Summer is the best time to be in Portland. It’s warm (we say hot when temperatures get above 80, which I know is weird for most of you out there), it’s clear, and it stays sunny well past 9pm. You visit in the summer and think, okay, jerks, you are all lying about how crappy your weather is, and you start thinking about living in Portland.
I call it “move to Portland weather” and it’s real. It’s like when you’re first dating someone and you’re on your best behavior all the time, trying not to show the other side of you. Or when you take your sick kid to the doctor and all of a sudden they seem fine and want to play on the structure in the office. Portland in the summer is like that.
If you’re visiting this time of year, hello! Welcome! You can move here, too, it’s cool. Just remember, the weather isn’t always like this. But that’s actually good. It means us Portlanders are WAY better about appreciating a good thing when we have it. When the sun’s out, we’re out.
What are we doing? So glad you asked! Here are 13 fun and cheap things to do in Portland when you come to visit.
13 Fun and Cheap Things to Do in Portland
It seems most weekends in Portland revolve around eating brunch. If you don’t mind an extended wait, consider Tasty & Alder or Broder. For those less patient, there are tons of hidden gems with little or no wait- try Irving Street Kitchen or Verde Cocina.
Browse the Farmer’s Markets
On any given day there is a farmer’s market somewhere in Portland. The biggest and best is the Saturday market in the park blocks near Portland State University, where you can peruse stalls of marionberries, heirloom tomatoes and locally sourced meats & seafood.
Go to Happy Hour
Most Portland restaurants, even high-end ones, have a happy hour. People watch at Clyde Common in the Ace Hotel, slurp oyster shooters at Eat Oyster Bar, or try sustainable sushi at Bamboo Sushi.
Stop and Smell the Roses
The International Rose Test Garden is Portland’s largest and most famous rose garden, and the views of Mt. Hood are postcard-perfect. If you want to do something off the beaten path, check out the rose garden in Penninsula Park in Northeast Portland, which was the Rose City’s first public rose garden, completed in 1913.
Drink a Local Beer and Eat from a Food Cart
With a variety of hops grown locally, Portland has always been home to a thriving microbrew industry. Check out the outdoorsy-themed Basecamp Brewing, where you can sip IPA on the patio and order from two food carts located on premise.
Attend a Soccer Game
Immerse yourself in local culture! Local soccer fans are crazy about their Portland Timbers, who play in the center of the city at Providence Park. Tickets to see the women’s team, the Thorns, are often cheaper and just as much fun. If you don’t want to splurge on tickets, most games are played at any number of local soccer bars.
Eat a (Pork) Sandwich
Portland’s nickname Porklandia comes from its undying passion for putting all varieties of pork into everything- especially sandwiches! Try the pork meatball bahn mi at Lardo, or stop in at Tails & Trotters for a variety of locally-raised, hazelnut-finished pork sandwiches.
Get Lost at Powell’s
With more than 1 million books, Powell’s City of Books is a sight to behold. Get lost in the 68,000 square feet of shelves and pick up something new to read.
Take a Hike!
For a real adventure, head east and traverse Dog Mountain, on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge. You’ll be rewarded for the tough climb with incredible panoramic views. Return to Portland on the Oregon side if you want to check out some waterfalls. For an inner-city endeavor, pay a visit to Forest Park, the largest urban forest in the United States, featuring many miles of trails.
Ride a Bike
Frequently cited as one of America’s most bikeable cities, there is no shortage of adventures to be had on two wheels. Pedal across the bridges of downtown, tour local distilleries at Distillery Row, or ride alongside the Columbia on Marine Drive path.
Go Wine Tasting
Oregon is home to more than 400 wineries. If you’re able, consider a visit to the wine country surrounding Dundee, about 45 minutes from Portland, where you can visit the sloping vineyards. If you are without transport, worry not—there are a dozen or more urban wineries in Portland, including Southeast Wine Collective and ENSO Winery.
Listen to Some Jams
Channel your Inner Rock Star
If you’d like to challenge yourself, try your hand at Karaoke from Hell, which earns its title from the fact that if you’re brave enough, you’ll be the lead singer for a live band. It’s scarier (and more entertaining!) than regular ol’ karaoke. Find out where they are by liking their Facebook page.
If you come through town, let me know! I make a great tour guide, or can at least point you in the right direction. Thanks for visiting my fair city!