Portland, Oregon, is filled with character, eclectic culture, and plenty of fun. Visitors will enjoy their time in this northwest town no matter their interests, as Portland has something for everyone. History buffs will love the city’s rich, historic sites while nature-lovers can bask in the views of the snow-capped Mount Hood and the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Tour museums and landmarks, walk the trails of national forests, and enjoy the area’s unique culture and foods.

Before traveling to Portland, Oregon, make sure you’re prepared with GoDoTrip, which has all the information and resources you need. Here’s how to get there and what to do when you arrive.

Airport Information

Travel and Leisure magazine has voted the Portland International Airport, also known as PDX, the best airport in the United States five years in a row. The organized and streamlined layout, the ease of navigation, and the quality food and coffee options keep visitors happy. Check the website for an interactive tour of the building.

Portland International has one main terminal that houses five concourses. Concourses A, B, and E each lead to a handful of gates, while C and D handle more flights with 15 gates at concourse D and 23 gates at C. Before you reach these areas, you’ll pass through the security check, which is found to the left and right after ticketing in the Clocktower Plaza. You’ll head to the left for concourses A through C and to the right for D and E.

The first area you’ll see when entering the airport from the parking lot is the Clocktower Plaza. Here you’ll find baggage claim, ticketing, and security along with plenty of great pre-security food and shopping options. Grab a good read for the flight at Powell’s Books, and enjoy a French pastry from Petite Provence Boulangerie and Patisserie. This area features two larger, sit-down restaurants as well as quick-bite options such as Panda Express.

Once you’ve passed through security, you can explore even more shops and eateries. Relax with a glass of hand-selected fine wine at Vino Volo in concourse C or a farm-to-table Parisian meal at Capers Café in concourse B. To try some Oregon microbrews, head to Laurelwood Public House and Brewery in concourse A or its twin across the way in concourse E.

If you arrive on one side of the terminal but are interested in a shop on the opposite side, don’t worry, you are free to explore. The two sides of the terminal are linked with a concourse connector housing a moving walkway, so you don’t have to pass through security to get to the other side. You can find quick but quality bites in concourses D and E, such as Tamale Boy and Burgerville. Try even more Oregon-native brews at Rogue Ales Public House in this area.

After exploring the airport and finishing up at baggage claim, you’re ready to see the city of Portland. Exit from baggage claim and head toward the parking garage to find ground transportation options such as rental cars and taxis. Certain hotels provide courtesy shuttles, so be sure to check if that’s a service offered when you book your room.

Other airports in the area include the Hillsboro Airport, 18 miles west of Portland, and the Troutdale Airport, 16 miles east. Both of these smaller airports offer general aviation and flight training. Hillsboro Airport is home to the annual Oregon Air Show. Troutdale Airport is a popular spot for aerial tours of the Columbia River Gorge and other scenic parts of the Northwest. If you are headed to Portland for a visit, you will most likely find a flight through Portland International.

Early Morning: Walk Along the Water and Celebrate History

Start your day of sightseeing with breakfast and coffee at Water Avenue Coffee Company. Fill up for your busy day with the avocado toast on spelt topped with a poached egg, and find a boost of energy with any of the house-roasted brews. If you taste something you like, purchase a pound or two of beans to take with you and enjoy at home. Get your breakfast to go, and take a morning walk on the Vera Katz Eastside Esplanade, a floating walkway filled with local art and flora along the Willamette River.

Once you are charged up and ready to explore the city, head to the Oregon Rail Heritage Center. Learn about Portland’s origin and how the rail system helped grow its industry and culture. Get up close to classic locomotives such as the OR&N 197. This beast was manufactured in Philadelphia in 1905 and worked for Portland trading for more than 50 years. Exhibits include maps and photography from the Westward Expansion era onward.

Museum science industry
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry in Portland.

Midmorning: Visit the Science Museum

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a highly rated tourist attraction just across the river from downtown Portland. The museum is less than a quarter-mile from the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, so you’ll be able to visit both spots before lunch.

Explore and learn about ecosystems, the universe, biology, energy, and more in five halls housing more than 200 exhibits, some permanent and some rotating. Life Hall encourages visitors to study and think about energy-saving practices for everyday life. Planetarium Hallway shows our world from space with the use of NASA satellites. If you want to do an experiment or get a hands-on experience, check out one of the eight labs. Each lab is located in one of the halls, such as the Design Lab found in Turbine Hall featuring 3-D printers.

The USS Blueback submarine is a Navy vessel, decommissioned in 1959 and used in the film The Hunt for Red October, found on site. Take a tour through the cramped, historic space to get a feel for what seamen endured for our country. You can even book a sleepover for the full experience of tight quarters.

Pittock Mansion
The Pittock Mansion in Portland.

Noon: Lunch, a Mansion, and Lush Gardens

Next, you’ll want to stop for lunch. The downtown district has many choice eateries, but locals recommend Higgins Restaurant and Bar for locally sourced fare that celebrates the region’s agricultural heritage. Enjoy lunch fresh from the water with the Hama Hama oysters and Applewood-smoked sockeye dish. This spot is located right along the route to your next adventure, so you won’t get off track.

Continue heading west, through downtown Portland to Pittock Mansion, nestled in the Hillside area. Built in 1914 and home to Henry and Georgiana Pittock, this house gives visitors a glimpse of Portland’s history and the lives of pioneers who settled in the West. Henry Pittock owned and published The Oregonian, the area’s first newspaper, and went on to become a key developer for the city. Art enthusiasts will enjoy the many pieces from turn-of-the-century artists featured throughout the property.

Don’t forget to stop by the museum store for a token of history to take home. Locals know it as one of the best places to get items with a bit of Portland flair.

Just a 7-minute drive from the mansion is the Portland Japanese Garden with its waterfalls and picturesque bridges. Walk through 5.5 acres of serene landscapes, including a tea garden, sand and stone garden, and even some bonsai trees. This is the perfect spot for midday relaxation. For a fully Zen experience, enjoy a cup of tea in the Umami Café surrounded by lush vegetation.

Afternoon: Explore Nature Just Outside of the City

To encounter more of Portland’s natural beauty, take a 40-minute drive east into Mount Hood National Forest to Multnomah Falls. Many miles of trails here will take you across and around Multnomah Creek, which features waterfalls such as Dutchman Falls, Ecola Falls, and Wiesendanger Falls. You will definitely want to bring a camera. Follow the Larch Mountain Trail from the Multnomah Falls Recreation Area for a 1.5-mile walk to see the best waterfall views.

Dinner: Find Culture and Character in Nob Hill

Back in the heart of the city is a neighborhood called Nob Hill. Its streets are lined with charming Victorian houses. Enjoy unique shopping opportunities and great food here. NW 23rd Avenue is the street famed for its eclectic shops. Find gifts from around the world in stores such as Himalayan Arts and Handicrafts or something quirky from Three Monkeys gift shop.

Less than a block away on the same street is Papa Haydn, a restaurant known for show-stopping desserts. Start with a glass of hand-picked wine, or splurge on a bottle from the reserve collection. Replenish from a day of walking with a carb-lover’s favorite such as clam Romesco, a modern take on the classic linguine and clam sauce with tomato sauce, oyster mushrooms, and almonds topped with parmesan. Don’t leave without choosing from an array of exquisite desserts. For something truly northwestern, try a baked Alaska.

Theodore roosevelt rough rider south park blocks
The Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Statue in South Park Blocks.

Evening: Experience Art on Alberta Street

Cross the Willamette River and head east to the Alberta District, known as the arts district. Musicians frequent this area, performing live music on the streets. Many boutiques and shops line NE Alberta Street, offering perfect gift ideas for loved ones as well as unique pieces to add to your closet. Stop in the Bollywood Theatre to view cultural films projected on the restaurant’s back wall. The Townshend Alberta Street Teahouse offers specialty teas, loose-leaf tastings, and house-made kombucha.

Don’t miss a visit to the Alberta Rose Theatre, which features live music, comedy nights, and art house films. The historic theater originally opened in 1927 and showed house films. It remained a hub for art and culture into the 1970s until it closed for more than 20 years. It was reopened in the 21st century and quickly became an integral part of Portland’s arts and music scene. Check the calendar for events during your visit.

Late Night: Grab a Nightcap

Bars are open late in the Alberta district for after-dinner drinks. The Knock Back is a hip spot with a menu full of drafts, wines, and unique house cocktails, such as the Fully Atomic Monkey Hat, which combines rye whiskey and Brazilian banana liquor. If you find yourself hungry after a few sips, the bar snacks menu doesn’t hold back with items such as popcorn topped with bacon, capers, and herbs.

Catch a bus or a cab to Lotus Isle Park, open until midnight, on the Columbia River. Once an amusement park with more than 40 rides, Lotus Isle is rich with history. The park was only open and operating for less than two years in the early 1930s and closed due to money problems and a plane crash that damaged much of the property. Here you can enjoy a quiet finale to a day full of landmarks, natural and man-made, with a walk along one of our nation’s most famous rivers.

st johns bridge
The St. Johns Bridge.

Where to Stay in Portland

As the largest city in the state, Portland is equipped with plenty of great accommodation options for tourists. First, you’ll want to decide what type of place you’re looking for. Choose from hotels for ease and pampering, hostels for a budget-friendly stay, or a private rental for that at-home feeling.

Luxury Hotels

For an easy stay with staff to take care of your every need, consider booking a luxury hotel in downtown Portland. The Dossier Hotel has rooms of every level, including a penthouse suite for top-notch amenities. Designed to celebrate Hollywood’s Golden Age, Hotel deLuxe will make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. For artistic flair, check out Hotel Modera, which is filled with modern art and unique furnishings. Each of these hotels also features world-class on-site restaurants.

City-Centered Hostels

Places like Travelers’ House Hostel, near the Alberta District, offer dorm-room-style accommodations with shared facilities in downtown locations. Staying in a hostel provides a sense of community with other travelers and helps save money so you can do more around the city. Enjoy many of the same amenities of a hotel, such as free Wi-Fi, for much less.

Homes for Rent

If you are traveling with a family or want a larger space, consider renting a home in the Portland area. Many locals make their beautiful homes available for rent through online services. This is a great option for those who like to make their own meals and enjoy family time when they’re not out sight-seeing.

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