Best of PDX

50 Things to Do in Portland

Whether you've lived here all your life or are just visiting, here's your expert list of the absolute best things to do in this city.

By Shannon Daehnke, Michelle Harris, Fiona McCann, Conner Reed, Margaret Seiler, Julia Silverman, and Matthew Trueherz May 26, 2023

Come rain or come shine (but who are we kidding, it’s mostly rain), Portland is a city of neighborhoods, with new finds waiting around unexpected corners and old favorites regularly getting new sheens. We may not have a Statue of Liberty, or even a Space Needle, but our dining scene has been called the nation’s best and most delicious, the views from our parks are second to none, and our movie theaters, bookstores, and coffee shops beckon when the clouds hang low. In short, it’s never a bad time to get to know the city, whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a local ready to fall back in love with your hometown. Get out there, with our bucket list as your trusty guide. 

(Looking for something to do this weekend? We've got you with this constantly updated guide to upcoming events and local happenings.)


1. Get lost in the stacks at Powell’s Books’ flagship store

Pearl District

The Lowdown The world’s largest independent bookstore, with a treasure trove of new, used, and rare books, plus regular in-store events with authors of regional and national stature. 

Pro Tip Any book you’re looking for is probably here, but it’s worth timing your visit to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so you can reverentially stroll through the Rare Book Room. If you buy a coffee at the in-house Princess Bride–themed coffee shop, Guilder, don’t plan to take it in the Rare Book Room—if you were to spill it on any of those books, you’d max out your credit card. 

Don’t Miss Big-name authors, including plenty of locals, make the upstairs Pearl Room an essential stop on their book tours. Watch for award-winning novelist Brandon Taylor in May, a flurry of poets in June, and marathoner and Nike whistleblower Kara Goucher in July. 

Read More: Check out Powell's Remodeled Blue & Green Rooms

2. Take a walk with Ramona Quimby

Hollywood & Grant Park

The Lowdown The late, great children’s author Beverly Cleary, who introduced us to the beloved character Ramona Quimby, grew up in Portland. And if you’ve ever read the book series you might recognize some of the Northeast Portland locations—Klickitat Street, anyone? You can retrace Ramona’s footsteps with Multnomah County Library’s self-guided walking tour, which includes Fleur De Lis Bakery (the site of the former Hollywood Library) and Beverly Cleary School’s Hollyrood campus, where Ramona was headed when she got her boots stuck in the mud and had to be rescued by Henry Huggins.  

Pro Tip In the summer, the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Grant Park becomes a spray park, providing a nice spot for the kids to cool off after your tour. 

Read More: What Ramona Quimby Taught Me about Taking Up Space 

3. Sip tea at the Lan Su Chinese Garden

Old TOwn-Chinatown

The Lowdown A tranquil garden in Portland’s historic Chinatown, Lan Su Chinese Garden was built by artisans from Suzhou, which is part of the Jiangsu province (known for its Ming dynasty gardens). It’s considered one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of the country, with native plants, koi-filled ponds, and a teahouse. 

Pro Tip Missed the group tour? You can still take a self-guided tour by downloading the Discover Lan Su app, which includes an audio guide of the garden with all kinds of fun facts and history, as well as a scavenger hunt for the little ones.  

Don’t Miss Every winter (around the end of January/beginning of February) Lan Su celebrates the Lunar New Year with action-packed festivities, including martial arts demonstrations, lion dance performances, and lantern viewing. 

Read More: The History of Portland's Lan Su Chinese Garden 

4. Graze your way through a new-wave food cart pod 


The Lowdown Portland loves food carts, and the city was a pioneer in the pod concept: cluster a bunch of food carts together, add some seating, maybe a fire pit and a sprawling bar to anchor the whole operation, and you’ve got a nice night out. Try the Prost Marketplace, which hovers around both the namesake German taphouse and the all-day coffee and cocktail patio bar Bloodbuzz. Matt’s BBQ, Burger Stevens (a contender in Portland Monthly’s Burger Cabal rankings), DesiPDX, and more make this one of the city’s top pods. 

Pro Tip A beverage at either bar gets you a covered, heated table to take down some burnt ends, or papadums, or both at the same time—regardless of what Oregon weather is thrown at you.  

Don’t Miss Loosely named for a Cure song, Fried Egg I’m in Love serves punny breakfast sandwiches capable of curing any hangover, like the veggie sausage “Vegan and Sara” or the Aardvark sauce–spiced “Egg Zeppelin.” 

Read More: 20 Food Carts that Define Portland Now 

5. Wave at animals at the Oregon Zoo

Washington Park

The Lowdown The 64-acre Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi and is home to more than 2,000 animals.  

Pro Tip Get there right when the zoo opens. For one, there will be more parking spaces available (the zoo is also right by a MAX stop), and there will also be more animals out in the morning—especially during summer, when afternoons can be stiflingly hot. 

Don’t Miss In summer, the amphitheater near the elephants hosts Zoo Tunes evening concerts. A holiday tradition in Portland, the Oregon Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with ZooLights, an end-of-the-year event where you can walk through a colorful display of more than a million holiday lights.

Read More: A Closer Look at the Oregon Zoo's Elephant Breeding Program

6. Hike Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail (and see the Witch’s Castle)

Forest Park

The Lowdown Hikers flock to Forest Park, stretching out from Portland’s northwest corner, for a quick hit of nature and get selfies with a graffiti-adorned stone structure dubbed the “Witch’s Castle” by locals. 

Pro Tip The five-mile Macleay Park Trail to Pittock Mansion is Forest Park’s most popular, and for good reason. It has everything, with gurgling streams and epic views from said mansion, and it even passes the Audubon Society of Portland in case you’re looking to take a detour. This trail gets crowded, so be sure to get there early in the a.m. and go on a weekday if possible. 

Read More: The Insider's Guide to Forest Park 

7. Seek Out the Coolest Kicks at Index

Old TOwn-Chinatown

The Lowdown Part sneaker museum, part sneakerhead holy grail, this athletic shoe consignment store has vintage kicks for sale, some of them at eye-watering prices. Recently spotted: a pair of Nike Air Max 1 Parras that resemble a Magritte painting, for a cool $5,000. 

Pro Tip If you’ve got sneakers in great condition, bring them in to try to consign them—the shop is picky about what it will take, but you might find that you can get some cash back toward your next great pair. 

Don't Miss Watch their IG and other social media for big drops and hard-to-find shoes. The best and rarest finds move fast, so be ready to swoop in, or resign yourself to gawking. 

8. Visit a U-pick farm at Sauvie Island 

Sauvie Island

The Lowdown Located just 10 miles from downtown Portland, pastoral Sauvie Island is dotted with U-pick farms that have everything from berries to peaches, pumpkins to Christmas trees. 

Pro Tip U-pick season on Sauvie Island begins in June and ends in December. Be sure to check each farm’s website for the most up-to-date information on what fruits and veggies are currently available. If you go berry picking in the summer, beat the heat by getting there early—some farms open at 9 a.m., which means you’ll have first dibs on those Hood strawberries. 

Don’t Miss Topaz Farm hosts farm-to-table dinners and the occasional live music concert series on their impossibly lovely grounds on some summer evenings. Check the website for tickets.  

Read More: Where to Pick Berries This Fruit-Filled Season 


9. Soak at Knot Springs

Kerns/Central Eastside Industrial District

The Lowdown The closest thing Portland has to Nordic sauna culture, this super-chic wellness temple has a primo location at the foot of the Burnside Bridge on the inner eastside. A 90-minute reservation gets you access to two soaking pools—one warm, one hot—plus a cold plunge, sauna, and steam room. 

Pro Tip If you can sneak away during the weekday or off-peak hours, admission to the Springs is discounted, and it’ll be less crowded to boot. 

Don’t Miss The “rest and rehyrdrate” patio overlooking the Willamette River, with comfortable seating and a chance to luxuriate in fresh air after the humidity of the sauna or steam room. 

Read More: Welcome to Portland's Flashiest New Spa 

10. Celebrate your szn with a stars-aligned scoop at Cloud City


The Lowdown This scoop shop has the inventive flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and satisfying vegan options (currently six) of some of the bigger names in the ice cream biz, but rarely has the lines. Among the rotating specials is an impressively well-articulated astrological sign as ice cream, so you can have your horoscope for dessert.

Don’t miss Circus Friends is our current favorite flavor: Mother’s frosted animal cookies—the genuine article—are folded into a sweet cream base and zhuzhed with an extra helping of rainbow sprinkles. It guarantees a smile and a rainbow-stained tongue.

Read More: Portland's Best Ice Cream 

11. Look for trilliums at Tryon Creek

Southwest Portland

The Lowdown Tryon Creek State Natural Area transports you to an oasis of lush, forested trails teeming with all kinds of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Every year, the park welcomes spring with its Annual Trillium Festival, where you can go see the perennial white flowers peeping out. 

Pro Tip Trilliums begin to bloom in late February and peak in April. Also, navigating the sprawling park can sometimes get tricky, so have a good trail map handy. 

Read More: Tryon Creek State Natural Area  

12. Drop some dough at the Nike Employee Store

Washington County

The Lowdown Shoes, gear, and apparel from Oregon’s most famous homegrown employer are available worldwide, but only the Portland area (OK, and Memphis, Tennessee) has a giant Nike Employee Store, where both new and previous-season merchandise is up for grabs, for at least 40 percent off sticker price.  

Pro Tip You likely need to know someone who works at the swoosh factory to get on the guest pass list (and there’s no sneaking in—they check for passes at the door). Nearly everyone in the metro area knows someone who fits that bill, though, and passes are routinely distributed to folks who work at government agencies in Portland, so ask around and ye shall find. 

Also Try If you absolutely can’t snag a guest pass invite, hit up the Nike Community Store on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where there are some screaming deals to be found (without dealing with the crowds who jam the Woodburn Outlets, some 30 miles south). Adidas and Columbia Sportwear also have employee stores in the area, and passes to both are slightly easier to score. 

Read More: A Nike Historian Weighs In on What Air Got Right—and Wrong

13. Pilgrimage to Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge

The Lowdown It’s an unspoken rule that anyone who sets foot in Oregon, whether you’re a resident or just passing through, must pay a visit to Multnomah Falls at least once. Located right off I-84 , the majestic, 620-foot waterfall can be viewed from below or more up close and personal via the short hike up to Benson Bridge and (literally) soak it all in. 

Pro Tip From May 26 through September 4, 2023, all visitors to Multnomah Falls must obtain a timed reservation ticket, so be sure to reserve one and have it handy before heading out. Want to make a day of the Multnomah Falls area? Rather than drive, catch a ride with the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) bus from Gateway Transit Center, which drops you off right at Multnomah Falls. You can get tickets here. 

Read More: 6 Oregon Waterfalls for a Hike, a Picnic, or Even a Nap


14. Rent a floating hot tub 

Willamette River

The Lowdown Play captain for the day and cruise the Willamette River aboard a luxe six-person yacht tub, which is basically a floating soaking tub. No prior boating experience required! 

Pro Tip For the best bargain, round up five of your besties to come along for the ride. Also be sure to check the website for special events around town, like a chance to rub elbows (bows?) with the Christmas ships come winter.  

Read More: Floating Hot Tubs Offer Novel Way to Get Out on the Willamette River

15. Peep the view at Council Crest

Southwest Hills

The Lowdown Soaring over 1,000 feet, Council Crest Park is Portland’s highest viewpoint, boasting panoramic views of the city and beyond. On a clear day, you can spot five peaks in the Cascade Range: Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson. 

Pro Tip If you stand in the middle of the rock ring and clap (or speak) the stones create an acoustic that echoes back to you. The coolest part? The sound is only audible to those who stand in the center. 

Read More: 34 Reasons to Love Portland's Parks 

16. Get buzzed at Super Joy

Goose Hollow

The Lowdown Every Portlander’s got their own favorite place to grab a cup of coffee (hint: It’s not Starbucks.) You can’t miss ‘em—they’re on every corner. Take the time to make your way to Super Joy for a wholly memorable cup. 

Pro Tip Owner Joe Yang’s mission is to introduce Chinese coffee beans to American palates. He’s also the 2020 US Coffee Championship roasting winner. 

Don’t Miss Yang himself is partial to a cortado. But seek out anything made with beans from the Yunnan region of China. 

Read More: The Definitive Guide to Portland’s Best Indie Coffee Shops

17. Catch a flick at the Hollywood Theatre


The Lowdown One of Portland’s most loveable qualities is that it hasn’t abandoned neighborhood-y movie palaces in favor of soulless suburban multiplexes. The Hollywood is one of the city’s grandes dames, and its classic façade is a citywide landmark.  

Don’t Miss Usual programming is a mix of new and classic films, but if you’re in town for one of its special events—Kung Fu Theatre, B-Movie Bingo, Mondo Trasho, 35mm and 70 mm screenings, and much, much more—run, don’t walk, to a showing. 

Pro Tip The theater offers perfectly serviceable pizza and beer to eat while you watch, but there’s much better food to be found in the surrounding Hollywood neighborhood, including cult favorite Chin’s Kitchen for perfect Chinese dumplings and the “secret bar” at culinary bookshop Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry. 

Read More: Neighborhood Guide: Hollywood

18. Go kayaking or canoeing around Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island

The Lowdown The largest river island in the United States, Sauvie is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. It's about a 50-mile trip to circumnavigate the whole thing, where you can spend the day exploring coves, inlets, and the open water. 

Pro Tip The Multnomah Channel and Columbia River tend to get congested with boat traffic, so if it’s a beginner-friendly experience you seek, hit the Cunningham Slough for a relaxing water adventure. Keep an eye out along the waters and you might just spot some wildlife, like an osprey or a great blue heron. 

Read More: 3 Hot Spots to Kayak—Without Getting Wet

29. Mountain bike at Gateway Green


The Lowdown Portland’s very first dedicated bike park, Gateway Green is about 25 acres of luscious green space sandwiched between I-205 and I-84. Once the location of the Rocky Butte Jail, it’s now a recreational haven for cyclists, walkers, and nature lovers. 

Pro Tip Going by car? While there’s no parking at Gateway Green you can park in the southwest corner of the Gateway Fred Meyer and then pedal your way there via the 205 multiuse path, which is a half mile to the park. Be warned: you’ll be going uphill on the way back, so reserve a little energy for that final trip (no matter how much you want to show off your badass cycling tricks). 

Read More: Gateway Green, an Urban Park in the Works for 12 Years, Is Open

20. Hunt for treasures at the Portland Flea

Hosford-Abernethy/Central Eastside Industrial District

The Lowdown A trip to the now-weekly Portland Flea is easily the best way to spend a Sunday morning.... or an early afternoon, for the still-slightly-hungover. Browse the booths of more than 70 different vendors—selling everything from groovy ‘60’s floral dresses, fur coats and preloved Levi's to handcrafted rugs and mugs. 

Pro Tip Bring your dog. Or your golden retriever boyfriend. Or someone to DD, because there’s usually some sort of breakfast cocktail cart present. If you’re attending the flea on more serious vintage-hunting business, however, follow @portlandflea on IG beforehand so you can zero in on your top picks.  

Read More: The Portland Flea Is Back, and Now It's Weekly 


21. Stroll the Portland Japanese Garden

Washington Park

The Lowdown Cradled in the hills of Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden is made for leisurely ambles through the serene oasis, with trickling waterfalls, a teahouse, and eight gardens, each designed to represent a different style of Japanese gardening. 

Pro Tip Some parts of the garden are steep, so be sure to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.  

Don’t Miss During the harvest moon, which falls in September or October, the Japanese Garden hosts a moonviewing festival, or O-Tsukimi in Japanese, where you can gaze at the moon and enjoy tea, live music, and a walk through the lantern-lit garden.  

Read More: The Portland Japanese Garden Beckons You to Visit


22. Bike the waterfront loop

Downtown/Central Eastside Industrial District

The Lowdown Portland’s bicycle culture is about as ubiquitous as its craft beer, and it’s safe to say you haven’t truly done Portland till you take a two-wheeled jaunt around the scenic waterfront (including a run over the car-free Tilikum Crossing). And with plenty of bike rental options, including the city’s bike share program, Biketown—which has an all-electric fleet—you’ll be on your merry way in no time. 

Pro Tip Park your bike at the SW Moody Aerial Tram Terminal station (which btw, has a free bike valet) and enjoy 360-degree views of Portland’s cityscape from aboard the tram. On weekdays, the tram operates until 9:30 p.m., so if you wait till after rush hour you can make it a twilight ride. 

Don’t Miss Say hello to the statue of the late, great Vera Katz, a beloved former mayor of Portland, along the Eastbank Esplanade.  

Read More: The Portlander's Guide to Having More Fun on Your Bike  

23. Ride the roller coaster and go skating at Oaks Amusement Park


The Lowdown Who ever said amusement parks are just for kids? Opened in 1905, Oaks Amusement Park happens to have the oldest remaining roller rink in the country, along with mini golf, classic carnival games like ring toss and balloon bust, and of course, rides, which range from a family-friendly carousel to ones that are a bit more vertical. 

Pro Tip Oaks Park may give off vintage vibes but the prices are firmly 21st century. A ride bracelet that grants you unlimited spins on Adrenaline Peak and other vertiginous rides is the way to go. 

Don’t Miss Even while rides are closed in winter (mark your calendar for the spring break opening, March 25), but the roller rink is open year round. Check it out on the second Wednesday of any given month for Retro Roll, where DJs spin all the ’80s hits from 7 to 9:30 p.m.  

Read More: Oaks Park's Gay Skate Is on a Roll

24. Get polished at Nomsternailz

Northwest District

The Lowdown Portland is chock-a-block with nail salons, ranging from no-frills to positively luxe. But no one in town does nail art quite like the folks here, on the tiniest of canvases, while also being very forward about their 420-friendliness. If it’s CB-infused wellness products you seek, this is your spot. 

Pro Tip These guys do home visits, too; book through their IG at @NOMIcure. 

Don’t Miss Their signature offering, the Cannacure, including CBD-infused foot soak, sugar scrub and mud mask. 

Read More: Get High while Getting a Pedicure in the Comfort of Your Own Home

25. Lend a helping hand with SOLVE


The Lowdown The good folks at SOLVE lead cleanup efforts in neighborhoods around the city to help keep streets safe and clean for everyone; they are always grateful for a helpful hand. Sign up at 

Pro Tip SOLVE got its start by cleaning up Oregon’s beloved beaches (the entire coastline belongs to the public, unlike in other states—looking at you, California)—and healthy waterways are still their focus. Picking up litter also helps ensure that it won’t wind up in the Willamette River, and ultimately washing out to sea. 

26. Get crafty at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store


The Lowdown Pendleton’s iconic woolen blankets, jackets, and westernwear might share a name with the town 200 miles east, but the company is headquartered right here. Fabric junkies will swoon at this flagship factory store, which has hundreds of bolts in stock for your home sewing projects. 

Pro Tip Don’t sleep on the bins of selvage edges and fabric scraps, available for purchase by the pound. 

Coming Attractions In-store classes have been on pause, but the store says they’ll be resuming soon—sign up and make your own slipcover, baby blanket, and more with Pendleton prints. 

Read More: Vintage Furniture Gets a Pendleton-Style Upgrade

27. Wander through the Portland Farmers Market


The Lowdown Summer is prime market season in Portland, but the city’s flagship market at Portland State University runs all year long (though winter markets are heavy on leafy greens and tubers.) It’s such a thrill to find the first local asparagus and rhubarb in the spring, followed by Hood strawberries, luscious peaches and the crisp, tangy local apples of fall. 

Pro Tip Come hungry! All the prepared food carts cluster at either end of the market, with coffee carts strategically placed in between. Lines get long for only-at-the-market finds like Salumeria de Carlo, but the wait is worth it. 

Read More Fabulous Farmers Markets in Portland, Beaverton, and Beyond

28. Order up a cold one at Hammer & Stitch

Northwest District/Slabtown

The Lowdown A newish space from one of Portland’s OG brewers, this sprawling beer palace specializes in approachable ales and lagers, sided with a menu of pub classics, including an if-you-know-you-know take on Portland-born jojo’s. 

Pro Tip If you’re more into experimental beers, try the “creations” sections of the menu.  

Don’t Miss The events calendar here is positively humming. Drag brunch, trivia night, bingo, beer and yoga (yes, true story), makers’ night. If you’re more of the chillax type, try the heated outdoor patio instead. 

Read More: Our Favorite Places to Grab a Beer in Portland

29. Be a patron of the arts at the Portland Art Museum


The Lowdown The city’s highbrow, Gilded Age–era art museum is full of surprises from around the world. The museum also plays host to local work—Portlanders from animation studio ShadowMachine will be celebrated at this summer's Guillermo del Toro: Crafting Pinocchio, and work from a century's worth of creators will be on display starting in August in Black Artists of Oregon

Don’t Miss The museum’s permanent collection of Indigenous art is especially strong. 

Pro Tip Walk a couple of leafy blocks over to the food carts at Pioneer Courthouse Square for sustenance; there are plenty of good options, but we always wind up at Whole Bowl for a filling helping of beans, rice and addictive Tali sauce. (The ingredients are a closely guarded secret.) 

Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Oregon Museums 

30. Dance up a storm at the Crystal Ballroom


The Lowdown McMenamins is a PNW classic, and the Crystal Ballroom is no exception. Established in 1914, this funky hotel/concert venue/bar combo is one of the best places to catch a show in PDX. Though it’s a hot spot for big names, it’s small enough to feel intimate and a little underground. 

Pro Tip Don’t worry about getting there early to score a spot in the front—if you’re over 21, just enter the venue through the somewhat hidden Lola’s Room Bar, and you’ll somehow emerge in the very front, just to the right of the stage. 

Coming Attractions Killer Mike and Parliament Funkadelic featuring Geroge Clinton play on back-to-back nights at the end of July. 

Read More: Bounce On, Crystal Ballroom

31. Take in a show at Portland Center Stage

Pearl District

The Lowdown Performing arts flourishes all around the city at theater companies big and small, but PCS’s venue in a converted armory is among the most intimate, acoustically balanced spaces in town.  

Don’t Miss The absorbing 2022–2023 season closes with A Midsummer Night’s Dream—have you heard of it?—running June 3 through July 2. 

Read More: How Portland Center Stage Is Refreshing Rent 

32. Find feminist fashion at Wildfang


The Lowdown Down with stuffy menswear, up with fun, splashy prints and all the coveralls your heart has ever desired, plus the best suiting this side of Savile Row. The based-in-Portland brand has only one other brick-and-mortar in the US, in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood. 

Pro Tip One of our favorite things (among many) about Wildfang is its commitment to inclusive sizing. Rifle through the thoughtfully tailored collection for sizes 1x–3x. 

Read More: Wildfang Foments a Feminist Revolution 

33. Orca out at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry

Hosford-Abernethy/Central Eastside Industrial District

The Lowdown If those news reports about potentially traumatized orcas attacking boats piqued your interest, there's plenty more to learn about these apex predators in this OMSI exhibit, running through January 2024.

Don’t Miss OMSI's monthly After Dark nights, for those 21 and over only, mix an education theme with plenty of fun. In June, learn about pickling and fermentation.  

Pro Tip The on-site café, Theory, is much better than any museum café has a right to be. 

34. Go back in time at the Oregon Historical Society


The Lowdown The city’s most underrated museum, the Oregon Historical Society Museum has three floors of historical artifacts and information about the state’s past and how that informs the present. Notably, it doesn’t shy away from the systemic racism that threads through Oregon’s history, whether against Japanese residents during World War II, the Black population that came from the South to build railroads and were subject to redlining, or the Indigenous tribes displaced by the doctrine of westward expansion.

Don't Miss One of OHS's current exhibits, The Odyssey of the Historic Jantzen Beach Carousel: From Leavenworth, Kansas, to Portland, Oregon, 1921–2022, shows off four carousel horses, but the rest of their pals are undergoing restoration work.

Read More Where Governors Go Shopping: The Oregon Historical Society Vault

35. Get stuck in a book at the Portland Book Festival


The Lowdown Portlanders love their books. For proof, may we refer you back to no. 1 on this list? Also, our libraries consistently rank as some of the country's most trafficked. But for one especially glorious day in early November (2023's fest is Nov 4 at the Portland Art Museum), the city is the center of the literary universe during the annual Portland Book Festival, a glut of book talks and author panels and opportunities to browse for your favorite new read. This year's lineup is STACKED. (That's a book joke, get it?) This daylong event features author discussions, pop-up readings, writing workshops for youth and adults, kids’ story time, an extensive book fair, local food trucks, and more!

This year's list of attending authors has not yet been announced, but you can visit the Literary Arts website periodically to look for updates. 

Pro Tip Kids under 17 get in for free, so bring the whole family, and get there early for your favorite authors to ensure you'll get a seat. And when you've had enough books (never!) poke around at the Portland Art Museum, the festival's venue. 

Read More: The List of Oregon Book Award Finalists

36. Mingle under the lights at the Portland Night Market

Buckman/Central Eastside Industrial District

The Lowdown A handful of times a year, the Portland Night Market takes over an entire warehouse plus an adjacent parking lot, with enough room to house over 100 vendors, 50 food carts, three specialty cocktail bars, and ... a replica of the Delorean from Back to the Future for some reason? 

Pro Tip If you’re planning to shop, the fast pass is definitely worth it, and don’t miss the on-site celebrity alpacas.  

Don't Miss Yet another night market, this one sponsored by the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and held in the Jade District along SE 82nd Avenue, is back Aug 19, 2023, after a pandamic hiatus.

Read More: Portland Night Market Returns

37. Make a toast at the Crick


The Lowdown If your Portland itinerary doesn’t have room for an afternoon spent cruising around wine country, post up instead at this tasting room for local winemaker Bertony Faustin’s Abbey Creek Winery in nearby North Plains. 

Pro Tip You’ve got to make a reservation here, and plan to plurge on charcuterie boards . Also, leave your car at home—this is right across from a MAX stop. 

Don’t Miss The classic hip-hop allusions in Faustin’s pours—2019 Sparkling Blanc de Noir inspired by the tunes of Janelle Monae, anyone? 

Read More: Bertony Faustin of Abbey Creek Winery Is Seizing the Moment

38. Feel the good vibes only at CC Slaughters

Old Town-Chinatown

The Lowdown Established in 1981, CC Slaughters is one of Portland’s oldest gay bars and is many Portlander’s first gay bar—for good reason. The drinks are relatively cheap, there’s disco balls and drag queens, and the vibes are immaculate.  

Pro Tip CC Slaughters hosts a game night every Wednesday (everything from Scrabble to Uno to Sorry!), Trans-Uhh-Licious night every Thursday; the schedule is especially jam-packed every June, in celebration of Pride Month. 

Read More: A Comprehensive Guide to Portland's Best LGBTQ+ Nightlife

39. Crane your neck to see the swifts

Northwest District

The Lowdown Every year, thousands of Vaux's swifts roost in the giant chimney at Chapman Elementary School, near the edge of Forest Park. And every year, Portlanders gather there, too, to picnic and watch for the moments when the sky swirls with birds before they appear to be swallowed up by the chimney for the night.  Catch the swifts in September and maybe the first few weeks of October, too, though they do taper off.

Pro Tip If you have kids, bring along the biggest piece of cardboard you can find, so they can join everyone else under the age of 12 in sliding down the hill next to the school.

Don’t Miss The hawk who circles nightly, looking to seize a swift for dinner. Depending on your perspective, the predator is the villain of the piece, or simply part of the natural working order of the bird world.

Read More: Not All Is Lost, the Vaux's Swifts Are Still Roosting in Portland 

40. Pick up good weed at Farma


The Lowdown This lower Hawthorne dispensary, smushed between a bike shop and a comedy club, emphasizes cannabis’s curative properties in a gleaming, ultra-friendly space flecked with plants and trinkets. 

Don’t Miss Daily deals spanning pre-rolls to edibles to tinctures and beyond. 

Pro Tip If you’re looking to figure out how different strains will hit you on a granular level, this is your spot—don’t be afraid to channel your inner wine taster with questions like “What will make me creative but sleepy but not too sleepy and also giggly?” The selection is massive, and the staff are always down to get into the (proverbial) weeds. 

Read More How the American West Became the Wild Cannabis Frontier

41. Meet Dillon T. Pickle


The Lowdown Amateur baseball team the Portland Pickles is made up of collegiate players from all over the West, some future major leaguers among them, but the most recognizable figure by far at Walker Stadium in Southeast’s Lents Park is the seven-foot mascot. He's run for president, set off a Twitter scandal after posting a photo of an indeterminate green appendage, and survived airline neglect and an alleged kidnapping.

Pro Tip Watch for the team's special promotions, and you might leave with a tiny rug, a souvenir, or a free permanent pickle tattoo.  

Read More Gaming Out the Brine Lives of Baseball Mascot Dillon T. Pickle


42. Catch a show at Darcelle XV Showplace

Old Town-Chinatown

The Lowdown Before her death in March 2023, at the age of 92, Darcelle XV held the Guinness World Record for oldest living drag performer, and the nightclub she established in Portland in 1969 is one of the oldest of its type in the country and now boasts its own historical plaque. While the grand matron of drag may no longer grace the stage at the Old Town drag club that bears her name, her spirit lives on. 

Don't Miss Aim to catch Sunday Funday Drag Brunch with host Poison Waters, whose audience interactions are as mortifying and delightful as you’d imagine.  

Read More Darcelle Has Died. Long Live Darcelle

43. Grab doughnuts at Pip’s


The Lowdown Doughnuts are to Portlanders what soccer teams are to English football fans: you pick one early on, and remain loyal to the death, yelling down all other comers. But there really is only one Liverpool FC slash doughnut star in this town, and the hat tips to Pip’s by our reckoning. Sure, the doughnuts here occupy less physical real estate than your Voodoos or Blue Stars, but each one is freshly fried to order, arriving crisply encased and perfectly spongy within as the perfect mouthful. With only five or six flavors to choose from, there’s no real dilemma here: order the lot, but if you have to choose, raw honey and sea salt is the way to go.  

Pro Tip Come within seven days of your birthday and present proof thereof, and you’ll be treated to a dozen free!  

Don’t Miss The doughnuts are delish, but the chai here—mixed on the premises—is also worth the long lines. Did we mention the lines?  

Read More: Doughnuts and Chai at Pip's Original 

44. Embrace Soccer City USA

Goose Hollow

The Lowdown The Major League Soccer version of the Portland Timbers is just the latest evolution in a decades-old story of soccer in the Rose City. The women's major league team, the Portland Thorns, has been around since 2013 but also has roots that go further back, intertwined with the career of the late Clive Charles, a former Timber who coached men and women at the University of Portland. The Timbers won the MLS Cup in 2015, while the Thorns hoisted the NWSL championship trophy for the third (!) time last year. 

Pro Tip Got kids? Or cars? Keep an eye out for summer reading promotions from the library and fill-up deals at local 76 stations—either might result in free or discount tickets to sporting events.

Read More Portland Soccer at a Crossroads for Timbers and Thorns Fans

45. Go Scandi-chic at Nordic Northwest


The Lowdown Portland’s Viking heritage game is strong—our misty weather nine months out of the year must have felt like home to long-ago Danes, Swedes, Finns and Norwegians. Today, Scandinavian minimalism is in great effect at this cultural center, where you can check out one of the country’s largest private collections of Nordic antiques and folk art, view traveling exhibitions, or simply wander the lovely grounds. 

Pro Tip One of the city’s most beloved brunch spots has a less-crowded outpost here. Visit Broder Söder for Swedish meatballs, Norwegian potato crêpes, and Danish æbleskiver pancakes with house-made lemon curd and lingonberry jam. 

Don’t Miss The on-site Nordic Finn Ware shop, stocked with all the sleekly designed home goods your heart desires, from Marimekko to Moomin 

Read More: Brunch Serene at SW Portland's Broder Söder 

46. Grab a produce-loaded slice at Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty


The Lowdown The city is rich in pizza options, but none have quite as acute a sense of place as Lovely’s. Naturally leavened dough made from locally-milled flours holds a kaleidoscope of whatever’s popping up in the fields of local farmers—or in the baskets of local foragers. The owners’ soft spot for imported cheeses might forever turn you away from bland shredded mozzarella. And delicacies like Calabrian chilis and a four-dollar (yes, it’s worth it) side of house-made ranch are there to satiate your more traditional cravings.  

Pro Tip The menu changes often—we’re talking micro-seasonal—so try not to fall in love with what you see on Instagram. That being said, the compact menu leaves no room for duds.  

Don’t Miss The other fifty: house-made ice cream. Our favorites: rum raisin, made with house-dried raisins, and Oregon strawberry buttermilk.  

Read More Lovely's Fifty Fifty Perfects the Portland Pizza

47. Scope out the next big trend in home goods at Schoolhouse and Rejuvenation

Northwest Industrial & Buckman/Central Eastside

The Lowdown Over the past decade, Portland’s tastemakers have quietly gone big-time. Schoolhouse, which makes perfect vintage-inspired lighting and home décor, is now part of culinary lifestyle brand Food 52; its crosstown rival/counterpart Rejuvenation has been part of the Williams-Sonoma empire for a decade now, but retains its independence and impeccably stylish home furnishings outpost on Grand Avenue.  

Pro Tip Don’t miss Rejuvenation’s vintage room, a delightful clutter of salvaged hardware and vintage light fixtures and antique doorknobs. 

Don't Miss When we interviewed the head of Schoolhouse after the Food 52 acquisition, she hinted at more brick-and-mortar spaces coming soon. Keep an eye out. 

Read More: Schoolhouse's Portland-Made Home Goods Are Getting a Bigger Spotlight 

48. Let chicken and rice change your life at Nong’s Khao Man Gai

Buckman & Downtown

The Lowdown A Portland institution that started in cart form (pictured above, though the cart is no more), but is now a pair of brick-and-mortars. If you haven’t had the paper-wrapped Thai meal that dreams are made of, you haven’t been to Portland. We’re not really sure how the white rice, poached chicken, and ginger-heavy Nong’s sauce™ is as powerfully delicious as it is, but Nong Poonsukwattana herself points to the restaurant's singular focus: “In Thailand, it’s normal for restaurants to focus on one dish—as long as you do it really, really well.” 

Don’t Miss Fried chicken skins! Salty and savory cracklings are made daily and served as an optional add-on, but quantities are always limited.

Pro Tip Though chicken is the restaurant’s muse, there are several vegan options available for anyone with other preferences or dietary restrictions.

Read More 6 Portland Spots to Make Good on Your Healthy Eating Resolutions

49. Feast your eyes at the Portland Saturday Market

Old Town-Chinatown

The Lowdown It’s not a trip to Portland if you don’t visit Saturday Market. The largest continuously operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the US, Saturday Market features a bewildering multitude of vendors. Pick up a painting of a cat drinking a beer, a voodoo doll, or a tie-dyed version of pretty much anything you could think of.  

Pro Tip Those in search of a holiday present should know that the market is open all day every day the week before in what has been dubbed the “Festival of the Last Minute.” 

50. Jump in the river

Willamette River

The Lowdown There was a time when contact with the water in the Willamette would not be something to recommend. But thanks to Superfund projects, some serious new city infrastructure (don't get us started on the Big Pipe!), and a lot of advocacy work, the river that separates Portland's east and west is now dotted with designated beaches and swim docks from Sellwood north to Cathedral Park in St. Johns. Near downtown, find Poet's Beach (picture above), under the Marquam Bridge.

Pro Tip There are no lifeguards on duty, and the river is still unpredictable. Swim at your own risk, and heed warnings.  

Read More Portland Is a Beach Town. It’s True.