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What to Do on a Day’s Trip to Portland

What to Do on a Day’s Trip to Portland

The City of Roses has so much to offer that they’re enough to keep you busy for months. Here are some great things to see and do in Portland in a single day.

Portland is a wonderful city famous for its parks, gardens, bridges, and many more exciting sights. To make the most of a day trip to Portland, the best time to visit would be during the sunny and warm June, July, and August months. 

But don’t worry if you can’t avoid the rainy weather, which is pretty much expected for the rest of the year. Rain in Portland isn’t hard and all that you’ll experience will be a soft drizzle for most of the days.

Once you decide when to go, check out the following places that will ensure the perfect day trip to Portland.

1. Visit the Washington Park

With the massive number of parks in Portland, being considered among the best is high praise, and Washington Park carries that reputation. After all, it’s a massive area that houses several amazing gardens and important memorials that highlight the crucial points of the city’s rich history.

You certainly won’t have enough time to explore every amenity during a one-day visit. But just taking a walk around the park will be a wonderful experience. 

However, if you’re looking for more than a walk, check out some of the numerous venues in or near the park. The nearby attractions include the Oregon Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and different sports courts, like soccer, tennis, and even archery. 

There’s a staggering number of parks in Portland, but if you have to choose one, you can’t go wrong with Washington Park.

2. Check Out the Museum of Science and Industry

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will amaze you with its interactive exhibits and it might be the ideal place to visit with kids. The exhibition halls and labs offer an exciting opportunity to learn about different sciences like physics and chemistry. In particular, children will enjoy a dedicated science-based playground. 

If you love movies, you’ll get a chance to nerd out in the very submarine that starred in The Hunt for Red October, USS Blueback. And even if the Jack Ryan feature doesn’t fascinate you that much, the fact that you’re looking at the most modern publicly available submarine should. 

Those that really don’t get anything from submarines might find greater satisfaction in the Planetarium. There’s also an IMAX theater where you could catch a show, but at that point, you’re better off moving on lest you spend half of your entire day trip to Portland just in the museum.

3. Marvel at the Gorgeous Gardens

Among the beautiful gardens of Portland, there are three you should take a look at during your one-day trip: International Rose Test Garden, Portland Japanese Garden, and Lan Su Chinese Garden. The first two are in Washington Park, while the Chinese Garden is closer to the river.

The International Rose Test Garden contains thousands of roses and is the oldest site of its type in the U.S. In its Shakespeare Garden, every flower bears the name of a character from the playwright’s works. Meanwhile, its Miniature Rose Garden houses adorable small versions of different rose variants.

On the other hand, the Portland Japanese Garden is an amazing, serene place with eight sections representing various Japanese gardening styles. Inspired by different philosophies, the garden utilizes plants, water, and stones to create a unique environment that will transport you to another world. 

Meanwhile, the Lan Su Chinese Garden bears the signature style of the Ming dynasty – native Chinese plant life and an expansive lake. If you come upon one of the cultural events held here, you’ll get a sense of being transported to the center of ancient Chinese culture.

4. Stop By the Impressive Tilikum Crossing Bridge

You’ll probably notice the fascinating Tilikum Crossing Bridge from a distance, but stopping by this attraction and taking a closer look should definitely be on your list. Of course, there are many interesting bridges in Portland. But if you have to choose one, make it Tilikum. 

The attractive design of this bridge will become more apparent if you choose to cross it on foot. But if you’re on a tight schedule, you can hop on a streetcar that will take you on the other side in no time.

5. Get Lost in the City of Books

How often can you visit a bookstore that requires a map to navigate? If the answer is ‘never,’ here’s your chance. 

With a surface of a city block and three stories in height, Powell’s City of Books doesn’t fall short of its name. 

This attraction might actually not be recommendable for book lovers that only have a single day in Portland, as it might be heartbreaking to exit the awe-inspiring structure after spending just a short while in it.

6. Take a Ride on the Aerial Tram

The Portland Aerial Tram is one of only two of its kind in the U.S., and that should be reason enough to catch a ride on it. 

It does go to the hospital and the ride is relatively short and costly. But the experience is one of a kind and the view you get during the ride is like no other. And since the tram isn’t very popular with tourists, you’ll likely spend the four precious minutes in peace and quiet.

7. Visit the Art Museum

The Portland Art Museum is the oldest institution of its kind in the Pacific Northwest. It houses many respectable works by European, Japanese, and American masters. You’ll also find the collection to include photography and sculpture as well. 

But the highlight of the museum, and something you shouldn’t miss out on, is the Native American gallery that represents a historical and cultural treasure. The gallery has more than 5,000 objects originating from over 200 tribes that range from modern to ancient.

Spend a Perfect Day in Portland

Undoubtedly, one day is nowhere near enough to experience everything Portland has to offer. It’s a city of nature, culture, history, and beauty, never lacking fun activities. A day trip to Portland will allow you to get a feel for the City of Roses. After that, the best thing you could do is to come back and keep on discovering its hidden treasures.

Tips + Planning

Best Restaurants for Dining Out in Portland

Whether you’re up for local or international cuisine, chances are there’s a fantastic place in Portland that serves just your kind of dish. Here are some of the top contenders.

The list of the best restaurants in Portland could easily fill out a small book, with possibly hundreds of places offering exquisite dishes from every corner of the world found in the city. 

With such a broad and overwhelming choice, it’s no wonder deciding on an eatery in the city famous for its cuisine can be challenging. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of some of the best restaurants in Portland that will surely satisfy your taste buds.

1. Gracie’s Apizza

Starting the list with a universal classic, Gracie’s Apizza is more than an excellent pizzeria. It’s a place that dishes out delicious pies made from homemade dough and cheese. Patrons of this eatery based in St. Johns would probably like to keep it a secret, but the small pizzeria deserves all the attention it gets.

Everyone will notice an expert’s hand in the amazing pizzas whose taste can only be compared with the very best. If you have a sweet tooth, you’ll enjoy the unique homemade ice creams with fresh and unusual flavors like honey, black pepper, and amarena cherry.

2. Xico

If you’re looking for exceptional Mexican cuisine in Portland, head straight to Division Street, locate Xico, and start indulging in their delicacies. 

Their tortillas, tacos, and burritos are homemade and filled with amazing stuffing. And for those who are into mexi-dogs, their version is sublimely spicy.

You can grab lunch or dinner here or drop by for a Saturday or Sunday brunch and enjoy the mouthwatering bites. Once you do, it will quickly convince you that Xico deserves a place among the best restaurants in Portland.

3. Cooperativa

Transport to the Mediterranean region right in Portland’s Pearl District and feel the joy of Italian pastry offered in this incredible all-in-one place. Cooperativa has a restaurant where you can enjoy a serving of fresh pasta, a cafe that serves hot drinks as well as pastries, and a fantastic gelato shop. 

To top it all off, you can check out their bar whose main highlight is the cocktails that you can even order to go. Additionally, Cooperativa is a real market that sells various pantry items, flowers, and wine. 

4. St. Jack

The masterful French dishes that come out of St. Jack are delicate, tasty treats for everyone who visits the place. Here you can have a taste of everything from crepes and steak frites to a tartare or the majestic duck l’orange. 

However, St. Jack managed to pull off something that even the best would find challenging, if not impossible. Their exquisite dishes are available for takeout and delivery, even reputedly known to arrive just as fresh and enticing as if they were served on the spot. 

5. Danwei Canting

Chinese cuisine has long been widely popular, but Danwei Canting offers a variant more focused on fun. With a street-food take on the traditional recipes, this restaurant will delight you with dumplings, noodles, lamb or tofu burgers, skewers, and much more. 

You can have your fill of fantastic Chinese tastes in the Beijing style. Once you try some of the meals that Danwei Canting dishes out, you’ll be back more likely than not.

6. Republica

Another gem of Mexican cuisine in Portland, Republica has a strong focus on home cooking. While they excel at the classics, there are some dishes you could only taste in an authentic Mexican household. One of the things not to miss is guisados, which are stewed meats that will make your taste buds go wild.

Republica offers tacos, sopes, and various Mexican pastries. Not to mention there are family feasts where you can try different courses, which is an excellent opportunity to discover the best this restaurant has to offer.

7. Paley’s Place

Paley’s is among the best places for those who want to taste authentic Oregon produce. They offer fresh seafood from the Pacific Northwest, meats from farms and ranches that deal with humane livestock raising, and locally grown ingredients.

The restaurant is located in a lovely house in Northwest Portland. And although it’s been struggling lately, it remains a phenomenal place for the best Oregon cuisine.

8. Bar Casa Vale

Returning to the Mediterranean, Bar Casa Vale takes you on a culinary journey through Spain. While you could try a bit of everything when it comes to snacks, such an option will become almost impossible once it gets to the main dish.

There’s plenty of superb fresh seafood, such as octopus, clams, and salt cod fritters, as well as Spanish classics like paella and roasted pork. But perhaps the best choice is to order the family feast and let the chef compile a best-of selection.

9. Langbaan

Langbaan is a fabulous Thai restaurant that has transformed from a tasting menu principle to a specialized Thai soup venue. After all, their soups are rich, insanely aromatic, and present a unique experience in the Portland dining landscape. 

You likely won’t have enough of their wonderful noodles, tasteful broths, and excellent meat, but make sure to leave some space for the equally tasty dumplings and salads. Finally, nothing quite tops off a Thai soup meal like an authentic cocktail, and Langbaan excels at those, too.

10. Bhuna

For an amazing serving of Indian food, look no further than Bhuna. This restaurant takes great care when it comes to the delicate balance of the staple spices, allowing each aroma to flow in concert with others. 

While the dishes are inspired by the Indian culinary tradition, what you’ll find in Bhuna is unique. From rogan josh and masterfully prepared basmati rice to pork vindaloo and Chettinad chicken, nothing there will bring you anything less than complete enjoyment. 

This Northwest Portland gem deserves your full attention.

Indulge Your Taste Buds in Portland’s Best

There are many places that could be counted among the best restaurants in Portland. Quite simply, the rich culinary scene present in the City of Roses has something for everyone. 

Make sure to go on an adventure among the finest eateries in the city and you’ll discover places that will stay in your memory for a long time.

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