Portland, Oregon Travel Guide 

I’ve lived in Portland my whole life, save for a short stint in the Midwest for college. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when you live in your hometown—I tend to stick to tried and true coffee shops and breakfast spots around my own neighborhood. So lately I’ve adopted a vacation mindset and explored my city with fresh eyes. Ever notice how you see so much more of a place when traveling than when you’re at home?

Portland is growing at a rapid pace, so there’s more to see than ever. Between the multitude of restaurants, shops and parks Portland has to offer, and its proximity to both the coast and the mountains, it’s no wonder why visitors and new residents are drawn here. If you’re planning a trip to the Rose City, I hope you find this guide helpful! Pro tip: Come see us in the summer and you just might miss the rain.

DO

The Rose Garden is home to over 10,000 roses—they just love this Pacific Northwest climate! Visit on a clear day for a lovely view of Mt. Hood. The park is public, so admission is free!

Tilikum Crossing. This pedestrian-, bike- and mass transit-only bridge is the first of its kind in the country. Enjoy a leisurely stroll from the South Waterfront to the Central Eastside, an industrial district that’s also home to restaurants, bars and shopping.

Forest Park is an urban escape into nature. At 80 square miles full of trails and wilderness, you’ll forget you’re in the middle of a bustling city. My favorite hiking spot within city limits!

Cathedral Park is situated beneath the St. John’s bridge. If you come on a weekend, you’ll likely see a wedding taking place under the bridge’s green arches!

Mt. Tabor is a city park built over a dormant volcano in southeast Portland. Another great spot for a short hike and a picnic!

Eastbank Esplanade. This partially floating walkway along the east side of the Willamette River—which splits the city’s east and west sides—is a great place to people watch and watch events on the water, like Fourth of July fireworks.

Portland Farmer’s Market. This outdoor market is open every Saturday of the year, rain or shine. Even if you’re not grocery shopping, it’s worth a visit for the music, people watching and tasty food—the wood-fired pizza from Tastebud is my favorite.

Last Thursday is a street festival along NE Albertra Street with all the local art, music and food you could want. It’s on the last Thursday of every month, just like the name implies.

Oregon Coast. Gorgeous views of the Pacific Ocean. Enough said! Plus, you’ll find locally caught seafood, cute coastal towns and plenty of hiking spots along the coastline from Astoria all the way down to the California border.

Mt. Hood. Well worth the quick drive east of Portland for incredibly scenic hiking in the spring and summer and snow sports in the winter.

EAT

American Local is Asian-inspired comfort food at its best. Where else can you have a Korean rice skewer and potato tostada with nacho cheese in the same meal? You’ll want to have a look around Division Street while you’re in the neighborhood, too.

Most people come to Güero for the tortas. I come for the cart bowl—it’s rice and yummies like ensalada fresca, crema and pink pickled onions. So good!

Pip’s makes the most adorable—and tastiest—mini doughnuts you’ve ever eaten. My favorite’s the nutella. You’ll want to order a chai flight, too.

Shut Up and Eat is my favorite neighborhood sandwich shop. They serve beer, wine and cocktails in addition to some of the best sandwiches around. Expect to leave very full.

Double Dragon. Three words: banh mi burger! The cocktails aren’t bad, either.

Fat City, a longstanding breakfast destination in Portland’s charming Multnomah Village, is a great spot for classics like French toast, omelettes and big, old-fashioned milkshakes. See if you can find your state’s license plate on the walls!

Cloud City is my favorite made-in-house ice cream shop in town. The ice cream is super tasty and magical to boot—where else can you get a sprinkle-laden unicone filled with flavors like totes ma’goats (goat cheese and lemon curd) and sparkle magic?

Food carts are a staple around Portland. If you’re expecting simple or greasy fare think again—some of the tastiest food in town comes from the carts! I like the Cartopia pod on Hawthorne. They’ve got plenty of seating and amazing pizza, poutine and crepes all in one spot.

St. Cupcake has a few locations around town, but my favorite location is on southeast Belmont Street, tucked in the entryway of a cute shop, Noun. Get the toasted coconut cream cupcake!

Nong’s started as a humble food cart and now has a busy brick and mortar shop in southeast. Nong serves perfectly poached chicken over rice with a garlicky, flavorful sauce. I guarantee you’ll take a bottle of her sauce home with you! Also comes in a vegetarian version.

Eb & Bean serves up organic soft serve yogurt with gourmet toppings like cacao nibs, local honey and seasonal compotes. Highly recommended on hot summer days when you want something cold and not too heavy.

DRINK

Tea Bar brews my favorite matcha latte in town, as well as unique tea drinks like pale pink beet boba and a black charcoal detox lemonade. If you’re into Scandinavian design you’ll love their minimal, modern shops.

Never Coffee makes delicious, color coded lattes—your mug will match the drink you order! My favorite is hug (the red one); it has spicy cacao, smoked chillies and cinnamon. Mmm.

Tell the bartender at Angelface what mood you’re in: Floral? Fruity? Whiskey? They’ll whip up a custom cocktail based on what you like. How much fun is that?!

Good Coffee is just about the friendliest coffee shop in town and, oh yeah, the coffee is good. Really good. Prepare to have plant envy when you visit their shops!

Alma makes amazing chocolate, and their cafes serve up equally irresistible chocolate drinks. Get them hot in the winter and cold in the summer! Warning: It will be hard to go back to the powdered stuff after you’ve tried their drinking chocolate.

SHOP

Pistils Nursery is my favorite place to drool over everything green—it’s basically a houseplant Pinterest board come to life. If you’re in the market for a hard to find “it” plant, you’ll likely find it here.

Spartan Shop is the Portland store I most want to live in. They have a great collection of ceramics, tableware, jewelry and all things home. It’s a great place to shop for gifts or, you know, just treat yourself!

Schoolhouse Electric is known for their light fixtures, but it’s well worth a visit to the store even if you’re not looking for lamps or furniture. They have a great collection of homewares and art that’s just plain fun to browse, and don’t forget the tasty Ristretto Roasters located in the store!

Workshop is one part botanical home shop, one part florist and another part space for—you guessed it—workshops. Always worth a visit to browse their flowers and gifts!

Field Trip hosts workshops—think macrame, collage and DIY beauty—and stocks lovely home goods, natural beauty products and now serves espresso! Plan on hanging out for a while.

If you need to pick up Portland-y gifts for friends back home, Made Here is the place to come. Everything in the shop—from apothecary goods to clothes to kitchenware—is made right here in Portland.

There’s so much to see, do and eat in Portland it’s impossible to cover all the great places the city has to offer in one guide, but I hope this has been a helpful starting point! Portland is a small city, but a growing and vibrant one. It’s impossible to be bored in Portland, even when you’ve lived here your whole life. Thanks for letting me share a little of my hometown! I hope you enjoy your visit. xo, Kayleigh

Credits // Author: Kayleigh Kosmas.
  • Oh my goodness, perfect timing! We’re heading to Portland in a month and there’s so many fun places now to check out. Of the places you mentioned hiking, do you have a favorite one?
    (We’re taking our kids, 8 and 10, but we are hardcore hikers and can do intermediate trails with them.) Also, do you know of anything out of the ordinary that is great for kids? Thanks!

    • Another Portlander here! I don’t have kids, but I’ve heard from many parents that OMSI (the science museum) is a really fun place for them!

      • Honestly, if you live in Portland and have kids- get a year pass to OMSI and to the Zoo!! Best money you’ll spend making amazing memories with your children and exploring the work around! Also check out the children’s art museum!

        Why is The Waffle Window not on this list?? Lol! Best waffles EVER made!! Oh and Salt and Straw for unique and amazing tasting ice cream. How could these be missed???

        • There are plenty of Portland guides out there that feature those same places over and over. I chose to include some lesser known places that have amazing food, great customer service and no crazy lines! In short, the kind of places I’d want to know about if I were visiting–and may not have heard of elsewhere. 🙂

    • If you can make it to the coast while you’re here, that’s my favorite place to hike! There are tons of different trails to choose from, depending on the distance and scenery you’re looking for. OMSI is always fun for kids (and grown ups!).

    • If you’re major hikers you should head to the Gorge! There’s a popular and incredibly beautiful hike called Eagle Creek (bring your swimsuit or wear something that dries fast so you can take a dip in Punchbowl Falls about halfway through your hike!), or stop at Multnomah Falls, which has a paved switchback trail up to the top of the falls (and more)! Nothing beats the beauty of the Gorge, and it’s a quick drive from Portland.

    • Check out Oregon Museum of Science – great interactive area for your kids.

  • Perfect timing, ABM! We’re going to Portland in a month and I can’t wait.

    One suggestion for these travel guides (something I’d suggest to anyone making a travel guide) is a map. I always end up plotting places I read on a Google map to have out on my trip. That way if I happen to be by somewhere, I can just pop in!

  • Another Portlander here! Love that you gave suggestions of lesser known locations instead of the typical Portland hot spots (like suggesting Eb and Bean instead of Salt and Straw), though I’d have to add Fifty Licks to the ice cream list! Their ice cream is SO creamy!

  • I was born in Portland and while I’ve lived in Seattle for many years now, you just can’t take Portland out of the girl! I go back often and yet you’ve given me lots of new places to try – such a great list, thank you!

  • You can’t forget about Powell’s bookstore. If you’re a book lover like I am, it’s an amazing way to spend a day just browsing. It’s like no other bookstore you’ve ever been to.

  • Thanks for the ideas of some new places to try! I’ve been thinking of making my own Portland guide, because like you, I’ve lived here most of my life. But aside from the outdoor stuff and a few of the shops, our guides would be SO DIFFERENT! It’s like we live in different cities, because I’ve never been to a ton of the places you recommend. There’s so much good food and drink that it’s impossible to try it all! It just goes to show how much Portland has to offer, and how quickly it’s changing.

    • Right!? There are so many more places I love that I didn’t have room for, and an equally long list of places I really want to try. Some of the changes are definitely tough to digest–some old favorites haven’t been able to keep up with changing times and have closed in recent years :(–but on the plus side, there’s now always something new to try!

  • Great list, can’t wait to check some of these out, especially the hikes! My last trip there I wandered into a Tender Loving Empire, which is a record label and sells local handmade goods, and found gifts for everyone at home. On my next trip I plan to visit Little Otsu and Lark Press, both stationary stores, fellow paper lovers take note.

  • Wow, what an amazing looking place! I’d never given Portland much thought as a place for me to visit but, now I really want to come and see what it’s all about. In particular I want to see the forest park, that honestly sounds amazing – I’ve never heard of such a big forest being in a city 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

    Chloe @ https://girllgonerogue.blogspot.co.uk/

  • I was hoping on planning a trip to Portland next year and this post will come in so handy! It looks like there are so many cool places to see and, more importantly, eat in the city! I loved getting to see the city through your eyes – there’s nothing like experiencing a city through recommendations of a local! Thanks for sharing!

    Caitlin
    wandererandwolf.com

  • Love love love this guide! I want to go to Portland someday in the near future, so I will definitely keep this post in mind 🙂

  • I never gave too serious of thought to visit Portland, however, after these lovely pictures and guide it is moving up on my list of places I want to go on an adventure to. Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  • Love this short and concise guide – so easy to read and note down the places to visit! One day I’ll make it to Portland for a short holiday 🙂

    Ps one of the ads auto-play and I nearly lost my comment ?

  • Another place to add to the “do / go” list would be Hoyt arboretum – it’s super close to the rose garden. I used to live in portland ( for 8 years) also if you love bubble tea check out tea zone near the waterfront where dragon boat races go on.

  • I always say that if we ever have to move to the US, we should really live in Portland instead of LA. This city feels so warm to me (with lots of coffee places). Thank you for sharing this

  • I love features like this! I feel like I got to go on a mini vacation without spending money, packing, or any stress! As always, it’s presented beautifully.

  • If you like cupcakes, you definitely need to try Toadstool Cupcakes! I know there is a pretty big cupcake craze but these are honestly the most delicious and most unique cupcakes I’ve ever had! It used to be about 2 hours south of Portland in Eugene, where I used to live, but relocated to Portland (thankfully, after I’d already moved too). https://www.toadstoolcupcakes.com/