What are the best things to do in Portland?

Answers from Our Experts (2)

  • Jenn Louis

  • Chef, Restaurateur

  • Portland, Oregon, US

Portland’s a really neat city in that it’s a very simple city. I always describe [the people] as having a Northwest sense of hospitality. We all really like nice things, we like nice food, we like nice everything — but we don’t like it with a lot of fanfare. So you don’t find a lot of restaurants with tablecloths on the table. Like our tables at Lincoln are made out of reclaimed wood and they are big chunky, chunky wooden tables, and the same with Sunshine, our other tavern as well. That’s one of the things I really like about it. When people come to Portland, they really can just relax. You don’t have to worry about all that fanfare, static and all that kind of stuff, and I think that is something that people really enjoy.

It can be a little touristy — but in the summertime, we have a really, really amazing city park system. We have two parks I think are really beautiful. We have Forest Park, which is one of the largest city parks, I believe in the country, and it’s just a bunch of trails. You hardly realize you are in a city when you are walking through. There are mountain bikers, runners, hikers, and it’s really beautiful. We have also another park called Washington Park, and it’s the international test garden for roses. It’s really beautiful — and I don’t go that often; I used to live in that neighborhood and I used to go running up there — but it’s got a lot of trails and you can take a picnic up there in the summertime.

Maureen Healy

Portland, with its chic neighborhoods, vibrant cultural scene and wooded parks, provides plenty to see and do. Here are Forbes Travel Guide’s editors’ five picks for a can’t-miss itinerary:

1. Tea time. Enjoy traditional Chinese tea in the Tower of Cosmic Reflections at Lan Su Chinese Garden, then stroll the 40,000 square feet of winding pathways with views of buildings and decorative windows hand-crafted in Suhzou, China — Portland’s sister city. More than 90 native Chinese plants populate this peaceful garden.

2. Bike the city. Rent a bicycle from one of the many shops around town and pedal a piece of the 40-Mile Loop — a paved trail connecting a network of parks and neighborhoods.

3. Experience the art scene. First Thursdays are an upscale affair held on the first Thursday of the month in the trendy Pearl District. Art galleries host open gallery walks with wine and live music. For a more raucous vibe, catch Last Thursdays in the Alberta Arts district — expect diverse crowds, drum circles, fire dancers and tall bikes with plenty of food and local-made crafts.

4. Meander the museums. Boating buffs will love the Oregon Maritime Museum — located in the last operational steam-powered tug boat, which is moored on the Willamette River at Waterfront Park. Investigate the scientific wonders of the world at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, or learn about conservation and forest sustainability at World Forestry Center’s Discovery Museum.

5. Get married at a doughnut shop. Portland’s famous Voodoo Doughnut serves up offbeat doughnut flavors — toppings include Captain Crunch, Tang and bacon — along with legal and non-legal weddings.

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