Portland’s iconic Brewpubs take cinemas and make them so much better. Have you ever thought, ‘yeah cinema’s are cool and all, but they’d be much better if they had couches, in-house brewed beer on tap and real, freshly cooked food.’? If so, you’ve found your heaven, friend.
See the Smallest Park in the World - Mill Ends Park
Situated along the Willamette River, this park holds the Guinness World Record as the smallest park in the world, measuring just 2ft across. The park was created by the rather interesting Oregon Journal columnist Dick Fagan - described by him as the ‘only leprechaun colony west of Ireland.’ The legend goes that one day he looked out his window and saw a leprechaun digging a hole. He grabbed the creature and was therefore granted a wish, to which he replied ‘I want a park of my own.’ Since he didn’t specify the size, the leprechaun granted him the hole he’d been digging. It was named an official city park in 1976.
Hike to The Witch’s Castle at Forest Park
These creepy stone ruins in Oregon’s wilderness are steeped in some seriously spooky Blair Witch style legends of murder, mystery and betrayal. Known as the ‘witch’s castle’ today, it’s a great way of accessing the Aspen trail while giving yourself the heebie-jeebies.
See the Oldest Drag Queen at Darcelle XV Showplace
These cabarets incorporate glitz, glamour and laughs, as well as some old but gold drag queens. Stop by and enjoy a night of outrageous fun at the longest running drag show on the west coast, and try and spot Darcelle XV herself, one of the most famous drag queens in the world.
Stroll through Lan Su Chinese Garden
This isn’t just a garden, it’s a work of art, a gorgeous tribute to ancient Chinese traditions, where architecture, art, design and nature form a unique landscape to stroll through. Guided tours run throughout the day, while the serene tea house allows you to sit, enjoy some herbal remedies and gaze at all that gentle beauty.
Things to do in Portland
Oregon Brewers Festival
Portland is renowned for its craft beer and this festival far predated the craze becoming global, having first opened its taps to customers in 1989. Today, it's the most popular outdoor festival in America, and admission is free. However, to sample the beer, you need to buy the official OBF tasting glass and $1 beer tokens - a small price to pay for some of the best craft beer in the world.
Waterfront Blues Festival
Taking place upon the banks of the beautiful Willamette River, each year the Waterfront Blues Festival celebrates blues, soul, funk and rhythm & blues, with four stages, food and riverboat cruises. Even if you’re more about drinking in bars than twelve bars, the scenery alone makes this a worthwhile event.
If you play it with a pick, your music is welcome at Pickathon, taking place each August on Pendarvis Farm in the plunging Happy Valley. Starting off as a bluegrass fest, it’s now broadened its scope and welcomes folk and indie artists from across the world. As well as the soulful music, the fest promotes ecological and sustainable ethos. It was way ahead of the curve when it first banned single used plastics and utensils.
The Big Float
Another fest that uses the dreamy Willamette River to its advantage, the big float is part parade, part beach party and part float in downtown Portland. As well as being heaps of fun, The Big Float supports the Human Access Project, dedicated to helping people to connect with the Willamette River.
Portland Jazz Festival
This fest is a not-for-profit Portland institution that celebrates Black History Month in february by encouraging visitors to experience jazz and connect with it through multimedia performances, iconic headliners and thematic programming.
Top 5 Festivals in Portland
Portland has a quirky counter culture that rewards the curious traveler. Here are the best festivals to sink your teeth into:
Stark’s Vacuum Museum
This museum really is one of a kind. Chart the history of vacuums since 1876, exploring all of the most iconic cleaners throughout history, from hefty wooden lumps to the retro futurism designs of the 60’s. It’s all a bit bizarre, but there’s one thing you can be certain of - the carpets are spotless.
Portland Art Museum
This eclectic and sincere art museum seeks to engage a broad range of communities with its fascinating exhibits. The oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, it was founded all the way back in 1892, and now consists of some 42, 000 objects, remaining one of the leading cultural institutions in America.
Portland Children’s Museum
This museum is all about playful learning, priding itself on never acting like a museum. Rather than exhibiting priceless objects, it instead puts its resources into using familiar materials to help children learn through play, while championing children as intelligent, resourceful and creative people from whom adults could learn a thing or two.
Oregon Historical Society
The Oregon Historical Society seeks to ‘put Oregon’s rich, surprising history in everyone’s hands.’ It does this through thought-provoking interactive exhibitions that explore the stories that have shaped Oregon and America at large. Located in the heart of Oregon’s thriving cultural district, the museum is open 7 days a week.
National Hat Museum
America’s largest hat museum is brimming with history and charm, showcasing the most iconic styles throughout history. Our tip? (No pun intended). Take the hat tour, where you’ll be greeted by a guide in 1900’s garb and personally guided through 200 years of men’s and women’s hats - 2000 of them, in fact.
Top 5 Museums & Galleries in Portland
Portland’s museums are as quirky as you’d expect. Here are the 5 you have to check out:
Aebleskiver is also known as the Danish Donut - fluffy spherical pancakes served with lemon curd, lingonberry jam and delicate icing sugar. Broder Cafe is a Portland institution and makes some of the best homemade Aebleskivers around, fusing the best of Scandinavian Cuisine with Northwest flair.
Best eaten at Broder Cafe, 2508 SE Clinton St, Portland, OR 97202
Ike's Fish Sauce Wings
These chicken wings have a cult status across Oregon, and for good reason. A former Teriyaki stand crafted these Vietnamese style chicken wings and they became an overnight sensation. Crispy, chewy and swathed in caramelised garlic, these are an iconic must try when visiting Portland.
Best eaten at Pok Pok, 3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR 97202
Grain and gristle is one of Portland’s most popular yet approachable restaurants, and the deviled eggs are its speciality, topped with fresh anchovies for a salty and hearty snack. Follow them up with the G&G burger if you’re in the mood for a banquet.
Best eaten at Grain & Gristle, 1473 NE Prescott St, Portland, OR 97211
Come by for a taste of your childhood. (Unless your childhood sucked, and then we'll let ya have a taste of ours.) So goes the motto of Grilled Cheese Grill, which serves delicious and homely grilled cheese, often served with a cup of tomato soup. Go for the cheeses, or the Mondor, and get a taste of someone’s childhood, at least.
Best eaten at Grilled Cheese Grill, 1027 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211
Podnah’s pit smokes its meats on oak hardwood without any electrical or gas assistance - or charcoal. This makes for deliciously tender, fall off the bone deliciousness. Try the brisket with some classic biscuits. It’s an all-american essential.
Best eaten at Podnah's Pit Barbecue, 1625 NE Killingsworth St, Portland, OR 97211
Food in Portland
Portland has earned its reputation as one of the most vibrant culinary scenes in America. Here are the things you need to eat and the places where you need to eat them: