Portland is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most popular destinations, thanks in no small part to the great laid-back atmosphere and excellent food and drink. This city isn’t just for foodies and craft beer tourists, however — there are all kinds of fun adventures waiting for you, if you know where to look. A high-adrenaline Portland, Oregon vacation is 100 percent possible. Here are several ideas to get you started.
White Water Rafting
The Clackamas River is just an hour from downtown Portland. Get your gear on, pick up the oars and hit the white water from March-August. The rushing waters take you right through the Mt. Hood National Forest, making this one of the most stunning river rafting backdrops in the world.
Ski Mount Hood
When the snow falls and stays put, it’s time to get your skis (or snowboard) on and hit the slopes of Mount Hood. If you get tired of your skis, change things up a bit and head to Mount Hood Ski Bowl to slide down the hill in an inner tube. Better yet, do it on the weekend when music and light shows come into play.
Explore the Shanghai Tunnels
Portland has a widespread system of tunnels that were originally created to connect various bars to the ship docks. Ostensibly to store ship goods out of sight and reach of the rain, these tunnels are rumored to have been used by human traffickers in the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries. Come on down and hear the stories for yourself while you explore the maze of tunnels.
Play in the Willamette River
Anything goes when the sun is hot and the water is cool. Go swim and splash around in the clean waters of Portland’s Willamette River, or rent a kayak and go looking for wildlife — beaver, otter and deer are regularly sighted in and around the water. You can even fish for Chinook salmon, try stand-up paddle-boarding or join a boat tour.
Eat Your Dessert in a Creepy, Haunted Café
The Rimsky-Korsakoffee House, according to its owner, is haunted by the spirits of its previous owners — witnesses to the Russian Revolution. The café is filled with obscure art, dolls, pictures of faces and a baby grand piano usually occupied with a classical musician. Patrons claim that the tables move of their own volition and sometimes grow or shrink unexpectedly. The cakes and desserts are as delicious as the atmosphere is spooky.
Rent a Bike
Portland is a cyclist’s paradise, with a wide network of bike trails and bike paths that take you almost anywhere in the city. Renting a bike on your weekend getaway in Portland is a surefire way to keep you out in the open air, and it can help you cover a lot of ground during your trip. You can find lots of places to rent bikes, and the city offers a wealth of online resources such as maps and safety tips. If you don’t want to explore on your own, there are plenty of tour operators that can show you around on two wheels.
Bring Some Rain Gear
Although the summer tends to be nice and mild most of the time, Portland isn’t exactly famous for its sunny weather. However, you can still explore outdoors on those rainy days. You’ll see plenty of people commuting on their bikes in the rain, and you can even enjoy bike routes and hiking trails in less than stellar weather. The key to staying dry is bringing good rain gear. If you have a good rain coat and waterproof shoes, you won’t even need an umbrella.
Plan Some Hikes
Visiting Portland without going on at least one hike means missing out on a big part of the city’s culture. If you want to stay within the city limits, Tryon Creek State Natural Area, Forest Park, Powell Butte Nature Park and Mount Tabor offer lots of trails. You can even find some easier trails in Washington Park. Once you start heading into the Cascades, there are even more options. Head over to Mount Hood National Forest, Silver Falls State Park or the Columbia River Gorge.
Pack a Picnic
Picnic lunches aren’t only great for enjoying the fresh air, but they’re also a way to save saving money during your getaway in Portland, Oregon. The city has over 200 parks, so it’s easy to find a green space to lay out your blanket and sit down for a nice meal. If you want to pick up some food on the go, you’ll find plenty of bakeries and delis scattered all over the city.
See Unusual Statues
In the spirit of public art, the city of Portland has erected some pretty interesting statues over the years. Portlandia stands outside the Portland Building and is beloved by locals and visitors alike. A giant figure of Paul Bunyan from the 1950s stands in Kenton and commemorates Oregon’s statehood. A figure of the Virgin Mary rests peacefully in a sanctuary known as The Grotto and still operates as a religious site.