Some might say Portland's main attractions are its hot hipsters and streets flowing with beer, but we have traditional sorts of sights too. Whether you're a real tourist (welcome! love the fanny pack!) or just want to play tourist, here are the city's top to-dos, from historic landmarks and museums to parks and open air markets filled with...hot hipsters and beer.
Get your zen on at this serenely gorgeous hillside retreat, where you can wander the five different garden styles until the Wagyu come home or the garden closes, whichever comes first. In the fall, the technicolor Japanese maples will render you breathless. April through October, you can take a free guided tour, offered three times daily.
It's only polite to frequent a city’s museum when you visit, and this one won’t disappoint--the seventh oldest museum in the USA, it's amassed an admirable collection and is known for its Native American exhibits. The treasure-filled gift shop alone is worth a lengthy persusal, even if you don’t tour the museum.
Allow yourself a few hours to get lost in this truly mind-boggling bastion of books, where various staircases appear as if out of an Escher drawing to lead you through the four stories of color coded rooms filled with over a million tomes on literally every subject. You may emerge days later with a dazed expression and the beginnings of a beard, but that just means you’ll fit in all the better in Portland.
Handcrafted by artisans from Portland's Chinese sister city, this exquisite oasis sits quietly in the middle of Chinatown. Take a guided tour, play mahjong, attend a drop-in tai chi presentation, and whatever you do, don’t leave without sipping a cup of tea in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections teahouse.
Tour this regal turn-of-the-century mansion and soak up its fascinating history (rumor has it there's even a ghost or two floating around), stroll the resplendent gardens and then enjoy a picnic on the back lawn, with free panoramic city and Mt. Hood views.
Regardless of your religious orientation, an interesting garden is an interesting garden, and this one has a genuinely unique elevator ascending to a 62-acre shrine/botanical sanctuary. During the holidays, it’s also home to the city’s holiest twinkle light show, complete with hot cocoa, prayer candles, and local choirs singing in the chapel.
This nearly 200-acre botanical bounty is home to 8,000+ kinds of greenery from all over the world. Guided tours are given in the summer, but detailed trail maps make it easy to take your own tour year round.
A quirky destination for the thinking tourist and curious kids of all ages, this riverfront museum holds eight hands-on science labs, a submarine, an OMNIMAX theater and planetarium, and loads of fascinating exhibits. Check the website for special event/exhibit info before you go. First Sunday of every month is $2 day!
A visit to Portland wouldn’t be complete without a hike around the city’s crown jewel--this 5000+-acre offering to the gods of greenspace. While it's unlikely you'll have time to explore all 70 miles of pathways, do take the Wildwood Trail, a well-traveled but still tranquil forest trek.
Even if you don't consider yourself a farmers’ market person (weirdo!), don’t miss this array of produce and artisan goods so expansive and well-curated it’s consistently named one of the best markets in the nation. Go early if you have an aversion to getting elbowed, go later if you love limitless people watching.
This resplendent display of Gertrude Stein’s favorite flower generally peaks in June, so if you go some other time, and there aren't any blossoms, you'll have to settle for the stellar views.
Part county fair, part flea market, this boisterous outdoor arts and crafts bazaar winds colorfully through Old Town and along the city waterfront. Shop hundreds of craft vendors every weekend (on Saturday AND Sunday, despite the name), take advantage of the various food and beer stands, and enjoy free live music & performances.
If you're visiting this forest-swaddled zoo in the summer, check the Summer Concerts schedule first and book tickets for your favorite act. Performances are seat-yourself on the ample amphitheater lawn, and packing your own picnic is encouraged.