2024 Portland Visitors Guide
Portland is an eclectic city that’s easy to explore thanks to its relatively small size. A population of just under 600,000 means that this city is no sprawling urban metropolis. In fact, a great mass transit system and a compact downtown enable visitors to feel at home quickly and orient themselves without difficulty.
Today, Portland features plenty of slick skyscrapers and upscale restaurants, but this is a huge departure from the town’s humble beginnings. At the time of its incorporation in 1851, Portland boasted 800 residents and its most notable landmarks were a steam sawmill and a log cabin hotel. Progress happened quickly, with the population rapidly swelling and enabling the city to take over nearby settlements. Agriculture, logging, and shipping were all early industries in Portland, ensuring the city’s longevity and continued economic development.
The city lies on both sides of the Willamette River, close to that river’s confluence with the better-known Columbia River. In 1931, the city was officially divided into five sections to make it easier to navigate the streets. Those divisions are still widely in use today with locals referring casually to Northeast and Southwest. The other quadrants are Northwest, Southeast, and North. The Willamette River effectively divides the East from the West, which is a handy piece of knowledge for visitors wanting to find their way around town.
Portland’s culture is fascinating and diverse. This is the home of the sophisticated Oregon Ballet Theater and the Portland Opera, but it’s also the place where innovative filmmaker Gus Van Sant grew up and where The Simpsons creator Matt Groening was born. In fact, the city enjoys a long and interesting history with the film and television industry, and many parts of the city are familiar to viewers of the Twilight films, Body of Evidence and Portlandia.
The city is also a haven for foodies and lovers of microbrews. While there are plenty of elegant restaurants serving gourmet fare, perhaps the most fun to be had with food in Portland is among the plethora of food carts that have sprung up everywhere in downtown. Of course, a stop at the infamous VooDoo Doughnut is a must for anyone new to the city and provides a fascinating glimpse into the clash of bohemia and sophistication that seems to have infiltrated all of Portland’s neighborhoods. In fact, it is this contrast that makes Portland such an interesting and worthwhile destination. Perhaps no other city in the world quite so successfully combines the counterculture with the mainstream.
Home to superb restaurants, charming art galleries, and a wealth of cultural attractions, parks, and museums, Downtown Portland always offers something great to see or do. The vibrant and lively heart of the city, Downtown Portland boasts plenty of cultural and entertainment options to enjoy year-round. A safe and walkable area, it is very easy to get to and holds many of the city’s top attractions and landmarks. Downtown Portland plays host to some of the finest museums, parks, and attractions in the Pacific Northwest. It holds the acclaimed Pioneer Courthouse Square as well as the Portland Museum of Art, one of the finest art museums in the entire country. Downtown Portland is also home to the beautiful Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the fascinating Oregon Historical Society, and the renowned Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Elsewhere in the district, visitors will find a rich and diverse variety of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and galleries to enjoy. Easy to get to yet hard to leave, Downtown Portland offers a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Downtown Hotel Service offers Hotels near Downtown Portland that are quality hotels at an affordable price. Use our Search box above or click here to see available hotels!
About Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland boasts a wide array of shops, restaurants, nightlife hubs, attractions and other points of interest for visitors to enjoy any time of the year. Whether you’re looking for a top-notch restaurant to have dinner at or a world-class museum to explore for the afternoon, Downtown Portland has it all. From culture to leisure to entertainment, this historic and vibrant district has plenty of great things to see and do.
The district is located in the heart of Portland on the banks of the beautiful Willamette River. It serves as the city’s central business district as well as a hub of government, culture and entertainment. Downtown Portland is accessible by car, light rail and by tram. It also offers close proximity to the region’s main airports and highways.
Downtown Portland is packed with a wealth of attractions and sites of interest. Its centerpiece is Pioneer Courthouse Square, one of the most acclaimed public squares in the country. Other attractions include the Portland Art Museum, one of the largest and most distinguished art museums in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the beautiful Tom McCall Waterfront Park, the Oregon Historical Society and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall.
Elsewhere in Downtown Portland, visitors will find acclaimed restaurants, fine galleries and a huge array of shops and boutique stores to explore. In addition, Downtown Portland offers close proximity to great neighborhoods like the historic Old Town and the city’s vibrant Chinatown.
With its wide range of great attractions, landmarks, cultural institutions and other sites of interest to discover, Downtown Portland is always a memorable place to visit. From exceptional restaurants to scenic parks to renowned museums, this district has a little bit of something for everyone. No matter who you are or what you’re interested in, Downtown Portland is always a fantastic place to visit any time of the year.
Those who have never been to Portland, Oregon, have visions of it being a city where gloom and rain rule and where the sun is seldom seen. This can certainly be the case during the winter months, so Portland isn’t for those who suffer from the winter blues. Portland weather, however, is responsible for the abundance of thriving green plant life and beautiful floral displays that the city freely offers. Portland isn’t referred to as “The City of Roses” for no reason.
Roses love rain as much as they need sun. Portland has the perfect combination to keep these beauties blooming for long periods of time. It is not at all unusual to see colorful rose blossoms through the month of December in Portland gardens. Summer brings the Rose Festival when residents and visitors alike pay homage to the iconic flower that gives them there name. The Rose Festival is one of the most well-attended festivals in the United States and lasts for over two weeks during the latter part of May and the first weeks of June. Events include fireworks, musical performances, boat races, living history demonstrations, numerous appearances by the Clown Prince and a grand finale called the Grande Floral Parade. Portland weather is always unpredictable during this time of year, and although the parade has frequently taken place under misting or rainy skies, wet weather has never deterred celebrants from thoroughly enjoying the festivities.
When it snows in Portland, the entire city slows and even shuts down. Snow is rare in the Rose City. No one owns a snow shovel because the snow usually melts as quickly as it falls. Now and then, residents are treated to one or two inches of the white stuff before the rains reappear and wash it all away.
Much is made of Portland’s rain, but it mists more than it rains. Heavy, rainstorm-like rains are rare in the Rose City, but it’s not uncommon for the skies to exude soft showers of mist for weeks. Portland residents don’t carry umbrellas as a rule because winds tend to snatch them up and carry them off. Tourists from other areas are frequently seen fighting with their umbrellas on Portland streets.
Then comes summer, and everything suddenly seems worth it. July in Portland is blue, green and gold, with residents and visitors flocking to the waterfront for music, festivals and fairs. Because Portland is one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world, furry friends are frolicking everywhere. Autumn brings chilly nights but mostly clear days well into October, and then the misty rains begin again.
As one of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, Portland has a great transportation network. Interstate 5 links Oregon’s largest city with major cities on the west coast. I-5 runs as far north as the border between the United States and Canada and passes through Seattle and Olympia in Washington state. In fact, Interstate 5 offers a direct path to the Vancouver area in the province of British Columbia. Additionally, I-5 directly links Portland with major cities in California such as Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. Another major highway that serves Portland directly is Interstate 84. I-84 runs for about 800 miles through wilderness and mountains and terminates near the Great Salt Lake in Utah. Boise, Idaho is the only major city that’s located directly along the treacherous I-84 path. Interstate 205 is a beltway highway that surrounds Portland and leads to neighboring suburban communities.
Public transportation in Portland is available through Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon. TriMet operates more than 75 total bus routes through Oregon’s largest city and the surrounding communities. TriMet also offers rapid transit services via the MAX Light Rail system.
The MAX Blue Line runs between Hartfield Government Center in the city of Hillsboro and Cleveland Avenue Station in the city of Gresham. The MAX Red Line operates between Beaverton Transit Center and Portland International Airport. The MAX Yellow Line runs between PSU South Station at Portland State University and the Expo Center. The MAX Green Line takes passengers between PSU South Station and Clackamas Town Center Transit Center in the community of Clackamas. Additionally, TriMet offers commuter rail service through the Westside Express Service line that runs between Beaverton and Wilsonville.
The Portland Streetcar system is another convenient public transportation option in Oregon’s largest city. The Central Loop Line runs on both sides of the Willamette River while the North/South Line operates only west of the river. Another fun and exciting way to experience public transit in Portland is to take the Aerial Tram that takes passengers between Marquam Hill and South Waterfront.
Intercity rail service is available at the Portland Union Station. This major rail hub is served by the Amtrak Cascades, Empire Builder, and Coast Starlight lines. Additionally, Union Station is located along the MAX Green Line and MAX Yellow Line. The Portland Transit Mall district in Downtown Portland offers the best opportunities for making transfers between TriMet, Amtrak and other private transportation options in Portland.
Portland International Airport welcomes more than 13 million passengers each year into Oregon’s biggest city. This airport offers direct flights to more than 20 different cities within the United States via major domestic airlines such as Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines.
One of the most dazzling attractions in Portland is the Columbia River Gorge. Visitors are fascinated by the extremely fluid waterfalls there. The water cascades down the canyons at incredible speeds and creates mists and splashes at the bottom. Crowne Point offers unmatched scenery, and you get to see the entire gorge from atop Crowne Point. The trails along the gorge are ideal for hiking and a relaxing walk to ease your mind. You’ll definitely want to bring a camera to take some pictures of what you see here.
International Rose Test Garden
The International Rose Test Garden is another place you must see while in Portland. They have almost every kind of rose you could possibly imagine and more. You’ll think you’re in a perfume store when you smell all the wonderful smells coming from the various roses. You get to take all of this in with fresh air and sunshine. There’s even a rose-themed gift shop nearby where you can buy stuff to help you remember your great experience at the garden. The wonderful smells alone may be enough to do that.
The Gerding Theater is the best place in Portland to catch a show. You could watch anything from Shakespeare plays to Sweeney Todd to live musical operas and much more. The theater is designed so that every seat in the house has a great view of the stage. The private, plush bathrooms are a huge plus that most people have never experienced at a theater. This is a truly modern theater experience that your entire family will love. You can never choose a bad time to go see a show at The Gerding Theater.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is one of the better museums you could ever visit. There’s plenty of open space full of attractions and exhibits for people of all ages. The traffic flows well, so even larger crowds are easily accommodated. The planetarium there is one of the most visited and enjoyed attractions in the entire museum. People also seem to rave about the Titanic exhibit.
Forest Park delights people who love the woods. Set at the edge of Portland, the pathways lead you on winding walks through some truly beautiful countryside. You could spend as much time as you like exploring the vast reaches of the forest. You don’t want to get lost before you find your way out again. The trees provide a top cover from rain and sun so that you can enjoy the trails completely. Try Forest Park for an incredible adventure.
Portland, Oregon is known for its beautiful natural scenery and lively culinary scene. Portland has a variety of ethnic cuisine to choose from, offering something appealing for everyone. As you read this article, you’ll learn more about Portland restaurants and all they have to offer.
One of the best restaurants in Portland is The Woodsman Tavern. Here, you’ll find an incredibly diverse menu with a plethora of wonderfully paired textures and bold flavors. The Woodsman Tavern has a traditional course serving style, with an extensive list for each course. Some unique, savory appetizers include chicken wings with a sriracha glaze, deviled eggs and more. The first-course selection is also quite appetizing and features items like beef and beer stew, a cauliflower and barley salad with pomegranate and walnuts, a seafood plate with clams and octopus and more. Second-course options include trout topped with sundried tomatoes, lamb paired with turnips, shrimp and grits, pork chops with potatoes and cabbage, and more. There are many side options available such as potatoes with sriracha mayonnaise, grilled veggies and more. This restaurant is also known for its country ham selection that showcases various hams from all over the country.
Before you think the Woodsman Tavern simply can’t get any better, skimming over the brunch menu is a must. There is a wide array of sweet breakfast goodies to choose from including honey vanilla brioche, french toast with vanilla mascarpone, pancakes with maple syrup coated apples and bacon and more. Protein-packed, savory breakfast items include: fried pork with poached eggs, trout with onions and potatoes, a griddle prepared burger with cheese curd and more. However, the icing on the cake is the early afternoon cocktail selection which includes: mimosas, sparkling wine with absinthe, buttered rum with cinnamon and coffee and more.
Ox is another one of Portland’s best restaurants. It’s evident from the food found on the menu that Ox has numerous ethnic influences from Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Spain and more. The menu features a wide selection of hearty appetizers including bruschetta with avocado and crab, braised octopus and beef tripe with a mint aioli sauce, clam chowder and more. There are many healthy dinner items such as Grass-fed ribeye, lamb shoulder, Argentinian Asado with short ribs and chorizo, pork rillettes salad with apples and mushrooms, empanadas, shrimp ceviche, scallop salad and more.
Clearly, Portland has an immensely pleasing collection of fine dining establishments. With an undeniable blend of cultures and passion, the restaurants mentioned in this article certainly create culinary masterpieces that will satisfy any palate.
Portland, Oregon, is a city that features an abundance of natural beauty, thriving arts and music scene as well as an eclectic ambiance. The streets are brimming with locally-owned coffee shops and craft beer pubs, and community events occur with regularity during all seasons. Visitors to Portland are never left languishing in their hotel rooms because of a lack of activities. From quirky to classy, Portland residents and visitors have a large variety of community events to nourish their creativity and celebrate the unique culture of this one-of-a-kind city.
Those who live in Portland as well as those who visit there can’t help but want to spend as much time outdoors as possible. More people use bikes as transportation here than any other city in the U.S. Once per year, Portland city streets play host to an unusual tribute to the world’s bicycle riders when as many as ten thousand naked bicycle riders expose themselves to the city streets.
Naked Bike Ride
Irreverent as it may seem, Naked Bike Ride night makes several compelling points. It underscores the vulnerability of bicycle riders who must navigate serious city traffic and brings home the point that a perfect body isn’t a necessary prerequisite to riding a bike for transportation or for sport. The event begins at 10 p.m. on a summer Saturday night and is never forgotten by those who participate.
Portland Rose Festival
One or two days aren’t enough for the residents of the city of Portland and her guests to celebrate the beauty of the rose, which is why the annual, world-renowned Portland Rose Festival lasts for over two weeks. Localized street fairs, fireworks, food, dances, music, art, theater, races and parades decorate the city for a period of over two weeks in late spring. Celebrants frequently frolic in the rain for the duration of the Rose Festival. Festivities are held during the latter part of May and the first week or so in June, and the weather is unpredictable during those times.
Waterfront Blues Festival
Those looking for quality events in Portland can usually find something interesting simply by taking a stroll down to Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The award-winning annual Waterfront Blues Festivals takes place during the first weekend in July and features top musical performers from all over the country as well as Northwest favorites. The weather in the early part of July is usually fabulous in Portland, and even if a little rain falls, it’s never enough to dampen the spirits of blues enthusiasts.
Besides the large, well-known Portland events, visitors to the Rose City are encouraged to explore the numerous small, neighborhood-oriented happenings that occur in all parts of the city on a regular basis no matter what time of year.
Family Fun near Downtown Portland
There are plenty of fun and exciting things to do when visiting Portland, Oregon. Portland has various attractions such as Portland parks, gardens, museums, theater, live music and plenty of other entertainment and activities for the entire family to enjoy. If you enjoy good food, you will love trying some of Portland’s many great restaurants. Portland is well-known for its great coffee and beer, so spending time visiting a brewery or coffee shop is always a fun option.
If you have children, there are plenty of things you can do to entertain them in Portland.
The Oregon Zoo is a great place for visitors and locals. The zoo is in downtown Portland, making it an easy trip to take on the Max light rail. The zoo-transport trains are a favorite for adults and children both, allowing them to see the many amazing views at the zoo.
Portland Children’s Museum
Most families make it a point to visit the Portland Children’s Museum. The museum is a virtual fantasy world for the children. Full of fun activities, playgrounds and adventures, this museum is the perfect place to let your children get worn out while having fun.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is another great place to visit. Here you will find an amazing planetarium, submarine, laser shows and the OMNIMAX Dome Theater.
Portland Farmers Market
Another great stop is the Portland Farmers Market. Located downtown, it is one place you should visit on a Saturday morning when the locals have plenty of great eats, drinks, music, and other events available for the crowd. You can find yourself some great organic produce, dairy, honey, fresh-baked bread and a lot more.
Old Town China Town
If you get time to visit Old Town China Town, stopping at the Portland Saturday Market is something everyone should do. Here the local craftspeople come to sell their amazing gifts, and this is a great place to do a bit of people-watching. Booths are lined-up with handmade crafts, and you can always find plenty of food carts with tasty treats. Local musicians and entertainers do a great job entertaining the crowds.
Enjoy an exciting riverboat cruise on one of the Portland riverboat tours, or relax in one of the many Portland coffee shops. Portland is well-known for its great coffee, and all the Portland coffee houses are well worth a relaxing visit while enjoying a book or magazine.
No matter what time of year you plan to visit Portland, you can be sure that the entire family will find plenty of fun things to see and do while visiting Portland.
Shopping near Downtown Portland
Portland, Oregon is a great place to walk around and shop while taking in the city’s beauty. There’s plenty of shopping malls and boutique areas within the city. Your shopping expectations will be met with major national and international retailers, as well as local artisans selling their goods.
Located along the banks of the Willamette River is the Downtown shopping area. The tree-lined streets are filled with retail shops that beckon you to Portland’s most popular shopping district. With over 100 stores, you’ll find major retailers such as Macy’s, Coach, Tiffany’s, Nordstrom’s, and the flagship store for Columbia Sportswear. You’ll also find not-so-well-known places such as The Playful Needle and Canoe. Getting here is easy by car, taxi, or the TriMet local transit system.
Adjacent to the Downtown Portland shopping area is the Pearl District for more shopping choices. This area was once filled with factories and commercial buildings and is now a modern neighborhood filled with shops and restaurants. REI, Diesel, The North Face, and other major retailers are here. Great boutiques such as Mabel & Zora with timeless dresses for those who are fashion savvy, will make your shopping experience interesting. Take a cab, drive, or use the local transit system to get to the Pearl District.
The Lloyd District is located across the Willamette River in northeast Portland. It’s easy to get to by local transit, cab, or car. This is where the locals shop and mingle with travelers. There are many family-owned businesses here as well as major retailers. Most of the independent shops are clustered along Northeast Broadway.
The Lloyd Center is an indoor shopping mall located in the Lloyd District. The mall has 200 stores with everything from sports clothing to Asian imports. You’ll find big names such as American Eagle, Macy’s, Old Navy, and Marshalls. You’ll also find trendy stores such as Forever 21 and Hollister’s. Charlotte Russe and Silver Castle are just two of the boutiques selling unique goods.
This indoor mall is located just south of downtown Portland. It’s a short 20-minute drive from downtown Portland, or you can use the local transit system. Filled with 170 stores including big names, high-end, and local boutiques. Enjoy shopping at Pottery Barn, Abercrombie & Fitch, Chico’s, Brookstone, and Soma Intimates. Guest Services are available if you’d like personal assistance. There’s also free WiFi and a small children’s playground in this mall.
Your shopping experience in Portland will be just what you hoped for and more.
Map of Hotels in Portland
- Portland International Jetport – Find hotels near Libby town & Scarborough
- Portland Downtown – Find hotels near Old Port & Western Promenade
- University of Southern Maine – Find hotels Near Wilkinsburg and Swissvale.
- Portland Victoria Mansion – Find hotels near Portland Museum of Art & Becky’s Diner
- Portland Casco Bay – Find hotels near Little Diamond Island Landing & Old Port