Central Eastside of Portland. Some would even consider it a modern cabaret–a place to enjoy some cocktails and grab a bite to eat while being entertained.
Throughout the week, you can find a wide array of events, including dance nights, stand-up comedy, burlesque, improv, karaoke, storytelling, bingo, and much more.
A Portland staple! Who can say no to an arcade bar with all the classics such as pinball, Pacman, Paperboy, Soul Caliber, and Tekken as well as more modern arcade games!
For those of you who like dancing— yes, there is a Dance Dance Revolution machine there.
This venue is actually in Old Town Chinatown but it’s walkable from downtown.
KARAOKE AT DEVIL’S POINT STRIP CLUB
This is a pretty fun and random fact, but Portland has the most strip clubs per capita of any city in the US. Who would have thought?
Well, one of the liveliest strip clubs in Portland is Devil’s Point Strip Club. Every Sunday night, Devil’s Point hosts “stripperoke”. It’s pretty much just karaoke, but with strippers dancing around you while you sing.
If you’re not coming for the karaoke singers, come for the dancers, they’ve got some pretty impressive acrobatic moves. I was truly impressed!
“The Grotto” is a gracefully tucked away woodland sanctuary in Northeast Portland that features 62 acres of botanical gardens, tranquil strolling paths, and Catholic shrines.
More formally known as The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, the Grotto was constructed in 1924 as an outdoor Roman Catholic sanctuary. It’s a very serene place for meditation as well.
In December, The Grotto hosts the dazzling Christmas Festival of Lights and can be found lit up into the night until Christmas. The sanctuary is located about 8 miles from downtown Portland and is easily accessible by car or bus.
GO BIKE RIDING AT SAUVIE ISLAND
If you’re looking for a bit of a longer bike ride, consider making a little day trip to Sauvie Island. Just 10 miles northwest of downtown Portland, this is one of the largest river islands in the United States. Since a lot of it consists of farmland and wildlife refuge, it’s a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.
On Sauvie Island, you can ride your bike throughout the island, hang out by the beach, go berry picking at one of the many farms, go kayaking, or simply enjoy a sunset with a picnic dinner.
Looking for something completely odd to do here? Head to Collins Beach, where you’ll find a boat that looks like a tagged up UFO. It’ll be located around the 2nd and 3rd parking areas for Collins Beach among the trees and the beach.
SEE THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS BLOOM
If you’re lucky enough to be in Portland during the cherry blossom season (mid-March to early-April), head to Tom McCall Waterfront Park, located next to the Willamette River. From there, go towards the Steel Bridge.
Even if nothing is blossoming, it’s still a relaxing place to be. The riverside park is a very popular spot to get your physical activity on–you’ll see lots of people jogging, walking, rollerskating, skateboarding and cycling.
You can also get a great view of the boats on the river, making it a good spot to have a picnic lunch.
WOODEN SHOE TULIP FARM
Can’t get enough of the flora views? You’re in luck, there’s more! Every spring just 32 miles south of the city in Woodburn, you’ll find colors of all kinds splashed throughout the fields.
Every March, the Wooden Show Tulip Festival takes place, drawing in thousands of visitors per year. Daily activities and special weekend activities at the Tulip Festival include craft tents, food, wine tasting, and activities for all ages.
After you’ve enjoyed the tulip fields, check out the gift shop, café, and children’s area (featuring a “cow train” for rides through the fields, rubber duck races, and pony rides). If you’ve missed the spring season, they are still open year-round for wine tasting, farm tours, and more.
Local Tip: If you have more time to explore, turn your drive out here into a day trip and head to nearby Silver Falls State Park or the Aurora Colony National Historic District, which features some of the country’s best antique shops. Read more about these spots below!
AURORA COLONY NATIONAL HISTORIC DISTRICT
Head 24 miles south of Portland for a treasure hunting paradise. At Aurora Colony National Historic District, you can find over twenty shops, many in historic buildings, featuring some of the best antique and vintage stores you’ll ever visit.
Stroll down the streets to enjoy additional small-town establishments, including art galleries, eateries, a candy factory, and a garden shop. While you’re here, visit the Old Aurora Colony Museum for a self-guided tour to learn a little bit more about the area’s history.
DAY TRIP TO SILVER FALLS STATE PARK
Famous for its abundance of picturesque waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park is the largest and one of the most popular state parks in Oregon. Located 60 miles south of Portland in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, Silver Falls SP features some truly iconic hikes and sights. It is best known for the 177-foot South Falls, located at the South Falls Day Use Area.
If you have more time to linger here, you should really make time to hike the Trail of Ten Falls, a moderate 7.8-mile hike that features ten waterfalls. This trail allows visitors to walk directly behind four different waterfalls, providing you with an awesome perspective and an even more awesome photo op! The hike will take approximately 3 hours to complete and is suitable for families and beginner hikers as there are side trails you could take to shortcut it back to your car.
You can also stop by the historic South Falls Lodge where you can pick up sandwiches, snacks, coffee, and ice cream before/after your hike. There is also a nature store there for souvenir shopping.
DAY TRIP TO COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE
If you’ve got a car and a free day to explore outside the city limits, we highly recommend making time to visit the Columbia River Gorge. The Columbia River Gorge is so beautiful and packed with jaw-dropping waterfalls and sights that it was designated it a National Scenic Area. Along this 70-mile highway, you will have the chance to see several charming towns, historic buildings, monuments, fish hatcheries, and countless numbers of enchanting waterfalls. Not to mention, the hiking and watersports possibilities are endless. This is also where Multnomah Falls is located!
DAY TRIP TO THE OREGON COAST
The entire coast of Oregon is jam-packed with nature parks, rugged coastlines, coastal villages, and equally as breathtaking views. No matter the season, the Oregon Coast is a rejuvenating getaway.
From Portland, the quickest and easiest spot to visit on the coast is Cannon Beach and the surrounding towns. Those iconic photos of the huge triangular rock jutting out of the ocean–yup, that’s located in Cannon Beach.
Cannon Beach and the Northern Oregon Coast is only 80 miles (1.5 hours) from downtown Portland, making it an excellent day trip or weekend trip option. There are a plethora of things to do here, including hiking, lounging on the beach, strolling through farmer’s markets, visiting art galleries, and admiring tide pools full of life.
Read More: The Perfect Northern Oregon Coast Day Trip
WHAT TO EAT IN PORTLAND
- Tokyo Sando | Japanese fried chicken sandwiches, pure saucy goodness!
- Love Belizean | If you’re a sucker for Caribbean food like I am, then you will have found your pot of gold with Love Belizean. The lovely couple who owns the place serves up amazingly tender stews, curries, meat plates & other Caribbean offerings. It’s hands down one of my new favorite places to get a plate of comforting stewed chicken.
- Apizza Scholls | Hands down my favorite NY-style pizza spot in all of Portland. The crust is pure perfection and the toppings are as flavorful as can be. They sell full-sized pies only, but don’t let that deter you–you will finish the pizza because of how delicious it is.
- Ken’s Artisan Pizza | Delicious wood-fired oven pizzas that are Italian-inspired with an American accent.
- NOLA Doughnuts | Want a reminder of what those heavenly treats at New Orleans’ Cafe Du Monde taste like? Get the fluffy beignets here!
- Pine State Biscuits | Biscuits and gravy, highly rated, highly comforting. Need I say more? If you’re wondering what to get, The Reggie (fried chicken, bacon & cheese topped with gravy) and The Reggie Deluxe (The Reggie with an egg) are both to die for.
- Tin Shed Garden Cafe | Go to The Tin Shed for breakfast or brunch, but be prepared to wait a while unless you get there early! This place is super popular but worth getting up early for. You can enjoy a cup of coffee in the garden area while you wait. Great people-watching spot too!
- Grilled Cheese Grill | A food cart where you can eat your fancy grilled cheese sandwich on a converted double-decker bus. How awesome is that…
- Screen Door | Southern food, great drinks, and an easygoing atmosphere. This place is extremely popular, so be prepared for a long wait if you don’t get there as soon as the doors open. You’ve been warned! I waited over an hour the last time I was there. Another strategy is to go for a late dinner, after 8pm.
- Fifty Licks | Fifty Licks is by far the best ice cream I’ve had in my life–like, ever. In my opinion, it’s a million times better than Salt & Straw. I’m smiling thinking about it now… They’ve got uncommon yet delicious flavors like Thai Rice, Mango Sticky Rice, Cornbread with Honey Butter, Mochi Green Tea, French Toast, and Banana Pudding. The Banana Pudding and Green Tea Mochi flavors are my all-time favorites there.
- Gravy | Go here for brunch, but make sure you get there early! Known for their sausage gravy, platter-size hash browns, and the overwhelmingly huge portions. You’ll probably want to share with a friend as you enjoy bottomless mugs of Cellar Door Coffee. Insider tip: Wednesdays and Thursdays are slowest if you can squeeze in a midweek meal.
- Andina Restaurant | “Novoperuvian” cuisine in the Pearl District. I ate there a few years ago for a friend’s birthday dinner and oh, was it amazing. If you’re looking for a change of pace from food pods and food cart meals, Andina is a great option.
- Breakside Brewery | Breakside Brewery is a few blocks away from 23rd in the NW Slabtown district. If you’re limited on time or have a beer consumption limit, add Breakside to the top of your list. Not only do they have great beers (Breakside IPA and Wanderlust IPA are iconic), they have delicious brew bites too.
- Von Ebert Brewing | Stop in for happy hour for some great brew bites (and of course great beer). Get the burger, any type of pizza, and the truffle oil tater tots. These tots are the best I’ve ever had.
- Carioca Bowls | Hot summer day in PDX? Head to Carioca Bowls and cool off with one of their beautiful and delicious acai bowls! Aside from acai bowls, they also sell pao de queijo (cheese bread), avocado toast, and a vegan version of the bean stew feijoada.
- Coava Coffee Roasters | Another popular coffee roaster in Portland. There are multiple locations, so you know it’s good.
- Farmhouse Thai | Portland might have the country’s second-best Thai food scene after Los Angeles. Farmhouse Thai might not be as popular as Pok Pok, but trust me, the food here is better. If you’re expecting traditional Thai food, this is not what you will get. Everything is presented beautifully and has so much flavor. Try the slow-braised short ribs and the crab fried rice.
- Khao Moo Dang | Has anyone heard of Thai brunch up until now? (Us neither.) Well, that’s what this restaurant is known for, and oh boy have we been missing out all our lives. Khao Moo Dang is the neighborhood’s Thai style pork, crispy pork belly, rice and noodle joint. Excellent comfort food!
WHERE TO STAY IN PORTLAND
The best area to stay in Portland is going to vary by the traveler, based on what your interests are, what things you’re planning to do, and whether or not you have a car. Here are a few great neighborhoods in Portland to consider:
- Mississippi Avenue: a down-to-earth, funky, and edgy neighborhood filled with music, art, shopping, and an awesome food cart pod; one of our personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in!
- Alberta Arts District: boasts some of the most avant-garde arts and community elements in Portland, featuring art galleries, murals, shops, great little cafes, and bars
- South East Burnside: this is where the nightlife is, where a good concentration of brewpubs and bars are
- Pearl District: where the warehouse district’s past meets the future
- NW 23rd Avenue: Portland’s best-known shopping street with both independent shops and national chains
- Hawthorne Blvd / Belmont: the counterculture capital of Portland, host to a cool blend of vintage and independent boutique shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars (often compared to the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, CA)
- SE Division/Clinton: vibrant and modern neighborhood, features block after block of must-see and must-eat destinations; one of our personal favorite neighborhoods to stay in!
- Downtown Portland: close to many attractions, restaurants, food pods, and shopping; decent area to stay in if you don’t have a car.
TRANSPORTATION IN PORTLAND
- Rent a Car
- Fair warning, if you are going to hang out primarily in downtown or the western side of Portland, ditch the car and take local transportation. Street parking in downtown Portland costs money almost everywhere. Free parking will be plentiful everywhere else.
- Parking Kitty is a smartphone app that allows you to pay for parking using just your phone. The next time you’re parking, open Parking Kitty, select the zone number of the area where you’re parked, select the amount of time you’ll be parked there, and pay directly through the app. It’s super convenient for when you don’t have coins, but a bummer that you can no longer take advantage of other people’s remaining time on meters. Don’t skimp on parking payments–from my experience, the parking patrollers are always out and about, always creeping behind some corner…
- Take Public Transportation
- Hesitant about taking public transportation? The public transportation system in Portland is actually very convenient and simple. TriMet offers light rail, bus, and streetcar service throughout the metro area.
- You’ll pay your fare using the Hop Fastpass, an electronic-fare payment system. Hop cards can be purchased for $3 at local retailers and grocery stores. When you need to add in more money, you can reload your card using the Hop Fastpass app or at local stores.
- How to get on: To use your Hop Fastpass, tap the card on a designated card reader each time you board the MAX light rail, streetcar or bus. Easy peasy.
- Rent a Bike
- You can expect tons of bike lanes to protect you as you ride, as well as convenient Biketown bikes (powered by Lyft) located by the thousands across the city.
- How to ride: Download the Lyft app, unlock your bike through the app, and pay per minute you have the bike unlocked.
- Use Google Maps and select the bicycle route–Google will then give you the most bike-friendly routes so you’re not riding on too many streets without designated bike lanes.
- Rent an E-scooter
- Electric scooters are the latest mode of transportation to arrive in Portland. Similarly to the Biketown bikes, you pay per minute. There are lots of different e-scooter options around town, just download the app required to get it started.
- Lyft and Uber are also options if you have money to constantly order rides, or if you plan to do most of your exploring car-less and need to get somewhere harder-to-reach.
And that concludes this list of my favorite Portland activities, sights, and eats. What are some of your favorite things to do in Portland, Oregon?