Portland is Oregon’s largest city, so it’s no surprise that there are lots of fun things to do in it. It’s known for being an eco-friendly and outdoor-loving city. So, if you’re looking to spend some time outside while enjoying unique sights, then Portland is the city for you!
Here are 13 of the most fun things to do in Portland. Catch them all if you can!
#1 – Washington Park
Washington Park is the perfect place to take in the beauty of Oregon’s nature. It covers over 410 acres, and you’ll find many of Portland’s big attractions inside it. The zoo, children’s museum, and Japanese Gardens are just some of the attractions in this park. It also has walking trails to the Pittock Mansion and Forest Park. But you don’t have to go to an attraction to enjoy yourself! Washington Park is full of picnic areas, playgrounds, trails, and tennis courts. So, it’s the perfect spot for some casual outdoor activities.
#2 – Pittock Mansion
Anyone with an adventurous spirit knows that mansions are some of the coolest places to explore. And the Pittock Mansion doesn’t disappoint. This home was built in 1909, and it has about 46 rooms including a music room, a library, and a Turkish smoking room. It became open to the public in 1965, so you can now take tours of the place and learn a little more about its history. Not only is the architecture impressive, but it also has breathtaking views. It sits on several acres of land 1,000 feet above sea level, so there’s plenty to look at.
#3 – The Shanghai Tunnels
If creepy history is your idea of fun, then the Shanghai Tunnels are one of the best things in Portland for you to do. While this attraction gets a lot of mixed reviews, many agree that it’s perfect for a Halloween adventure. There’s a small network of tunnels under Portland that were suspected to be used for dark, criminal activities in the late 19th and early 20th century. You can go on a tour of these tunnels, where the guide will tell you plenty of spooky stories along the way.
#4 – Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the coolest places for all ages to learn. It’s an interactive museum with labs and exhibits focused on hands-on learning. The exhibits explore topics like physics, paleontology, and chemistry. Some unique exhibits that adults are sure to enjoy are the USS Blueback from The Hunt for Red October and Laser Pink Floyd shows. So, if you’re visiting Portland on a rainy day, this is an action-packed attraction that the whole family can enjoy.
#5 – Powell’s City of Books
A book store on vacation might sound boring, but you don’t have to be an avid reader to enjoy Powell’s City of Books. This is so much more than just a trip to the library. This book store is so famous because it’s massive! It takes up an entire square block and it’s three stories tall. Many great authors have visited this store, and it often hosts events where writers come to meet with fans. And if you happen to be looking for something to read, you’ll have no shortage of options with over 1 million books for sale.
#6 – Lan Su Chinese Garden
The Lan Su Chinese Garden is one of the only authentic gardens of its kind in the country. Once inside, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a magical oasis. It’s full of various plants that are native to China. In addition to the trees, flowers, and other plants, there’s also an 8,000-square-foot lake resting in the center. This attraction is known for being a tranquil getaway from the city, but it also hosts cultural events from time to time as well. If you’re looking to relax a bit, then this is one of the most fun things to do in Portland.
#7 – Witch’s Castle
The Witch’s Castle is a lesser known attraction in Portland, but still equally impressive. It’s an old, aging house that you can find at the southern end of Forest Park. The structure is crumbling and covered in vines, making it the perfect mixture of awesome and creepy. Stories behind it say that a couple with nine children lived in this house in 1850. After the home became empty, it was used for various purposes like a bathroom and a park ranger station. But it was greatly damaged in a storm and has sat abandoned ever since. A hike to it is well worth it since it’s such a unique photo opportunity.
#8 – Portland Art Museum
If you love art, the Portland Art Museum is certainly one of the best things to do in the city. It’s known as the oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, and it has some of the country’s most impressive collections. It’s home to over 42,000 art pieces, including a sculpture garden and a photography area. Yet, the museum’s Native American gallery is what it’s most known for since it has over 5,000 historical objects that came from over 200 different tribes. This impressive museum is made up of three connected buildings, so it’s easy to get lost while checking out all that it has to offer.
#9 – Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden is another serene getaway from the busy city. It’s 12 acres and has eight gardens, each one designed with a different traditional Japanese gardening technique. All the gardens have the perfect balance between plants, water, and stones. It was designed as a place for guests to feel relaxed and be surrounded by lovely nature. You could spend hours exploring this space and admiring all the gorgeous details.
#10 – Forest Park
If you visited the Witch’s Castle, then you’re already in Forest Park. And luckily, this famous Portland park has lots of fun things to do in it. It’s over 5,000 acres, making it one of the biggest urban parks in the country. It has over 70 miles of trails, so there’s no shortage of areas to explore. There is a wide variety of trails for hikers of all levels. This park is also known as a popular spot for bird watching. There’s even a Wildlife Care Center, which has lots of information about the birds found in the park.
#11 – Columbia River Valley
The Columbia River Valley is an excellent place to view waterfalls. Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Latourell Falls are just some of the majestic waterfalls you’ll find in this area. These waterfalls are found only 25 miles east from the city. However, if you’re looking to get away from crowds, this nature attraction still isn’t the place for you. Visitors adore these falls, so the area might be busy and parking could be hard to find. However, these falls are so worth it just for the experience and photos alone.
#12 – Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo has been open since 1888, when a private animal collector donated all their animals to the city. Today, there are over 200 unique species at this zoo, about 20 of which are endangered or threatened. The zoo is using their breeding programs to help keep these species alive. Elephants, tigers, rhinos, and polar bears are just some of the residents at this zoo. In addition to admiring the many animals, you can also choose to take a behind the scenes tour.
#13 – International Rose Test Garden
One of Portland’s nicknames is the “City of Roses”. And that name will soon make sense when you see this vibrant garden. It started as a sanctuary for hybrid roses during World War I. But today, it’s the oldest official public rose test garden in the country. It has over 10,000 roses growing, and you probably never realized how many rose varieties there were before visiting this attraction. Visiting in the early summer is the best time to see all the roses blooming.
If you’re looking for a trip you’ll never forget, then this might be the city for you. There are so many fun things to do in Portland that it will be hard to fit everything into one vacation. But since Portland is so unique and charming, it’s likely that you’ll want to visit again anyway.