Come rain or come shine (but who are we kidding, it’s mostly rain), Portland is a city of neighborhoods, with new finds waiting around unexpected corners and old favorites regularly getting new sheens. We may not have a Statue of Liberty, or even a Space Needle, but our dining scene has been called the nation’s best and most delicious, the views from our parks are second to none, and our movie theaters, bookstores, and coffee shops beckon when the clouds hang low. In short, it’s never a bad time to get to know the city, whether you’re visiting for the first time or are a local ready to fall back in love with your hometown. Get out there, with our bucket list as your trusty guide.
(Looking. for something to do this weekend? We've got you with this constantly updated guide to upcoming events and local happenings.)
1. Get lost in the stacks at Powells’ flagship store, Pearl District
The Lowdown The world’s largest independent bookstore, with a treasure trove of new, used, and rare books, plus regular in-store events with authors of regional and national stature.
Pro Tip Any book you’re looking for is probably here, but it’s worth timing your visit to Friday, Saturday, or Sunday so you can reverentially stroll through the Rare Book Room. If you buy a coffee at the in-house Princess Bride–themed coffee shop, Guilder, don’t plan to take it in the Rare Book Room—if you were to spill it on any of those books, you’d max out your credit card.
Don’t Miss Portland film writer and soccer geek Shawn Levy in conversation at Powell's with Adam Elder, author of New Kids in the World Cup: The Totally Late '80s and Early '90s Tale of the Team That Changed American Soccer, on November 17, just days before the current US Men's National Team kicks off group play in this year's World Cup in Qatar.
2. Take a walk with Ramona, Hollywood and Grant Park
The Lowdown The late, great children’s author Beverly Cleary, who introduced us to the beloved character Ramona Quimby, grew up in Portland. And if you’ve ever read the book series you might recognize some of the Northeast Portland locations—Klickitat Street, anyone? You can retrace Ramona’s footsteps with Multnomah County Library’s self-guided walking tour, which includes Fleur De Lis Bakery (the site of the former Hollywood Library) and Beverly Cleary School’s Hollyrood campus, where Ramona was headed when she got her boots stuck in the mud and had to be rescued by Henry Huggins.
Pro Tip In the summer, the Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden in Grant Park becomes a spray park, providing a nice spot for the kids to cool off after your tour.
3. Sip tea at the Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown
The Lowdown A tranquil garden in Portland’s historic Chinatown, Lan Su Chinese Garden was built by artisans from Suzhou, which is part of the Jiangsu province (known for its Ming dynasty gardens). It’s considered one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of the country, with native plants, koi-filled ponds, and a teahouse.
Pro Tip Missed the group tour? You can still take a self-guided tour by downloading the Discover Lan Su app, which includes an audio guide of the garden with all kinds of fun facts and history, as well as a scavenger hunt for the little ones.
Don’t Miss Every winter (around the end of January/beginning of February) Lan Su celebrates the Lunar New Year with action-packed festivities, including martial arts demonstrations, lion dance performances, and lantern viewing.
4. Graze your way through a new-wave food cart pod, Boise-Eliot
The Lowdown Portland loves food carts, and the city was a pioneer in the pod concept: cluster a bunch of food carts together, add some seating, maybe a fire pit and a sprawling bar to anchor the whole operation, and you’ve got a nice night out. Try the Prost Marketplace, which hovers around both the namesake German taphouse and the all-day coffee and cocktail patio bar Bloodbuzz. Matt’s BBQ, Burger Stevens (a contender in Portland Monthly’s Burger Cabal rankings), DesiPDX, and more make this one of the city’s top pods.
Pro Tip A beverage at either bar gets you a covered, heated table to take down some burnt ends, or papadums, or both at the same time—regardless of what Oregon weather is thrown at you.
Don’t Miss Loosely named for a Cure song, Fried Egg I’m in Love serves punny breakfast sandwiches capable of curing any hangover, like the veggie sausage “Vegan and Sara” or the Aardvark sauce–spiced “Egg Zeppelin.”
Read More: 20 Food Carts that Define Portland Now
5. Wave at the animals at the Oregon Zoo, Washington Park
The Lowdown The 64-acre Oregon Zoo is the oldest zoo west of the Mississippi and is home to more than 2,000 animals.
Pro Tip Get there right when the zoo opens. For one, there will be more parking spaces available (the zoo is also right by a MAX stop), and there will also be more animals out in the morning—especially during summer, when afternoons can be stiflingly hot.
Don’t Miss A holiday tradition in Portland, the Oregon Zoo transforms into a winter wonderland with ZooLights, an end-of-the-year event where you can walk through a colorful display of more than a million holiday lights.
6. Hike Forest Park’s Wildwood Trail (and see the Witch’s Castle)
The Lowdown Hikers flock to Forest Park, stretching out from Portland’s northwest corner, for a quick hit of nature and get selfies with a graffiti-adorned stone structure dubbed the “Witch’s Castle” by locals.
Pro Tip The five-mile Macleay Park Trail to Pittock Mansion is Forest Park’s most popular, and for good reason. It has everything, with gurgling streams and epic views from said mansion, and it even passes the Audubon Society of Portland in case you’re looking to take a detour. This trail gets crowded, so be sure to get there early in the a.m. and go on a weekday if possible.
Read More: The Insider's Guide to Forest Park
7. Seek Out the Coolest Kicks at Index, Old Town-Chinatown
The Lowdown Part sneaker museum, part sneakerhead holy grail, this athletic shoe consignment store has vintage kicks for sale, some of them at eye-watering prices. Recently spotted: a pair of Nike Air Max 1 Parras that resemble a Magritte painting, for a cool $5,000.
Pro Tip If you’ve got sneakers in great condition, bring them in to try to consign them—the shop is picky about what it will take, but you might find that you can get some cash back toward your next great pair.
Don't Miss Watch their IG and other social media for big drops and hard-to-find shoes. The best and rarest finds move fast, so be ready to swoop in, or resign yourself to gawking.
8. Visit a U-pick farm at Sauvie Island
The Lowdown Located just 10 miles from downtown Portland, pastoral Sauvie Island is dotted with U-pick farms that have everything from berries to peaches, pumpkins to Christmas trees.
Pro Tip U-pick season on Sauvie Island begins in June and ends in December. Be sure to check each farm’s website for the most up-to-date information on what fruits and veggies are currently available. If you go berry picking in the summer, beat the heat by getting there early—some farms open at 9 a.m., which means you’ll have first dibs on those Hood strawberries.
Don’t Miss Topaz Farm hosts farm-to-table dinners and the occasional live music concert series on their impossibly lovely grounds in the summer time. Check their website for tickets.
9. Soak at Knot Springs, Kerns/Central Eastside Industrial District
The Lowdown The closest thing Portland has to Nordic sauna culture, this super-chic wellness temple has a primo location at the foot of the Burnside Bridge on the inner east side. A 90-minute reservation gets you access to two soaking pools—one warm, one hot—plus a cold plunge, sauna, and steam room.
Pro Tip If you can sneak away during the weekday or off-peak hours, admission to the Springs is discounted, and it’ll be less crowded to boot.
Don’t Miss The “rest and rehyrdrate” patio overlooking the Willamette River, with comfortable seating and a chance to luxuriate in fresh air after the humidity of the sauna or steam room.
Read More: Welcome to Portland's Flashiest New Spa
10. Celebrate your szn with a stars-aligned scoop at Cloud City, Woodstock
The Lowdown This scoop shop has the inventive flavors, locally sourced ingredients, and satisfying vegan options (currently six) of some of the bigger names in the ice cream biz, but rarely has the lines. Among the rotating specials is an impressively well-articulated astrological sign as ice cream, so you can have your horoscope for dessert.
Don’t miss Circus Friends is our current favorite flavor: Mother’s frosted animal cookies—the genuine article—are folded into a sweet cream base and zhuzhed with an extra helping of rainbow sprinkles. It guarantees a smile and a rainbow-stained tongue.
Read More: Portland's Best Ice Cream
11. Look for trilliums at Tryon Creek
The Lowdown Tryon Creek State Natural Area transports you to an oasis of lush, forested trails teeming with all kinds of flora, fauna, and wildlife. Every year, the park welcomes spring with its Annual Trillium Festival, where you can go see the perennial white flowers peeping out.
Pro Tip Trilliums begin to bloom in late February and peak in April. Also, navigating the sprawling park can sometimes get tricky, so have a good trail map handy.
Read More: Tryon Creek State Natural Area
12. Drop some dough at the Nike Employee Store, Washington County
The Lowdown Shoes, gear, and apparel from Oregon’s most famous homegrown employer are available worldwide, but only the Portland area (OK, and Memphis, Tennessee) has a giant Nike Employee Store, where both new and previous-season merchandise is up for grabs, for at least 40 percent off sticker price.
Pro Tip You likely need to know someone who works at the swoosh factory to get on the guest pass list (and there’s no sneaking in—they check for passes at the door). Nearly everyone in the metro area knows someone who fits that bill, though, and passes are routinely distributed to folks who work at government agencies in Portland, so ask around and ye shall find.
Also Try If you absolutely can’t snag a guest pass invite, hit up the Nike Community Store on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, where there are some screaming deals to be found (without dealing with the crowds who jam the Woodburn Outlets, some 30 miles south). Adidas and Columbia Sportwear also have employee stores in the area, and passes to both are slightly easier to score.
13. Pilgrimage to Multnomah Falls
The Lowdown It’s an unspoken rule that anyone who sets foot in Oregon, whether you’re a resident or just passing through, must pay a visit to Multnomah Falls at least once. Located right off I-84 , the majestic, 620-foot waterfall can be viewed from below or more up close and personal via the short hike up to Benson Bridge and (literally) soak it all in.
Pro Tip From May 24 through September 5, all visitors to Multnomah Falls must obtain a timed reservation ticket, so be sure to reserve one and have it handy before heading out. Want to make a day of the Multnomah Falls area? Rather than drive, catch a ride with the Columbia Area Transit (CAT) bus from Gateway Transit Center, which drops you off right at Multnomah Falls. You can get tickets here.
14. Rent a yacht tub on the Willamette, Downtown
The Lowdown Play captain for the day and cruise the Willamette River aboard a luxe six-person yacht tub, which is basically a floating soaking tub. No prior boating experience required!
Pro Tip For the best bargain, round up five of your besties to come along for the ride. Also be sure to check the website for special events around town, like a chance to rub elbows (bows?) with the Christmas ships come winter.
15. Peep the view at Council Crest, Southwest Hills
The Lowdown Soaring over 1,000 feet, Council Crest Park is Portland’s highest viewpoint, boasting panoramic views of the city and beyond. On a clear day, you can spot five peaks in the Cascade Range: Rainier, St. Helens, Adams, Hood, and Jefferson.
Pro Tip If you stand in the middle of the rock ring and clap (or speak) the stones create an acoustic that echoes back to you. The coolest part? The sound is only audible to those who stand in the center.
Read More: 34 Reasons to Love Portland's Parks
16. Get buzzed at Super Joy, Goose Hollow
The Lowdown Every Portlander’s got their own favorite place to grab a cup of coffee (hint: It’s not Starbucks.) You can’t miss ‘em—they’re on every corner. Take the time to make your way to Super Joy for a wholly memorable cup.
Pro Tip Owner Joe Yang’s mission is to introduce Chinese coffee beans to American palates. He’s also the 2020 US Coffee Championship roasting winner.
Don’t Miss Yang himself is partial to a cortado. But seek out anything made with beans from the Yunnan region of China.
Read More: Super Joy Showcases China through Coffee
17. Catch a flick at the Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood
The Lowdown One of Portland’s most loveable qualities is that it hasn’t abandoned neighborhood-y movie palaces in favor of soulless suburban multiplexes. The Hollywood is one of the city’s grande dames and its classic façade is a citywide landmark.
Don’t Miss Usual programming is a mix of new and class films, but if you’re in town for one of their special events—Kung Fu Theatre, B-Movie Bingo, Mondo Trasho, and much, much more—run, don’t walk, to a showing.
Pro Tip The theater offers perfectly serviceable pizza and beer to eat while you watch, but there’s much better food to be found in the surrounding Hollywood neighborhood, including cult favorite Chin’s Kitchen for perfect Chinese dumplings and the “secret bar” at culinary bookshop Vivienne Kitchen & Pantry.
Read More: Neighborhood Guide: Hollywood
18. Go kayaking or canoeing around Sauvie Island
The Lowdown The largest river island in the United States, Sauvie Island is located at the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers. It's about a 50-mile trip to circumnavigate the whole thing, where you can spend the day exploring coves, inlets, and the open water.
Pro Tip The Multnomah Channel and Columbia River tend to get congested with boat traffic, so if it’s a beginner-friendly experience you seek, hit the Cunningham Slough for a relaxing water adventure. Keep an eye out along the waters and you might just spot some wildlife, like an osprey or a great blue heron.
Read More: 3 Hot Spots to Kayak—Without Getting Wet
19. Party down at Doug Fir Lounge, Buckman/Central Eastside
The Lowdown Imagine a rustic log cabin, but instead of kitschy wildlife-themed décor and your extended family, it’s filled with funky hanging light fixtures, leather booths, and a hopping bar scene. And instead of s’mores and a TV that doesn’t quite work, it’s got live music, steak frites, and fancy cocktails. (There are a few fire pits, however, so perhaps s’mores are still on the table?)
Pro Tip If you’re there for a show, make sure to pick up a one-off gig poster, created by a local artist.
Don't Miss There’s live music nearly every night and on Sundays throughout the summer, there's a free outdoor music series spotlighting local songwriters and musicians from 3 to 7 p.m.
Read More: The Jupiter Hotel Is Ready for Its Next Act
20. Mountain bike at Gateway Green, Parkrose
The Lowdown Portland’s very first dedicated bike park, Gateway Green is about 25 acres of luscious green space sandwiched between I-205 and I-84. Once the location of the Rocky Butte Jail, it’s now a recreational haven for cyclists, walkers, and nature lovers.
Pro Tip Going by car? While there’s no parking at Gateway Green you can park in the southwest corner of the Gateway Fred Meyer and then pedal your way there via the 205 multiuse path, which is a half mile to the park. Be warned: you’ll be going uphill on the way back, so reserve a little energy for that final trip (no matter how much you want to show off your badass cycling tricks).
21. Hunt for treasures at the Portland Flea, Hosford-Abernethy/Central Eastside Industrial District
The Lowdown A trip to the now-weekly Portland Flea is easily the best way to spend a Sunday morning.... or an early afternoon, for the still-slightly-hungover. Browse the booths of more than 70 different vendors—selling everything from groovy ‘60’s floral dresses, fur coats and preloved Levi's to handcrafted rugs and mugs.
Pro Tip Bring your dog. Or your golden retriever boyfriend. Or someone to DD, because there’s usually some sort of breakfast cocktail cart present. If you’re attending the flea on more serious vintage-hunting business, however, follow @portlandflea on IG beforehand so you can zero in on your top picks.
22. Stroll the Portland Japanese Garden, Washington Park
The Lowdown Cradled in the hills of Washington Park, the Portland Japanese Garden is made for leisurely ambles through the serene oasis, with trickling waterfalls, a teahouse, and eight gardens, each designed to represent a different style of Japanese gardening.
Pro Tip Some parts of the garden are steep, so be sure to wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes.
Don’t Miss During the harvest moon, which falls in September or October, the Japanese Garden hosts a moonviewing festival, or O-Tsukimi in Japanese, where you can gaze at the moon and enjoy tea, live music, and a walk through the lantern-lit garden.
23. Bike the waterfront loop, Downtown & Central Eastside Industrial District
The Lowdown Portland’s bicycle culture is about as ubiquitous as its craft beer, and it’s safe to say you haven’t truly done Portland till you take a two-wheeled jaunt around the scenic waterfront (including a run over the car-free Tilikum Crossing). And with plenty of bike rental options, including the city’s bike share program, Biketown—which has an all-electric fleet—you’ll be on your merry way in no time.
Pro Tip Park your bike at the SW Moody Aerial Tram Terminal station (which btw, has a free bike valet) and enjoy 360-degree views of Portland’s cityscape from aboard the tram. On weekdays, the tram operates until 9:30 p.m., so if you wait till after rush hour you can make it a twilight ride.
Don’t Miss Say hello to the statue of the late, great Vera Katz, a beloved former mayor of Portland, along the Eastbank Esplanade.
24. Ride the roller coaster and go skating at Oaks Amusement Park, Sellwood
The Lowdown Who ever said amusement parks are just for kids? Opened in 1905, Oaks Amusement Park happens to have the oldest remaining roller rink in the country, along with mini golf, classic carnival games like ring toss and balloon bust, and of course, rides, which range from a family-friendly carousel to ones that are a bit more vertical.
Pro Tip Oaks Park may give off vintage vibes but the prices are firmly 21st century. A ride bracelet that grants you unlimited spins on Adrenaline Peak and other vertiginous rides is the way to go.
Don’t Miss Hit the roller rink on the second Wednesday of any given month for Retro Roll, where DJs spin all the ’80s hits from 7 to 9:30 p.m.
Read More: Oaks Park's Gay Skate is on a Roll
25. Get polished at Nomsternailz, Alphabet District
The Lowdown Portland is chock-a-block with nail salons, ranging from no-frills to positively luxe. But no one in town does nail art quite like the folks here, on the tiniest of canvases, while also being very forward about their 420-friendliness. If it’s CB-infused wellness products you seek, this is your spot.
Pro Tip These guys do home visits, too; book through their IG at @NOMIcure.
Don’t Miss Their signature $80 offering, the Cannacure, including CBD-infused foot soak, sugar scrub and mud mask.
26. Lend a helping hand with SOLVE, Citywide
The Lowdown The good folks at SOLVE lead cleanup efforts in neighborhoods around the city to help keep streets safe and clean for everyone; they are always grateful for a helpful hand. Sign up at solveoregon.org
Pro Tip SOLVE got its start by cleaning up Oregon’s beloved beaches (the entire coastline belongs to the public, unlike in other states—looking at you, California)—and healthy waterways are still their focus. Picking up litter also helps ensure that it won’t wind up in the Willamette River, and ultimately washing out to sea.
27. Get crafty at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store, Milwaukie
The Lowdown Pendleton’s iconic woolen blankets, jackets, and westernwear might share a name with the town 200 miles east, but the company is headquartered right here. Fabric junkies will swoon at this flagship factory store, which has hundreds of bolts in stock for your home sewing projects.
Pro Tip Don’t sleep on the bins of selvage edges and fabric scraps, available for purchase by the pound.
Coming Attractions In-store classes have been on pause, but the store says they’ll be resuming soon—sign up and make your own slipcover, baby blanket, and more with Pendleton prints.
28. Wander through the Portland Farmers Market, Downtown
The Lowdown Summer is prime market season in Portland, but the city’s flagship market at Portland State University runs all year long (though winter markets are heavy on leafy greens and tubers.) It’s such a thrill to find the first local asparagus and rhubarb in the spring, followed by Hood strawberries, luscious peaches and the crisp, tangy local apples of fall.
Pro Tip Come hungry! All the prepared food carts cluster at either end of the market, with coffee carts strategically placed in between. Lines get long for only-at-the-market finds like Salumeria de Carlo, but the wait is worth it.
Don’t Miss Regular chef demos through the spring, summer and fall; the adorable Halloween parade and pumpkin decorating contest in October.
29. Order up a cold one at Hammer & Stitch, Slabtown
The Lowdown A newish space from one of Portland’s OG brewers, this sprawling beer palace specializes in approachable ales and lagers, sided with a menu of pub classics, including an if-you-know-you-know take on Portland-born jojo’s.
Pro Tip If you’re more into experimental beers, try the “creations” sections of the menu—Japanese rice lager, anyone?
Don’t Miss The events calendar here is positively humming. Drag brunch, trivia night, bingo, beer and yoga (yes, true story), makers’ night. If you’re more of the chillax type, try the heated outdoor patio instead.
30. Be a patron of the arts at the Portland Art Museum, Downtown
The Lowdown The city’s highbrow, Gilded Age–era art museum is full of surprises (check out The Numberz Black-led radio residency at the Aux/Mute fourth-floor gallery, there through October of 2022). The museum plays host to both blockbuster curated exhibits like 2019’s Hank Willis Thomas’s first major museum survey and The museum plays host to both blockbuster curated exhibits like 2019’s Hank Willis Thomas’s first major museum survey and immersive installations like MacArthur fellow Jeffrey Gibson’s upcoming celebration of Portland’s Indigenous history They Come From Fire.
Don’t Miss The museum’s permanent collection of Indigenous art is especially strong; keep an eye out for Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe, which will spotlight one of the 20th century’s seminal Native American painters. Organized by PAM and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the exhibition runs through mid-May 2023.
Pro Tip Walk a couple of leafy blocks over to the food carts at Pioneer Courthouse Square for sustenance; there are plenty of good options, but we always wind up at Whole Bowl for a filling helping of beans, rice and addictive Tali sauce. (The ingredients are a closely guarded secret.)
Read More: The Ultimate Guide to Oregon Museums
31. Dance up a storm at the Crystal Ballroom, Downtown
The Lowdown McMenamins is a PNW classic, and the Crystal Ballroom is no exception. Established in 1914, this funky hotel/concert venue/bar combo is one of the best places to catch a show in PDX. Though it’s a hot spot for big names, it’s small enough to feel intimate and a little underground.
Pro Tip Don’t worry about getting there early to score a spot in the front—if you’re over 21, just enter the venue through the somewhat hidden Lola’s Room Bar, and you’ll somehow emerge in the very front, just to the right of the stage.
Coming Attractions Portland's very own Modest Mouse plays a two-night stand to kick off their Lonesome Crowded West Tour, November 25 and 26. All ages, doors at 6:30 pm. Tickets are $49.50 in advance, or $55 at the door.
Read More: Bounce On, Crystal Ballroom
32. Take in a show at Portland Center Stage, Pearl District
The Lowdown Performing arts flourishes all around the city at theater companies big and small, but PCS’s venue in a converted armory is among the most intimate, acoustically balanced spaces in town.
Don’t Miss The absorbing 2022–2023 season veers from the familiar (A Midsummer Night’s Dream—have you heard of it?—and the holiday chestnut It’s a Wonderful Life) to the brand, brand-new, including at least one production developed at the in-house festival for new and emerging playwrights. We’re bookmarking the February-March 2023 production of Young Americans by award-winning Asian American playwright Lauren Yee.
Read More: How Portland Center Stage Is Refreshing Rent
33. Find feminist fashion at Wildfang, Downtown
The Lowdown Down with stuffy menswear, up with fun, splashy prints and all the coveralls your heart has ever desired, plus the best suiting this side of Savile Row. The based-in-Portland brand has only one other brick-and-mortar in the US, in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood.
Pro Tip One of our favorite things (among many) about Wildfang is its commitment to inclusive sizing. Rifle through the thoughtfully tailored collection for sizes 1x-3x.
Coming Attractions In-store events are still on hold, but call or email to book an IRL consult with an in-house style adviser.
Read More: Wildfang Foments a Feminist Revolution
34. Learn something new at the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, Hosford-Abernethy/Central Eastside Industrial District
The Lowdown A beloved field trip destination that’s a go-to spot for parents of the under-5 set too, OMSI is decidedly not just for kids. Adults dig their rotating exhibits, like the World of Leonardo da Vinci, which is on display through early September, along with movies in the IMAX theater.
Don’t Miss A trip into the USS Blueback submarine is a classic Portland experience.
Pro Tip The on-site café, Theory, is much better than any museum café has a right to be.
Read More: I Spent the Night at OMSI's Adult Sleepover
35. Go back in time at the Oregon Historical Society, Downtown
The Lowdown The city’s most underrated museum, the Oregon Historical Society Museum has three floors of historical artifacts and information about the state’s past and how that informs the present. Notably, it doesn’t shy away from the systemic racism that threads through Oregon’s history, whether against Japanese residents during World War II, the Black population that came from the South to build railroads and were subject to redlining, or the Indigenous tribes displaced by the doctrine of westward expansion.
Don't Miss The museum's newest exhibit, I Am An American: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging, which runs through January 8 and focuses on the experiences of Asian Americans in Oregon, via paintings, photographs, and art installations, in partnership with acclaimed nonprofit the Immigrant Story.
Further Reading How One New Portland Nonprofit Amplifies Immigrant Voices
36. Get stuck into a book at the Portland Book Festival, Downtown
The Lowdown Portlanders love their books. For proof, may we refer you back to no. 1 on this list? Also, our libraries consistently rank as some of the country's most trafficked. But for one especially glorious day in early November (2022's fest is Nov 5), the city is the center of the literary universe during the annual Portland Book Festival, a glut of book talks and author panels and opportunities to browse for your favorite new read. This year's lineup is STACKED. (That's a book joke, get it?) Fiction luminaries include Tom Perrotta, Taylor Jenkins Reid, Jess Walter, and George Saunders. Nonfiction heavy hitters include Casey Parks, Chuck Klosterman, and actress Selma Blair. Don't sleep on the YA and middle grade panels, either; we're super-jazzed that author Kwame Alexander is coming to town.
Pro Tip Kids get in for free, so bring the whole family, and get there early for your favorite authors to ensure you'll get a seat. And when you've had enough books (never!) poke around at the Portland Art Museum, the festival's venue.
37. Mingle under the lights at the Portland Night Market, Buckman/Central Eastside Industrial District
The Lowdown A handful of times a year, the Portland Night Market takes over an entire warehouse plus an adjacent parking lot, with enough room to house over 100 vendors, 50 food carts, three specialty cocktail bars, and ... a replica of the Delorean from Back to the Future for some reason?
Pro Tip If you’re planning to shop, the $10 fast pass is definitely worth it, and don’t miss the on-site celebrity alpacas.
Read More: Portland Night Market Returns
38. Make a toast at the Crick, Downtown
The Lowdown If your Portland itinerary doesn’t have room for an afternoon spent cruising around wine country, post up instead at this tasting room for local winemaker Bertony Faustin’s Abbey Creek Winery in nearby North Plains.
Pro Tip You’ve got to make a reservation here—90-minute tastings for groups of one to four run $20 a person, which buys you five wines to sample. Splurge on charcuterie boards for another $15 per person. Also, leave your car at home—this is right across from a MAX stop.
Don’t Miss The classic hip-hop allusions in Faustin’s pours—2019 Sparkling Blanc de Noir inspired by the tunes of Janelle Monae, anyone?
39. Feel the good vibes only at CC Slaughters, Old Town-Chinatown
The Lowdown Established in 1981, CC Slaughters is one of Portland’s oldest gay bars and is many Portlander’s first gay bar—for good reason. The drinks are relatively cheap, there’s disco balls and drag queens, and the vibes are immaculate.
Pro Tip CC Slaughters hosts a game night every Wednesday (everything from Scrabble to Uno to Sorry!), Trans-Uhh-Licious night every Thursday; the schedule is especially jam-packed every June, in celebration of Pride Month.
40. Crane your neck to see the swifts, Northwest District
The Lowdown Every year, thousands of Vaux's swifts roost in the giant chimney at Chapman Elementary School, near the edge of Forest Park. And every year, Portlanders gather there, too, to picnic and watch for the moments when the sky swirls with birds before they appear to be swallowed up by the chimney for the night. Catch the swifts in September and maybe the first few weeks of October, too, though they do taper off.
Pro Tip If you have kids, bring along the biggest piece of cardboard you can find, so they can join everyone else under the age of 12 in sliding down the hill next to the school.
Don’t Miss The hawk who circles nightly, looking to seize a swift for dinner. Depending on your perspective, the predator is the villain of the piece, or simply part of the natural working order of the bird world.
41. Pick up good weed at Farma, Buckman
The Lowdown This lower Hawthorne dispensary, smushed between a bike shop and a comedy club, emphasizes cannabis’s curative properties in a gleaming, ultra-friendly space flecked with plants and trinkets.
Don’t Miss Daily 10-percent-off deals, spanning pre-rolls to edibles to tinctures and beyond.
Pro Tip If you’re looking to figure out how different strains will hit you on a granular level, this is your spot—don’t be afraid to channel your inner wine taster with questions like “What will make me creative but sleepy but not too sleepy and also giggly?” The selection is massive, and the staff are always down to get into the (proverbial) weeds.
42. Root, root, root for the home teams, Goose Hollow/Lloyd District/Lents/Hillsboro
The Lowdown The metro area is home to three major league teams (soccer’s Timbers and Thorns, who play at Providence Park just west of downtown, and the Trail Blazers of the NBA, whose home court is just over the Steel Bridge at the Moda Center), as well as junior hockey’s Winterhawks, minor league baseball’s Hillsboro Hops (part of the Arizona Diamondbacks system, at Ron Tonkin Field), and amateur baseball team the Portland Pickles and their offshoots (at Walker Stadium in Southeast’s Lents Park).
Pro Tip The Hillsboro stadium can be tricky, but the other venues are all close to a MAX stop. Save yourself the headache of parking and take transit.
Coming Attractions The Blazers' first home game of the preseason is on October 4, versus the Utah Jazz. Nosebleed seats are available for bargain-basement prices right now (but that's subject to change once we all figure out whether this year's squad is any good). The regular season home opener is October 21 against the Phoenix Suns.
Read More: Portland Sports Teams: An Incomplete History
43. Watch the oldest working drag queen drop her chaps, Old Town-Chinatown
The Lowdown Darcelle XV holds the Guinness World Record for oldest living drag performer, and the nightclub she established in Portland in 1969 is one of the two oldest of its type in the country and now boasts its own historical plaque: In short, the nonagenarian grand matron of drag is a Portland legend and still graces the stage six nights a week at her Old Town drag club.
Pro Tip Come for Darcelle, but stay for Poison Waters, the club’s cohostess and persona extraordinaire, whose audience interactions are as mortifying and delightful as you’d imagine.
44. Grab doughnuts at Pip’s, Cully
The Lowdown Doughnuts are to Portlanders what soccer teams are to English football fans: you pick one early on, and remain loyal to the death, yelling down all other comers. But there really is only one Liverpool FC slash doughnut star in this town, and the hat tips to Pip’s by our reckoning. Sure, the doughnuts here occupy less physical real estate than your Voodoos or Blue Stars, but each one is freshly fried to order, arriving crisply encased and perfectly spongy within as the perfect mouthful. With only five or six flavors to choose from, there’s no real dilemma here: order the lot, but if you have to choose, raw honey and sea salt is the way to go.
Pro Tip Come within seven days of your birthday and present proof thereof, and you’ll be treated to a dozen free!
Don’t Miss The doughnuts are delish, but the chai here—mixed on the premises—is also worth the long lines. Did we mention the lines?
Read More: Doughnuts and Chai at Pip's Original
45. Surrender to the movies at the Portland Film Festival, Lloyd District
The Lowdown The renaissance at the Lloyd Center Mall is real. For proof, look no further than the Portland Film Festival, a celebration of independent filmmaking that's setting up shop there this year for an extended schedule that includes two weeks' worth of movies in person and then programming on demand from home that will continue into November via portlandfilm.org.
Don’t Miss The themed series at the end of the in-person segment, including reproductive rights on October 22 and horror and true crime, both on October 23
Read More: Out Is Very In at the Portland Film Festival
46. Go Scandi-chic at Nordic Northwest, Crestwood
The Lowdown Portland’s Viking heritage game is strong—our misty weather nine months out of the year must have felt like home to long-ago Danes, Swedes, Finns and Norwegians. Today, Scandinavian minimalism is in great effect at this cultural center, where you can check out one of the country’s largest private collections of Nordic antiques and folk art, view traveling exhibitions, or simply wander the lovely grounds.
Pro Tip One of the city’s most beloved brunch spots has a less-crowded outpost here. Visit Broder Söder for Swedish meatballs, Norwegian potato crêpes, and Danish æbleskiver pancakes with house-made lemon curd and lingonberry jam.
Don’t Miss The on-site Nordic Finn Ware shop, stocked with all the sleekly designed home goods your heart desires, from Marimekko to Moomin
Read More: Brunch Serene at SW Portland's Broder Söder
47. Grab a produce-loaded slice at Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty, Boise-Eliot
The Lowdown The city is rich in pizza options, but none have quite as acute a sense of place as Lovely’s. Naturally leavened dough made from locally-milled flours holds a kaleidoscope of whatever’s popping up in the fields of local farmers—or in the baskets of local foragers. The owners’ soft spot for imported cheeses might forever turn you away from bland shredded mozzarella. And delicacies like Calabrian chilis and a four-dollar (yes, it’s worth it) side of house-made ranch are there to satiate your more traditional cravings.
Pro Tip The menu changes often—we’re talking micro-seasonal—so try not to fall in love with what you see on Instagram. That being said, the compact menu leaves no room for duds.
Don’t Miss The other fifty: house-made ice cream. Our favorites: rum raisin, made with house-dried raisins, and Oregon strawberry buttermilk.
48. Scope out the next big trend in home goods at Schoolhouse and Rejuvenation, Slabtown & Buckman/Central Eastside
The Lowdown Over the past decade, Portland’s tastemakers have quietly gone big-time. Schoolhouse, which makes perfect vintage-inspired lighting and home décor, is now part of culinary lifestyle brand Food 52; its crosstown rival/counterpart Rejuvenation has been part of the Williams-Sonoma empire for a decade now, but retains its independence and impeccably stylish home furnishings outpost on Grand Avenue.
Pro Tip Don’t miss Rejuvenation’s vintage room, a delightful clutter of salvaged hardware and vintage light fixtures and antique doorknobs.
Don't Miss When we interviewed the head of Schoolhouse after the Food 52 acquisition, she hinted at more brick-and-mortar spaces coming soon. Keep an eye out.
49. Let chicken and rice change your life at Nong's Khao Man Gai, Buckman & Downtown
The Lowdown A Portland institution. If you haven’t had the paper-wrapped Thai meal that dreams are made of, you haven’t been to Portland. We’re not really sure how the white rice, poached chicken, and ginger-heavy Nong’s sauce™ is as powerfully delicious as it is, but Nong Poonsukwattana herself points to the restaurant's singular focus: “In Thailand, it’s normal for restaurants to focus on one dish—as long as you do it really, really well.”
Don’t Miss Fried chicken skins! Salty and savory cracklings are made daily and served as an optional add-on, but quantities are always limited.
Pro Tip Though chicken is the restaurant’s muse, there are several vegan options available for anyone with other preferences or dietary restrictions.
50. Feast your eyes at the Portland Saturday Market, Old Town-Chinatown
The Lowdown It’s not a trip to Portland if you don’t visit Saturday Market. The largest continuously operating outdoor arts and crafts market in the US, Saturday Market features a bewildering multitude of vendors. Pick up a painting of a cat drinking a beer, a voodoo doll, or a tie-dyed version of pretty much anything you could think of.
Pro Tip Those in search of a holiday present should know that the market is open all day every day the week before in what has been dubbed the “Festival of the Last Minute.”