9 Best Things To Do In Portland

Heading to Portland and wondering what to do? Here are my top 9 Best things to do in Portland.

Portland is one of the most fun places to visit. Without a doubt, their local and artisanal coffees are to die for. And let’s not forget that this is the city that gave us the yummy Salt and Straw. But there is more to Portland than just these two things.

The nature around it, the wine, the bakery, the people – there is just so much to Portland. So here are my top picks things to do if you are in Portland next time.

  1. Try The Valrhona Chocolate Crunch Donut at Blue Star

The donuts in portland are to die for. Tourist flock Voodoo donuts which are no doubt, delectable but if you ask the locals, they will tell you to go to Blue Start which is less crowded but equally great donuts. My two favorites there are the Maple Bacon ( duh!) and the Valrhona Chocolate Crunch. Trust me you won’t regret trying these at all.

2. Eat Dessert At Papa Hayden

Who doesn’t love a dessert and drinks bar? Papa Hayden is perfect for you if you want to drink a glass of champagne and indulge ins a piece of dark chocolate cake. During summer, this place can get pretty busy, so make sure you reserve in advance so you can get an outdoor seating and enjoy the summer as you sip on your rose.

For chocolate lovers, there are tons of options – the German Chocolate cake, the  Scharffen Berger Bombe which is flourless chocolate marquis, chocolate mousse featuring 70% cacao bittersweet Scharffen Berger chocolate, glazed, and finished with a chocolate ribbon. Others include the Smore’s sundae and Chocolate Block which is delicious as well. For non-chocolate lovers, there are many other options as well.

Plus if you are hungry, they have an entire menu of entree, soups, salads, and sandwiches too.

3. Enjoy the Hipster Indian Food at Bollywood Theatre

Looking for some buttery carb-filled spicy food. Then head over to Bollywood Theatre. A super quirky joint with posters of old classical Hindi movies and screen running cult favorite Bollywood movies. Their butter chicken plate and Kathi rolls will leave you very satisfied.

Bollywood Theatre, Portland
Bollywood Theatre, Portland
Bollywood Theatre, Portland

4. Have a Picnic Smelling Roses at The International Rose Test Garden

No surprises why Portland is known as the Rose City. They have gorgeous roses planted all over the town in all colors. In fact, Portland has an International Rose Test Garden which is free to visitors. Here they experiment and grow different varieties of roses every year. The Rose Test Garden is located in Washington Park which is a public urban park that includes a zoo, forestry museum, arboretum, children’s museum, rose garden, memorials, etc.

Pro Tip: If you are visiting the Rose Test Garden, you can also stop by the Japenese Garden which is a beautiful garden with stunning landscapes and waterfalls.

The International Rose Test Garden, Portland
The International Rose Test Garden, Portland

5. Drive on the Historic Columbia River Highway and see the WaterFalls

The amazing Historic Columbia River Highway is a treat to drive on. It starts at from Troutdale and goes up to The Dalles. Along this route, you can feast your eyes on multiple gorges, waterfalls, hills, etc.

They have multiple viewpoints that you can stop by. Some of my favorite stops were – Latourell, Wahkeena and the huge Multnomah Falls Lodge, that falls from a height of 620-foot. Some of the falls were closed when we went ( July 2019) due to the recent forest fire so make sure you research if the falls are open before going.

Multnomah Fall
Multnomah Fall

6. Spend The Day Browsing Books

Every bibliophile’s dream come true is Powell’s City of Books shop. This store is considered a landmark and is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. It’s located in the Pearl District and has nine color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different sections. They also have an impressive collection of autographed first editions and other collectible volumes. 

For people looking for good deals, head over to the second-hand book section to find some amazing books on a discounted price.

Powell Book Shop

7. Eat The Delicious Biscuits of Portland

One of the things I learned when visiting Portland is that their southern food surprisingly is fantastic, especially their biscuits. Some of the places you should consider visiting if you are a fan of Southern food like me is the Pine State Biscuits and Irvings Kitchen. Their biscuits are super fluffy and flaky.

Irvings Kitchen
Irvings Kitchen

8. Visit the Vineyards in Portland

What can I say! This was one of my favorite parts of Portland – wine tasting. Oregon, in general, is the home to “The Willamette Valley” which has more than 300 wineries and tasting rooms.

We visited the Portland Wine Bar & Winery Tasting Room which we had heard a lot about since they offer both beer and wine. Their bartenders are great and I especially loved the Pinot Noir flights. Another small vineyard we stopped by was the Enso Vineyard which is known for their old-style wines. Loved the reds and rose there.

If you are not comfortable going on your own, there are multiple guided tours available for wine tasting.

9. Choose From a Variety of Street Food from the Food Trucks

Before I went to Portland, I always associated this city with only artisan and local coffee. I never knew there were so many food pods in this town with a variety of cuisines.

We were looking forward to visiting the much talked about food pod at Southwest 10th Avenue and Alder Street in downtown Portland which was the largest collection of food carts in the city. It’s been there since the late 1990s and at its peak, it had about 60 carts with food ranging from Thai to German and Mexican to Italian.

However, when we went there, we found out they were removed to build a Ritz Carlton there.

There are many others that you might want to check out including Prost Market place where you definitely want to check out Matt’s BBQ.

Other food pods include – Pod 28, Killingsworth, Third Avenue


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