Day 1 You'll See:
- Pioneer Courthouse Square
- Killer Burger
- Portland Art Museum
- Tom McCall Waterfront Park Picnic
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Day 2 You'll See:
- Voodoo Doughnuts
- Portland Japanese Garden
- Washington Park (Oregon Zoo or Hoyt Arboretum)
- Portland Spirit Cruise
Day 3 You'll See:
Pioneer Courthouse Square - What better way to start your big Portland adventure than at Portland’s living room, aka Pioneer Courthouse Square. This spot is the city’s premiere public park, one of the most successful public spaces in the entire U.S. Known to be the world’s fourth best public square, this beloved urban park hosts over 300 different programmed event days each year, both truly impressive feats. The square itself first opened in 1984, a living homage to the Portland courthouse from 1875. You and your group can spend your time here exploring the food carts, outdoor art, impressive fountains, and sidewalk vendors, as well as the Visitor Information Center, KGW HD Studio on the Square, Theater, Pink Trolley, or famous Spellbound Flower Dutch Cargo Bike. If you are lucky you may just be here during any of the several scheduled events, with choices such as the Holiday Ale Fest, Portland Artisan Festival, or the Lights on the Mall festival.
Killer Burger - When it comes to killer food in downtown Portland, Killer Burger is the place to be. This amazingly delicious burger-based establishment is locally owned and operated by Robin and Mark McCrary and has been since 2010. There are several different stores throughout the area, though this one downtown is probably the most popular. Inside you and your group will enjoy 9 different flavors of burgers, each and every one ⅓ pound, 100%, bacon topped, and served with french fries. You can try the Classic, the Bender (crispy jalapenos and sriracha bbq), the Barnyard (eggs and ham) the Epic (pulled pork, coleslaw, grilled onions), or the absolute most popular burger here, the Pickles and Peanut Butter Burger (yep, that’s right), complete with bacon, mayo, onion, bbq sauce, pickles, and a thick spread of creamy PB. Be sure to take advantage of the bottomless fries and cheap burgers during ‘crazy hour’, each weekday 2-5pm!
Portland Art Museum - If you love art, you’re going to love this next stop also downtown, the highly popular Portland Art Museum. This museum holds the title of being the oldest art museum on the West Coast, seventh oldest in the country overall. First established in 1892, this museum is today recognized worldwide for its impressive permanent collection and ambitious special exhibitions. There are over 42,000 objects displayed within the museum, a total expanse of 112,000 square feet of galleries. While walking around your group can see work from ancient times and today, some of the most impressive sections being the Native Peoples of North America, graphic arts, and English Silver. There are several other buildings on campus here as well, such as the Gilkey Center for Graphic Arts, Northwest Film center, and Jubitz Center for Modern and Contemporary Art, as well as a well-stocked Museum Shop full of all the best artsy gifts and books!
Tom McCall Picnic - Another Portland downtown staple is the Tom McCall Waterfront Park. This is the perfect spot to people watch and catch a great view of the Willamette River, as well as take a rest and have a scenic picnic dinner. Named in honor of Governor Tom McCall, this gorgeous 36-acre park was created in hopes of making one really excellent public gathering spot, green space, and river walk, a feat that has successfully been done since 1978. At this park, you can walk the trails, bike, skate, picnic, fly kites, and partake in several other outdoor recreational activities, as well as explore the Esplanade, Bowl, Salmon Street Springs, and Central Lawn. Before you go make sure you go check out the historic Battleship Oregon Memorial, buried time capsule from 1976, or the sobering Japanese American Historical Plaza. The best part of this spot? The 185 water jet fountain that sits as the park's centerpiece.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry - After your outdoor dinner at the park head over to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, the premier science and technology museum in Portland founded in 1944. This museum is one of the top science centers in the U.S, with a heavy international reputation for excellent interactive exhibits and educational programs. Inside the museum, you and your group can get your hands dirty in any of the seven different interactive learning labs, explore any of the over 200 interactive exhibits, or perhaps head over to the USS Blueback Submarine for a quick local history lesson. There is an onsite Planetarium, Motion Simulator, Theater, Scientific Playground, and Riverfront Eatery here as well, the myriad of choices sure to spark the interest of everyone in your group. This is truly the perfect place to let loose, have some fun, and learn a lot, just be sure to wear good walking shoes so you can explore and see it all.
Voodoo Doughnuts - Start your morning off right at the iconic Portland a.m treasure, Voodoo Doughnuts. This doughnut paradise was created by Kenneth Pogson and Tres Shannon, a now landmark location that draws some serious lines of hungry, or maybe just intrigued, customers daily. You will find this bakery in Old Town/Chinatown, a truly funky, rustic, and youthful establishment that will allow your group to experience the ‘kooky essence’ of Portland. You may have already seen this store on the Food Network, Travel Channel, or news feature, a recently highly popular place media-wise. At this cash-only establishment, you can try such popular doughnuts as the Oreo flavored Pot Hole, Portland Cream, or Raspberry-filled and pretzel-poked Voodoo Doughnut. There are odd ones, too, like the El Diablo, Rapper’s Delight, or Captain my Captain. Our advice? Try the Bacon Maple and be sure to ask about the old NyQuil Doughnut before you go!
Portland Japanese Garden - If you want to see just exactly how diverse and gorgeous the local landscape really is, and really can be, then you need to head over to the highly celebrated Portland Japanese Garden. This 5.5-acre garden holds 5 different distinct garden sections within, each representing peace, harmony, and tranquility, an authentic Japanese cultural practice. Walk through and explore the Strolling Pond Garden, Tea Garden, Sand and Stone Garden, Natural Garden, or Flat Garden, or perhaps just sign up for a docent-led Garden Tour or guest lecture. You will notice that stone is one of the most essential elements in the garden, every section dotted with pagodas, bridges, arbors, and stone lanterns. Most designs you will see are asymmetrical, reflecting nature in its most idealized form as is valued in Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. This is the perfect way to admire nature and experience a new culture all at once!
Washington Park (Oregon Zoo or Hoyt Arboretum) - Next stop, Washington Park, the 410-acre Portland public urban park first established in 1909. This massive public park holds several different popular attractions within it’s boundaries, such as the Forestry Museum, International Test Rose Garden, Children’s Museum, Arboretum, Japanese Garden, Amphitheater, and Oregon Zoo. Before you make your choice on where you want to spend more time while here, you and your group can explore the actual park, filled with various memorials, soccer fields, archery ranges, tennis courts, and public art. There are acres of wild forest, nature trail, scenic vistas of the surrounding wooded hillsides, and even the iconic Chiming Fountain. Be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes while here and take advantage of the free park shuttle to get to your next destination, it’s extremely convenient!
Once inside the park you can choose between visiting the Oregon Zoo, the state's premier zoo with over 2,000 species of animals from throughout the world and 1.6 million visitors per year, or the Hoyt Arboretum, the Portland living tree museum that will educate, entertain, and amaze you with its natural beauty!
Portland Spirit Cruise - Your group will end your fun-filled Portland day with a scenic, entertaining, and highly fun two-hour cruise along the Willamette River! The locally popular Oregon cruise line Portland Spirit Cruises offers several different cruise options daily, but be sure to check for any seasonal, holiday, or themed cruises not normally offered during your visit. We suggest you opt in for the really fun Downtown Dinner cruise, offering the most amazing views, outstanding cuisine, and unbelievable entertainment. The glowing riverside views are enhanced by the vibrant city lights in the distance, making this entire cruise a truly camera-worthy event. The boat itself is a 150-foot yacht, complete with three public decks, two of which are enclosed and climate controlled for your comfort in any season and weather. Enjoy a delicious northwest cuisine, full-service bars, a singing wait staff, several grand pianos, and even a marble dance floor, and be sure to pick up your commemorative Captain's Photo before you go!
Stumptown Roasters - Coffee is an essential habit in Portland, so we feel it’s essential for you to stop by Stumptown Roasters during your visit, the cornerstone coffee shop that was founded by caffeine connoisseur Duane Swenson. This guy has been innovating, revolutionizing, and refining the art of coffee brewing and tasting since 1999, opening four total cafes in Portland and more in Seattle, New York, and L.A. This shop is run based on close relationships with local farmers, a green effort in search for the best tasting coffee. Inside you will be able to taste, learn about, and shop for the best coffee and coffee makers available, and even see the most ancient ways of making coffee, as well as most technologically advanced, right before your eyes. It will be really easy to see (and taste) why this establishment and it’s owner has received Roaster of the Year award before, after all, ‘Portland knows coffee, and Swenson knows Portland!’
Powell’s City of Books - What goes better with coffee than a big pile of books? Not much, in our opinion, and there’s not much more of a ‘typical Portland morning’ than enjoying a fresh cup of joe, strolling around a beautiful park, and shopping for/ reading a great book. Downtown in Portland’s Pearl District you will have to stop at Powell’s City of Books, a well-known, locally loved, multilevel shop that is the city’s #1 source for both new and used books. This is actually the largest bookstore of its kind in the entire world, occupying an entire city block and holding over one million books within its paper-lined walls. This entire establishment is a book-lover’s paradise, it’s shelves providing something for every interest imaginable. Explore the over 9 total color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different interest sections, and also be sure to check out the convenient Espresso Book Machine or on-site Cafe for a snack (or more coffee) before you go!
End of the Oregon Trail - Of course something that has to come to mind while you are in Oregon is the Oregon trail itself, the infamous historic trail that totaled over 2,000 miles long in its entirety. Spanning all the way from Missouri to Oregon, from the Missouri River coast to Oregon City, the actual end of this trail is located ½ hour southeast of Portland, at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center and Historic Site. This entire site, including the museum, buildings, gardens, trails, and stores will teach you so much about the journey’s taken along this trial during its time, as well as about the pioneer life in general. You can partake in period-appropriate dress up, pioneer crafts such as rag doll or candle making, pick out your own wagon, learn your family history, or just settle in for a highly popular onsite video title ‘Bound for Oregon.’ Outside be sure to check out the interpretive trail, heritage garden, and gorgeous Abernathy Greens.
Mount Hood - It would be hard to leave such a beautiful region without stopping at its iconically gorgeous spots, such as Mount Hood. This potentially active stratovolcano is located within the Cascade Volcanic Arc, just a half hour drive away from Portland. Mount Hood sits at an astounding 11,250 feet in elevation and 7,707 in stature, considered to be the highest in all of Oregon, as well as the second most climbed in the entire world (after Mount Fuji, National Geographic). Here you can see the historic marker of the first ascent in 1857 by a handful of locals including now-famous Pittock, visit historic Timberline Lodge dedicated to Roosevelt, or enjoy the sights at Trillium lake. Trillium Lake is the best place to take in the sweeping mountainside views, and you can swim, canoe, and kayak here as well. You may also decide to ski, snowboard, or snowshoe higher up on the mountain, or perhaps just fish, hike, bike, or wildlife watch!