Things to do in Portland, Oregon

Your Portland travel guide for the best vacation
Craftsman home in the heart of southeast Portland
Vacation rental living area in Portland, OR

Travel out toward the temperate rainforest of the Pacific Northwest, to the city that’s home to oddities, originality, and outstanding access to mountain and coastal adventures. Portland rests between the Columbia and Willamette rivers, with a view of Mount Hood in the distance. The city boasts verdant parks with hiking trails, food carts, a thriving craft beer scene, stand-out coffee, and plenty of outdoor enthusiasts.

We asked our team at Vacasa for their must-see spots for where to relax, eat, and play when vacationing (or working at our HQ) in Portland. Here are our recommendations for where to eat and stay, what to see, and even fun things to do with kids. Plan your trip itinerary and head out to the Pacific Northwest.

Mug of coffee from Proud Mary in Portland, Oregon

Places to eat

When your morning alarm sounds, head over to Proud Mary Coffee and sink into a fresh cup of coffee and a plate of fluffy French toast. Once happy hour rolls around, Steeplejack offers a unique experience at their church-turned-brewery, which includes a full bar and restaurant. For dinner, check out the food trucks—Matt’s BBQ on the city’s famous Mississippi Ave offers Texas-style ribs and brisket that’s too good to pass up.

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Matt’s BBQ is perfect if you’re looking for something savory and satisfying. Their brisket is such a fan-favorite, it frequently sells out during the week. Their food truck is the best spot to grab lunch or dinner while checking out the fun on Mississippi Street.
Schuyler Peck, Marketing Copywriter
greenery in Portland's Japanese Garden

What to see

Find your zen with a trip to the Portland Japanese Gardens near Washington Park, with a tea house, gorgeous views of Mount Hood, and one of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside of Asia. It wouldn’t be a true trip to Portland without a visit to Powell’s City of Books, the iconic downtown bookstore with color-coded rooms and 3,500 different sections of literature that takes up an entire city block. Afterward, grab a tour of the Portland Art Museum to experience their stunning collection of Native American art, or savor sweeping views of the city from Pittock Mansion.

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Don't miss out on Powell's bookstore—an entire city block crammed full of more new and used books than can possibly be conquered in a week's worth of trips.
Joe Drury, Senior Director of Digital Marketing
St. Johns Bridge at sunset in the fall in Portland, Oregon

Free things to do

For budget-friendly and free activities, see what gives the City of Roses its name with a perfumed stroll around the International Rose Test Garden. Wander over to the Tom McCall Waterfront Park for fun with the kids at the splash pad. The bustle of Portland’s Saturday Market is an excellent way to spend the morning, regardless of if you pick up a souvenir. Enjoy some time outdoors with a hike around Forest Park, and if you’re up for the drive, Multnomah Falls is well worth the visit for an out-of-this-world waterfall view along the Columbia River Gorge.

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The Mount Hood area is epic. Whether you're here in the winter and plan on hitting the slopes, or you're visiting in the summer and get to check out the beauty of Trillium Lake, there are endless things to do up there.
Nicole Jolma, Senior Manager of SEO
Iconic Portland, Oregon white stag Old Town sign

Activities for kids

If you’re looking for things to do with kids during your stay, a trip to Voodoo Donuts in Old Town is sure to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. Spend a day at the award-winning Oregon Zoo, and depending on when you visit Portland, you can hang out with the animals and take in the zoo’s extraordinary light show in December. The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) features rotating exhibits, as well as a planetarium, theater, and plenty of interactive exhibits to keep tiny hands busy.

Vacation home in Portland, Oregon with wraparound porch

Where to stay

Whether you’re visiting Portland for unbeatable food carts or some of the United States’ most beautiful stretch of temperate rainforest, a Portland vacation rental gives you access to it all. You’ll find chic downtown apartments, crafty and unique family homes, and spacious pads with waterfront views. Save your spot between the city and towering trees.

Find your adventure in a Portland vacation rental

Portland travel guide FAQ

Any traveler visiting Portland should plan a trip to Powell’s City of Books, the Portland Japanese Gardens, and the Portland Saturday Market. For more top attractions, explore the Oregon Zoo, or visit Voodoo Donuts, where you can find the “Keep Portland Weird” mural right across the street.

A unique Portland feature is its collection of forested hiking trails within city limits. Plan a day of adventure along Forest Park and end up at Pittock Mansion’s outlook point, or head to Washington Park for the International Rose Test Garden. For unbeatable views, journey out to Multnomah Falls and find plenty of other waterfall hikes along the Columbia River Gorge.

With a prominent craft beer scene, bike aficionados, mouthwatering food carts, and its access to unbeatable outdoor activities, the city of Portland is like no other. The city is famous for its huge expanse of dedicated green space, as well as its beer and coffee brewing community.

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