10 Unique Portland Activities to Try On Your Trip
A trip to the Pacific Northwest is not all hunting and fishing. Here are ten activities to keep you busy on your visit to Portland, Oregon.
Portland, Oregon, is the largest city in the state. Also known as the City of Roses it was founded in the 1840's. The city covers 145 square miles and visitors here can find a number of interesting attractions. The city's location near two of the biggest rivers in Oregon is a mecca for outdoorsmen. Besides the excellent salmon and sturgeon fishing, hunters come every year for the chance to land a prized elk. But don't be misguided, Portland is also a city of culture and the arts. Here are ten attractions you don't want to miss on your visit to Portland.
1. Saturday Market
No trip to Portland is complete without a visit to the Saturday Market. Every weekend from March - December a large section of Old town is transformed into a shopper's paradise. You can easily spend the whole day trying to see all of the arts and crafts on display by local artists. Celebrating its 42nd year in business the market showcases over 245 vendors. Shoppers can find many unique items all designed with the Pacific Northwest in mind. From jewelry, to clothing, to wood works to glass, you can find it at the Saturday Market.
Located in the main food court you will also find a simple stage. Here local musicians, dance troupes and the occasional comedian will perform for you. The shows change every hour so stop by often. One hour you may see one of the local families performing and the next it could be belly dancers. Sample the many delicious food booths all serving up local dishes. And don't forget the Elephant Ears, crispy fried bread covered in cinnamon sugar—yummy.
Location: 2 SW Naito Parkway, Portland, OR 97204
Hours of Operation: Saturdays 10am - 5pm, Sundays 11am - 4:30pm
2. Shakespeare in the Park
Looking for an interesting activity that won't cost you a thing? Try Shakespeare in the Park. Local folks get together to bring the plays of the great Shakespeare to life. The productions are found in a number of the city parks. The theater group, Portland Actors Ensemble, has been producing live, free plays since 1970. Most of the plays take place in the warmer months of summer however you can usually catch a Christmas showing of Midsummer's Night Dream in December. Visit http://www.portlandactors.com/ for a complete calendar of shows, dates and locations and for more information on PAE.
3. Waterfront Blues Festival
If you are planning your trip during the month of July you must go to the Waterfront Blues Festival. This musical extravaganza is the largest festival of its kind west of the Mississippi. The Blues festival is not just about great music but is the largest fundraiser of its kind. The festival is put on every year by the Oregon Food Bank to raise money to help feed folks in need. The Oregon Food Bank helps by providing meals to those who need them in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Basic passes for the four day event start around $40 and go as high as $1,250. Besides the standard festival passes you can purchase a ticket for the Blue Cruise, appetizers and a full bar are available as you cruise the Willamette River while listening to the local musicians. Tickets are $25 and $35 depending on day and time of your cruise. For more information visit http://www.waterfrontbluesfest.com/
4. Portland Rose Festival
The annual Portland Rose Festival is held every spring. Immerse yourself in local culture celebrating both the contemporary and the historical. Events being in mid May and run well into the month of June. Visitors come from all over to enjoy the City Fair where you can ride the giant Ferris Wheel and indulge your sweet tooth on cotton candy. Dance the night away at the RoZone concert or check out the many parades that take place during the course of the event. The festival kicks off with the Starlight Parade and ends with the largest parade of its kind, The Grand Floral Parade. When planning your trip visit http://www.rosefestival.org/ for the current dates and list of events.
5. Portland Japanese Garden
Take a break from all the hustle and bustle of sight seeing with a trip to Portland's Japanese Garden. The 5.5 acre park is actually five unique gardens in one location. Just walking into the Pavilion you will immediately feel a sense of peace and tranquility.
The Flat Garden balances the relationship of ground to stones and trees. The garden is best when seen from a single viewpoint, either from the Pavilion or the veranda. The Strolling Pond Garden encompasses two distinct ponds connected by a stream. Visitors are welcome to stroll along the bridge or through the zigzag path surrounded by Irises. The Tea Garden is situated in a wooded setting, with carefully placed stepping stones. The garden is designed as a place to reflect on the beauty of nature. The Natural Garden was designed to give a visitors a quiet area to relax and explore the meaning of life. The garden uses local plants to take you through the changing seasons. The Sand and Stone garden is an interesting configuration of raked sand interspersed with different types of stones. The garden is meant for visitors to reflect on the beauty of blank space.
Location: 611 SW Kingston Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97205
Hours of Operation: Monday 12pm - 7pm and Tuesday - Sunday 10am - 7pm
Cost of Admission: $9.50 per adult, children 6 - 17 $6.75 and children 5 and under are free.
6. Oregon Zoo
Journey around the world in a day spent at the Oregon Zoo. The zoo houses more than 2,000 different species from all over the globe. The Oregon Zoo has one of the largest and most successful domestic elephant breeding programs. Over 21 endangered animals are protected here and on exhibit for visitors. The zoo offers spectacular shows, like the Birds of Prey and other yearly events. One of the most popular of these is the annual Zoo Lights. From mid-November until well into January the zoo comes alive at night with over one thousand lights artfully arranged in exotic animal shapes.
Location: 4001 SW Canyon Rd, Portland, Oregon 97221
Hours of Operation: Daily from 9am - 5pm
7. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, or OMSI as the locals call it, is an adventure for all ages. The museum houses a first rate planetarium, a giant-screen theater, a submarine and hands-on exhibits of all kinds. Your children will love being able to feel a "real" earthquake or conduct their own science experiments in the many interactive labs. Children six and under can explore and learn in the Science Playground and there is even a splash park for children of all ages. OMSI offers up After Dark events where adults can learn about science while partaking of beer and wine.
Location: 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214
Hours of Operation: Tuesday - Sunday from 9:30am - 5:30pm
Cost of Admission: $13.50 per adult and $9.75 per child for general admission tickets
8. Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour
The Pacific Northwest is full of tales of the supernatural. From things that go bump in the night to haunted places and ghost sightings. Fans of the paranormal will love the Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour offered by Portland Walking Tours. While on the tour you will be provided with electromagnetic meters and other tools of the ghost hunting trade. The tour will take you to three of the most haunted places in the city. Your tour guide will give you all the ins and outs you need to know to tell the difference between a hoax and an actual haunting. You will meet up with your guide in the famous Merchant Hotel. The tour lasts just under 2 1/2 hours and covers about 1.5 miles of walking.
Location: 131 NW 2nd Ave (near NW Davis St) in Old Town/Chinatown
Hours of Operation: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, first tour starts at 7pm and 18 and older only tour begins at 10pm
Cost of admission: 7pm tour is $20 per adult, children 5 - 10 are $9, children under 5 are free. Tickets for the 18 and older tour are $29.
9. Enjoy the Great Outdoors
Portland makes it easy for hikers of all ages to enjoy the spectacular views and natural environment in and around the city. City lovers will enjoy the ease of urban hikes to explore old neighborhoods and architecture. The sidewalks are wide and the blocks are short making this a great activity for families with small children.
Visitors don't have to go far to get in touch with nature. Forest Park encompasses 5,100 acres with over 80 hiking trails. The largest urban park in the country you will quickly forget that you are still in the city. Be on the lookout for local wildlife while enjoying the peace and quiet of the forest. If you are brave enough check out the Wildwood Trail, this hiking path is 30 miles long and loops around to connect with other trails that will take you back into the heart of the city. Forest Park offers guided tours as well as bike and equestrian paths.
Location: NW 29th Ave & Upshur Street to Newberry Rd, Portland, OR 97231
Hours of Operation: Daily from 5am - 10pm
10. Pioneer Courthouse Square
Oddly enough, this concrete slab park, located in the heart of downtown is Portland's most visited spot. More than 9.5 million people come every year to sprawl in the "city's living room." The park was once a parking lot but now is home to over 300 event held annually. The square is paved with over 72 thousand personalized bricks. You can be part of the tradition by purchasing your own brick for just $100. For that price you receive a Certificate of Brick Ownership signed by the mayor as well as map to find your brick once it has been placed.
Location: 701 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, Oregon, 97204
This article was written by: