I had been wanting to visit Portland, Oregon for ages, and I finally made it there for two days on a recent road trip across the United States with my mom and brother. It’s a scenic city with thriving beer and food scenes, in addition to independent stores and fun ways to enjoy the outdoors. Portland’s convention and visitors bureau uses the slogan, “You Can, in Portland.” And it really rings true. There are so many different things you can do and see in this unique city, so here are the highlights of what to do in Portland, Oregon if you have two days.
Things to do in Portland, Oregon
DIY Beer Crawl
Drinking beer and visiting breweries have to be at the top of the list of what to do in Portland, Oregon. You can’t not visit at least one brewery, but I recommend visiting at least a few. My brother and I quickly realized breweries in this city are so top notch we made it our aim to find one bad beer. In case you were wondering, we never came across one…
Portland boasts more than 75 breweries, and the first ones opened back in 1984. There are numerous breweries right in downtown, so it’s simple to do your own beer crawl. Check out my favorite breweries I visited on my quick trip to Portland. All five listed below are located in the Pearl District, which is a trendy neighborhood in the heart of downtown that used to be home to abandoned warehouses and railways.
Deschutes Brewery Public House
The public house serves up beer, food, and a laid-back atmosphere. With 26 taps, the Deschutres Brewery site located in the heart of Portland offers their mainstay beers, in addition to seasonal and experimental brews that are made on site. This seems to be one of the most popular breweries in the city, and it’s definitely worth a visit.
Rogue Pearl Public House
With 40 ales, lagers, ciders, and sodas on tap and a delicious food menu, there’s something for everyone at the Rogue Pearl Public House. They even serve up a Honey Kolsch that’s made with honey from their own bees at Rogue Farms. Additionally, if your order a glass of the Hot Tub Scholarship Lager, a portion of the proceeds support fermentation science students at Oregon State University. Rogue’s location in the Pearl District also features an outdoor dog-friendly patio with chairs, fire pits, and cornhole. So go Rogue while you’re in Portland!
Backwoods Brewing Company
My brother and I walked past Backwoods Brewing Company‘s pub and the name piqued our interest. So we checked it out and were really impressed with the beer selection. We both got a flight and tried a beer float. The pub also serves appetizers, salads, and burgers all locally sourced. Backwoods Brewing Company opened this pub earlier in 2018 and is one of the newer spots well worth a visit.
10 Barrel Brewing Co
When we saw 10 Barrel Brewing Co‘s rooftop bar right in the Pearl District, we were drawn to enjoy some beers in the sunshine. The brewing company serves a flight of beers with 10 brews. That’s right, 10! On top of that, the brewery has 20 beers on tap, a great music playlist, and relaxed vibes. You can even play a round of giant Jenga while you’re there!
Von Ebert Brewing
This is another brewery location that opened earlier in 2018 and was even named one of the “Most Anticipated New Breweries of 2018.” Making around 100 different styles of beer ever year, Von Ebert Brewing changes their draft list every three to four days. The pub also offers a variety of food, and I have to say their brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays looks delicious.
Portland isn’t only known for its beer. It’s also a coffee town, so it’s important to put experiencing the city’s coffee culture on your list of what to do in Portland, Oregon as well. My brother and I enjoyed a trip to Revolución, which is the first Mexican coffeehouse in Portland. I absolutely loved their mango chai, and my brother loved their iced Americano. I also checked out World Cup Coffee & Tea inside Powell’s City of Books, which has delicious beverages and breakfast and lunch items. But there are plenty of coffee shops throughout Portland worth visiting, so make it to at least a couple while you’re there.
Powell’s City of Books
As the biggest used and new bookstore in the world, Powell’s City of Books is a must-visit when in Portland. The store occupies a full block and is home to about a MILLION books. Powell’s is so big you need a map to navigate the nine-colored rooms covering more than 3,500 sections. On top of that, the bookstore has a rare book room packed with autographed first editions and collectable volumes. Powell’s City of Books also sells souvenirs, like vintage postcards, canvas bags, t-shirts, and mugs. Take your time exploring this heaven for book lovers. I had way too much fun in this bookstore, and naturally I spent more money than I was planning to.
This funky doughnut shop is a Portland classic. I recommend trying more than just one doughnut since there’s such a wide variety of unique flavors. You can get raised yeast doughnuts, cake doughnuts, or vegan doughnuts. At VooDoo Doughnut, my personal favorite was The Homer, which is a raised yeast doughnut with strawberry flavored icing and a smattering of sprinkles. Yum… If you’re planning to visit, it’s best to arrive early to avoid a long line, and the establishment only accepts cash. However, there is an ATM inside.
Located at the top of The Nines, a luxury hotel, Departure is a Pan Asian restaurant with windows looking onto Portland’s downtown. It’s a beautifully modern setting. And if you go during happy hour, you’ll get some good deals on drinks and some of the unique dishes the restaurant offers. We enjoyed everything we indulged in, almost a little too much. And there’s even an outdoor lounge deck, which is the perfect spot to enjoy a cocktail at sunset.
If you’re into sushi, you’ll love Bamboo Sushi. Ten years ago, it became the first sustainable sushi restaurant in the world. So needless to say it’s immensely popular and chances are you’ll have to wait for a table. Make a reservation beforehand if you can, but if not, they take your phone number and will text you when your table is ready. My brother and I were lucky to get to sit at the corner of the sushi bar where we could watch and talk to the sushi chef, which made for a really unique dining experience. The sushi was so delicious my brother even claims it’s the best sushi he’s ever had.
Tom McCall Waterfront Park
A park situated along the Willamette River, the Tom McCall Waterfront Park is a popular spot among locals and tourists. Once upon a time, this park was the site of a freeway, so it’s nice to see it has been converted to a 1.5-mile stretch of green. Go for a wander to take in the surroundings and people-watch or splash around in the Salmon Street Springs. Throughout the year, there are also a variety of festivals and events held in the Tom McCall Waterfront Park, so maybe you’ll get lucky and be visiting during one of those. The park is named after former Oregon Governor Tom McCall, who was a proponent for environmental preservation, recycling, and urban planning.
Getting around Portland, Oregon
Portland is so easy to get around no matter what mode of transportation you prefer. And staying in a hotel right in downtown makes it a breeze to get just about anywhere in the city. We stayed at Hotel Modera, a pet-friendly boutique accommodation with a good location. Between the MAX Light Rail, Portland Streetcar, and the bus service, there are loads of options when it comes to public transportation. It’s also easy to cover a lot of ground on foot or by bicycle. There are even electric scooters and bicycles you can rent throughout the city.
Although I wish we could have spent longer exploring Portland, Oregon, I feel like we packed a lot in to our two days there. It’s a city I already hope to get back to again soon. If you’ve been, what would you recommend to do in two days in Portland? If you haven’t, what would you include in your itinerary?
Interested in beer? Check out these 12 breweries in Nashville & its surrounding area.