62 Best Sights in Portland, Oregon

Alberta Arts District

Fodor's choice

Arguably the first of Portland's several hipster-favored East Side neighborhoods to earn national attention, the Alberta Arts District (aka Alberta) has morphed from a downcast commercial strip into an offbeat row of hippie-driven counterculture and then more recently into a considerably more eclectic stretch of both indie arts spaces and sophisticated bistros and galleries. Extending a little more than a mile, Northeast Alberta offers plenty of one-of-a-kind dining and shopping. The area is also home to some of the best people-watching in Portland, especially during the Last Thursday (of the month) evening art walks.

Aviation American Gin

Nob Hill Fodor's choice

Opened in fall of 2022 in a stylish 33,000-square-foot building, this new hometown headquarters of the spirit that helped turn Portland into a craft distilling mecca offers 30-minute tours (by reservation only) of the state-of-the-art production areas, a tasting of both the gin and a cocktail in which it's used, and even a peek inside the office of actor and co-owner Ryan Reynolds.

Cathedral Park

Fodor's choice

Whether it's the view of the imposing and stunning Gothic St. John's Bridge, which rises some 400 feet above the Willamette River, or the historic significance of Lewis and Clark having camped here in 1806, this 23-acre park is divine. Though there's no church, the park gets its name from the picturesque arches supporting the bridge. It's rumored that the ghost of a young girl haunts the bridge, and that may be true, but if you're told that it was designed by the same man who envisioned the Golden Gate Bridge, that's just a popular misconception. There's an off-leash area for dogs, and pollinator gardens have been added in recent years.

Recommended Fodor's Video

Central East Side

Fodor's choice

This expansive 681-acre tract of mostly industrial and commercial buildings was largely ignored by all but local workers until shops, galleries, and restaurants began opening in the neighborhood's handsome, high-ceilinged buildings beginning in the 1990s. These days, it's a legitimately hot neighborhood for shopping, craft-spirits and wine-tasting, and coffeehouse-hopping by day, and dining and bar-going at night. The neighborhood lies just across the Willamette River from Downtown—it extends along the riverfront from the Burnside Bridge south to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) and Division Street, extending east about a dozen blocks to S.E. 12th Avenue. If you're coming by car, street parking is becoming tougher with all the new development but still possible to find, especially on quieter side streets.

Division Street

Fodor's choice

Back in the early 1970s, Division Street (aka "Southeast Division") was earmarked for condemnation as part of a proposed—and thankfully never built—freeway that would have connected Downtown to Mt. Hood. For many years, this street sat forlornly, just a long stretch of modest buildings and empty lots. These days, Southeast Division—no longer threatened with condemnation—is one of the hottest restaurant rows on the West Coast, and sleek three- and four-story contemporary condos and apartments are popping up like dandelions. If culinary tourism is your thing, head to the 10 blocks of Southeast Division from about 26th to 39th Avenues. The main draw here is mostly food-and-drink related, and you'll also find a growing number of noteworthy restaurants and bars extending all the way to 12th Avenue to the west, and 50th Avenue to the east. You may hear some locals refer to the western end of the neighborhood as "Division/Clinton" referring to Clinton Street, a block south of Division, which has a clutch of great eateries and beautiful early- to mid-20th-century bungalows and houses, mostly from 27th to 20th Avenues.

ENSO Winery

Southeast Fodor's choice

Based in a large garagelike space in Southeast Portland's trendy Buckman neighborhood, ENSO is the creation of young and talented winemaker Ryan Sharp, who sources grapes from Washington, California, and Oregon to produce superb wines that are quickly earning notice in the national wine press. Notable varietals include Petite Sirah, Malbec, Dry Riesling, and the especially popular L'American blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Mourvedre. The high-ceilinged, industrial-chic tasting room—with exposed air ducts, a timber-beam ceiling, and a wall of windows (open on warm days)—has become one of the neighborhood's favorite wine bars, serving local Olympic Provisions charcuterie, Woodblock chocolates, Steve's Cheese Bar cheeses, and Little T Baker breads, plus local microbrews and a few wines, mostly from other Portland producers.

Forest Park

Fodor's choice

One of the nation's largest urban wildernesses (5,200 acres), this city-owned, car-free park supports more than 50 species of birds and mammals and more than 80 miles of trails through forests of Douglas fir, hemlock, and cedar. Running the length of the park is the 30-mile Wildwood Trail, which extends into adjoining Washington Park (and is a handy point for accessing Forest Park), starting at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Hoyt Arboretum. You can access a number of spur trails from the Wildwood Trail, including the 11-mile Leif Erikson Drive, which picks up from the end of N.W. Thurman Street and is a popular route for jogging and mountain biking.

Hawthorne District

Fodor's choice

Stretching from the foot of Mt. Tabor to S.E. 12th Avenue (where you'll find a terrific little food-cart pod), with some blocks far livelier than others, this eclectic commercial thoroughfare was at the forefront of Portland's hippie and LGBTQ+ scenes in the 1960s and 1970s. As the rest of Portland's East Side has become more urbane and popular among hipsters, young families, students, and the so-called creative class over the years, Hawthorne has retained an arty, homegrown flavor. An influx of trendy eateries and retailers opening alongside the still-colorful and decidedly low-frills thrift shops and old-school taverns and cafés makes for a hodgepodge of styles and personalities—you could easily spend an afternoon popping in and out of boutiques, and then stay for happy hour at a local nightspot or even later for dinner.

International Rose Test Garden

Fodor's choice

This glorious patch of greenery within Washington Park comprises three terraced gardens, set on 4½ acres, where more than 10,000 bushes and some 610 varieties of roses grow. The flowers, many of them new varieties, are at their peak in June, July, September, and October. From the gardens you can take in views of the Downtown skyline and, on clear days, the slopes of Mt. Hood. Summer concerts take place in the garden's amphitheater. It's a pretty but hilly 30- to 40-minute walk from Downtown, but it's also pretty easy to get here by bus.

Buy Tickets Now

Lan Su Chinese Garden

Fodor's choice

In a twist on the Joni Mitchell song, the city of Portland and private donors took down a parking lot and unpaved paradise when they created this wonderland near the Pearl District and Old Town/Chinatown. It's the largest Suzhou-style garden outside China, with a large lake, bridged and covered walkways, koi- and water lily–filled ponds, rocks, bamboo, statues, waterfalls, and courtyards. A team of 60 artisans and designers from China literally left no stone unturned—500 tons of stone were brought here from Suzhou—in their efforts to give the windows, roof tiles, gateways (including a "moongate"), and other architectural aspects of the garden some specific meaning or purpose. Also on the premises are a gift shop and an enchanting two-story teahouse, operated by local Tao of Tea company, overlooking the lake and garden.

Buy Tickets Now

Mt. Tabor Park

Fodor's choice

A playground on top of a volcano cinder cone? Yup, that's here. The cinders, or glassy rock fragments, unearthed in this 190-acre park's construction were used to surface the respite's roads; the ones leading to the very top are closed to cars, but popular with cyclists. They're also popular with cruisers—each August there's an old-fashioned soapbox derby. Picnic tables and tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts make Mt. Tabor Park a popular spot for outdoor recreation, but plenty of quiet, shaded trails and wide-open grassy lawns with panoramic views of the Downtown skyline appeal to sunbathers, hikers, and nature lovers. The whole park is closed to cars on Wednesday.

North Mississippi Avenue

North Fodor's choice

One of North Portland's strips of indie retailers, the liveliest section of North Mississippi Avenue stretches for several blocks and includes a mix of old storefronts and sleek new buildings that house cafés, brewpubs, collectives, shops, music venues, and an excellent food-cart pod, Prost! Marketplace. Bioswale planter boxes, found-object fences, and café tables built from old doors are some of the innovations you'll see along this eclectic thoroughfare. About a 10-minute walk east and running parallel to North Mississippi, the bike-friendly North Williams corridor is a more recently developed area of almost entirely new, eco-friendly buildings and condos rife with trendy restaurants.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Fodor's choice

Hundreds of engaging exhibits draw families to this outstanding interactive science museum, which also contains the Empirical Theater (featuring Portland's biggest screen), and the Northwest's largest planetarium. The many permanent and touring exhibits are loaded with enough hands-on play for kids to fill a whole day exploring robotics, ecology, rockets, animation, and outer space. Moored in the Willamette River as part of the museum is a 240-foot submarine, the USS Blueback, which can be toured for an extra charge. OMSI also offers some very cool event programming for adults, including the hugely popular monthly OMSI After Dark nights, where "science nerds" can enjoy food, drink, and science fun, and the twice-monthly OMSI Science Pub nights, where local and national experts lecture on a wide range of topics in the museum's Empirical Theater.

Buy Tickets Now
1945 S.E. Water Ave., OR, 97214, USA
503-797–4000
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Museum $16, planetarium $7.50, Empirical Theater Show $7.50, submarine $8.50, parking $5, Closed Mon. early Sept.–early Mar.

Pittock Mansion

Fodor's choice

Henry Pittock, the founder and publisher of The Oregonian newspaper, built this 22-room, castlelike mansion, which combines French Renaissance and Victorian styles. The opulent manor, built in 1914, is filled with art and antiques. The 46-acre grounds, northwest of Washington Park and 1,000 feet above the city, offer superb views of the skyline, rivers, and the Cascade Range, including Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens. The mansion is a half-mile uphill trek from the nearest bus stop. The mansion is also a highly popular destination among hikers using Forest Park's well-utilized Wildwood Trail.

Buy Tickets Now

Portland Art Museum

Fodor's choice

The treasures at the Pacific Northwest's oldest arts facility span 35 centuries of Asian, European, and American art—it's an impressive collection for a midsize city. A high point is the Center for Native American Art, with regional and contemporary art from more than 200 indigenous groups. The Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art contains six floors devoted entirely to modern art, including a small but superb photography gallery, with the changing selection chosen from more than 5,000 pieces in the museum's permanent collection. The film center, known as PAM CUT, presents a variety of screenings and festivals. Also, take a moment to linger in the peaceful outdoor sculpture garden. Kids under 18 are admitted free.

Portland Farmers Market

Fodor's choice
Farmers Market, Portland, Oregon
Tom Myers / Shutterstock

On Saturdays year-round, local farmers, bakers, chefs, and entertainers converge at the South Park Blocks near the PSU campus for Oregon's largest open-air farmers' market—it's one of the most impressive in the country. It's a great place to sample the regional bounty and to witness the local-food obsession that's revolutionized Portland's culinary scene. There's plenty of food you can eat on the spot, plus nonperishable local items (wine, hazelnuts, chocolates, vinegars) you can take home with you. There's a smaller Wednesday market, May through November, on a different section of the Park Blocks (between S.W. Salmon and S.W. Main). At other times the Portland Farmers Market is held in different locations around town, and dozens of other farmers' markets take place throughout metro Portland.

Portland Japanese Garden

Fodor's choice

One of the most authentic Japanese gardens outside Japan, this serene landscape unfolds over 12½ acres of Washington Park, just a short stroll up the hill from the International Rose Test Garden. Designed by a Japanese landscape master, there are five separate garden styles: Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Natural Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, and Flat Garden. The Tea House was built in Japan and reconstructed here. An ambitious expansion designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma added the Cultural Village, which contains a tea garden café, library, art gallery, and gift shop. The east side of the Pavilion has a majestic view of Portland and Mt. Hood. It's a pretty walk to get here from Downtown, but the garden is also easily reached by bus.  Knowledgeable volunteers guide daily public tours, which are free with admission; reservations are required (and can be booked online).

Portland Saturday Market

Fodor's choice

On Saturdays from March to Christmas Eve, the west side of the Burnside Bridge and the Skidmore Fountain area hosts North America's largest ongoing open-air handicraft market, with some 300 vendors. If you're looking for jewelry, yard art, housewares, and decorative goods made from every material under the sun, check out the amazing collection of works by talented artisans on display here. Entertainers and food booths add to the festive feel. Be careful not to mistake this market for the food-centric PSU Portland Farmers Market, which also takes place on Saturday, on the other side of Downtown.

Powell's City of Books

Fodor's choice

A local legend, and rightfully so, Powell's is the largest independent bookstore in the world, with more than 1.5 million new and used books along with a good selection of locally made gifts and goodies. The three-level store covers an entire city block—maps are available at the info kiosks and rooms are color-coded according to book type. On the top floor, the Rare Book Room is a must-see, even if you’re not planning to splurge for an 1829 volume of the Waverly Novels or an autobiography signed by Anwar Sadat; there are rare prints and mint-condition first editions in just about every genre. Check online for upcoming author readings, which draw some of the world’s top literary names. There's another branch in the Hawthorne District.

Sauvie Island

Fodor's choice

When the weather's nice, drive about a half hour northwest of Downtown to this largely agrarian 33-square-mile piece of paradise in the Columbia River, containing a wildlife refuge, three beaches (including Collins Beach, which is clothing-optional), superb biking and hiking trails, and several farms offering seasonal "u-pick" bounty (and one, Bella Organic, offering wine tastings and an autumn pumpkin patch and corn maze). One excellent hike, and one of the few with free parking, is the Wapato Greenway, which leads through a white oak savannah and around a pond, where you may see green horned owls, nuthatches, and deer. Part of the trail leads to a peaceful dock on the Multnomah Channel, where you can tie up a boat or kayak. To get to the beaches, after crossing the Sauvie Island bridge, turn right; follow N.W. Sauvie Island Road to Reeder Road and follow signs. There's plenty of parking, but a permit is required ($10 for a one-day permit, $30 annual, available at the general store at the base of the bridge).

SE Wine Collective

Southeast Fodor's choice

Set along Division Street's white-hot restaurant row, this growing collective houses 11 small wineries and has quickly become the city's leading incubator for vino entrepreneurs. The spacious facility includes a large, light-filled tasting bar with glass roll-up doors (offering a peek at the vinification process) and a main wall and bench seating made from old wine barrels. The tasting bar is also a wine bar, so you can sample the artisanal wines produced on-site, or order a flight, glass, or bottle (to go or to enjoy on-site) as well as tasty small plates from an extensive menu. Although Oregon is chiefly known for Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, the wineries at the collective produce a richly varied assortment of varietals, including a racy Sauvignon Blanc from Pampleau, a supple Gamay Noir from Division Wine Making, and a peppery Cabernet Franc from Willful Wines.

Tilikum Crossing Bridge

Fodor's choice
Downtown Portland's collection of striking bridges gained a new member in 2015 with the opening of this sleek, cable-stayed bridge a few steps from Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). Nicknamed "the Bridge of the People," the Tilikum is unusual in that it's the largest car-free bridge in the country—it's open only to public transit (MAX trains, buses, and streetcars), bikes, and pedestrians. The 1,720-foot-long bridge connects Southeast Portland with the South Waterfront district and rewards those who stroll or cycle across it with impressive skyline views.

West End

Fodor's choice

Sandwiched between the Pioneer Square area and the upscale Pearl District, this triangular patch of vintage buildings—interspersed with a handful of contemporary ones—has evolved since the early 2000s into one of the city's most eclectic hubs of fashion, nightlife, and dining. Boutique hotels like the Ace and Sentinel rank among the city's trendiest addresses. Along Harvey Milk Street, formerly the heart of Portland's LGBTQ+ scene, there's still a popular gay bar, but now you'll also find noteworthy restaurants and lounges, and plenty of indie boutiques.

Aerial Tram

South Waterfront
Aerial Tram, Portland, Oregon
Rigucci / Shutterstock

On a clear day, the short ride on the aerial tram is worth the ticket for a view that includes Downtown and the riverfront, Mt. Hood, and Mt. St. Helens. Operated by the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), the tram was designed to ferry commuters between the South Waterfront neighborhood and OHSU's main campus on Marquam Hill. Don't rush to get back on the tram; walk to the university's balcony area, where you can admire the cityscape below. Tram cabs typically depart every five minutes and get more crowded during the morning and evening commute hours. The recently developed neighborhood at the base, South Waterfront, offers a park and a few restaurants.

3303 S.W. Bond Ave., Portland, OR, 97239, USA
503-494–8283
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $5.10, Weekdays 5:30 am–9:30 pm, Sat. 9–5; mid-May–Labor Day also Sun. 1–5

Bull Run Distilling

A pioneer of Portland’s burgeoning craft spirits scene, this Slabtown distillery in a 7,000-square-foot warehouse creates superb single-malt Oregon whiskey, vodkas, and aquavit. Reservations for tastings are a good idea, walk-ins are welcome when space allows.

Central Library

Downtown

The elegant, etched-graphite central staircase and elaborate ceiling ornamentation make this no ordinary library. With a gallery space on the second floor and famous literary names engraved on the walls, the Georgian-style building is well worth a walk around. A free 20-minute tour of the impressive eco-roof garden is given a few times a month during the spring and summer seasons; call or go online for the required pre-registration.

801 S.W. 10th Ave., Portland, OR, 97205, USA
503-988–5123
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Mon. 10–8, Tues. and Wed. noon–8, Thurs.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 10–5

Chapman and Lownsdale Squares

Downtown

During the 1920s these parks were segregated by gender—a leafy reminder of how much society has progressed in the past century: Chapman, between Madison and Main Streets, was reserved for women, and Lownsdale, between Main and Salmon Streets, was for men. The elk statue on Main Street, which separates the parks, was given to the city by David Thompson, mayor from 1879 to 1882. It recalls the elk that grazed in the area in the 1850s.

Between S.W. Salmon St. and S.W. Jefferson St. and S.W. 4th and 3rd Ave., Portland, OR, 97201, USA

Council Crest Park

The highest point in Portland, at 1,073 feet, this 43-acre bluff-top patch of greenery is a superb spot to take in sunsets and sunrises. Along with nearly 180-degree views of the Portland metro area, a clear day also affords views of the surrounding peaks—Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, and Mt. Rainier. Trails connect Council Crest with Marquam Nature Park and Washington Park.

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden

For much of the year, this nearly 10-acre retreat near Reed College is frequented mainly by bird-watchers and those who want a restful stroll. But starting in April, thousands of rhododendron bushes and azaleas burst into flower, attracting visitors in larger numbers. The peak blooming season for these woody shrubs is May; by late June the show is over.

Director Park

Downtown

Low on greenery but high on gathering space, this 2009 addition to the city's downtown park blocks was designed as a public piazza—it hides a 700-space parking garage below. A glass canopy–light display provides cover, and a fountain dedicated to teachers cools off summer visitors. Chess players enjoy the giant (it's 16 feet square) board with 25-inch-high pieces, available on a first-come, first-served basis. There's a branch of Elephants Delicatessen—great for salads, deli sandwiches, chocolates, and wine by the glass and bottle—with both indoor and outdoor seating adjacent to the piazza.