I thought I’d lighten things up a bit and write a brief list with all the great day trip things to do in around Portland, Oregon. Yes I know there are a ton of “lists” out there but I will try and add my two cents to give you a better feel.
Voodoo Donuts – 22 SW 3rd Ave.
There are actually 2 Voodoo donut locations in Portland but this is the one you want to go to unless you are trying to avoid crowds. The reason you want to go here is because the location is great for people watching, a lot of times there is free entertainment while you wait such as street performers and it’s literally right next to the Saturday market so you can hit the market before or after your donut fix.
Now I’m not trying to get in an argument about whether their donuts are even the best donuts in Portland (ahem Blue Star) but I will say they have one of my favorites the ODB. Gawd I love that donut so good.
Things to keep in mind; you can order a Voodoo dozen which I believe is like 13 bucks and they will pick 12 donuts for you. They also have another dozen option which is I think 18 but it includes all the good ones like the ODB and you get the infamous pink box to take home.
They only take cash so remember that when going in and they kinda rush you (in a nice way) so try and figure out what you want ahead of time. When it’s busy they will pass out a card with pictures of all their donuts.
Also word to the wise, If you get a pink box of donuts and you are going to walk down 3rd with it, I am just warning you now there are bums everywhere and they will harass you. I’ve heard some pretty good jokes to get a donut but sometimes they can be obnoxious and make you uncomfortable. I suggest crossing the street. Just saying.
Saturday Market – 2 SW Naito Parkway
I try and visit the market at least once a year to see if there is anything new or exciting to see/get and honestly I am actually disappointed most the time as I feel none of the vendors really change.
But with that being said, if you are from out of town, I am sure it’s pretty cool with lots of good souvenirs to be had. My personal opinion is anything on fountain side by the river is actually handmade and original. But with that comes a price tag and a lot of those items can be pretty spendy. Anything across the street closer to Voodoo is imported junk. Not everything mind you but most the stuff back there really is Made in China and never changes.
Also if you are looking for good food here it’s really hit and miss. You will find better options at the various food carts up the street or some of the pubs around there. It’s a great place to walk the waterfront from and you have to go at least once to see what it’s all about. Plus it’s a nice way to spend a sunny Portland day.
International Rose Gardens – 850 SW Rose Garden Way
If you want an incredible view of Portland (although the trees are starting to get in the way), want to enjoy a picnic, or love roses, this is the place for you. Not to mention it’s part of Forest park which has an abundance of hiking trails for your enjoyment. It is absolutely gorgeous and offers amazing picture opportunities usually from June through September. Possibly earlier if we get a lot of sun.
Parking can be a complete nightmare as you are right by the zoo and the Japanese Gardens (another great place to visit and take pictures). If you are coming from the zoo direction and the parking lot looks full you can meander your way down the hill. There is street parking by the playground (an awesome playground) or keep driving down for more parking. Yes you will have to hike back up the hill but it’s better than circling a parking lot for hours.
Sometimes food trucks and Voodoo pop up around the garden parking lot. They also have a gift and snack shop up there. You could spend a whole day there taking pictures, hiking, relaxing etc.
Council Crest – 3405 Southwest Council Crest Drive
Council Crest is actually about a 12-15 minute drive from the Rose Garden. The reason I mention it is for people who want to see another incredible view of Portland and/or sunset. Most people don’t venture up there but I believe it’s the highest point in Portland and you can see everything on a beautiful clear day. It can be kind of confusing to get up there and find it but it’s worth it.
Oregon Zoo – 4001 SW Canyon Rd
The Oregon zoo is another great way spend 3-4 hours while in Portland. They just expanded the elephant enclosure offering them a more natural environment to roam. The zoo offers concerts during the summer. You can check their calendar as some of the performers are pretty well known.
You can purchase a train ticket that will take you over the Rose Gardens as well and get out and enjoy the gardens then make your way back to the zoo so you don’t have to park over there. Another great thing about the zoo it’s accessible via the Max Blue line.
The zoo recently started charging for parking which really angered a lot of people. So just be aware you will need to pay for parking while there. If you have young kids they have stroller rentals as well as some interactive animal exhibits and shows.
OMSI – 1945 SW Water Ave
The Oregon Museum of Science Institute on the other side of the river is pretty cool if you are into science and for the kids. Sometimes that have cool exhibits like Bodies, dinosaurs and right now I think they have an arcade exhibit.
Apparently they charge $5 bucks for parking in their lot but a trick most people know is there is free parking under the Hawthorne bridge you can take advantage of and cross over to the other side of the river via the bridge. It’s maybe a 10 minute walk over to the other side.
OMSI has a Omnimax as well and put on some good shows. You can check their schedule on the website. They also have a submarine you can tour.
Powells City of Books – 1005 West Burnside
Even if you are not a book lover Powell’s is super cool and fun to visit. It is the largest independant used and new book store in the entire world which tells you something is really special here in Portland.
You can find tons of gifts there and wander through the various color coded rooms for hours exploring different genres and really people watching. Not only that, but several writers and artists stop at Powell’s on a monthly basis.
The other cool thing about Powell’s is that its in the pearl and you will find awesome stores and really good food within walking distance. You could probably spend a day in around Powell’s.
Portland really is easy to walk as the blocks aren’t very big and for the most part it’s pretty safe. Also you can hop on the max if you get tired and/or street cars.