Get Out

10 Photo Ops in Portland and Beyond to Prove You Live Here

Let your friends know where you are with pictures of the downtown Powell’s Books, the St. Johns Bridge, the airport carpet, and day-trip destinations like Cannon Beach.

By Margaret Seiler

Maybe you just moved to Portland and your friends from back home want to know what it’s like. Maybe you haven’t been out of the house in a while and your Zoom backgrounds need some freshening up. Maybe you’re actually far away in the Witness Protection Program but need your former, um, associates to think you’re in the Rose City. Maybe you find yourself in a real-life version of Weekend at Bernie’s or Hostel and need to pretend that dead body or severed head you’re toting around is a living person having a great time … in Oregon. Or maybe you just want some reminders of what a stunning place this is. Whatever the reason, here are 10 favorite photo ops in town or within an hour or so's drive.

In Front of the Downtown Powell’s Sign

You don’t have to be a visiting writer with your own name up in lights to grab a picture of yourself in front of the marquee of the whole-city-block downtown behemoth of a bookstore. But you can check the Powell's event calendar for someone who shares part of your name and pretend it's you, with some careful head placement to hide the rest.

Be the ‘I’ in RIP CITY

Standing in for a vowel in human-height letters that spell out "Rip City" outside the Moda Center before a home game, with the red-lit arena rising behind you, is really just one notch away from being on the Trail Blazers NBA roster with Dame et al., right? Right. 

The Portland Skyline and Mount Hood

This is the ultimate city postcard. Try it from the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park or Pittock Mansion, or just start winding up the hill west of downtown, get lost, and pull over somewhere.

The St. Johns Bridge

Did you just graduate? Adopt a child? Get engaged? Exchange vows? Get cast in a Gus Van Sant movie? Become a monarch? Finally figure out that eyeliner trick? Score a cool jacket at a thrift store? Well, get thee to Cathedral Park, which slopes from St. Johns down to the Willamette River. Pose under the gothic arches that support the St. Johns Bridge for the full cathedral effect, or get the soaring green bridge itself in the background.

Your Feet on the PDX Airport Carpet

You don’t have to be catching a flight to pop into PDX, point the camera down at your own two feet, and snap a pic of your shoes on the telltale airport carpet. While the design that inspired the foot selfie craze has been retired, its replacement is still distinctive.

Overlooking the Gorge at Crown Point

The Vista House at Crown Point is a legit movie star, and a versatile one at that. In The Zero Effect it’s a planetarium. In Bandits it’s where you meet up after a robbery to plan your escape. In real life, it’s a highway museum. But in all cases, it’s an absolutely stunning perch on the rim of the Columbia River Gorge

Multnomah Falls

This two-tier waterfall tucked in a green grotto with the pretty little arched bridge in the middle—jackpot! There’s a reason this spot just east of town is so popular you need a timed permit to park there between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

A Field Full of ______

The contents of that blank vary by time of year, but the primo choices are tulips (try the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival near Woodburn) and pumpkins (local patches start opening in September). Other backdrops include hops, wine grapes, lava, snow, wildflowers, and roses

The Witch’s Mouth at Enchanted Forest

Selfies are fine for pictures with Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater and Humpty Dumpty, but you’ll need to ask a fellow visitor to this quaint amusement park just south Salem to take your picture in the Witch’s Mouth, in order to get her whole face (and fangs!) in the shot. Just don’t ask the fellow running the carousel who looks a little too much like Mr. Dark from Something Wicked This Way Comes.

In Front of Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach

Snap this towering seastack from the beach right next to town on a sunny morning, or get your Goonies on with the view from Ecola State Park on a windblown gray afternoon.