Portland is the largest city in Oregon. Only a hundred years ago it was one of the world’s most dangerous port cities. Racketeering and organized crime was the part of everyday life. Nowadays, according to many researchers, Portland is the 8th most famous city in the US. Unfortunately, because of this popularity, you can face with lack of tours available. Therefore book desirable activities in advance and enjoy this fantastic city without any inconvenience.
What to Visit
After you come to Portland and check in at your hotel, you will probably need to rest a little bit after the long travel. Why would you stay in the hotel? There are a few peaceful places in the town you should visit and where you can relax at the same time.
1 – Washington Park
Yes, first-timers in Portland should start their sightseeing at this vast space of 410 acres. Actually, only one day is not enough to visit all the premier attractions this area offers including a magnificent Japanese Gardens, the city ZOO, arboretum, World Forestry Center, children’s museum, and many more.
You can start by enjoying the extraordinary piece of Japan in Oregon. The Portland Japanese Garden extends to five distinct areas which stretch out at 5.5 acres. If you look for tranquility, harmony, and peace while exploring the rare flora and clean ponds, you are in the right place.
Right next to it is the International Rose Test Garden. Imagine the privilege of smelling roses in the oldest public garden of its kind in the U.S. every day from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. You can discover how many colors, shapes, or sizes of roses there are in the world while admiring more than 10,000 of these beautiful flowers.
On one side of the Willamette River is the place where you can see the cherry blossom bloom. However, Tom McCall Waterfront Park offers more than that. Come to walk, jog, cycle, or skateboard along the river with a great view of the boats. Organize a picnic, go to the concert on the grassy area of the Bowl, or admire the Salmon Street Springs fountain.
Oregon ZOO, opened in 1888, is one of the most famous attractions in Portland. Meet 1,955 animals and 232 different species including 21 threatened and endangered ones that live only in the ZOOs nowadays. One of their greatest successes is the breeding of new individuals of African Elephants. Go to the ZOO and hang out with these magnificent animals for a while.
A few miles away from downtown is situated Hoyt Arboretum at 187 acres with 12 miles long trails in total. This place is a home for approximately 1,100 different species and 10,000 individual shrubs and trees from all over the globe. Spend some time at a visitor center in the park with a picnic area and an indoor classroom.
If you are a sport’s type, you can enjoy tennis courts, playgrounds, and explore wild forest as well. There are more than 15 miles of walking and jogging trails!
2 – Pittock Mansion
Located in the hills to the west of Portland, Pittock Mansion is the must-see place. Henry and Georgiana Pittock, the most famous pioneers in Oregon, built this impressive 23-rooms estate house surrounded by 46 acres of land from 1909 to 1914. They combined French-Renaissance style with Victorian design and furnished the mansion with early 20th-century furniture.
After opening to the public in 1965, it became the property of the city of Portland. Be one of approximately 80,000 people visiting the mansion each year, watch birds, or enjoy the awesome view of Portland, Mount Hood, and Mount St. Helens from the height of 1,000 feet above sea level for only $10.
3 – Museums
If you come to Portland with your family, take your children to the Children’s Museum to spend a great day out learning through fun. Let them learn about construction in the Building Bridgetown, to connect with nature during the Outdoor Adventure, or to simply play in a garage. After enjoying the museum’s permanent or changing exhibits, you can plan to have a healthy meal in the small bistro there.
Opened in 1898, the Oregon Historical Museum took its place in downtown Portland. Among over 85,000 artifacts related to the local area, there is also the Portland Penny. It is actually a copper penny from 1835 which was flipped to determine if the city’s name would be Portland or Boston.
The 7th oldest museum in the U.S. is the Portland Art Museum. Founded in 1892, it has become famous around the world thanks to more than 42,000 art pieces in it including an impressive collection of English silver and art pieces collected from the native people of North America. It is well worth taking a look at the Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art situated next to the museum too.
You can also explore the life on USS Blueback, the last non-nuclear submarine joined the US Navy, which is one of many exponents at the Museum of Science And Industry. Watch artists work at the Museum Of Contemporary Craft. Visit Stark’s Vacuum Museum in a store ‘Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales & Service’ with more than 300 types of vacuum cleaners arranged on the walls. Or remember the horrors of the Holocaust at the Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust. Whatever museum you choose, you won’t be wrong.
What to Do
1 – Pioneer Courthouse Square (Portland’s Living Room) in downtown is the place for having fun. Play chess on an outdoor chess table, admire a fountain that resembles a cascading waterfall or takes a seat at amphitheater watching a live performance.
2 – Hike to the 200-year-old Witches Castle at Forest Park and take part in one of the kegger parties.
3 – Participate in an Oaks Park roller-skating competition, skate at the disco, or merely go freestyle. Except for roller-skating, it is a place for playing carnival games, having fun on the amusement park rides, or enjoying miniature golf.
4 – Motor racing lovers shouldn’t miss Portland International Raceway. Regular events on the 1.97-mile-long track include motorcycle road racing, motocross, drag racing, auto racing, as well as cruise-ins.
5 – Portland Timbers are one of the top teams in the US. Fans of soccer can cheer on the champs at Providence Park where they play their home games. Don’t miss a match before the season ends.
6 – If you decide to attend the Naked Bike Ride, don’t be surprised to see thousands of naked people who ride their bikes entirely relaxed. Will you be one of them depends only on you.
Special Places for Selected Lovers
1 – Powell’s City of Books is the world’s largest independent bookstore and the home for more than 2 million new and antique books. You actually can’t explore the place without a map. While you glance at the signatures of top writers on one of the pillars, you will recognize ‘over whose steps you walk’. Don’t forget to try one of ‘a cup of Joe’ at their unique World Cup Coffee shop, as many literary giants did before you.
2 – The Portland Saturday Market with 252 booths of local art, clothing, and toys has taken place on the northern side of Tom McCall Waterfront Park since 1974. It is the place for everybody, from tourists who want to buy a unique souvenir to connoisseurs looking for exotic foods. You can visit the market between March and Christmas Eve every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and enjoy the numerous special events and performances organized there.
3 – Between 1850 and 1941 Portland was the most dangerous port in the U.S. known as the ‘Forbidden City of the West’. During that period, people developed the ‘Shanghai Tunnels’ under the city streets. Explore the tunnels which linked hotels and basement bars to the docks at the Willamette River and enabled the transportation of people, goods, supplies, even white slaves.
Pick Out to Eat and Drink at Unusual Places
Portland is the city with numerous bars and restaurants, but some of them are unique and worth of your attention.
1 – Eat pigeons at Le Pigeon! They change their menu regularly so you can’t eat the same portion of a pigeon every time you stop by. Take the opportunity to try delicacy like heart, sweetbreads, or cheeks. For extraordinary occasions, treat yourself to the chef’s tasting menu.
2 – Kachka was opened in 2014, and since then it is a synonym for the ‘Russian food revolution’ in Oregon. Taste a rich history while eating zakuski (briny, pork-filled dumplings, and herring ‘under a fur coat’), snacky Russian drinking food, and much more.
3 – Select four varieties of black teas or herbal infusions at Smith Teamaker to compare their taste and contrast. Knowledgeable staff will help you with the selections if you are not a connoisseur.
4 – For coffee lovers, there are two premium choices. Firstly, try a cup of Stumptown coffee made of the best coffees from all over the world. Moreover, you can go one step further and get a coffee education at the Annex location.
Secondly, carefully savor a Flaming Spanish coffee at Huber’s. It is an incredible mix of coffee, Bacardi 151 rum, Bols Triple Sec, Kahlua, and fresh whipped cream, with nutmeg on the top. Watch out and make ready! Preparing this coffee is a part of a fire-filled show which talented masters will perform in front of your eyes.
5 – Join a drink tasting at a Distillery Row amongst businesses area and industrial warehouses. It will be hard picking out only one of the unique liquors they produce in the style of the old masters.
All the scenic sights, parks, waterfalls, and the port itself make Portland probably the greenest cities in the world. Be one of those who will enjoy the city by walking, cycling, or hiking.
The Additional Tip for International Travelers
International travelers from 38 Visa Waiver Countries who travel to the U.S. for a maximum of 90 days are the part of the Visa Waiver Program. They don’t need a visa whether they travel for business or tourism purposes but have to have valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) approval. It is an automated system which regulates the eligibility of a traveler to arrive in the U.S. by sea or air in the scope of the program.
Keep in mind that traveling under the Visa Waiver Program is restricted only to travelers who have passports with specified security features including a digital chip with biometric information.