Last updated on November 12th, 2018
This is a momentous weekend for my family, as we are gathering in Portland to celebrate the life of my grandfather.
There are many delightful things to do in Portland, and here are a few to consider. Sections below include Parks, Walking and Biking, Eating and Drinking, Art and Culture, and Shopping, and also feel free to explore this site as well.
- Hang out in a park: as a somewhat lazy person, this is one of my favorite activities. There are a couple of lovely downtown and West-side parks for people watching, including:
- Waterfront Park and Eastbank Esplanade (also mentioned below)
- Pioneer Courthouse Square (amazing people watching right downtown — noon concert on Thursday and Princess Bride showing Friday evening)
- Director Park (downtown around the corner from Pioneer Square with fountain and snacks — located between North and South Park Blocks)
- Jamison Square (fountain and places to get snacks and hangout)
- Tanner Springs (Northwest/Pearl District, two blocks from Jameson with quieter vibe).
- Go to Forest Park: this park runs along the west side of town, and has lots of great hikes and places to hang out. You can walk there from Jan and Bill’s house and there are easy mass transit connections as well.
- Visit Chinese Garden in NW Portland close to the river: This is a lovely little park with a tea garden where you can get lovely tea and tasty Asian snacks. We might have discounted tickets (or your hotel might) if you’re interested. There is also a lovely Japanese Garden up into Forest Park.
Walking and biking
- Walk the Waterfront Park/Eastbank Esplanade loop. This loop follows the Waterfront Park along the west side of the Willamette, crosses the Hawthorne bridge, then walks the east side of the Willamette river on the Eastbank Esplanade, and loops back across the river on the lower deck of the Steel bridge. It’s about a 3 mile loop. Here’s a description of it for bicyclists, but works just fine on foot as well.
- There is a night run happening on Saturday with glowing people at 9pm on Saturday that might be pretty entertaining to check out after dinner.
- Take a bike tour (or rent a bike): there are lots of options, with Pedal Bike Tours and Cycle Portland Bike Tours both being great.
- Go on a walking tour: there are both self-guided and with a tour company (including Bridgewalks, Know Your City, Portland Walking Tours, Secrets of Portlandia). There are also walks discussed on this site as well.
- Fremont Fest, a neighborhood festival with a parade and shopping happening on NE Fremont and 42nd on Saturday
Eating and drinking
- Eat and drink your way across town — if you’re interested in this option, let me know and I can give you some recommendations to meet your location/price point/cuisine preferences (and some info on this site as well). If you want to poke around online, I usually start at the Portland Eater site if I’m curious about local food happenings, and then move onto other food blogs.
- Distillery Tour: these are lots of fun, but are also in a part of town with less shade, so pace yourself. We have some free Eastside Distillery tour tickets, although our favorite distilleries are House Spirits and New Deal Distillery. We haven’t been to the other three, so let us know if you make it there!
- Farmers markets are going on all week long if you want to go nibble on some berries and treats. They often have prepared foods available.
Art and culture
- I particularly like the Portland Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, and visiting galleries, but Jan is the right person to ask if you have further inquiries about viewing art
- The Oregon Buddhist Temple’s Obonfest 2014 is happening on Saturday August 2, 2014 from 3:00 pm to 9:00pm in SE Portland.
- Film: there are lots of great movie houses in Portland. Favorites include Hollywood Theatre, Laurelhurst Theater, NW Film Center, Cinema 21, and McMenamins theaters.
- There are outdoor movies showing at parks around town on Friday and Saturday if you get tired of family evening activities or things finish up early.
- Stand-up comedy: Portland has great stand-up comedy of the weird, profane, and goofy type. Let me know if you’re interested and we can figure out what is happening while you’re here.
- Shopping: Portland has some delightful clothing stores that are clustered together in a couple of neighborhoods. My favorite areas are:
- the West End (which also has some fabulous food options)
- close-in East Burnside (also has fabulous food and drink options) and is near Distillery Row
- SE Hawthorne, particularly beyond SE 28th. Lots of other great stores scattered about as well.
- Fremont Fest is a neighborhood festival on Saturday is on NE Fremont with a cute parade and shops
- There is an Urban Air Market happening on Saturday at Zidell Yards, south of downtown (can take streetcar or walk from downtown).
- Books: well, I can never say too much about Powells. They are renovating on the West Burnside entrance, but you can go in on NW Couch and 11th and they are delightful! If you are interested in graphic novels and comics, I can give you some additional recommendations.
- Visit Saturday Market: crafts and great people watching towards the North end of Waterfront Park right at the Burnside bridge. I haven’t bought much here recently, but I do enjoy hanging out and watching the crowds while sitting at the fountain to the south of the market.