Every time we have people come to visit us in Portland, I am reminded of what a great city this is and all the wonderful things it has to offer. Here are five things that we love to do with visitors – and we have a LOT of visitors. Most are obvious (but the best things are), all are family-friendly and most are available year-round, despite the weather.
1. Oregon Zoo
We have paid for a membership to Oregon Zoo for a few years now and it’s one of the best investments we make each year. For the best Summer zoo experience, I recommend going mid-week and at 8am as soon as it opens. There’s nothing quite like walking around an almost-empty zoo and watching them get everything ready for the day. You may even catch a diver cleaning the inside of a sea lion tank.
2. The Oregon Coast Highway 101 Drive
You can’t beat the drive from Cannon Beach to Tillamook (or vice versa). The coastline is amazing and there’s plenty of lookouts to take a break and just breathe in the crisp coastal air. Personally, I love that the coastal rocks remind me of the Great Ocean Road in Victoria and that we share the Pacific Ocean with my other two homes – Australia and Japan.
A little something for everyone – Japanese Gardens, Rose Garden, Playground and acres of green space and each season of the year offers something new to look appreciate.
Thanks to a Farmers’ Market boom over the last few years, they are dozens of markets to choose from all across the city. When we’re feeling adventurous (and ready to face the crowds) we venture to the one that started it all on the North Park blocks in downtown Portland.
OK, I’m cheating a little with this one but I couldn’t narrow it down to just one downtown Portland location. My favourite places for a day in the city:
- Pioneer Courthouse Square – for people watching and, apparently, the occasional techno dance party (as seen last weekend)
- Powell’s City of Books – you can literally get lost in there. An hour or so in the children’s book section is a great way to spend a rainy Portland day.
- Waterfront park – a hive of activity in the Summer, a wonderful place to watch the Sakura in Spring and a great walking and biking trail year-round.
- Finnegan’s toys – If you have kids and want to empty your wallet.
- Star Wars lego display in the windows of Sunlan (strangely interesting little lightbulb shop) on N Mississippi Ave.
- Running through fountains – there are a number around the city. I like Jamison Square (when it’s not too crowded) or even one of the small ones that can be found at many local parks.
- Portland Sunday Parkways – streets close down to cars around the city and open for bikes. A great day!
I know I’ve missed some key locations (Hood River, waterfalls, Sauvie Island just to name a few) and, honestly, I’m looking for suggestions while we have visitors over the next few months. Please leave yours in the comments.