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Ultimate Portland Guide: Must See and Do while in Portland

Must Do in Portland Oregon Karlaroundtheworld


Portland is a city all of its own. After spending several days in southwestern United States cities, I was amazed to see how different the northwestern city of Portland is! There is so much to do in Portland, and I kept a list of all my favorite places and activities.


1. Free walking tour.

There are always great free activities on any trip, and one of the best in Portland is a free walking tour of the city. This is a good way to get an overview of the city and learn a ton of new facts! For example, did you know that there is a nude bike race in Portland every year? Yeah, I’m not sure I want to see that, either. You can meet up with the tour every day at 11 am or 2:30 pm. It’s just tip the guide whatever you want at the end! I my guide did a rocking job. Find out more here: The Secrets of Portlandia

  1. Walk the waterfront.

    The waterfront walk is another great way to see the city on foot. You won’t get the guide, but you will get more freedom as you decide which trail to follow. It’s scenic, it’s peaceful, and it goes great with a cup of hot coffee.


  1. Food trucks.

    You have to try them. We loved being able to walk around the get whatever food we wanted. Yum!

  2. Voodoo Donuts.

    karlaroundtheworld must do portlandSpeaking of obsessions, Portlanders seem to be obsessed Voodoo Doughnuts. To me, it seemed a bit overrated, but I’ll give kudos to the creativity. Fun fact: you can hold your wedding in Voodoo Doughnuts.


5. Breweries.


There are a bunch of breweries in Portland, and it can be hard to pick which ones to visit. It’d recommend touring at least one. The Haunted Pub Tour by Beer Quest PDX or Taster from Rogue or 10 Barrels are great choices.

6.Third Wave Coffee Tour.

Third Wave Coffee Tour Portland Karlaroundtheworld

Forget pub crawls—take a coffee crawl! The Washington/ Oregon area is famous for its coffee houses. Or maybe it’s just famous for its coffee addition. Either way, you can’t miss this! Read about my experience here 


  1. Rose Garden.Rose Garden-Portland-Karlaroundtheworld

    The Portland Rose Garden, officially named the International Rose Tests garden, is amazing! It has thousands and thousands of roses in every single color. Also, you have a great view of the Portland skyline from the garden, and that alone is worth the visit.

  2. Japanese Garden.Japanese-Garden-Portland-Karlaroundtheworld

    I wouldn’t have expected Portland to have an authentic Japanese garden, but it does! And it’s quite incredible. In my opinion, it’s the prettiest garden in the area. That’s saying a lot, considering how beautiful the Rose Garden is.

  3. Multnomah Falls.

    multnomah falls karlaroundtheworldThis series of magical waterfalls right outside the city is a wonderful break from the urban life. Get a little nature in your life! The Northwestern U.S. has beautiful forests and hikes, so make sure you have time in your itinerary to appreciate the natural world.

  4. Chinese Garden
  5. The Grotto


  1. Places by McMannamins.

    Must Do In Portland

    McMannamins is a pub chain that is unique to Washington and Oregon. But McMannamins, isn’t just a pub! It has a ton of other stuff that belongs to it, like Kennedy School and Edgefield. Kennedy School may sound like a straight-laced private boarding school, but it’s actually a funky hotel. It used to be a school, and the hotel rooms are transformed classrooms! Edgefield is another hotel, but this one is made out of a vintage farmhouse.

  2. Heathman Hotel.

    Have you ever heard of a hotel that gives you a choice of mattress firmness? Well, now you have. Besides the comfort factor, the hotel also has it location going for it. It’s located in the heart of downtown Portland, close to all kinds of awesome locations.


  1. OMSI.

    The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is super fun! Science museums may be kid-friendly, but they are definitely not just for the kiddos. Be sure to try out the chemistry lab- the only hands-on wet chemistry lab in the nation!

  2.  Powell’s Bookstore.

    Powell BooksWhen you’re in the Portland area, you have to visit one of the Powell’s Bookstore chains. It’s a chain, yet it’s and indie store, and it sells new books, but it also sells new ones… it’s a bookshelf-filled oxymoron. But you don’t have to be any kind of moron if you spend some time browsing the shelves!

  3. Zoo.

    portland-oregon-zooThe Oregon Zoo is wonderful for many reasons. Of course, it has all the awesome animals, but on top of that, it also focuses heavily on animal conservation and welfare. You can buy a ticket with the knowledge that your money is going to help animals!

  4. Portland sign.

    karlaroundtheworld-must-do-portland (6)As you know, I love taking photos in front of famous city signs! This one belongs to the White Stag building, so you have to be a little creative if you want to take a selfie. You might need to bring along that selfie stick. Still, worth it.

Things I Still Want to Do:

  1. Mt. Hood. You have to climb this mountain before you can say you’ve really experienced Portland. Okay, maybe not climb it, but certainly go hang out near it!
    20. Coast of Oregon. You get beach and forest all at once. It’s the best of both worlds!
    21. Wineries. There are so many wineries in Oregon’s rural hills. I’d love to take a tour someday.
    22. Chinese Garden. Like the Japanese garden, only different.
    23. Art Galleries. There are so many art galleries in artsy Portland. If I ever go back, I’m going to do a self-guided tour.


Visit the Travel Portland website so that you can read up on everything before you go.

The Visitor center has the Trimet Bus Line info and tickets for sale. I bought my pass for $26 for 7 days. It covers all transportation, which is so convenient! There is a $5 day pass, too, but I was there a week, so this was a better price for me. Students and seniors get a discount, by the way.

33 thoughts on “Ultimate Portland Guide: Must See and Do while in Portland

  1. Awesome Post Karla, You just made me want to book a trip to Portland. This is the kind of review and info guide i love to dive in before i book a vacation so thank you so much for sharing with us. I specially like the Book store, So many of us are forgetting what a real hard copy or paper back feels, smells and actually reads like. We are killing our cells with blue light reading kindles at night before bed…
    Added to my Bucket list lol its growing so Thank you indeed

  2. I’ve traveled a lot and Portland will always be in my list of favorite places to go to! If you love food, you’re going to enjoy what they have to offer! I’m glad there’s a free walking tour as well. There are so many things that you can do here!

  3. I have never been to Portland before, but this sounds like a wonderful place to visit with lots of great attractions all around. The Multnomah Falls is breath taking and I love that The Oregon Zoo and the beautiful Rose Garden as well!

  4. For an outsider who has never been to America let alone Portland the only thing i know is the Portland Trailblazers and Clyde drexler from the 80’s and 90’s. I like the way the town looks walks on the waterfront and beers sounds great

  5. Lots of information and very concisely captured too! Great guide to Portland. It has something to suit everyone’s interest and preferences. The coffee tour and the waterfalls would be on the top of my list, if I go.

  6. Great post, I’ve never visited Oregon or Portland but you certainly piqued my interest. I’m a huge landscape photography fan and Multnomah Falls would definitely be on my wishlist, as well as shredding Mount Hood in the winter. Portland seems like a great base to explore the PNW from.

  7. Growing up in Washington, I knew Portland simply as a place my friends went to get tax-free goods, ha! I don’t think I would have appreciated it much in high school anyway, but now!? Bring on the beer, coffee and endless opportunities to get lost outside. Lovely post and beautiful photos!

  8. Hey, thanks for introducing the amazing destinations and activities in Portland. Multnomah Falls looks quite stunning. I also loved the Japanese garden. It looks like a fairy tale film set. I too love walking tours and the food trucks are a bonus!

  9. Wow so many stunning things to see! I’d love to visit the colourful International Rose Tests garden – I love roses! Also I’m obsessed with finding waterfalls so Multnomah Falls would be awesome! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Love the picture of you in the little donut truck. That is so incredibly cute. Food trucks, coffee, beer…. Sounds like a little hipster heaven. My best friend in the whole wide world just moved to Seattle where he says the craft beer industry centers around hard apple cider. We are in San Diego, home of Stone Brewery and about 90 other craft beer brewers that what to hop your socks off. On a scale of IPA to cider, how would you rate the bitterness of Portland beer?

  11. I love Portland! Living in Seattle, it’s so easy to get down there. OMSI and Japanese Gardens are certainly great places to visit. Have you had a chance to eat at Slappy Cakes yet? It’s a “make-you-own” pancakes place!

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