Portland might not be as big as other cities along the West Coast or draw quite as many tourists (which is, generally speaking, just the way residents like it), but there are still a fair number of things to do in Portland to keep you happy and busy for several days. When you add in some of the day-trips which are easy to make with Portland as a home-base, a week’s gone by and you’re still not all the way through your to-do list.
But that’s a good thing, right?
Shopping & Eating
No matter where you go, chances are you’ll want to engage in at least a little shopping – and eating? Well, that’s a must. Portland has you covered on both counts. Most of Portland’s neighborhoods have their own shopping areas with their own personality – from the upscale and trendy to the sedate and predictable to the funky and wild. And Portland is recognized by foodies as a seriously great city to be in when you’re hungry. There’s a restaurant for every budget and covering pretty much every cuisine on earth.
Events & Festivals
Portland is home to several events throughout the year, many of which take place along the Waterfront Park or in Pioneer Courthouse Square, so depending on when you’re here you may get to take part in some of the fun. There are food- and beer-related festivals, garden festivals, a huge Cinco de Mayo festival and a jazz festival which takes place over the July 4th weekend – just to name a few. There are also several sporting events which the public can (and does!) take part in, including the Portland Marathon, the Hood to Coast Relay and Portland Bridge Pedal. This is a town that likes to get outside – especially when the weather’s good – and socialize.
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Day-Trips from Portland
Portland is conveniently located within an easy drive from several other places you might enjoy visiting during your stay – here are just a few of them.
The rugged and beautiful Oregon Coast is about a two-hour drive from Portland, and one of the most popular destinations for Portlanders is Cannon Beach. It’s a charming beach community with cute shops and restaurants, and it’s where you’ll go to see the much-photographed Haystack Rock (you’ll understand why it’s called that when you see its shape). Weather on the coast can be iffy, but if you don’t mind a little breeze or drizzle, you’ll fit right in.
Portland’s skyline wouldn’t be the same without the beautiful Mt. Hood rising across from downtown. It’s Oregon’s highest mountain, and is about 50 miles outside of Portland. Obviously, it’s a popular place for those who love snow sports in the winter, but the mountain is also a great hiking destination in the summer. Mt. Hood has the distinction of the being the only sky area in all of North America that’s open year-round.
Mt. St. Helens
Mt. St. Helens might be in neighboring Washington State, but Portlanders can often see the mountain from downtown so it feels like it’s closer. The last big eruption from this volcano was in 1980, and if you talk to residents who lived in the area then you’ll hear some incredible stories. These days, there are several viewpoints and interpretive centers along the drive up to the highest viewpoint at Johnston Ridge, although Johnston Ridge is only open during the summer. People still flock to the area around the mountain for recreation, including camping, hiking and even climbing the mountain itself. When it’s not rumbling, that is.
People who know wine will immediately think of Pinot Noir when they think of Oregon, and some of the state’s best known wineries are only a couple hours outside of Portland. The wineries of Yamhill County are excellent, and it’s a beautiful drive through farmland and vineyards – so even if you’re not into wine, you just might be into the outing anyway. There are wineries all over Oregon, too – not just in Yamhill County. In fact, there are some wineries with vineyards just outside Portland’s Urban Growth Boundary, which is an even easier day trip!
Columbia River Gorge
While the Willamette River runs through downtown Portland, the mighty Columbia separates Oregon and Washington. This is the river by which Lewis and Clark made their way West in 1805, and it’s no wonder that they were as impressed as they were with the scenery. Even with the development of roads and buildings that’s visible there now, the Columbia River Gorge is a breathtaking sight. It’s an easy day-trip from Portland to drive part of the Gorge – on either side – and stop at the many trails along the way for excellent hiking. Once you get to the top of the hikes, the views are spectacular. There are waterfalls a-plenty in the Gorge, including the famous Multnomah Falls – the second-tallest year-round waterfall in the United States – just outside Troutdale.