1. Portland Japanese Garden, Washington Park
This lush, serene Japanese Garden is nestled in the hills of Washington Park. As you explore the garden, you’ll come across breathtaking waterfalls, streams, rock pathways, cherry blossom and maple trees, and even a Japanese Tea House. An area near the rock garden offers stunning views of downtown Portland and Mt. Hood. The former Ambassador of Japan to the United States called it “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.” Enough said.
2. International Rose Test Garden, Washington Park
When this garden was first created around the time of World War I, roses were sent here from all around the world to provide safety for new hybrids. The International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park provides the perfect backdrop for an afternoon stroll, with rows upon rows of colorful hybrid roses, a fountain, and the most amazing scent you’ll never want to forget.
3. Pepe Le Moko
If you’re looking for a unique underground bar experience in Portland, look no further than Pepe Le Moko, located under the Ace Hotel. This dimly lit, intimate space evokes the feeling of a speakeasy but focuses on making small, creative tweaks to well-known cocktails rather than serving Prohibition-era drinks.
4. Waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge
If you’re traveling to Portland, you can’t miss taking a half-day or full-day trip to see the breathtaking waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge. (It’s worth renting a car to experience this, we promise.) Drive East on the 84 from Portland, and you’ll stop every 10 minutes or so to see a different waterfall. Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Wahkeena Falls, Multnomah Falls, Oneonta Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Starvation Creek Falls are all within an hour drive of Portland.
5. Multnomah Falls
This 2-tier, iconic waterfall deserves its own individual mention, simply because it is the highest waterfall in Oregon and the second highest in the nation. The view walking up to the powerful waterfall with the light streaming through the misty, glimmering trees is one you won’t forget. If you’d like to spend more time there, there is a lodge, restaurant, and gift shop too.
This Parisian bakery is where we found our favorite almond croissants in Portland. Nuvrei‘s picturesque display case alone is enough of a reason to go there, and the espresso is the cherry on top of the whole experience.
7. Deschutes Brewery
Deschutes Brewery‘s spacious location in the Pearl District is a must-try lunch spot for craft beer lovers. Their beer selection, amazing burgers, and delicious garlic fries set the perfect tone for our afternoon in Portland.
8. Blue Star Donuts
There’s no shortage of donut shops in Portland, but our personal favorite was Blue Star Donuts. Not nearly as packed as Voodoo, Blue Star offered gourmet donuts created with fresh fruits, herbs and spices, and even liqueurs. We tried the Raspberry Rosemary Buttermilk and the Passion Fruit Vanilla Cake, along with some Stumptown cold brew coffee, and we were in heaven.
9. Powell’s City of Books
An icon of Portland, Powell’s Books provides the opportunity to quite literally “get lost” in a bookstore. This is certainly not your normal bookstore- this place is massive (it takes up a whole city block), and houses books and fun accessories for every topic you could possibly think of.
10. Murals in Downtown Portland
Take your time walking around the downtown area- there are murals around every corner and plenty of picture-perfect photo ops. We explored the area between the Pearl District and Downtown, around SW Washington and 11th Ave. Here are 10 more murals in Portland to add to your list.
11. Circa 33
Circa 33 is a Prohibition-themed cocktail bar with an outdoor patio, indoor bar, and a secret back bar and game area behind a swinging bookshelf. Just head towards the restrooms, find the book titled “Mafia”, and punch in the code. We enjoyed an early dinner in the main dining area and then had the whole back bar to ourselves!
12. VooDoo Donuts
You can’t go to Portland and not stop at VooDoo Donuts. Waiting in line is worth it when you get to choose from an overwhelming amount of amazing flavor combinations you won’t find anywhere else. The maple bacon was by far our favorite!
13. Ovation Coffee & Tea
This glass-walled modern coffee shop is located in a glass-walled building along the Willamette River. Ovation‘s almond croissants are heavily dusted with powdered sugar (no complaints here!), and their latte art is Instagram-worthy.
14. Cannon Beach
Cannon Beach is one of the most quaint and picturesque areas on the Oregon coast. Iconic Haystack Rock rises high above the wide, sandy beach and creates beautiful reflections on the wet shoreline. Take your time walking on the beach and driving around to admire the adorable houses.
15. Ecola State Park
The coast of the Pacific Northwest has a feeling unlike anywhere else- it has an air of mystery, magic, and adventure. A forest of lush western hemlock trees, Sitka spruce trees, and bright green moss meets the ocean to create an unreal scene. When we drove around Ecola State Park at sunrise, we saw several elk wandering around!
16. Full Sail Brewing Co.
After hiking several waterfalls, you’ll probably be ready for a cold drink and a hearty lunch. We’d recommend Full Sail in Hood River, which offers great craft beer, pub food, and a view of the Columbia River.
17. Marchesi Vineyard & Winery
If you have time to explore a bit before heading back to Portland, stop by one of the wineries in the Hood River area. Marchesi Vineyard & Winery was the perfect place to do some wine tasting, relax, and enjoy the view of Mount Hood behind rows of grapes.
18. Mount St. Helens
Located 50 miles northeast of Portland, Mount Saint Helens is an active stratovolcano in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Stop at the Visitor Center at Silver Lake to learn about the history of the volcano, then take a stroll along one of the walking paths around the lake for pretty views. There are plenty of hiking trails in the area if you have more time to explore.
19. Pine State Biscuits
For a nice hearty breakfast before hiking the Columbia River Gorge, stop at Pine State Biscuits for the most buttery, flaky, homemade biscuits you’ve ever had. They serve biscuit sandwiches, biscuits and gravy, and a wide selection of sides and desserts.
20. Commons Brewery
The open, brick-walled, industrial-style tap room is a fun place to try a beer flight. They have 13 craft beers on tap and make delicious sandwiches to balance out your drinking shenanigans.
If you’re planning on visiting Portland, be sure to check out our Top 5 Exceptional Coffee Shops in Oregon blog post too!
Hopefully now you have a few ideas of what to do on your next trip to Portland! Comment below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you want to tell us what you did with our advice! We’d love to hear from you 🙂