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: 2.5 Hour Dinner Cruise Through Downtown

1. 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 Donut Tour

2. 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.

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: Downtown Haunted Walking Tour

4. Portland: Downtown Haunted 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 Hour Lunch Cruise Through Downtown

5. 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.

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.

Oregon Coast Day Tour: Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock

8. Oregon Coast Day Tour: Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock

Marvel at Oregon's scenic grandeur as you enjoy dramatic views of its coastline which may include: Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, Short Sand Beach at Oswald West State Park, Neahkahnie Point and Manzanita while enjoying spectacular views of the dramatic Oregon Coastline and of course the majestic Pacific Ocean. This escorted mini-bus tour, with stops at attractions, runs approximately 8 hours from pick-up to return. Neahkahnie Point: From this spot you look south past Nehalem Bay to Cape Meares and Cape Lookout nearly 30 miles away. With a huge expanse of ocean before you, this is one of the coast’s best whale watching locations. Short Sand Beach/Oswald West State Park: Stretching along four miles of coastline in dense, temperate rainforest, Oswald West State Park has a beautifully secluded sandy beach and miles of trails leading to breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. This vast, scenic treasure is without a doubt one of the most spectacular parks in Oregon. Cannon Beach: This picturesque small-town village by the sea is easily walkable and you will be able to explore meandering pathways, enjoy public art and courtyards spilling over with flowers. Historic Haystack Rock is one of Oregon’s most recognizable landmarks, home to colorful tidepools and diverse bird life. It rises 235 feet from the edge of the shoreline. No visit to Cannon Beach would be complete without visiting Ecola State Park, perched dramatically on the edge of Tillamook Head. From Manzanita to Cannon Beach enjoy the dramatic beauty, fascinating history and diverse ecology featured on this Oregon coastal tour.

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.

Portland: Haunted History Tour and Pub Crawl

10. Portland: Haunted History Tour and 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.

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:

Multnomah Falls

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 1,441 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!

Absolutely stunning!! Damon was such a great guide. Full of information and so easy to listen to. Personalized our tour and even dropped us off at our hotel. About as close to a must-do as there is for anyone wanting to see the natural beauty of the area. Our kids thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we can’t recommend this enough!!

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.

Our guide Dani was great! She was super funny, energetic, and engaging with our entire group! She really committed to our tour, bringing incense to ward off lingering spirits and a spiritual activity meter for guest use.

Very well planned tour with a very knowledgeable driver.