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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: Underground Shanghai Tunnel Tour with Beer Tasting

3. 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: 2 Hour Lunch Cruise Through Downtown

4. 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 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, NOLA Doughnuts, and Voodoo Doughnuts, all true donut institutions. 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: 2 Hour Champagne Brunch Cruise Through Downtown

7. Portland: 2 Hour Champagne Brunch Cruise Through Downtown

Hop onboard the vessel and be escorted to your private table. Start off with a refreshing glass of champagne, sparkling cider, or an orange juice. Then enjoy a delicious plated brunch made up of breakfast and lunch favorites, accompanied by a dessert buffet. After brunch, head out onto the observation deck to admire the city’s impressive skyline. Cruise along the scenic Willamette River, then pass by the Steel Bridge. Along the way, learn about the landmarks from the onboard narration while sipping on more champagne.

Portland: Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Morning Tour

8. Portland: Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Morning Tour

Millions of years ago, during the formation of the Cascade Mountain Range, lava and other pyroclastic matter flowed west from what would be the Cascades all the way to the Pacific Ocean, creating a thick shell of basalt rock that covered Western Oregon. Then, during the Pleistocene Ice Age, roughly 15,000 years ago, water from the Lake Missoula Flood carved out the Columbia River Gorge as hundreds of cubic miles of water, ice, rock and mud rushed from present-day Montana to the Pacific Ocean. Explore the beauty of the canyon walls and rock formations, breathtaking waterfalls and awe-inspiring visas that make the Columbia River National Scenic Area one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon. Our 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 we may stop include, Portland Women’s Forum, Crown Point Vista House, Latourell Falls, Multnomah Falls, and Shepperd’s Dell. Perched atop one of the most panoramic overlooks in the Columbia River Gorge, Vista House provides an unrivaled, majestic view. Often referred to as “The Crown Jewel of the Columbia River Gorge,” Vista House was built between 1916 and 1918 as a memorial to Oregon pioneers, a scenic viewpoint, and a comfort station for those traveling on the newly constructed Historic Columbia River Highway. Built with expertly carved sandstone and stunning marble, then finished with bronze lining and amber-green opalescent art glass windows, Vista House and the view it offers are sure to amaze and inspire you. Latourell Falls plunges 249 feet (76 m) over a massive wall of basalt and then rushes through the forest into the Columbia River. The falling water of Latourell is framed by some of the most perfect columnar basalt formations in the Pacific Northwest that are adorned with a large florescent patch of yellow lichen and shrouded in brilliant green flora. We’ll venture down to the punch-bowl pool below the falls, where you’ll hear the tremendous rush of water and feel the cool mist that it creates. You’ll easily realize why this special place is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Oregon. Multnomah Falls is fed by underground streams that originate miles above on Larch Mountain. This ancient 620 foot (189 m) waterfall is divided into two sections; the upper falls plummets an impressive 542 feet into a pool and again drops 69 feet to form a creek that runs into the Columbia River. Multnomah Falls is the second highest year-round waterfall in the United States and the highest in Oregon, and is Oregon’s number one natural attraction, drawing over 2.5 million visitors a year from around the world. At the base of the waterfall sits the Historic Multnomah Falls Lodge, a full-service day lodge complete with a restaurant, gift shop, snack and espresso bar.

Bike Portland: Bridges, Neighborhoods, Poetry, and Roses

9. 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.

Portland: Columbia River Gorge Waterfalls Afternoon Tour

10. 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.

Available activities

  • Exploring Portland
  • Volcanos, waterfalls, & more
  • Oregon Wine Country
  • Craft beers, food carts, & more
  • Willamette River cruises
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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:

Cannon Beach

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

Our guide was very knowledgeable about Portland - we learned so much about the city - as much as the donuts, which we enjoyed immensely! He explained the history of the donut shops and how the flavors fit with that history. We had leftovers to take home, and loved our donut swag, which our guide personalized for us! We had a wonderful time, and highly recommend this!

I had a wonderful tour! Our guide did an excellent job of making the history of Portland come alive for me. It’s such a complex and interesting city. Although the weather did not cooperate, she was gracious enough to lead the tour for our group without hesitation.

Very fun and extra tasty! Very family friendly. Tried at least 11 different types of donuts. Our guides were knowledgeable, informative, and so pleasant. Even kind enough to bring donuts (my favorites on the tour) from another site not walkable.

Very well planned tour with a very knowledgeable driver.

Highly recommend this tour. Well worth the low price!