As one of the largest cities in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon, has become a bustling location for both visitors and locals alike. Most of them are looking for fun things to do in Portland.
Whether you’re on the hunt for delicious food, a little bit of nature, outdoor activities, or just walking downtown streets, Portland has it all.
Given the slogan “Keep Portland Weird,” it’s pretty easy to see that this big city has no shortage of fun, and you’ll be able to find plenty of fun things to do in Portland for adults, no matter what you’re interested in.
15 Things to do in Portland, Oregon for Adults
1 – Watch the sunrise at the Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion was built way back in the early 1900s by Henry Pittock on a property high on a hill, overlooking some of Oregon’s most prominent features.
In 1965, the city of Portland opened up the mansion as a historic house museum, which is today operated by the Pittock Mansion Society nonprofit.
Today, the mansion is one of the most beautiful places in Portland to watch the sunrise over Mount Hood. As the sun peeks out over Oregon’s tallest mountain, you can watch the colors fill the sky.
It’s the perfect, relaxing way to start the day before exploring the busy city center.
2 – Wander around the Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden sits within Washington Park, one of the most popular areas for locals to escape the busyness of Portland without leaving the city.
With 12 acres of land and eight different garden styles to explore, this urban park is a great place to find some peace and feel connected to nature. There are art exhibitions for visitors to see in the indoor spaces, as well as a cafe to try some traditional Japanese cuisine.
These gardens have been called as the “best Japanese gardens outside of Japan,” so they certainly won’t disappoint.
After the Japanese Garden, have a look at the International Rose Test Garden also located in Washington Park.
Talking about gardens, there are many botanical gardens in Portland. Some of the most visited are Lech Botanical Garden, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.
3 – Snag a great deal at the House of Vintage
The House of Vintage in Portland is a 13,000-square-foot store filled with vintage clothing from the 1920s-2000s.
Over 60 local dealers can set up their own space inside the store with each of their vintage finds, and visitors can search and find something they’d like to bring home. Definitely, a must-visit and one of the fun things to do in Portland for adults and shopaholics.
Just one look inside the House of Vintage and you’ll be blown away by how many awesome items you’ll be able to find! Most of them are things that you never even knew you needed and once you buy them, they will become your new personal favorite items. Aside from clothes, you might also find shoes, accessories, hats, and other collectibles.
4 – Discover the Beer City through a self-guided brewery tour
If you’re looking for fun stuff to do in Portland for adults, taking a self-guided brewery tour through Portland’s brewery scene is a great activity.
There are almost 70 breweries within Portland’s city limits, hence the title of Beer City. It’s really easy to stop at multiple of them and try out some of the local beers.
A few of the best in town are Wayfinder Beer, Cascade Brewery, and Stormbreaker Brewing. And while you’re out there testing the brews, check out some of the pizzas in town. Among all Portland food, the pizza stands out.
There are also guided brewery tours in Portland (click here to see) that you can take, which allow you to visit some of the best breweries with a knowledgeable local guide in unique ways, such as on a bike.
5 – Take a bike tour of the city
Portland has become one of the most bike-friendly cities in the world with over 400 miles of bikeways, and that number is continuing to grow!
An excellent way to see the city is through a bike tour, whether that be with a tour company or self-guided! There are great tours that allow guests to see some of the best sites within the city. They even have a tour that brings riders to some of the best food in town. Bike & Food tour, that’s my kind of experience!
Here are a few more options for unique bike tours in Portland for adults:
If you want to take a self-guided tour, you can take inspiration from the pre-made tours and create your afternoon activity by renting a bike in town. You can add stops at cute coffee shops and ice cream shops while taking the bike lanes through the city!
This is a good option for those visiting Portland on a budget. Talking about money, here is a Guide to Portland Travel Costs that can help you plan your travel expenses wisely and make the most of your trip to Portland.
6 – Take a trip to the Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River runs right through Portland, separating it from Vancouver on the Washington side of the river. And just about 30 minutes away, you’ll find the Columbia River Gorge, where there are waterfalls galore and some of the most beautiful views nearby.
A day trip to the gorge or even just a few hours is a great way to spend time near Portland, especially if you’re looking for a way to experience some of the PNW’s beauty in a peaceful escape.
From the state’s tallest waterfall, Multnomah Falls, to a Vista House overlooking the entire gorge, there’s a beautiful view here, everywhere you look.
Whether you’re interested in hiking or just taking a scenic drive, the Columbia River Gorge is the place to do it. It is the perfect activity for those who love nature and are looking for unique and fun things to do in Portland for adults or groups of friends.
For those who don’t want to drive from Portland to Columbia River Gorge, here is a super cool guided tour: From Portland to Columbia Gorge Hike and Winery Lunch.
The Columbia River Gorge is also on the way to Hood River another good destination for a day trip from Portland.
7 – Find a good read at Powell’s City of Books
Since opening in 1971, Powell’s City of Books has grown to be the world’s largest new and used bookstore, taking up an entire city block in Downtown Portland. It is close to the Portland Art Museum, so if you want something artsy and fun to do in Portland, this combo is a good suggestion.
The store has 10 rooms filled with around one million books, all organized by genre. From popular best-sellers to hard-to-find titles, there’s a different book at Powell’s for every reader.
There is even a Rare Book Room, which features thousands of their most valuable books held on beautiful dark wood shelves and surrounded by antique lighting and furniture. Visitors from all over the world come to see what Powell’s is all about. Definitely a fun activity for those who love a good read, and a good reason to travel to Portland.
8 – Visit the ‘Freaky But True’ Peculiarium
This totally one-of-a-kind museum is the perfect place for adults in Portland to spend an afternoon wandering through the halls of peculiar items.
Within the Peculiarium you’ll find art and items that engage all of your senses and have you wondering who could’ve thought of something like this. From Bigfoot to aliens to Krampus and more, the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium will surely give you a good laugh and a good time in Portland.
If you are looking for weird things to see in Portland, this is the place to go. They also have a gift shop, in case you want to take a weird souvenir home.
9 – Find fresh produce at the Portland Farmers Market
One of the best ways to spend a Saturday or Sunday morning is by wandering around Portland Farmers Market.
You’ll find everything from fresh produce to oven-baked bread, ready-to-eat food, freshly grown flowers, and more.
The Portland Farmers Market is located in a few places, including at Portland State University and in the King neighborhood. The market at the University is open year-round, while the others are open just during the summer.
Whether you go just to wander around, grab lunch, or search for veggies to make dinner, a stop at the market is a nice refreshing way to spend a weekend.
10 – Take a day trip to Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood, the tallest mountain in the state of Oregon, dominates Portland’s skyline, but it’s nice to see it up close.
The drive from Portland to Mount Hood National Forest is about 1.5 hours, making it a great day trip. There are plenty of hiking trails, areas to see the mountain, ski resorts, and more in the national forest.
In the summer, head to Trillium Lake for a beautiful view of Mount Hood over the lake or hike the McNeil Point trail.
During the winter months, spend a day skiing or snowboarding at Timberline Lodge Resort or Skibowl. Even just a drive around the Mount Hood Highway offers beautiful views of the active volcano up close.
11 – Have a night out in the town
A guide about fun things to do in Portland for adults wouldn’t be complete with a good night-out recommendation! There are plenty of options for having a fun night out in Portland, whether you’re looking for some dancing or just somewhere to have a few drinks.
One popular place is the Alibi Tiki Bar, with endless tiki decor, karaoke nights, and a variety of tropical drinks available.
Another is McMenamins Al’s Den, which is a speakeasy-style area that hosts live music, comedy, or other events nearly every night. You can even get food and a variety of cocktails and wine.
If you like live music, then also check out Doug Fir Lounge.
Lola’s Room in the basement of the Crystal Ballroom of McMenamins is a popular dance location, which hosts some themed dance nights and other events. Lola’s Room and many other bars and venues are located in the Oldtown Chinatown area and Pearl District, aka Portland Entertainment District.
12 – Hike through the Hoyt Arboretum
Many people search for a way to escape the big city without actually leaving the city, and that’s exactly what Hoyt Arboretum is. Plus it’s one of the coolest free things to do in Portland.
This 190-acre area is just minutes from downtown Portland and offers 12 miles of hiking trails to enjoy nature without driving too far.
Within the arboretum, you’ll find a huge variety of trees and plants, which you can expect to change in color, size, and look in each season.
There are a few different trails to hike, each showcasing the park’s beauty, and a few are paved and accessible for wheelchairs. If you’re up for a bit longer hike, there is a trail connecting Hoyt Arboretum and Pittock Mansion, located at the edge of Forest Park, so that you can visit both in one stop!
Talking about hiking, there are miles of trails in Portland, and many of them are connected. So you can go from one park or green space to another by walking or cycling.
If you like walks, then one of the best places to visit in Portland is Cathedral Park with its unique views of the Willamette River and St. Johns Bridge.
For a quirk experience, walk along the Waterfront Park trail and look at Mill Ends Park. This two square feet green space is an official city park, it’s the world’s smallest park and was nominated as the only colony for leprechauns west of Ireland. Who doesn’t love weird Portland?
13 – Taste Test Voodoo Doughnuts
This unique doughnut shop is a must-do in Portland, as it was first opened in the city. This isn’t your average doughnut shop, as they make a huge variety of flavors, including maple bacon, Butterfinger, PB&J, apple fritter, and more. Plus, there are seasonal flavors that are worth checking out during the different times of the year.
It’s a shop and an attraction in Portland for adults, as it’s not as family-friendly as other doughnut shops in town, and it is open late!
14 – Have food fun at Portland Food Trucks
The Portland food truck scene is yummy with many different flavors and influences. It caters to all tastes, including vegan options. The only difference is that they are called food carts in Portland, and instead of roaming around the city, they are organized in pods in various locations and neighborhoods.
You can actually plan your Portland sightseeing along to the food carts pods, to grab a snack between each attraction.
Check out the downtown food cart pods at Fifth Avenue, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland State University, and Third Avenue. You probably be close to one of them while enjoying the top things to do in Portland.
If you prefer to have a guide to show you the best bites in Portland, then check out these food tours we separated for you:
15 – Get your adrenaline fix at Portland International Raceway
Speed lovers can watch car and motorbike races on the famous portland track, but also drive a supercar like Ferrari or Lamborghini. Definitely, it’s one of the cool things to do in Portland as an adult.
Now that you know all the places to go in Portland, attractions, and tours to have fun, let’s move to the practical side of your trip. Below is everything you need to know to plan your trip, from the best accommodation in Portland to how to get there and around and when is the best time to visit the city.
Where to stay in Portland, OR
There are many great hotels and vacation rentals in Portland that are perfect for using as a home base for your travels. If you are traveling by yourself or with friends and family, you can be sure the hotels in Portland are as good as the things to do in town.
Consider booking one of these hotels when you’re looking for a place to stay in Portland.
The Hoxton Portland: Located in Old Town Portland, this hotel has a rooftop bar and views of Mount Hood from the roof. It offers a variety of well-decorated modern rooms, some with city views.
McMenamins Crystal Hotel: Also located in Old Town Portland, within a short distance of some of the best nightlife in town. It has an on-site restaurant and offers live music on select weekends. It’s a hotel with character and perfect for adults traveling to Portland.
If you are still in doubt about where to stay in Portland, here is the link to Booking.com where you will find all the hostels and hotels in Portland. Use the website filters to find the best accommodation for you.
Best time to visit Portland, Oregon
Portland is a great city to be visited any time of year, mainly because there isn’t ever much snow within the city itself!
But, where Oregon lacks in snow, it certainly makes up for it in rain. The rainy season is usually from October to May, but this could extend further into summer. It’s good to keep this in mind while planning your Portland activities, especially if you are doing outdoor stuff.
Either way, the best times to travel to Portland are from June through September when there’s less rain, the sun is shining, and everything is open for the season.
Don’t forget your Travel Insurance! You don’t want anything to ruin your trip, right? So don’t take the risk! Reliable travel insurance can help you in case of travel issues, from accidents to health problems, travel delays, and lost luggage.
How to get around Portland, Oregon
Portland is a pretty easy city to get around because it’s a large city with quite a bit of public transportation.
First of all, the best way to get into Portland is to fly into Portland International Airport (PDX). You can check the best flights to Portland here.
After you’ve arrived, one of the best ways to get around is by bike because there are over 400 miles of bike paths in the city! There are also many, many walkable bridges that make walking around easy as well. You can either rent a bike in the town or use one of the many bike-share programs.
Another option is to use public transportation, such as the MAX Light Rail, which covers the metro area and downtown, or the TriMet bus service, which services the suburbs and other parts of Portland.
With bikes and public transportation, you can get around easily and visit all Portland attractions.
Fun things to do in Portland for Adults – Wrap Up
As you can see, there are plenty of activities in Portland for adults that will surely keep you busy on your visit.
Whether it’s walking through a nature path right in town, trying out the popular donut shops, or just walking the downtown streets in search of leprechauns, there is so much to do in this Weird City. And if you are planning a trip across the USA, here are all the guides to United States destinations.
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Author: Kassidy Olson
Kassidy Olson is an avid hiker and weekend adventurer who loves exploring her home state of Minnesota and her favorite area of the country, the Pacific Northwest. She loves sharing her experiences and tips on her blog, The Hiking Helper.