Above: The Portland, Oregon Sign along the Burnside Bridge. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Portland, also known as the City of Roses, is the largest county in Oregon. It is also the most populous city in Oregon, with a population of over 600,000 residents and 8.6 million visitors a year. Broken up into five quadrants and many unique neighborhoods, Portland is known for its thriving creative community, breweries, food scene, great outdoors, tax-free shopping, and much more.
Photo: Pambiche Mural by Emily Beeks. Photo by Stuart Mullenberg.
Portland has numerous museums, galleries, breweries, parks, gardens, and nature preservations. You’ll find public art integrated into architectural facades, along the street, in the parks, inside public buildings and in the sculpture garden outside of the Portland Art Museum. The 29th International Sculpture Conference will take place in Downtown Portland. Continue reading below to learn more about what Portland has to offer during your stay.
Courtesy of Travel Portland.
If you are looking for more information about things to do and places to explore in Portland, click here.
For a list of all of Portland’s museums, click here.
To learn more about public art in Portland, check out the Regional Arts and Culture Council
For a list and locations of murals in Portland, click here.
The divisions of the quadrants are easy to distinguish. Burnside is the street that divides North and South and the beautiful Willamette River divides East and West. North Portland is where the Willamette turns West and runs into the Columbia River (this river divides Oregon and Washington) and it creates a pie shaped area. Vancouver Blvd divides North and Northeast Portland.
Above: Wildfang. Photo by NashCO 2014. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Alphabet District (Nob Hill)
Located in Portland's NW section, the Alphabet Blocks in Portland are a group of streets beginning north of Burnside and continue heading north, alphabetically. The Alphabet District comprises of a few different areas and attractions.
Photo: Portland makers in action, 2014_Travel Portland. Photo by Jamie Francis. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
NW 23rd Ave (aka Trendy-third) is lined with swanky clothing boutiques and other upscale retail, mixed with cafes and restaurants. This area is also known as Uptown (particularly its southern end near W Burnside St.) and includes Nob Hill. If you’re looking for the best in tax-free shopping, check out Betsy and Iya for handcrafted jewelry and clothing, Will Leather Goods for well-made leather bags, journals, home goods, and more, and Tender Loving Empire for handmade goods and music from their own record label.
Check out The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, for a weird and wacky Portland experience. This museum and art gallery contains a fascinating collection of oddities from past and present — think vampire-killing kits, interactive alien autopsies, live magic shows and, oddly enough, an ice cream parlor. If gourmet ice cream is more your style, check out Salt & Straw. It’s worth the wait in line for a homemade waffle cone filled with original flavors like pear with blue cheese or strawberry honey balsamic. They have seasonal flavors too!
Photo: Hotel Monaco Red Star Tavern.
Red Star Tavern and Roasthouse in Portland, Oregon on March 21, 2013. Photo by Nader Khouri.
NW 21st Ave is a dining and entertainment destination, with popular restaurants, an independent film theater, and numerous bars, pubs, and nightclubs. Some great spots to try out include Serratto (Mediterranean), Ken’s Artisan Bakery (delicious bread and pastries), Please Louise (Pizza), or Marrakesh (Moroccan food and belly dancing!).
Aptly named, Forest Park puts wilderness within minutes of downtown Portland. If you’re looking to take a hike, one of the most popular options is the scenic 5-mile (8 km) round trip trek from Lower Macleay Park to the Pittock Mansion. High in the West Hills above Northwest Portland, the historic turn-of-the-century Pittock Mansion offers picture-perfect views of the city and its surroundings, as well as a revealing glimpse of Portland’s past through historic exhibitions and guided tours.
With the highest concentration of art galleries in the city, the world’s largest independent bookstore, top 10 restaurants in Oregon, luxurious retail space, and various breweries, the Pearl is a great place to start your exploration of Portland!
Photo: Art in the Pearl. Photo by Amy Oullette Photography.
Portland’s historic North Park Blocks are a green oasis between downtown, Old Town, and the Pearl. The North Park Blocks are home to many creative spaces, including galleries, public sculptures, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education, and the new campus for the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), Oregon’s flagship school of art and design since 1909.
Courtesy of Travel Portland.
If you have to choose one time to explore The Pearl, make it First Thursday. Brought together by the Portland Art Dealers Association, on the first Thursday evening of every month, the doors of many Pearl art galleries stay open late for this popular gallery walk, which attracts art lovers and people-watchers alike with free exhibits and refreshments. For a full list of galleries in the Pearl, check out padaoregon.org.
The Pearl is one of Portland’s top shopping destinations housing a wide range of national and international retailers, as well as locally owned boutiques. You’ll be able to visit the U.S. headquarters of Dr. Martens, as well as shop through Portland Made Stores like Garnish Apparel, Lizard Lounge, and even the consignment shop Recycled Chic.
Photo: Powell's Books. Photo by Jamie Francis. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
While you’re shopping, check out Powell’s City of Books. Covering an entire city block, Powell’s contains more than 1.5 million books and is larger than most city libraries. Get a cup of joe at the in-store coffee shop, take a ride on the three-door elevator (one of only a handful in the country!), grab a map to navigate the nine color-coded rooms, and lose yourself in the largest used and new bookstore on Earth.
Portland is home to more than 75 breweries and counting — more than any other city in the world. Along with bustling brewpubs and a calendar overflowing with beer-themed events, their innovative brews help the city to continually earn its “Beervana” nickname. The Pearl District is the perfect spot for a leisurely pub crawl. Rogue Distillery & Public House serves beer brewed on the Oregon coast and rum distilled on-site, Deschutes Brewery & Public House has 18 taps that include organic and gluten-free offerings.
To browse an expansive selection of activities in the Pearl District, click here.
Old Town Chinatown
Old Town Chinatown is a bustling entertainment district, home to the famous Portland Saturday Market, Voodoo Doughnut, and Lan Su Chinese Garden.
The Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the United States. Open every Saturday and Sunday, the open air market brings over 250 artists, craftspeople, and food vendors together along the Waterfront Park. You’ll be sure to find a unique souvenir to bring home!
Photo: Lan Su Chinese Garden 2. Courtesy of Travel Portland
No Portland to-do list is complete without a visit to Voodoo Doughnut. This doughnut shop is one of the city’s most unusual and delicious culinary destinations open 24 hours a day. The doughnuts, topped with creative ingredients such as bacon, Captain Crunch, and Oreos, are almost as fun to look at as they are to eat.
Constructed of materials shipped directly from Suzhou, China, Lan Su Chinese Garden is considered one of the most authentic Chinese gardens in the country. A two-story teahouse pavilion overlooks a tranquil pond and meticulously tended foliage and the garden’s annual Chinese New Year celebrations are a community tradition.
For a complete guide on must-see attractions in Old Town Chinatown, click here.
Above: Theodore Roosevelt Sculpture. Photo by Jim Fullan. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
|Cultural District (Downtown)
From the theaters and museums, to parks that play host to festivals and farmers’ markets, downtown puts a wide range of entertainment within easy walking distance.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, located in the heart of Downtown Portland, is a public space hosting more than 300 programmed events each year. With more than 26,000 people visiting the Square each day, it is the single most visited site in the city. The Square’s features include the Waterfall Fountain, built of granite; sixteen columns with classical pillars topped with carved yellow roses; and two brick amphitheaters which provide seats for events.
Photo: Public Art in Downtown Portland. Photo by Jamie Francis.
Find out why the oldest museum in Oregon, the Portland Art Museum, is internationally renowned for exciting art experiences. Located in the heart of downtown’s cultural district, the museum’s campus includes an outdoor sculpture court and historical interiors. Tour the world and travel through history in the magnificent permanent collection galleries, including the centers for Northwest and Native American Art, Asian Art, and all six stories of modern art and special exhibitions.
Courtesy of Travel Portland
Explore Oregon’s fascinating history at the Oregon Historical Society. The museum’s collection includes more than 85,000 pieces, including Native American artifacts, memorabilia from Portland’s 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. The museum features many permanent and rotating exhibits covering local history both before and after Oregon became a state in 1859.
Also located Downtown is Portland State University, and their School of Art + Design is located close to the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, the Northwest Film Center, and major downtown galleries and design firms. Portland State University’s campus is also a magnet for imaginative and inspiring public art installations. If you’d like to check out art on campus, look at their map.
Photo: Portland sign at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall at night, Oregon.
Surely one of Portland’s most-photographed features, the Broadway marquee of the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is crowned by a 65-foot-high “Portland” sign illuminated with 6,000 lights. Known as “the Schnitz,” this historic theater is home to resident companies like the Oregon Symphony and regularly hosts touring artist. Several blocks south, Keller Auditorium is the home stage for the Oregon Ballet Theatre and the Broadway Across America series.
For more information about Downtown Portland, click here.
Located a mere two miles west of downtown and accessible by MAX light rail, 159-acre Washington Park offers up a zoo, two museums, a spectacular rose garden, one of the most authentic Japanese gardens in the world and more, all bordered by Forest Park — at 5,100 acres, one of the country’s premier urban wildernesses.
In Washington Park, you can find sea lions, mountain goats and lion prides at the Oregon Zoo. But the biggest stars are the Asian elephants, who enjoy a state-of-the-art habitat that lets visitors see them up close. If you’re more interested in forest ecology, check out an exhibition at the World Forestry Center.
Photo: International Rose Test Garden. Photo by Jamie Francis. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
If you’d like to explore nature, check out the International Rose Test Garden. This beautiful garden offers up the chance to ogle, caress and, of course, sniff, some of the 722 different rose varieties represented among more than 10,000 rose bushes. Peak bloom season runs from late May to September. But even sans petals, the 4.5-acre, multi-tiered grounds dazzle with sculptures, a flower-themed gift shop and stunning views of Mount Hood and Portland’s skyline.
Feel like you’ve been transported to Japan at the 12-acre Portland Japanese Garden . It has eight unique gardenscapes (a strolling pond, ceremonial teahouse, natural garden, flat garden and sand-stone garden) set among cherry trees, azaleas, and Japanese maples. Stop into the Umami café on site for a delicious cup of tea before you go!
Hoyt Arboretum offers great learning opportunities with over 1,000 different plant species in one place. Grab a walking map and stroll 12 miles’ worth of hiking trails, discovering exotic trees such as the Chilean Monkey Puzzle, weeping sequoias and a multitude of flowering specimens like dogwood and magnolias.
Why drive? Washington Park is accessible via light rail Blue and Red lines; the MAX station is close to the Oregon Zoo, Portland Children’s Museum, World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, and the 4T and Wildwood trailheads.
Above: Portland Cider. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Alberta Arts District
The 26 blocks that make up this district are lined with a collection of unique locally owned boutiques, galleries, restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Many shops in this area display original art, complementing the large collection of public art displayed along Alberta Street in the form of murals and street sculptures.
Photo: First Thursday Gallery Opening. Photo by Rob Finch.
During Northeast Alberta Street’s Last Thursday, the art openings at spaces like the Guardino Gallery set the scene for a boisterous street fair that attracts independent artists and performers, from local bands to troupes of acrobats. Held year-round, the event is biggest from May through September, when the street is closed to traffic during the festivities.
Courtesy of Travel Portland.
If you’re looking for unique shopping, check out the boutique art-supply store Collage, which offers inspiring DIY products and free demonstrations on weekends to help you create new treasures. For fiber and fabric crafts, check out Modern Domestic, Bolt Fabric Boutique, or Close Knit, which feature a great selection of materials, classes, sample projects, demonstrations, and more.
After exploring, enjoy some food and drink at one of the many delicious bars and restaurants in the area. McMenamins Kennedy School is a 1915 grade school transformed into a comfy and offbeat hotel, complete with a restaurant, movie theater, outdoor soaking pool and no fewer than five bars. If you’re looking for vegan and vegetarian options, head to The Bye and Bye, which serves up comfort food and crafted cocktails.
North Mississippi Avenue features a long stretch of stores, bars, and restaurants; the acclaimed eateries and bars on up-and-coming North Williams are just half a mile away.
Near Williams Avenue, you can find the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, or PICA. PICA hosts the annual Time-Based Arts Festival, as well as a number of exhibitions, performances, and events.
If you’re the brunch type, check out Gravy on Mississippi Avenue, where they serve up huge portions on their southern style menu, including crispy hash browns with house-made ketchup, warm, flakey biscuits, and of course, (both sausage and veggie) gravy.
Photo: Bison Coffeehouse. Photo by NashCo Photography. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Voodoo Doughnuts gets most of the attention when it comes to pastries in Portland, but check out Blue Star Donuts, which uses a traditional French brioche recipe as the base for classy pastries in creative flavors like blueberry bourbon basil and Cointreau crème brulee.
Looking to grab some great souvenirs on your trip? Land offers an upstairs gallery space and a retail shop filled with charming books, cards, crafts, and paper goods by local and independent makers.
Before you go, stop into the 40,000-square-foot ReBuilding Center to marvel at the array of recycled home materials. Even if you’re not in the market for a new door or bathtub, they are a great resource for information, materials, and inspiration.
Portland’s home for epic concerts, sporting events and major gatherings, Portland’s Lloyd District beckons fans of all kinds from across the country, year-round. Easily accessible by car, public transport and bike, it’s the place where big games and great ideas generate arena-sized excitement.
Photo: Portland Trailblazers Basketball. Photo by 2014 NBAE.
Anchoring the area is the Rose Quarter, where the Moda Center is home to the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers and also hosts major touring musical acts and national sporting events. And with the ability to transform the space into a more intimate venue called Theater of the Clouds, the arena also hosts smaller concerts, theatrical performances and speakers. Next door, the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks play at Veterans Memorial Coliseum, which, with its innovative glass, aluminum and concrete design, has earned a place on the National Register of Historic Places.
Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Above: Portland Street Mural. Photo by Leah Nash-NashCO Photo 2016. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Once a warehouse district, Portland’s Central Eastside now holds exciting ways to connect with natural wonders, innovative tastemakers, and bright minds.
In a titanic, century-old industrial laundry warehouse, Yale Union (YU) inspires with events, exhibits and lectures that highlight emerging and established contemporary artists from around the globe. Founded by artists in 2008, Yale Union produces four major exhibitions and eight music performances each year, with dozens of auxiliary programs and attendant publications.
The Central Eastside’s industrial aesthetic provides a fitting backdrop for Distillery Row, a collection of five neighborhood micro-distilleries bottling small batches of gin, brandy, rum, and barrel-aged whiskeys. The Distillery Row Passport is a way to save money and keep organized while touring the local spirits producers.
Photo: Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Photo by Jamie Francis. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
If you’re looking for something more educational, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a ringer for all-ages. Check out permanent draws, like the high-profile traveling displays like Body Worlds and Mythbusters, or special exhibits on everything from retro video games to nanotechnology. You can experience an earthquake, take part in live lab demonstrations, see a movie in The Empirical (their 4 story giant screen theater), explore the universe in a world-class planetarium, and even tour a real submarine.
Belmont and Hawthorne
Just a few blocks from each other, bustling Southeast Belmont Street and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard are hubs for Portlanders and visitors alike. Get in on the action with some noteworthy diversions that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
Belmont boasts its own mix of vintage and indie shops, coffee houses, bars and food carts. Start by fueling up at Stumptown, a corner coffee shop that’s great for a quick cup and the freshest place to pick up a bag of beans for back home. If you’re hungry, Slappy Cakes, offers tabletop griddles and a full range of toppings, allowing you to perfect your own pancake masterpiece. If you’re on the hunt for dinner, check out Nostrana, a rustic Italian restaurant featuring wood-fired pizza, wood-grilled and rotisserie meats, fresh pasta, soups, salads, antipasta and a large selection of Italian wine.
Photo: Mississippi Records on N. Mississippi in Portland, Oregon. Photos by Jamie Francis. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Looking for something to bring back home? Start your shopping at Noun, which bills itself cleverly as “A Person’s Place for Things.” And that’s what you’ll find there: enviable wares including reproduction vintage refrigerators, collectible typewriters, wooden chairs and Japanese tea sets, all interspersed with local art.
On Hawthorne, you’ll find plenty of indie spirit with independent restaurants and eclectic shops. For a fun twist on sweet and savory waffles, check out The Waffle Window, or if you’re craving tacos, check out ¿Por Que No?, for their made to order guacamole and house made sauces.
Boutiques here vary from music shops like Jackpot Records and Crossroads Music, where you can thumb through their expansive selections of vinyl, to locally crafted clothing, accessories, and gifts, at Presents of Mind or Mink Boutique.
At the east end of Hawthorne, you’ll find Mt. Tabor, one of only a handful of extinct volcanoes within city limits in the U.S., a 636-foot cinder cone that boasts panoramic views of downtown. On its fir-shaded flanks, explore hiking trails, a playground, and an amphitheater for summer-evening concerts.
Photo: Tea Tasting. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
You could plan a week’s worth of meals on Southeast Division Street, the city’s hottest dining corridor, and still not hit all of the must-try restaurants. Though Portland has a ton of great coffee, if you’re looking for a great cup of tea, check out Townshend’s Tea Company . The teahouse stocks more than 100 loose leaf teas which they happily bag for home use or brew to go.
For breakfast, try out Broder on nearby Clinton Street. This little café offers up light scrambles in cast-iron skillets, plus Scandinavian specialties. If you’re looking for a classic with a twist, Off the Waffle serves up sweet Belgian Liège waffles topped with accoutrements ranging from sweet to savory.
You can’t discuss dining on Division without a nod to Pok Pok, the famed Thai street spot that’s been drawing raves — and crowds — since 2005. But you can skip their line and get many of the same eats at sister Whiskey Soda Lounge, across the street.
More shopping awaits here… check out Little Otsu for beautifully illustrated books, planners, and handmade paper goods, Carter & Rose for a charmingly curated store that sells ceramic air plant wall planters and made-in-Portland bags, jewelry, and home goods.
Peek inside Nationale, a tiny art gallery to find rotating exhibitions of work by talented Northwest visual artists. A “merchants in residence” program allows visitors to shop for fabulous art while learning more about the artists’ background and inspirations.
Above: Steel Bridge at Dusk. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Photo: Cathedral Park & St Johns Bridge. Photo by Julia Grieve. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
North Portland has come into its own in recent years, with a diverse mixture of residential, commercial, and industrial areas.
In the Kenton neighborhood, you can find a 31-foot-tall statue of legendary lumberjack Paul Bunyan, which was introduced to North Portland in 1959 to celebrate Oregon’s centennial (and was recently added to the National Register of Historic Places!). Today, Kenton is home to many amazing businesses, including Figure Plant, a design and fabrication studio, and Salvage Works, a handcrafted artisan business that sells reclaimed lumber from deconstructed houses and barns, and builds beautiful furniture and fixtures.
While in Kenton, be sure to check out Disjecta, a contemporary art center that produces innovative arts programming and providing access to exhibition space for emerging and established artists alike.
Also in North Portland, you’ll find the University of Portland. Check out the Buckley Center Gallery for exhibitions by national artists and student work.
Other places worthy of a visit include St. Johns, a quaint neighborhood that retains its small-town charm with its many locally owned shops, pubs and cafés. Pack a picnic blanket for an afternoon in Cathedral Park, cross the picturesque St. Johns Bridge and get ready to explore a lovely, lesser-known side of Portland.
Above: Mt. Hood from Hood River Region. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
More to Explore
Less than an hour from Portland, the gorgeous Willamette Valley boasts more than 250 wineries, quaint towns and rolling farmland ripe for touring. Guided wine tours let you explore vineyards and wineries, so you can taste to your hearts’ content without worrying about driving. Sample your way through the region’s wines on custom trips based on your personal tastes. Seasoned wine experts are ready to make your pinot reverie a reality, and most will even pick you up! Click here for a full list of wine tours.
Photo: OHSU Aerial Tram. Photo by Bruce Forster. Courtesy of Travel Portland.
Portland’s Aerial Tram runs Monday through Saturday, traveling 3,300 linear feet between the South Waterfront and Oregon Health & Science University’s main campus at 22 miles per hour. The Tram cabins rise 500 feet for the three-minute trip over I-5, offering stunning views of downtown Portland, the Willamette River, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens.
Mount Hood offers scenic recreation ranging from camping, hiking and fishing to nearly year-round skiing. Before the sun sets, explore the area around the lodge, featuring numerous trails open to snowshoers and cross-country skiers. If you want more speed for less effort, head to nearby Mt. Hood Ski Bowl for some good old-fashioned inner tubing. Click here to browse an expansive selection of activities and restaurants in Mt. Hood.
The Oregon Coast boasts many beautiful beaches to explore and can’t miss attractions. Some must see attractions include Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Fort Clatsop at the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park, where you can see the winter site of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and much more. If you have an adventurous side, check out the Oregon Dunes, where you can take a high-speed ride in an ATV, go sandboarding, or explore on foot.
Take a day trip to one of the Northwest’s largest cities, Seattle! About a three hour car ride north, you’ll find the Emerald City of Seattle. To save on travel time, you can hop onto the Bolt Bus or Amtrak. Once you’re in Seattle start at Seattle Center and explore the Chihuly Garden and Glass or Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop). Hop onto the Monorail and take that into downtown where you can easily walk to Pike Place Market, shop, dine at any number of restaurants both inexpensive and upscale, go to the Seattle Art Museum, or walk along the waterfront.
|Sponsors and Collaborators:
|Please indicate if you require any accessibility accommodations by contacting the events department at 609.689.1051 x302 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The International Sculpture Center is committed to ensuring that all events are accessible to all of our patrons. |