Portland is known for its great beer scene, hipster joints, food trucks, and surprisingly, strip clubs. With only two days to see everything, my good friend Eric and I were stoked to explore and see what Portland had to offer. We’re also Golden State Warriors fans so we were especially excited for the Warriors vs Portland Trailblazers game and planned our trip to coincide with this game. Based on our adventures, here’s are the top Portland activities for you to make the most out of your trip!
Top 10 Things to Do in Portland, Oregon
Portland’s hipster badge of honor is on full display with its distinctive coffee shops. As an avid coffee drinker (I tend to be really grumpy in the morning without coffee), coffee was the first thing on the to-do list once arriving in Portland. We were lucky to have so many to choose from! We walked around and ended up stumbling into greatness at Courier Coffee Roasters, where they fulfilled the hipster requirement by having an old record player in addition to having fantastic drip coffee and homemade baked goods.
Courier Coffee Roasters
923 SW Oak St.
Portland, Oregon 97205
Mon-Fri 7am – 6pm
Sat-Sun 9am – 5pm
9. Food Cart Scene
Portland’s food cart scene is huge, with more than 600 different food trucks. These food trucks congregate in “pods” so you are easily able to sample a diverse array of foods all in one place! There are also smaller groups of pods and individual food trucks dotting the city, with some being open late to satisfy your drunchies. CNN dubbed Portland home to the world’s best street food, so if you’re a fan of the street food scene or looking to try something new, I’d highly recommend it.
You can find a complete list of the food truck “pods” here.
8. Lan Su Chinese Garden
These Chinese gardens were built by Chinese artisans hailing from Suzhou, China. Suzhou is known for its artistic gardens and Lan Su is considered one of the most authentic Chinese gardens outside of China. Coming here makes you feel like you’ve escaped to some beautiful garden in Asia for a bit and also gives you a great backdrop to exercise your photography skills (and get that insta pic).
239 NW Everett St.
Portland, OR 97209
Summer hours: 10am – 6pm
Winter hours: 10am – 5pm
*If you’re a student, bring your student ID! Tickets will be cheaper for you (tickets for adults are $9.50, for students $7).
No visit to Portland is complete without indulging in some bomb, over-the-top donuts. Voodoo Doughnuts comes highly recommended, but I wanted to try something less touristy and more “Portland.” That’s how I stumbled upon Blue Star Donuts and their drool-worthy concoctions. Some of their most popular flavors include Blueberry Bourbon Basil, Cointreau Creme Brulee, and Chocolate Ganache. For those who are vegan, you’re in luck because they offer seasonal vegan cake donuts and for all you alcohol lovers out there, they offer donuts infused with alcohol (the Cointreau Creme Brulee comes with a syringe of Cointreau orange liqueur that you then inject into the donut). Their cheeky interior also makes this a fun place to visit with chalkboard signs of “Keep Calm and Eat Donuts” and “Social Media Explained: Instagram – Here is a picture of my donut, LinkedIn – My skills include donut eating.” I ended up buying one donut..or maybe five and I’m not ashamed to say I killed all the donuts in one day (disclaimer: I tried to get my friend in on the donut action but he didn’t want any..what’s a girl to do?).
For a list of Blue Star Donut locations, click here.
6. Strip Clubs
So I had no idea before coming to Portland that it was such a haven for strip clubs. Apparently, it has the most strip clubs per capita in the States. Armed with this knowledge, there was no way we could come to Portland and not NOT see the ladies’ skills for ourselves. After walking around, we settled on the fine establishment of Mary’s Club. There’s cover and being from SF, my friend and I groaned inwardly at the thought of having to pay $20 to get in. But it was $2. Yes, that’s right, you’re reading that correctly, TWO DOLLARS. Spending the whole night at strip clubs really isn’t really my thing but the ladies are quite talented and I left awed. You can find Mary’s Club here:
129 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
Open daily until 2:30 am
Before heading to the strip clubs for some late night (or day, no judgment) entertainment, you might want to hit up some breweries. We visited Bailey’s Taproom first to get a solid sampler of local beers.
Bailey’s Taproom offers 24 rotating taps and features local Oregon breweries in addition to beers from SF (shoutout to 21st Amendment) and Washington. It has a chill vibe and it’s a good place to kick back with some friends after a long day of exploring.
After killing our samplers, we were in the mood for some grub and some more beer. We decided to hit up Deschutes Brewery, which was recommended to us by a local. The brewery is housed in a converted auto-body shop and its heavy use of wooden beams gives it a rustic, ski-lodge feel. With 19 beers on top, they offer their traditional Deschutes beers as well as experimental beers like “The Abyss.” Their food is also made with local ingredients, which honestly might be more difficult to appreciate the more beers you have, but it still made me feel good inside to know I was eating fresh, local food.
213 SW Broadway
Portland, OR 97205
Open daily 12pm – 12am
210 NW 11th Ave.
Portland, OR 97209
Sun-Thurs 11am – 11pm
Fri-Sat 11am – 12am
4. Powell’s City of Books
This isn’t your typical bookstore as it’s heralded as the largest bookstore in the world. If you’re someone whose idea of a perfect afternoon is to get lost in a sea of books, this is definitely worth checking out. The store is organized into different sections based on genre and they have everything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to a rare book room to bacon socks (which I bought without a second thought).
Powell’s City of Books
1005 W Burnside St.
Portland, OR 97209
Open Daily 9am – 11 pm
3. Golden State Warriors vs Portland Trailblazers Game
My friend and I were excited to come to Portland to check out its take on food, beer, and coffee, but one of the main draws of Portland was being able to see the Warriors play against the Trailblazers. I’ve been to the Oracle Arena for the Warriors and the Wells Fargo Center for the 76ers, but the Trailblazers’ Rose Quarter showed me just how majestic a stadium could be. In addition to being modern, brightly lit, and clean, they also offer local fare like Killer Burger, Sizzle Pie, and Bunk Sandwiches.
We had to leave early and ran through the rain for about a mile back to the car, but it was totally worth it because we got to see three quarters of the game that the Warriors ended up winning, 113-112.
One Center Court Suite 150
Portland, OR 97227
*To save on ridiculous game-day parking fees, we parked a couple blocks away from the center on the street. There’s pretty much a wave of people heading to the stadium together pre-game after doing the same thing. Feel free to do whatever’s convenient for you.
Not only does Portland offer a great food and beer scene, it also has spectacular hiking trails. I dragged my friend along to do one of these with me (he swears he’s allergic to hiking, which I thought was BS until we hiked but that’s another story) and we chose to do the Oneonta trail. We chose this trail for a couple of reasons: it’s close to Portland (about a 40 minute drive from our hotel), hiking the trail wouldn’t take that long (we were trying to make it to the Warriors vs. Trailblazers game on time at 6pm), and there’s a TRIPLE WATERFALL waiting for us at the very end.
Directions to the Oneonta Trailhead can be found here.
1. Buffalo Wild Wings
How is Buffalo Wild Wings my favorite spot in Portland? Before you judge my food preferences, hear me out. It’s my favorite less so for the wings (which are still pretty damn good by the way), but because it’s where my friend and I had a truly transcendent experience and got to meet THE WARRIORS.
Yep, we have Marreese Speights, Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodola (congrats on Finals MVP), Andrew Bogut, Draymond Green, and David Lee. Squad.
If you’re not a huge basketball fan, the Warriors recently clinched the 2015 NBA championship after being deemed the underdogs for pretty much forever. How did we find them?
We were chilling at a rooftop bar, Departure, which offered great views of downtown and had a nice outdoor terrace. I’m sure if we stayed there longer, it would’ve been great. We got distracted, however, because David Lee posted a picture of the Warriors at a wings restaurant with the caption “Credit card roulette to determine the bill…”. As dubs fans, it was only natural to immediately look up the closest wings places to us. We found that the closest place, Buffalo Wild Wings, was literally only two blocks away. To be honest, I doubted that we would be able to see them. I mean, what are the chances that they would be at that ONE wings place at the EXACT same time we were there? But this being Portland, we actually saw them, I hyperventilated, and this happened:
One of the servers offered to take this picture (bless her heart) and she asked that we get closer together so we could all fit in the pic. You didn’t have to ask me twice and because of this chance encounter, Portland will always be special to me. It’s also the closest I’ve come to fangirling (so far).
Rental car – We rented a car from Enterprise at the Portland International Airport. Portland is pretty easy to navigate and after a day of driving around, we were (almost) able to navigate without our GPS. It was a 20 minute drive from the airport and with public transportation, would’ve taken about 40 minutes.
Accomodation – Upon recommendation from a friend, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. Our room was clean and had everything that we needed. Honestly, we weren’t there that much and overall, its location was decent relative to where we wanted to go.
Portland is a great place to visit, especially if you’re from the States and you’re looking for a quick weekend getaway. After two days, I felt like I had gotten a good idea of what to do there and I’m sure if you’re there for longer, you could really settle into it and become well-versed in its offerings. Whether you’re looking for outdoorsy adventures, good food and drink, or entertainment, Portland has something to offer every traveler.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Portland?