Every city has its “top attractions” — places every visitor wants to see. We include some of those, but also some local favorites. The numbers listed below don’t reflect which we like best or least. However, the Portland Streetcar Tour, we think, is #1.
For a $5 adult fare or $2.50 senior fare (65+) you can hop on and off the streetcar, hitting about a dozen of our top attractions. Click here for the list.
Known as ‘Portland’s Living Room,” we recommend this as your first stop after you arrive. The visitor center offers free maps and sells transit passes. You’ll find food, guided tours, festivals, and people watching. A great place to launch the walks we have created for you.
There are over 7,000 rose plants of approximately 550 varieties. The roses bloom from April through October with the peak coming in June, depending on the weather. New rose cultivars are continually sent to the garden from many parts of the world and are tested for color, fragrance, disease resistance and other attributes. Click here for a map of the rose garden.
The elephant exhibit is fun for all ages.
5. OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry)
Outside the museum on the sidewalk next to the Willamette River are sweeping views of downtown Portland. You’ll also find the World War II submarine U.S.S. Blueback (used in The Hunt for Red October), which offers guided tours. Inside OMSI are hands-on exhibits, a movie theater with sci-fi flicks and documentaries, labs, and a planetarium.
Built by Henry Pittock, an early pioneer and founder of the Portland Oregonian newspaper, the mansion has been restored to its glory days. Stunning gardens and a sweeping view of Portland with Mt. Hood in the background make this a must for every visitor.
Renovated last year, the garden is an authentic replica of a garden you would find in Japan. It’s a quiet, beautiful setting. When His Excellency Nobuo Matsunaga, the former Ambassador of Japan to the United States visited the Portland Japanese Garden, he proclaimed it to be “the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan.”
The world’s largest independent bookseller with more than 2 million books covering an entire city block. Reader or not, the immensity of the place will knock your socks off. Free author talks are offered daily.
20 blocks of shops, craft brewpubs, and restaurants with a mix of condos, apartments, and historic Victorian-era homes dominate.
The Columbia River Basin covers 258,000 square miles and includes parts of seven states and one Canadian province. In its 1,200 mile course to the ocean, the river flows through four mountain ranges and drains more water to the Pacific Ocean than any other river in North or South America. The river also provides drinking water to numerous communities along its course and irrigates 600,000 acres of farmland. About 45 minutes from downtown Portland, Multnomah Falls is Oregon’s tallest waterfall at 620 feet.
11. Tilikum Crossing
As you might imagine in a city bisected by a river (the Willamette – pronounced WILL-AM-IT), bridges are a part of Portland life. The newest is the Tilikum Crossing, only open for public transportation, bikes, and pedestrians. Cars not allowed. A thing of beauty, you must walk across it.
Helpful Hint About Washington Park
The Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, Portland Children’s Museum, the Forestry Center, and International Rose Test Garden are all located in Washington Park. On a warm, long summer day, you could see all of them without leaving the park. A free seasonal shuttle will move you around within the park, while a railway will take you from the Rose Garden up to the Portland Zoo for a few dollars.