Our first visit to the United States’ Pacific Northwest region was ushered in by a trip to Portland, Oregon.  This city is surrounded by hype and it certainly lives up to the expectations.  Salt water rivers, waterfalls, and volcanoes surround the beautiful area.  The downtown area is the perfect mix of high rise buildings and tree-lined charm. It’s easy to go into sensory overload in Portland.  If you can picture yourself buzzing along brick sidewalks while darting from place to place, get on the next plane and head this way.

There are tons of things to do both in the city center itself as well as outside of the city limits.  If you aren’t exactly sure where to start, we had a blast spending our time in the downtown core.  Any and all of these activities will surely set you up for a great experience in Portland!

Willamette Jet Boat

I stumbled across this offering by chance and am thrilled about it!  This is your opportunity to blast down the Willamette River at top speeds.  There is no better way to take in the views of downtown and learn about the city.  Along the way, you’ll also get to see everything from super fancy mansions to silly sea lions.  Just don’t plan to walk away from this activity without getting completely soaked!

Saturday Market

If markets are your thing, than make sure not to miss this one!  There are so many vendors and the variety of offerings goes on and on.  We strolled through the area to check out the stalls and were so surprised by everything we saw.  The selection is great and the atmosphere is so fun!

Breweries and Donuts

Portland is famous for having some great food and drink scene. They have several notable beer breweries!  We hopped by a few to check them out and were not disappointed.  Deschutes is famous and well worth the buzz. And, if beer isn’t your thing, some of the best wine I’ve ever had is the blueberry wine at the Portland Wine Bar. Don’t leave town without trying this! Portland is also home to famous Voodoo Donughts

Chinese Gardens

Located in Chinatown, strolling through these serene and well manicured gardens will take you miles away from the bustling city surrounding the garden.  The landscaping is beautiful, the staff is friendly, and they offer additional Chinese elements such as origami, fortunes, and name painting.

Willamette River Walkway

Stroll along this waterfront pathway while enjoying the city’s many bridges on the Willamette.  Portland’s bridges offer a variety of engineering features, making it the city bridge engineers look to for the standard in design and functionality.  There’s also a variety of parks and grassy areas, and vendors throughout the waterfront, as well as the famous Old Town Portland sign.

Portland Aerial Tram

Located the southern end of downtown Portland, this tram soars to the hills above the city where you will get sweeping views of the skyline, as well as Mount St. Helens and Mount McKinley.  This is a great place for taking photos and enjoying your surroundings.

Washington Park

On the western side of downtown is massive Washington park where you will find the International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Garden, and more.  This park is an expansive place where you could easily spend several hours visiting each area.

Food Trucks

Portland is a good truck paradise.  There’s plenty of shops scattered throughout the downtown area offering every type of food imaginable.  If you want to have pizza, BBQ, salads, Thai, Egyptian, Hawaiian, or anything else, be sure to stop by these super popular trucks.  We had one of the best BBQ sandwiches ever from The Hot Box.  Yum, yum!

If big cities aren’t your thing, there are plenty of beautiful nature opportunities a short distance from downtown Portland. The Columbia River Gorge is just outside of the city and offers spectacular waterfall viewing.

Portland is a fun city with a hip vibe and plenty to do. We stayed at the Hilton Executive Tower Hotel. This was a good price and a great location! What are you waiting for? Start planning your perfect weekend in downtown Portland today!


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  1. The scenery is appealing, but I was stopped by that chocolate and graham cracker donut! Assuming that’s a smores donut, I would be in heaven eating one of those!

  2. I´d love to visit Portland one day, everything from Chinese gardens to a local market look amazing! the views from Aerial Tram look gorgeous! And that Voodoo Donut – that would be my first stop! lol #FeetDoTravel

  3. It’s been far too long since we’ve been to the Pacific Northwest! You’ve reminded us why we need to get back and spend some time in Portland! Anna’s right – Voodoo Donut would be our first stop. Every. Day! 😉

  4. I haven’t been to Portland in decades – I think it’s time for me to go back and visit! These are some great ideas of things to do. I bet the views from that aerial tram are amazing!

  5. Thx for the write-up and your pics! Glad to hear Portland lived up to its reputation. I’ve not been there before so it was great to be taken there through your writing

  6. Wow! What is that doughnut? It looks amazing! I was totally blown away by just how good desserts are when I was in the US last year. I would love to come back for another US road trip.

    1. Yes, we love our sugary food in the US! That’s why you have to walk and walk and walk after a doughnut like this! Hope you make it back for a road trip soon.

  7. Great post. I live near Seattle and always love reading what visitor’s find interesting about the Pacific Northwest. I have driven by the gondola so many times, you can see it from Interstate 5 and need to go check it out. At least now I know it is worth it.

    1. We definitely liked Portland more than Seattle. Hope you hop on the gondola the next time you’re in the area!

  8. Would love to know more about that market. They’re my favourite places to explore when I get to a new destination. You get to taste the local food, and meet local vendors who have a passion for their products and their town.

  9. Can’t say Portland Oregon was ever on our radar for the US, but could definitely see ourselves stopping here for a weekend to enjoy some sights and tasty treats! Thanks for the fun read!

  10. Love reading posts about places we’ve been, but couldn’t understand why I didn’t recognise anywhere. Then realised this is Portland, Oregon not Portland, Maine. Guess I haven’t had enough coffee. Having said that Portland Oregon looks a cool place to visit.

  11. My brother lives in Portland, so I’ve been there dozens of times. I’ve done everything you recommend except the jet boats. Now I know what I’ll do when I visit again next year.

  12. I am adding Portland to my must-see US city list. There is so much to do. I’ll go for a cable car ride and try all those unusual donuts 🙂

    1. Enjoy! There is a reason it is one of our favorite cities and we are confident you will discover why when you visit!

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