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Things to do in Portland, Oregon

The best city for foodies in the US — a bold claim, but hit a brewery or a foodcart and you won’t disagree.

Our most recommended things to do in Portland, Oregon

Portland: Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Psychopaths Walking Tour

1. Portland: Ghosts, Poltergeists, and Psychopaths Walking Tour

Take a historic and memorable look at the haunted past of Portland, Oregon, with a 1-hour walking tour. Set off on an adventure through downtown Portland with a knowledgeable and experienced guide, and discover the most haunted locations in the area. Make your way to the meeting point at Lan Su Chinese Garden and look out for your guide, who will be carrying a lantern. Begin immediately with the obscure history of the City of Roses before embarking on a haunted route to 8 locations in the surrounding downtown area. Head to the waterfront, then walk the dark streets to the Old Town Pizza to hear researched stories and eyewitness accounts of personal hauntings in Portland's morbid and mysterious past. From there, the tour only gets spookier as you visit The Shanghai Tunnels to see the firsthand reminder of Portland's shady past where men were kidnapped or "Shanghaied" and sold to ship's captains in need of sailors, and women were captured and forced into illicit work.  Learn about an entire network of vice and illegal trade that began to use these tunnels for gambling, opium dens, prostitution, and kidnapping. Your guide will take you to some of the other most haunted locations and deliver, in gripping detail, the history and eyewitness accounts of hauntings and paranormal activity.  Finally, make your way back to the final stop at Lan Su Chinese Garden, where your guide can give you a final recap of Portland's strange activity. Answer any ghost questions you might have, and check out and exchange any paranormal pictures and activity caught on camera.

Portland: 2.5 Hour Dinner Cruise Through Downtown

2. Portland: 2.5 Hour Dinner Cruise Through Downtown

Try out the best way to dine in Portland on the Willamette River enhanced by dazzling city sights and lights. You'll enjoy an evening featuring a 2.5 hour cruise, Northwest cuisine (locally sourced and prepared fresh on board), live piano music and narration of the sights on the outer decks. Partake in freshly baked bread, house salad, your choice of entrée (poultry, beef, seafood or vegetarian) and New York cheesecake dessert. After dinner, head out onto the observation deck to admire the city’s skyline lit up at night. Cruise along the scenic Willamette River, then pass by the impressive Steel Bridge. Along the way, learn about the landmarks from the onboard narration. 

Portland: 2 Hour Lunch Cruise Through Downtown

3. Portland: 2 Hour Lunch Cruise Through Downtown

Hop onboard the vessel and be escorted to your private table. Start off with some freshly baked bread, followed by your choice of entrée (poultry, beef, seafood, or vegetarian). Salad and dessert options are available for additional purchase on board. After lunch, head out onto the observation deck to admire the city’s impressive skyline. Cruise along the scenic Willamette River to Milwaukie and back through Downtown Portland under several bridges. Along the way, learn about the landmarks from the historical narration on the outer decks.

Portland: Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour with Beer Tasting

4. Portland: Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour with Beer Tasting

Descend into an underworld beneath Portland on this guided walking tour of the city's Shanghai Tunnels. Learn all about the haunted history of the network of passages, then head upstairs for a well-earned craft beer tasting session. Meet your guide to hear stories of Portland's dark past, and hear all about the resident ghost, Nina. Explore these atmospheric tunnels as you uncover the stories of how they used to be used to transport unsuspecting sailors to ships docked on the river. Then, head back up to Old Town Pizza, located in the lobby of Portland's notorious former Merchant Hotel. Taste 3 great local craft brews, before reflecting on your adventure while sipping on a delicious full pint.

Portland: Underground Donut Tour

5. Portland: Underground Donut Tour

Accompany your passionate foodie guide to 4 donut institutions, where you'll enjoy a curated sample of Portland's best donuts. Savor classics like glazed and chocolate, and discover some more adventurous flavors, like lavender.  Your stops may include Sesame Donuts, Blue Star Donuts, Voodoo Doughnuts and more. You'll even be able to skip the line at Voodoo Doughnuts, where some people wait up to 30 minutes. On the way to the donut shops, visit some local sights including Pioneer Square, Chinatown, and the PSU Campus. Your tour guide will entertain you with interesting facts about these sites as you travel between treats.

From Portland: Columbia Gorge Waterfalls Tour

6. From Portland: Columbia Gorge Waterfalls Tour

Discover the scenic beauty of the Columbia River Gorge on a small group tour with an expert guide in a luxury passenger van. Explore Columbia River National Scenic Area stopping at several picturesque waterfalls typical of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Depart from downtown Portland and drive towards Troutdale, known as the Gateway to the Gorge. Enjoy the journey along the Historic Columbia River Highway, the first planned scenic roadway in the United States. Arrive at Crown Point Vista House, an overlook that sits high above the Columbia River. From there, continue along the historic highway deep into the Columbia River National Scenic Area. Arrive at the first waterfall of the day, the dramatic Latourell Falls, which plunges 249 feet over a massive wall of columnar basalt.  Proceed next to the grand Multnomah Falls, which plummets to the ground from 620 feet in two major steps. Explore the Multnomah Falls Historic Lodge and stand on the easily accessible viewing platform that offers a full view of the Benson Bridge and cascading falls beyond. Next, visit the Bonneville Fish Hatchery and take a short walking tour of an impressive hatchery and sturgeon viewing center. You will also meet the local celebrity: “Herman” the sturgeon. Afterward, relax on the journey back to Portland via the Columbia River scenic route.

Portland: Mt. Hood Day Tour

7. Portland: Mt. Hood Day Tour

Your 8.5-hour trip begins early with a hotel pickup from downtown Portland. Embark on an exhilarating morning drive through the Columbia River Gorge. Catch spectacular views of the Cascade Mountains that flank the river and glimpse a waterfall or two. Along the forested highway, visit Oregon’s famous waterfall Multnomah Falls. Join your guide and fellow visitors on Benson Bridge and snap a picture of the 611-foot-tall cascade of water as it crashes below. Next, continue to Hood River, a picturesque valley town renowned as a prime destination for wind sports. Watch kiteboarders and windsurfers skate across the water as you learn about Hood River’s rich environmental and cultural history.Then take some free time for lunch, shopping or wine-tasting (if whimsy strikes you!). Then visit Rowena Crest which has spectacular views of the Columbia River Gorge. The final stop on your guided tour is the glorious Mount Hood, Oregon’s tallest peak at 11,249 feet (3,429 meters) and Timberline Lodge. Take a mountain walk or a self-guided visit through the renovated lodge that was once the setting for the classic film The Shining. Your day concludes back in Portland by early evening.

Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl

8. Portland Ghosts Boos and Booze Haunted Pub Crawl

Grab a drink and step into the shadows of downtown Portland, where pirates, murderers, bootleggers, and doomed souls are waiting to tell their stories. Join your local guide on a chilling journey to the city's historic haunted sites and pubs, as you listen to their blood-curdling ghost stories. Meet your guide at Independent Bar & Grill for a pint of liquid courage before heading to eight other historic, haunted spots, including iconic pubs like Kells and the Shanghai Tunnel Bar. Stop and listen closely to hear the tortured souls trapped in Portland's intricate system of underground tunnels. Search for the spirit of Timothy Moreau, a young publicity agent who was ruthlessly murdered at the Roseland Theater. Mingle with the dozens of ghosts said to haunt Kells Irish Pub and hear their terrifying stories, all while enjoying your favorite beer, wine, or spirit in the company of your group.

Portland: Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Afternoon Tour

9. Portland: Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Afternoon Tour

Explore the beauty of these unique canyon walls and rock formations, encountering breathtaking waterfalls and awe-inspiring visas that make the Columbia River National Scenic Area one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. Your enthusiastic guides will introduce you to the most amazing places in the gorge, while providing a comprehensive narrative of this spectacular landscape and its transformative history. Your adventure will take place along the Historic Columbia River National Scenic Byway, where some of the locations you may stop include the Portland Women’s Forum, the Crown Point Vista House, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls, and Shepperd’s Dell.

Bike Portland: Bridges, Neighborhoods, Poetry, and Roses

10. Bike Portland: Bridges, Neighborhoods, Poetry, and Roses

Enjoy more time riding, with occasional stops for gardens, one-of-a-kind markets, art collectives, sculptures, bridge viewpoints, and river beaches. This tour begins in the inner Eastside neighborhoods, where you will be fitted for an easy-to-ride bike and helmet, ready for a low-key 7-10 mile ride (12-16 kilometers). Your guide will lead your group into the southeast Portland neighborhood of Ladd's Addition where you’ll visit several of the city's quadrants, ride over two bridges, and along the Willamette River. You will visit semi-secret beaches, examine unique modes of transportation, see public art of every shape, color, and texture. This ride is both like a poem and filled with poetry: you will read poetry written on murals, on sidewalks, and carved into rocks. Along the tour, you will have the opportunity to photograph and explore public art, poetry, parks and beaches; and learn about all of the modes of Portland's transportation up close.

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Frequently asked questions about Portland, Oregon

What top attractions are a must-see in Portland, Oregon?

What are the best day trips and excursions from Portland, Oregon?

The best day trips and excursions from Portland, Oregon are:

Mount Hood

What are the best tours to do in Portland, Oregon with kids?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Portland

Bucket List Journey mission is to give every person in the world the tools and inspiration to live their bucket list. Annetter is an obsessed new experience collector, her passion is for checking the world off her bucket list one adventure at a time. You can check her Portland's Bucket list here.

What should I do on my first trip to Portland?

From waterfalls to walking tours, there’s plenty of fun things to do in Portland, but there’s a couple that you absolutely shouldn’t miss. The International Rose Test Garden is an absolute must not only because it’s the oldest public garden of its kind, but also because there are most that 10,000 rose bushes with many varieties you have never heard of! Multnomah Falls is another highlight for your trip. Though the 611 foot waterfall is technically not in Portland city limits, it’s a daytrip away that won’t disappoint.

What are some hidden gems to see in Portland?

Most people know about Voodoo Donuts and the Keep Portland Weird sign, but did you know that they have a Vacuum museum and an aerial tram? Starks Vacuum Museum will be a quick and quirky stop, though it does have over 300 vacuum cleaners lined up against the walls dating back to the 1800s. The aerial tram is only a four-minute ride, but during those minutes you will get to see some of the most spectacular city views from 500 feet in the sky.

How much time should I spend in Portland?

About four-days in Portland will get to all the major highlights, but to really delve deeper into the districts give yourself at least 7 days (especially if you want to do a couple day trips!)

What food is Portland known for?

Portland is filled with dining options, but what you can't leave Portland without doing is visiting one of the over 500 food trucks that they are known for. One of my favs was Potato Champion who serves Belgian style fries and Poutine.

What is the best way to get around Portland?

Though Portland has a great light rail and busy system, renting a car would be best, because the city is spread out with some distance in-between attractions. This is especially true if you want to do some day trips.

What are the best months to visit Portland?

Portland can get pretty cold in the Winter months, which always makes exploring a city a little trickier, so the best time to visit is in the Summer (July through August). A lot of what makes Portland great is it’s outdoorsy activities, which you’ll be able to enjoy a lot more with the warmer weather.

What is the Pearl neighborhood known for?

Each neighborhood has its own vibe, but one of my favorites is the Pearl district. It was formerly a section filled with old warehouses that have now been turned into shops, galleries and restaurants. If you are a foodie, like me, you'll want to spend days dining in all the great eateries!

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

Every district has it’s food perks, and I already mentioned the Pearl District for restaurants, but another one not to miss is Division district. There you'll find the perfect mix of pizza parlors, cafes and a variety of Asian restaurants to tempt your palate.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

If you're into funky and artsy shops then head over to the Alberta Arts district. There you will find everything from hip vintage clothing to stylish galleries to relaxing spas.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Portland?

When I visit, I like to stay right in downtown Portland, because there's a lot to do and it's easily accessible to many attractions. You can walk to the Portland Art Museum, Powell's Books and the riverfront. Plus, there are many light rail stops in downtown, so it's easy to pop onto a train and visit other areas.

Other Sightseeing Options in Portland, Oregon

Want to discover all there is to do in Portland, Oregon? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Portland, Oregon

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,467 reviews

We loved our ghost tour with Victoria Rose! She is knowledgeable, personable and very passionate about Portland’s spooky history. We booked an hour long tour on a Thursday evening and were in a small group. It was perfect! One couple on our tour opted for the EMF ghost reader and it was going crazy during certain sections of the tour. I highly recommend a ghost tour in Portland, it’s a mix of history and spooky entertainment.

David was very knowledgeable of Portland and it’s history and was a fantastic tour guide. We got to enjoy foods I hadn’t tried before and learned a lot about the cuisine in Portland and enjoyed going to some smaller spots that were not touristy.

The walking tour with Rachel was fantastic she has a wealth of knowledge and she was so very personable and just very throuogh in how she communicated the history of Portland. If I were to return I would definitely do this tour again loved it.

Great tour. Enjoyed walk around trendy parts of town. Donuts were yummy and suggestions for places to eat were helpful. Tour was informative for visitors and locals. Highly recommend this tour

Wonderful food, wonderful service , and wonderful views