Portland and Oregon’s Hidden Gems: 15 Tourist Attractions to Uncover
No trip to Oregon is complete without visiting Portland – one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the region. As a unique city, Portland attracts individualists from all over the world with its vibrant energy. It’s no wonder why the unofficial motto of its residents is Keep Portland Weird, as the city is known to be one of the most eccentric and peculiar in the US. If you’ve seen the Portlandia series, you know what I’am talking about!
With so much to see and explore, it’s impossible to get bored in Portland. Here are some of the must-see tourist attractions in and around Portland. Although, be aware that there are many more to discover, like the numerous noteworthy restaurants that I covered in a separate post. Get inspired for your next trip to this unique city!
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1. Multnomah Falls
If you’re planning a vacation in Oregon, you can’t miss the scenic Multnomah Falls – a true gem for nature lovers. The waterfall is located in the Columbia River Gorge canyon and consists of two parts with a total height of approximately 189 meters. It is one of the most popular natural attractions in the state, so it’s best to visit early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Multnomah Falls is also a great spot for photography enthusiasts, and the trail leading to the top of the waterfall is a moderately challenging route. It’s worth taking the hike because along the way, you can admire not only the waterfall but also the picturesque landscapes of the Columbia River Gorge on the other side of the road. The trail is well-marked, and the walk takes about an hour, making it an ideal idea for a short hike with beautiful views.
In the spring, the waterfall looks particularly beautiful, but it’s breathtaking all year round. You can admire it from the historic Benson Bridge, and it takes about half an hour to drive there from Portland. Multnomah Falls is a must-see attraction during any visit to Oregon, so be sure to add it to your list of places to see!
To get more information about visiting Multnomah Falls, I encourage you to visit the official website.
2. Crown Point Vista House
Crown Point Vista House is another incredible tourist attraction worth seeing during a trip to Portland, Oregon. This beautiful viewpoint was built in 1917 along the historic Columbia River Highway and offers some of the most stunning views of the Columbia River Gorge.
The Vista House is the perfect place to watch the sunset, take beautiful photos, or simply relax amidst the scenic surroundings. Inside the building, there is a museum where you can learn about the history of the region and its surroundings. You can’t miss this attraction during your trip to Oregon!
3. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Another must-visit spot while staying in Portland is the stunning Tom McCall Waterfront Park, which stretches along the Willamette River. Interestingly, this place used to be a multi-lane highway that was transformed into a sizable park (now occupying almost 15 hectares!) and has become a favorite spot for walks and relaxation among locals.
The park is at its most beautiful in the spring when about 100 ornamental cherry trees, planted to honor Japanese-American history, bloom here.
On Saturdays, the park comes alive with the Portland Saturday Market, which is the largest and longest-running arts and crafts fair in the entire United States, attracting art and craft enthusiasts from the entire region.
4. Portland Japanese Garden
One of the must-see attractions in Portland is the beautiful Portland Japanese Garden, located on a hill in the famous Washington Park. This place has been recognized by the Japanese ambassador as the most beautiful and authentic Japanese garden in the world outside of Japan. It is an oasis of peace where locals and tourists like to relax.
The garden is divided into eight separate sections, each with something unique to offer. You will find a Japanese tea house, stylish bridges and pavilions, picturesque waterfalls and streams, beautiful shrubs and cherry trees, and most importantly, a spectacular view of Mount Hood. It is definitely worth a visit!
While at the Japanese Garden, take a stroll to the nearby International Rose Test Garden, which has over 10,000 rose bushes in about 650 varieties. It is best to plan your visit in June, during the peak blooming period, so as not to miss their beauty.
Visiting the Japanese Garden requires an entrance fee. For more detailed information about the garden and current pricing, please visit their website.
5. Pittock Mansion
Admiring the beautiful panorama of Portland, also known as the City of Roses due to its ideal climate for flower cultivation, is one of the greatest experiences one can have in this city. A perfect place to enjoy the views is the historic Pittock Mansion, located in the West Hills.
This impressive 46-room Renaissance-style mansion once belonged to a local publisher and is now open to visitors. However, it’s not just the building that attracts attention but also the expansive garden with breathtaking views of the city center. All of this makes Pittock Mansion the perfect place for a romantic picnic for two.
Pittock Mansion is also an excellent spot for history lovers as the building houses a museum where you can see valuable exhibits related to the history of Portland and its surroundings.
6. Latourell Falls
If you want to experience an incredible connection with nature and see another waterfall, be sure to visit Latourell Falls. The waterfall has a height of about 76 meters and its view is breathtaking.
Latourell Falls is one of many wonderful tourist attractions in the Portland area and certainly one of the most beautiful. Like Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls is located in the Columbia River Gorge, famous for its beautiful landscapes and many attractions.
There are numerous hiking trails in the area, perfect for hiking and admiring nature. Latourell Falls is also a paradise for photography enthusiasts who want to capture the beauty of this place in photos. It’s worth taking a trek to Upper Latourell Falls, which takes about 1.5 hours and leads through a charming forest.
7. Lan Su Chinese Garden
If you’re planning a visit to Portland, don’t miss the charming Lan Su Chinese Garden located in the Chinese district. The garden’s name roughly translates to “Garden of the Awakening Orchids.” It was built by Chinese craftsmen from the sister city of Suzhou and is said to be one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China, of course.
There is an admission fee to enter the garden, but lovers of Asian culture will not be disappointed. A stroll and a cup of tea in such a picturesque garden provide a pleasant break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
A visit to the Chinese garden requires an entrance fee. More detailed information about the garden and current pricing can be found on the website.
8. Witch’s Castle
Witch’s Castle is another unique place in Portland worth visiting. It is located in the forest in the West Hills district and its fascinating history is full of mysteries and unusual events. The place is also known as the “Stone House” or “Forest Park Castle” and is a remnant of an old house.
Although Witch’s Castle is now only ruins, it still attracts many tourists who want to see the place with their own eyes. The surrounding area offers beautiful landscapes and forests, and Witch’s Castle adds to the unique atmosphere.
The place gained popularity thanks to legends and stories about ghosts that were said to inhabit it. If you’re looking for some dark history and mysterious places, Witch’s Castle is the perfect place for you!
9. Portland Art Museum
Like many other large American cities, Portland can boast one of the oldest museums in the Pacific Northwest – the Portland Art Museum (not to be confused with the Portland Museum of Art, which is located in Maine). The museum’s collection features over 50,000 interesting exhibits, which attract visitors from all over the world.
The museum also hosts interesting and ambitious special exhibitions, which are the main reason why it’s worth visiting this place. For art connoisseurs, a visit to the Portland Art Museum is a must-see on the city’s cultural map!
More information about the museum, opening hours, as well as current and future exhibitions can be found on the official website of the museum.
10. St. Johns Bridge
St. Johns Bridge is another beautiful attraction in Portland worth seeing. The bridge spans the Willamette River, connecting two parts of the city, and is considered one of the most beautiful and distinctive structures with Gothic architectural elements. With an impressive length of 460 meters and a height of 102 meters, it is one of the tallest bridges in the USA, making it an ideal location for architecture enthusiasts and photographers.
There are several viewpoints around the bridge where visitors can enjoy stunning views of the city and its picturesque surroundings. St. Johns Bridge is also an excellent place for a walk or a picnic amid beautiful nature. This remarkable combination of architecture and nature is a must-see during your stay in Portland!
11. Mt Tabor Park
Mt. Tabor Park in Portland is another must-see attraction, especially if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the beautiful natural scenery. The park is located on an extinct volcano named after Mount Tabor in Israel, and Portland is one of the six cities in the United States that contains an extinct volcano within its boundaries.
Mt. Tabor Park offers many attractions, including hiking trails, ponds, bike paths, picnic areas, and a scenic viewpoint. However, the park’s biggest draw is the breathtaking panoramic view of the city, which can be admired at sunset.
Interestingly, Mount Tabor is not the only extinct volcano in Portland. There are other volcanoes in the vicinity of the city, such as Powell Butte, Kelly Butte, Rocky Butte, Mount Scott, and Mount Hood.
12. Powell’s City of Books
Book lovers should definitely visit Powell’s City of Books, located between W. Burnside and NW Couch Street in Portland. According to book enthusiasts, it is the largest independent bookstore in the world, occupying over six thousand square meters!
The physical store offers nearly a million (!) titles, including both new and used books. Some titles may puzzle you, which is not surprising as Portland is sometimes called the “weird” capital of America. Find your favorite title and spend time among the endless number of books offered at Powell’s City of Books.
13. Alberta Arts District
If you’re planning a trip to Portland, be sure to visit the Alberta Arts District – one of the most fascinating neighborhoods in the city. This colorful and eclectic area is full of energy and life, attracting artists from all over the world.
Alberta Street is the heart of the district, with numerous art galleries, craft shops, and great restaurants. In the summer, it’s worth going there on the last Thursday of the month to attend the Last Thursday Art Walk. The walk offers unique handicrafts, food from all over the world, and many artistic attractions.
If you’re looking for street art, you’ll find plenty of it on Alberta Street. Numerous murals and art installations are scattered throughout the neighborhood, creating a unique atmosphere and attracting many art enthusiasts.
14. Portland Aerial Tram
If you’re looking for a unique way to enjoy the panoramic views of Portland, you can’t miss the Portland Aerial Tram (OHSU Tram). It’s a cable car that offers stunning views of the city from a completely different perspective. For a few dollars, you can soar above the skyscrapers and admire the beautiful landscapes of Oregon.
The tram route runs from the South Waterfront district to the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus located on a hill. Although the ride only takes a few minutes and covers about 1000 meters, it’s worth it. From above, you can see two impressive volcanoes – Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens.
The Portland Aerial Tram is the perfect place for lovers of beautiful views. The cable car will undoubtedly bring you incredible experiences and become an unforgettable part of your trip to Oregon.
15. Bridal Veil Falls
If you want to see another picturesque waterfall near Portland, be sure to visit Bridal Veil Falls. This incredibly scenic spot features a 36-meter drop of water that creates a beautiful landscape. The waterfall is located near the I-84 highway and is easily accessible to tourists.
Bridal Veil Falls is also a great place for hiking and walking enthusiasts. The short trail leading to the waterfall is easy and accessible for most people. Once you reach the site, take a break and enjoy the view of the waterfall and the surrounding nature.
Other tourist attractions in the area include the Oneonta Gorge, which impresses with its beauty and scenic landscapes. Bridal Veil Falls is one of those places worth visiting during your stay in Portland to enjoy the beauty of nature.
To sum up
Portland is a city with a unique character and unparalleled atmosphere. Wonderful museums, beautiful parks, stunning nature – these are just some of the attractions that await tourists. You certainly won’t be bored in Portland, as the choice of activities is enormous.
Portland is a city full of surprises where everyone will find something for themselves. It’s the perfect place to break away from everyday life and simply enjoy the beauty of the nature that surrounds us.
It is said that people come to Portland to just be themselves and enjoy life. It’s hard not to agree with this statement, as the city offers many opportunities to spend free time in a way that suits our preferences.
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If you have any recommendations for places to visit in and around Portland, don’t hesitate to share them below! Your tips can help fellow travelers make the most out of their trip to this unique and vibrant city.