Portland isn’t all hippies and hipsters but both have contributed to its eco-friendliness and plethora of coffeehouses and microbreweries. Add food trucks, indie art and music, and bohemian personality and it’s clear that this is a laid-back city. It’s also an easy city to get around by bicycle or on foot. There are several bicycle paths and an easy public transport system that includes buses, streetcars, and the MAX Light Rail system. Here’s what to see and do on a short visit to Portland.

Early Morning: Grab a Quick Bite

Portlanders seem to prefer the word brunch to breakfast and several breakfast spots now use “brunch” rather than “breakfast” on their menus. Besaw’s, Tasty n Sons, and Screen Door are all popular breakfast/brunch restaurants. Milk Glass Mrkt is known for their tasty cheddar biscuit and herbed egg topped with either applewood bacon, smoked salmon, or roasted pepper. It’s the ideal quick bite as you head out to sightsee.

If you’re still hungry, you can have a midmorning snack at Voodoo Doughnuts. This famous Portland doughnut shop is so popular, it often has a long waiting line. Voodoo Doughnuts has some breakfast-inspired options, too. There’s the Bacon Maple Bar doughnut as well as doughnuts topped with fruit loops or Captain Crunch. They also sell vegan doughnuts that are just as delicious.

lan su chinese gardens
The Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland.

Morning: Popular Portland Landmarks

A stroll in the serene Lan Su Chinese Garden is the perfect way to walk off the calories gained from those decadent doughnuts. This botanical garden was designed by Suzhou artisans to resemble an authentic Ming Dynasty garden. It covers a full block in the Chinatown district and features covered walkways, bridges, and pavilions. You can peacefully wander the gardens on your own or take a guided tour. Before you leave, savor a cup of tea at the Teahouse. Lan Su Chinese Garden is a calming oasis. You’ll leave a lot more relaxed than when you arrived.

Move on to Powell’s City of Books, less than one mile away. This iconic landmark in Portland takes up an entire block. It’s the world’s largest bookstore and a book lover’s paradise. This multi-level bookstore has nine color-coded rooms holding approximately one million books in more than 3,500 sections. It’s so big that it comes with a map. An on-site coffee shop will help inject some caffeine into your veins should you start to tire from all the browsing.

Pittock Mansion
The Pittock Mansion.

Lunch: Sample the Food Carts

When in Portland, eat lunch the way the locals do — from a food cart. The food cart culture is huge in Portland. There are well over 600 serving a huge variety of cuisines including African, Brazilian, Colombian, German, Indian, Mediterranean, and much more. Asian food is much loved in Portland and Mama Chow’s Kitchen is a crowd-pleaser with their hand-rolled, fried-to-order wontons and lollipop wings. For something more exotic, Black Star Grill serves authentic West African dishes. Build your own bowl with plain white rice or jollof  rice, fried plantains, and choose your meat — seared chicken, fried shrimp, or sesame-ginger steak bites.

Afternoon: Go on Beer Crawl

The craft beer industry is booming in Portland. With more than 70 breweries, Portland nabs the title as the city with the most breweries and microbreweries in the world. If you love the German brews, Occidental Brewing Company is a long-standing Portland favorite. Occidental brews some of the best German-style ales and lagers including Hefeweizen, Kölsch, and Altbier. Deschutes Brewery in the Pearl District offers great pub food with a selection of beer from 26 taps to wash it down. The best way to explore the beer scene in Portland is on a brewery tour. Brewvana Portland Brewery Tour provides both walking and bus tours.

If beer is not your thing, then indulge in the coffee brews instead. Stumptown Coffee Roasters is a Portland institution. Sit down at any of the six locations in Portland and savor a cup of freshly brewed Stumptown coffee.

Keller fountain park
Keller Fountain Park.

Evening: Enjoy Live Music

There’s no denying that Portland has a thriving music scene. If you’re looking for dinner and jazz, Wilfs Restaurant located in Union Station has a superb lineup of local up-and-coming jazz musicians. Laurelthirst Public House is the city’s oldest independent music venue and is the go-to venue for bluegrass, folk, and Americana vibes. The Doug Fir Lounge at the Jupiter Hotel hosts music almost every night of the week. This log-themed basement venue provides an intimate venue showcasing some of the best indie bands in Portland.

Portland enjoys a slower pace and an unpretentious nature. It’s not trying to impress with glitz and glamour. It’s just refreshingly down-to-earth. Rather than rush to tick off a long list of things to do, the best way to approach Portland is to simply go with the flow.