Top 7 FREE Things To Do When in Portland, OR

My niece is coming to visit and she has never been to Portland  before, so we are looking for all the places we HAVE to take her while she is here.  If you do live in Portland, I most certainly hope you have been to most if not all of these places. Not from here?  Sit back and let me give you a quick tour of a few FREE sights of Portland.

Enjoy the roses, views and relaxing places to sit and take it all in.

Enjoy the roses, views and relaxing places to sit and take it all in.

Looking for something fun, yet free to do in Portland? Here’s a few things that we like to do around town.

  1. Rose Gardens – Portland is the Rose city after all, and this beautiful garden makes that point. This is such a great place to go and easy access from downtown.  From here not only can you see this amazing Garden but the view of the city and Mt. Hood is worth the drive up. UPDATE: To get in is free, but they recently started charging for parking.
  2. Pittock Mansion – Confession here, I have lived in Portland for 13 years and finally made my way up 6 months ago.  Again this is another beautiful original house/mansion that sits up high in the hills with views of all of Portland, and you can even tour the house.  It’s free to tour the grounds and see the views, but if you have family or friends that live in the area have them go to the local library and pick up FREE passes to get into Pittock Mansion.

Pittock Mansion

  1. Multnomah Falls – Located about 30-35 minutes from downtown Portland, but a sight not to be missed.  We have been several times.  Choose your times wisely as the weekends are packed, so if you can go during the week you will have easier time getting a parking spot and you won’t have to share the trail with so many people. If you make your way out there check out these other easy hikes to enjoy the Columbia Gorge.
  2. Hawthorne District –   It is such an eclectic area, that you are constantly looking for the next best thing around the corner.  The locally owned restaurants and coffee shops are everywhere.  It’s fun just to stroll the streets and check out the shops.  If you must spend money here, the one must eat location in the Hawthorne District is the Waffle Window. Here is 20 More Places to Eat, Play & Wander in SE Portland.
  3. NW 23rd – I always describe this area as super quaint or an urban sweet spot.  The restaurants in this area are abundant and creative, and choosing one is not easy. The neighborhood streets that feed into NW 23rd at filled with old craftsman style homes. The Czech made street cars can get you downtown in 15 minutes for only $2 and that is an all day pass. I know this is not FREE, but cheap if you decide to give it a try. Check out Portland Street Cars for more information.
  4. Powell’s Books – How many people go all the way to Portland just to look at a book store? More than you could ever imagine.  This book store is the size of a city block.  You could spend a whole day and not get through it all.  The topics are endless and the organization is incredible.  There are plenty of places to sit down and look through the books that you come across.  And don’t forget this is Portland, so grab your coffee while you look through some of your finds.  Want to get some books for FREE, just take in some books that you would like to get rid of and shop with the money you get from those.
  5. Waterfront – Portland sits right on the Willamette River.  You can stroll, roller blade or ride your bike along the path right on the river.  The park that sits between the river and downtown is a great place to relax on a sunny day.  It is also home to many events during the summer, such as the Rose Festival, The Bite of Oregon and Cinco De Mayo just to name a few.  When these events stroll into town, these grassy patches give way to tents and stages. During the Jazz Festival the boats line the river to listen to the music.  Waterfront in Portland during the summer is the place to be.

Don’t have your own bike? Rent one on the waterfront.

UPDATE January 2018:

8. Tillicum Bridge – You can walk across any of the bridges, but the Tillicum Bridge is very pedestrian friendly. Only public transportation is allowed on this bridge, so no cars.

9. Street Fairs – Many of the iconic streets have street fairs during the summer months. Alberta, Hawthorne, Belmont and Division/Clinton, just to name a few. There are all kinds of vendors, food and fun to be found at these events.

10. Saturday Market – Take some time to wander through the local vendors. There is something for everyone here.

11. Forest Park – Hike some of the many trails that run through Forest Park. A favorite starts in the NW District and ends at Pittock Mansion.

What FREE things would you do?


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  1. […] and you want to take in the outdoorsy side of Portland, definitely check out Forest Park.  Here is 7 Free Things to do when in Portland. It’s always nice to have […]

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