What is the best way to see Portland in one day?

Maureen Healy

The absolute best way to see Portland in one day should begin with purchasing an all-day Max pass — it’s a bargain at just $5. Max is Portland’s light rail system, and it has an extensive network of stops in all corners of the city and beyond into the suburbs. The pass also gives you access to the Portland Streetcar (connecting NW Portland to downtown and the waterfront) and buses, so there’s no limit to the places you can go. At www.trimet.org, you can plan your trip using exact addresses, intersections, landmarks or stop ID numbers. Download Trimet’s Transit Tracker App to find out next arrivals in real time. Max also goes straight to and from the airport, so you can rely on mass transit your entire trip if you prefer.
 
Start your morning off in Old Town at VooDoo Doughnut for a sweet morning treat. The line is worth the wait for amazing doughnuts topped with anything from bacon to Fruit Loops to Tang. Then head to Waterfront Park (at the Skidmore Fountain MAX station) and stroll around the Portland Saturday Market, the nation's largest weekly outdoor craft market. After the market, take a jaunt to Powell’s City of Books, a Portland landmark that covers an entire city block with more than 1.5 million books. Then stop for lunch at Dick’s Kitchen in Southeast Belmont or on Northwest 21st (Nob Hill neighborhood) for quality grass-fed beef burger and a chocolate or vanilla Coconut Bliss vegan milkshake. After the high caloric intake, you’ll probably be in the mood for a hike, and you’re in the right city. Portland is one of America's best walking cities, with dozens of hiking trails varying in difficulty. We recommend Forest Park, the Wildwood Trail and Mount Hood.

  • On June 19, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best parks in Portland?

    With more than 400 acres of trees, gardens, attractions, and playgrounds, there’s a little something for everyone at Washington Park. Just minutes from downtown Portland you’ll also find some of the best walking and running trails in the city.

    Gabriel Park is one of Portland’s larger public parks and features amenities such as a baseball field, basketball and tennis courts, a skate park, playground and picnic tables. The walking paths throughout the park are perfect for strolling with your dog and enjoying the scenic surroundings.

    Nestled in one of Portland’s most charming tree-lined neighborhoods in Southeast Portland is Sellwood Park. Not only does it have some great sports facilities, but the park also features a horseshoe pit, picnic site, wonderful playground, and an adjoining outdoor pool for those warm summer days.
  • On June 17, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best outdoor activities to do in Portland?

    On a nice day, head up to Council Crest Park in Southwest Portland. After enjoying one of the wonderful walking paths, sit on a blanket on the lawn at the top and nibble on a picnic lunch while taking in a breathtaking view of the city skyline stretched out below you.

    Sit at a table outside downtown’s newest hot restaurant, Raven & Rose to sip on some of their fantastic cocktails and dine on the amazing flatbread. Dining al fresco… it’s one of Portland’s favorite outdoor activities!

    Come August, make your way up to the Rose Garden Amphitheater in Southwest Portland’s Washington Park for their free summer festival featuring ten consecutive evenings of dance and music performances. Pack some brie and crackers and a good bottle of wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley and settle in for a great summer evening.

    If you don’t have your own bike in Portland, rent one and explore the extremely bike-friendly city on two wheels. We recommend the Waterfront Park-Eastbank Esplanade Loop, one that crosses a couple of Portland’s famous bridges over the Willamette River. Fresh air, people on the move, and gorgeous views are some of the perks of this fun outdoor activity.
  • On June 12, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best restaurants in Portland?

    Where to even start? Portland absolutely has something for everyone. A divine, scrumptious dining experience can be had for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and the summary below simply scratches the surface. But, if you must start somewhere, this is the place!

    1. Lincoln: Opened five years ago on Portland's hip North Williams Avenue, this restaurant has proven its staying power by constantly offering mouth-watering happy hour, dinner and dessert menus. The food is exquisite and the charm of the wood ceilinged restaurant just adds to the experience. If you're not already convinced, note that co-owner/chef Jenn Louis was named a Food & Wine "Best New Chef" for 2012 and will be on the upcoming season of "Top Chef Masters" on Bravo.
    2. Las Primas: True confession: I lived in Lima, Peru for 2 years. What that means is that I know great Peruvian cuisine, and this is it. The signature sandwich, the butifarra, will make your taste buds thank you forever. Pair it with the yuquitas, yucca dough fritters topped with a creamy pepper sauce, and make sure to order the super-flavorful empanadas. Peruvian dining isn’t complete without an accompanying pisco sour drink and Las Primas goes one step further in their creative and unique pisco cocktails – you’ll need multiple visits to try them all.
    3. The Painted Lady: Looking to explore some of the fine dining a mere 40 minutes outside of Portland in the heart of the Willamette Valley? Look no further than The Painted Lady restaurant. The best of seasonal and local ingredients are showcased in the delectable five course tasting menu featuring options like potato gnocchi and wild mushroom ragout, pistachio crusted filet mignon with potato puree and spring vegetables, and orange scented souffle with Grand Marnier creme anglaise. Since you're in Oregon's famed wine country, make sure to sip on some of the many local wines The Painted Lady offers to complement your meal.
    4. Ox: What do you get when you add the wood-fired grilling tradition of Argentina, the culinary heritage of Spain, France and Italy, and a nod toward the palate of the Pacific Northwest? One of Portland’s hottest restaurants. Ox is known for its prime local meats and fish as well as seasonal produce, all prepared in a thoughtful manner. The wait for a table is worth it, and once in, make sure to sample the bruschetta of Dungeness crab, avocado, radish, cucumber and shiso, the maple-glazed heirloom carrots, briar rose chèvre, tarragon and truffle-salted pistachios, and the grass-fed Uruguayan beef ribeye.
    5. Le Pigeon: This is a must for Portland dining. The elbow-to-elbow experience is part of the charm, but the tasting menus are what set this restaurant apart and allow diners to “have it all.” The yogurt-grilled prawns, goat cheese gnocchi and crusted pork cutlet are some favorites, but don’t limit yourself. Top off the experience with the espresso pot de crème, and you’ll already be dreaming about your return.
    6. Grüner: Located in Portland’s hot and burgeoning West End, the Alpine-European cuisine at Grüner isn’t what you would expect. No heavy, greasy food here. Instead, you’ll find an amazing attention to detail with flavor combinations you haven’t sampled before. Start with the tarte flambée, an Alsatian “pizza” topped with sweet onions, smoky bacon, fromage blanc and chives. Follow that with the choucroute garnie entrée. Bratwurst, saucisson, cider-braised pork belly, cured pork tenderloin, sauerkraut and yukon gold potatoes are taken to the next level with sweet (and spicy in the right way) mustard. Pair your meal with one or two recommended German beers from the extensive drink menu.
  • On June 9, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best activities in Portland?

    Forest Park Conservancy Portland is a phenomenal place to explore… rain or shine! While a novel could be written about all there is to do in and around this city, here are just a few activities you should make sure to check out:

    BrewCycle: Grab some friends and be prepared to experience Portland’s best breweries in a whole new way. Combining Portland’s love of handcrafted beer and biking, the BrewCycle will take you, as fast as you can pedal, to your next pint.

    The Portland Timbers are the hometown MLS team with one of the best fan bases in America. With a season that runs into October, you'll have ample opportunity to watch some spectacular soccer, try Timbers signature concession items, and witness the palpable excitement of the crowd.

    Shopping: No sales tax in Portland. Need we say more? Oh yes, also really good to mention the plethora of fantastic designers featured at fashion retailers like Frances May, Mercantile and of course our Northwest favorite, Nordstrom. If it’s art you’re in the mood for, prominent galleries like the Elizabeth Leach Gallery feature talented and established artists, including some of the Northwest’s best.

    Running, Walking or Hiking Trails: You’ll find a trail perfect for whatever you have in mind, all within Portland city limits. You can’t beat a leisurely stroll to the top of Mt. Tabor to enjoy beautiful vistas of the city, or running the shady trails of Forest Park.

    Upscale Bowling: Now, don’t laugh, it’s true, Grand Central Bowling could possibly be considered “luxurious.” The lounge features sleek couches overlooking modern lanes with all the latest technology. Want even more? Try the VIP bowling experience to enjoy private luxury seating and two exclusive bowling lanes. And we haven’t even mentioned the food and drink options. Let’s just say sushi is on the menu — and it’s really good!
  • On June 9, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best activities in Portland?

    Forest Park Conservancy Portland is a phenomenal place to explore… rain or shine! While a novel could be written about all there is to do in and around this city, here are just a few activities you should make sure to check out:

    • BrewCycle: Grab some friends and be prepared to experience Portland’s best breweries in a whole new way. Combining Portland’s love of handcrafted beer and biking, the BrewCycle will take you, as fast as you can pedal, to your next pint.
    • The Portland Timbers are the hometown MLS team with one of the best fan bases in America. With a season that runs into October, you'll have ample opportunity to watch some spectacular soccer, try Timbers signature concession items, and witness the palpable excitement of the crowd.
    • Shopping: No sales tax in Portland. Need we say more? Oh yes, also really good to mention the plethora of fantastic designers featured at fashion retailers like Frances May, Mercantile and of course our Northwest favorite, Nordstrom. If it’s art you’re in the mood for, prominent galleries like the Elizabeth Leach Gallery feature talented and established artists, including some of the Northwest’s best.
    • Running, Walking or Hiking Trails: You’ll find a trail perfect for whatever you have in mind, all within Portland city limits. You can’t beat a leisurely stroll to the top of Mt. Tabor to enjoy beautiful vistas of the city, or running the shady trails of Forest Park.
    • Upscale Bowling: Now, don’t laugh, it’s true, Grand Central Bowling could possibly be considered “luxurious.” The lounge features sleek couches overlooking modern lanes with all the latest technology. Want even more? Try the VIP bowling experience to enjoy private luxury seating and two exclusive bowling lanes. And we haven’t even mentioned the food and drink options. Let’s just say sushi is on the menu — and it’s really good!
  • On June 7, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best attractions in Portland?

    OMSI, Darryl Moran Portland boasts a plethora of things to do all year long, indoors and out! It's what makes the city one of the best places in America to live, and keeps tourists returning again and again. On your next visit, make sure to tick off the following:

    The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a little something for every visitor. From fantastic, educational exhibitions to hands-on experiments, kids and adults alike should be prepared to spend a better part of a day at OMSI. And, beginning June 14, the Mummies of the World exhibition opens to the public. Ancient mummies and important artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years will be on display in this one-of-a-kind exhibition.

    Stroll along NW 23rd’s tree-lined sidewalks and shop in fantastic boutiques, or stop in one of the many delicious eateries along the way. From Bamboo Sushi to delicious crepes at Vivace, you should make sure to come on an empty stomach.

    Set aside an hour to explore the five distinct Japanese gardens immaculately maintained at the world class Portland Japanese Garden. You’ll love the views of the city, and the simple calmness the gardens inspire. Right below the Japanese Garden is the world renowned International Rose Test Garden. Stroll through the hundreds of bushes and make sure to stop and smell the roses… this is the “City of Roses,” after all.

    The South Park blocks near Portland State University are the place to be on Saturdays. The Portland Farmers Market is considered one of the best in the world, and for good reason… Beautiful bouquets, delightful fruits and veggies and some of the best pesto spreads around!

    You can’t visit Portland and miss out on Pioneer Courthouse Square. On any given day the Square may be featuring a concert, craft beer tasting, or an appearance from our hometown favorites, the Portland Trailblazers NBA team.

    Pittock Mansion is a century-old French Renaissance-style “château” nestled in Portland’s West Hills, 1,000 feet above the downtown skyline. Originally built as a private residence, it now is open to the public. Its 23 perfectly and lavishly decorated rooms could capture your attention for hours, but don’t miss walking outside and savoring the absolutely stunning panoramic views of the city and Mt. Hood in the background.
  • On June 7, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best attractions in Portland?

    OMSI, Darryl Moran Portland boasts a plethora of things to do all year long, indoors and out! It's what makes the city one of the best places in America to live, and keeps tourists returning again and again. On your next visit, make sure to tick off the following:

    • The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a little something for every visitor. From fantastic, educational exhibitions to hands-on experiments, kids and adults alike should be prepared to spend a better part of a day at OMSI. And, beginning June 14, the Mummies of the World exhibition opens to the public. Ancient mummies and important artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years will be on display in this one-of-a-kind exhibition.
    • Stroll along NW 23rd’s tree-lined sidewalks and shop in fantastic boutiques, or stop in one of the many delicious eateries along the way. From Bamboo Sushi to delicious crepes at Vivace, you should make sure to come on an empty stomach.
    • Set aside an hour to explore the five distinct Japanese gardens immaculately maintained at the world class Portland Japanese Garden. You’ll love the views of the city, and the simple calmness the gardens inspire. Right below the Japanese Garden is the world renowned International Rose Test Garden. Stroll through the hundreds of bushes and make sure to stop and smell the roses… this is the “City of Roses,” after all.
    • The South Park blocks near Portland State University are the place to be on Saturdays. The Portland Farmers Market is considered one of the best in the world, and for good reason… Beautiful bouquets, delightful fruits and veggies and some of the best pesto spreads around!
    • You can’t visit Portland and miss out on Pioneer Courthouse Square. On any given day the Square may be featuring a concert, craft beer tasting, or an appearance from our hometown favorites, the Portland Trailblazers NBA team.
    • Pittock Mansion is a century-old French Renaissance-style “château” nestled in Portland’s West Hills, 1,000 feet above the downtown skyline. Originally built as a private residence, it now is open to the public. Its 23 perfectly and lavishly decorated rooms could capture your attention for hours, but don’t miss walking outside and savoring the absolutely stunning panoramic views of the city and Mt. Hood in the background.
  • On June 7, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best attractions in Portland?

    OMSI, Darryl Moran Portland boasts a plethora of things to do all year long, indoors and out! It's what makes the city one of the best places in America to live, and keeps tourists returning again and again. On your next visit, make sure to tick off the following:

    • The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) has a little something for every visitor. From fantastic, educational exhibitions to hands-on experiments, kids and adults alike should be prepared to spend a better part of a day at OMSI. And, beginning June 14, the Mummies of the World exhibition opens to the public. Ancient mummies and important artifacts from Asia, Oceania, South America, Europe, as well as ancient Egypt, dating as far back as 6,500 years will be on display in this one-of-a-kind exhibition.
    • Stroll along NW 23rd’s tree-lined sidewalks and shop in fantastic boutiques, or stop in one of the many delicious eateries along the way. From Bamboo Sushi to delicious crepes at Vivace, you should make sure to come on an empty stomach.
    • Set aside an hour to explore the five distinct Japanese gardens immaculately maintained at the world class Portland Japanese Garden. You’ll love the views of the city, and the simple calmness the gardens inspire. Right below the Japanese Garden is the world renowned International Rose Test Garden. Stroll through the hundreds of bushes and make sure to stop and smell the roses… this is the “City of Roses,” after all.
    • The South Park blocks near Portland State University are the place to be on Saturdays. The Portland Farmers Market is considered one of the best in the world, and for good reason… Beautiful bouquets, delightful fruits and veggies and some of the best pesto spreads around!
    • You can’t visit Portland and miss out on Pioneer Courthouse Square. On any given day the Square may be featuring a concert, craft beer tasting, or an appearance from our hometown favorites, the Portland Trailblazers NBA team.
    • Pittock Mansion is a century-old French Renaissance-style “château” nestled in Portland’s West Hills, 1,000 feet above the downtown skyline. Originally built as a private residence, it now is open to the public. Its 23 perfectly and lavishly decorated rooms could capture your attention for hours, but don’t miss walking outside and savoring the absolutely stunning panoramic views of the city and Mt. Hood in the background.
  • On June 5, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best kid-friendly restaurants in Portland?

    Portland's first "eco-brewpub," Hopworks Urban Brewery, not only serves up some of the finest brews and food in town, but also has a terrific space for kids. Get a table in view of the kids' corner, order up your meals and organic beers and then enjoy a little "mini" date!

    If you're in the mood for good diner food and want to bring the kids along, look no further than Skyline Restaurant. Situated along the very scenic Skyline Boulevard in NW Portland, this cash-only diner opened in 1935 and still offers some of the best burgers, fries and shakes around. There's a good collection of toys for kids to play with, great kids' menus, and friendly staff that make sure the whole family is happy.

    Las Primas Peruvian Kitchen features a mouth-watering menu with such favorites as the empanadas, butifarra sandwiches and yuquitas. Their bright, open space in the foodie neighborhood of North Portland definitely caters to families with children. The foosball table is an obvious draw, but the Etch A Sketches are also big hits with kids of all ages.
  • On June 4, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best bars in Portland?

    Departure Without even diving into all the fantastic breweries and distilleries that Portland has to offer, we could spend quite some time on our favorite bars. Whether we’re ordering off the happy hour menu, tasting a wine from our own Willamette Valley, or listening to great live music, these are some of our favorites.

    Beaker & Flask is well known as one of Portland's finest craft cocktail spots. Friendly and creative bartenders are constantly making new creations. Sit at the bar to talk to the master mixologists and sip on concoctions like the "Whitesnake:" pisco, pineapple, tawny port and lime angostura bitters. The menus rival the drinks, so eventually move from the bar to a table and keep the experience going.

    Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub is home of the largest St. Patrick’s Festival in the Northwest. On top of that, they offer great beers and live music year-round.

    Take in Portland from 15 floors above street level at Departure’s happy hour. Sitting outside with a cocktail in hand is the best possible way to wind down your day.

    Brix Tavern offers a classic tavern vibe in the heart of the Pearl District. In addition to a great selection of beer, wine and cocktails, they’re known for some amazing good ol’ American comfort food. Read: Baked truffle mac & cheese and chicken pot pie.

    Blocks from the Rose Quarter and home of the Portland Trail Blazers, Spirit of 77 is bringing the American sports bar back to life. If you’re not there to watch your favorite teams on the big screen TVs, make sure to stop by en route to, or from, a Blazers game.

    Established in 1879, Hubers is Portland’s oldest restaurant. In addition to this claim to fame, they are known for their signature drink — the spanish coffee, prepared tableside with great flair.
  • On May 29, 2013
    Melissa Wilmot answered the question: Melissa Wilmot

    What are the best bookstores in Portland?

    Portland, Oregon is truly a literary city. The fantastic Literary Arts is a community-based nonprofit literary center located in downtown Portland, with a 29-year history of serving Oregon's readers and writers. They foster readers and writers as early as the high school level with their innovative programs, so it's no wonder this city loves its books. Break away from your Kindle for a little while to experience the many terrific independent bookstores Portland has to offer. And, start with these two:

    Hands-down one of the best bookstores in Portland, and indeed the northwest, is Powell's Books. Opened in Portland in the early 1970s, the store now has four full-service locations, including the flagship store bordering Portland's Pearl District. What sets Powell's apart is the combination of old and new books, paperbacks and hardcovers, all on the same shelves. When you visit, ensure you have allotted yourself enough time to browse... you'll want it.

    Another fantastic independent bookstore that Portland can boast about is Annie Bloom's Books. Located in the charming neighborhood of Multnomah Village in Southwest Portland, this bookstore has a wonderful selection of travel, fiction, current events and cooking literature. Their staff is some of the friendliest and most helpful around.
Next