Top 10 Portland Tourist Attractions

The beautiful Columbia River Gorge.
The beautiful Columbia River Gorge.

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, and a major point of interest in the Pacific Northwest region. As of 2015, Portland had a population of 632,309. Thanks to impeccable city planning and a network of over 10,000 acres of green space, Portlanders famously enjoy a high quality of life. It's an experience that translates well into the tourist experience.

10. Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is located along the border between Oregon State and Washington State, containing 292,500 acres. The spectacular gorge is located along the Columbia River, the second largest river in the United States. The gorge contains several viewpoints, hiking trails, waterfalls, and locks. The famous sites include Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, Oneonta Creek, Crown Point in the Columbia River Gorge, and Horsethief Butte. The Columbia River Gorge is managed both by the US Forest Service and the Columbia Gorge Commission.

9. Japanese Gardens

A Japanese garden is a traditional garden featuring Japanese trees and flowers. Portland's own Japanese garden is located within Washington Park and covers an area of 5.5 acres. The garden is managed by a non-profit group, Japanese Garden Society of Oregon who has leased the land from the Oregon State government since 1960. The Japanese Garden is composed of five sub-gardens, the largest being the Strolling Pond Garden. The Natural Garden consists of several streams, waterfalls, and unique vegetation. The Sand and Stone Garden, on the other hand, has tranquil raked patterns of weathered stones. The Flat Garden has raked white sand representing water and sharply contrasting with the green lawn, moss, evergreens, and azaleas. Finally, the Tea Garden contains a tea house surrounded by an inner garden and outer waiting area.

8. International Rose Test Gardens

International Rose Test Garden is a garden containing over 7,000 rose flowers located in Washington Park, Portland. This historic 4.5-acre garden contains approximately 550 species of roses. It is also a major center for testing roses, where new rose cultivars from many parts of the world are tested for fragrance, disease resistance, color, and other features. There are several sub-gardens within the International Rose Test Garden which include the Royal Medal Garden, the Royal Rosarian Garden, the Miniature Rose Garden, and the Shakespeare Garden. The Gold Medal Garden is unique for containing award winning roses only.

7. Powell's Books

Powell’s Books was founded in 1971 by Walter Powell, and features a chain of stores in and around the Portland area. It contains new, used, and rare books with a total book count around 4 million books. The headquarters of Powell’s Books is dubbed Powell’s City of Books and is thought to be the largest independent used and new bookstore in the world. The store purchases up to 3,000 used books per day.

6. Pearl District

The Pearl District is an area of Portland located just northwest of downtown. Formerly an industrial area, it has been transformed into a residential area dotted with art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. The recent opening of the "Cosmopolitan on the Park" building in 2016 has contributed to the beautiful skyline of Portland. The area contains several important features including Powell’s City of Books, the former Weinhard Brewery, and the Blue Sky Gallery.

5. Voodoo Donuts

Voodoo Donuts is a famous donut shop located in Portland, known for its iconic pink boxes and electric décor. The donuts feature unique designs and flavors such as oreo, bacon, and Captain Crunch. The shop usually features a lineup of those waiting to enjoy their flavor of choice.

4. Food Trucks

Portland, Oregon is also known for its unique collection of food carts, food trucks, and food stands. Their numbers have been rising over the years, and by 2010 there was an estimate of about 671 carts citywide. The "food cart pod" is a concentration of food carts that have been in operation for close to 30 years.

3. Brewvana Brewery Tours

The Brewvana Brewery gives tours of more than 74 breweries located in Portland and well known for being a female dominated industry. During the tour, the visitors are allowed to taste the beer in every stop. The well-known breweries in Portland include Upright Brewery, Buckman Brewery, Wider Brother Brewery, and Laurelwood Public House and Brewery. Brewvana conducts tours of the breweries different times of the week, but the Friday "behind the scene" tour is the most famous.

2. Museums

Portland has a rich collection of historical sites and museums who serve to display the unique collection of arts and indigenous history of Portland. The most famous historical sites include bridges of Portland, Portland’s Shanghai Tunnels, Fort Vancouver, and Pittock Mansion. Famous museums include Portland Children’s Museum, Oregon Historical Society, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, and Centre of Contemporary Native Art.

1. Oregon Zoo

The Oregon Zoo is a 64-acre state managed Conservancy located within Washington Park in Portland City. It is one of the oldest zoos in the United States, founded in 1888 through the effort of a private animal collector, Richard Knight. Oregon Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the country, home to an extensive plant collection and breeding plans for endangered animal species. The zoo hosts summer concerts and winter ZooLights allowing visits throughout the year.


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