What to do in Portland, Oregon

Oh Portland…you’re weird and hipstery and I absolutely love it. The food is good, the beer is even better, and the people are always friendly and ready to give recommendations on where the hot spots in town are.  In fact, the first time my husband and I went to Portland for our anniversary, we ended up chatting with a local couple who offered to take us around town and show us some of the hidden gems! I’ve only been to Portland a few times and each time I ask a local what to do or where to go, I always find somewhere new and absolutely AMAZING that I have never heard of before!

Where to stay:

Downtown Portland is beer central. It’s the place to be if you like craft beer and a wide selection of food. Both times I’ve gone to Portland I’ve stayed downtown and have loved being walking distance to the food and nightlife. The only catch is that there’s not a lot of parking and there is a fair share of eclectic homeless (not too bad though…far less than San Fran). I’ve stayed at both the Hilton Downtown and the Benson and they’re both very clean and close to everything. The Benson has its own parking garage underneath which I personally think is worth the extra $20/night. For $40/night you get valet parking in the private parking garage underneath the hotel. If you decide to self park or stay somewhere else, you’ll be paying $25ish/night to park in a public parking garage a block or two away.

What to do:

There are so many things to do in Portland and the surrounding area that I don’t even know where to start! Besides the plethora of breweries and restaurants, make sure to:

1. Go to the Saturday Farmers market. This farmers market is no joke guys. Every Saturday from 10am-4pm, the parks next to the river get taken over by row after row of white tents with vendors selling local art, food, beer (of course) and really anything you can imagine.

2. Hike Malmoah falls (or at least take a picture on the bridge at the bottom of it!). If you don’t have good balance or are claustrophobic I wouldn’t recommend climbing to the top as the trail is extremely steep, narrow, and there really aren’t any railings to hang on to. The view from the top is gorgeous and worth it if you can make the trek up the mountain. If you can’t though, the view of the water fall from the bottom isn’t too shabby either!

3. See a movie at the Bagdad Theater. This theater is one of those fun touristy things that is a must (in my opinion) to do in Portland. The atmosphere is super vintage and unique…sit up on the balcony if you want your food and beer brought to you during the movie!

4. Powell’s Bookstore. This book store is MASSIVE. A book lovers heaven! Even if you’re not into books though, make sure to walk through it on your way to dinner or drinks…you may as well escape the cold for a block!

Where to eat:

Breakfast/Brunch

1. Cheryl’s on 12th.

Really anything you get here is going to be delicious. We got the Portuguese fried rice or the croquet madame (below) and it was delicious! They also serve free beignets with every meal that are to die for.

2. Bijou Cafe. Whatever their special is…get it. The food here is always heavenly! The first time we ate here, we got their daily special (eggs Benedict with chimichurri sauce) and it was life changing.

3. Mothers cafe. This breakfast spot has a great atmosphere and amazing cocktails (you’re on vacation…you might as well treat yo self at 10am right?). If you want more traditional breakfast food go here. They make a mean eggs Benedict and the breakfast nachos are delicious too!

4. Voodoo doughnuts. You really should go to Voodoo doughnuts at least once when you’re in Portland. It’s a right of passage. Go early in the morning (before 10am) or late at night if you want to avoid an hour wait in line.

Lunch/Dinner/Desert

1. Food trucks. I’m a little bit of a hypocrite here…I’ve been to Portland multiple times and still haven’t eaten at a food truck! I know. I know. It seriously is one of the most portlandian things you can do. Don’t miss out like me and not eat at a food truck!

2. Deschutes Public House Restaurant and Brew. The food is just as delicious as their beer! Get a burger and any of their IPAs. If you’re a beer newbie, try their Fresh Squeezed IPA. Yes, the “IPA” part might sound scary if you’re new to craft beer and used to drinking Coors, but this one is a pretty mellow IPA and one of the first IPAs my husband could stand when he first started drinking beer!

3. Kennedy School. This old school-turned-hotel is seriously the cutest! It’s about 20 min north of downtown Portland and a bit out of the way, but is unique and in my opinion worth the little drive.

4. Old town pizza. Beer, pizza, and a haunted past? Another fun touristy thing to add to the list.

5. Salt and straw. Don’t be scared away by the long lines or the weird flavors…it’s worth it. Salt and straw had something for everyone so even if you’re not feeling like weird flavors, you’re bound to find something you like. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the strawberry basalmic ice cream!

Breweries & Nightlife:

There are sooo many good breweries in Portland, but these are a few of our favorites:

1. Ten barrel

2. Rogue

3. Hair of the dog

4. Cascade barrel house (All sour beers! yum!)

If you get burnt out on beer and the touristy spots, go across the river to the Mississippi district. It has a lot more of a local/college town vibe that is a lot more relaxed than downtown. When we went there, we went to Interurban and sat on the back patio where they have cute little outdoor fire pits and picnic style tables that make you feel like you’re at a friends house for a bbq, not a bar.

There are so many amazing restaurants, breweries and things to do in Portland that I could spend weeks upon weeks exploring the city and still not even scratch the surface! No matter what you end up doing, make sure you eat a lot and drink even more…Half of the fun is trying all the weird and unique delicacies that Portland has to offer!

Have you been to Portland?  Leave me a comment below and let me know if you’ve tried any of the above!

7 thoughts on “What to do in Portland, Oregon”

  1. I haven’t been to Portland in YEARS but I really want to go back. It seems so quirky and hipstery for sure! And let’s be honest, hipsters have the best food. I’d definitely want to go to Powell’s bookstore but I’m afraid I’d never leave! I am the kind of person who goes into a giant bookstore and just totally loses time looking at all the books! Also, I’ve always wanted to try Voodoo! Thanks for such a good review of a city that seems so fun!

  2. I haven’t visited Oregon yet and I would love to. It sounds like it combines my two favorite things really well: food and beautiful things to see. I also love bookstores so I’m glad you mentioned it!

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