Portland Insider: 12 Free (or Almost Free) Things To Do

Portland is Oregon’s largest city, and is recognized for their parks, beer, nature friendly, and weirdness! Downtown Portland will surprise you, because it’s much smaller than it appears on the map. They are known to be nature friendly because almost everyone uses their bikes for transportation, and downtown is small enough to travel by foot. If you’re planning on visiting Portland on a budget, then you’ve come to the right place. Here are 11 things that are either free, or almost free to do in Portland, Oregon.

1) Powell’s City of Books

Address: 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR

Ok, this is a Book Heaven. Powell’s City of Books is known to be the largest used/new bookstore in the world. There is even a section that’s closed off for Rare books (you need a special Pass to enter). Of course, if you want to buy something, you can. But browsing around and sitting in the aisles to read is totally fine too!

2) Multnomah Falls

Address: 53000 E Historic Columbia River HwyBridal Veil, OR 97010

Soaring over 600 ft, Multnomah falls boasts to be the second highest waterfall in the United States. It is only a short 25-30 minute drive from downtown Portland, depending on traffic. As you walk closer and closer to the drop, you can feel the mist of icy cold water, lightly spritzing your face. If you want an even closer look, it is only a short hike up towards the viewing bridge, where my knees trembled (I’m afraid of heights). If you have extra time, there is a small lodge, restaurant, and gift shop at the base of the falls.

Tip: Go early because parking is, without a doubt, very limited.

3) Thor’s Crown or The Vista House

Address: 40700 Historic Columbia River Hwy, Corbett, OR

Constructed in 1918, The Vista House or “Thor’s Crown,” is a pitstop/viewing point like no other. The building combines nature’s mountain cliff and sophisticated architecture to create one unique historic museum. No entrance fees or parking fees are required to enter the building, but they do accept donations to help maintain the structure. Inside, there are stairways to the viewing deck, which wraps around the whole building. I recommend visiting The Vista House on the same day you visit Multnomah Falls, as it is along the same highway.

4) International Rose Test Garden

Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR

If you like roses, this is the place to go for that beautiful Instagram photo. Make sure to go when they bloom, of course. Oh and, the best part? It’s free.

5) Food Trucks

Thai Food from the Food Tucks

The food trucks in Downtown Portland are a must try, and it’s a big reason why people return to Portland. A wide variety of foods are served for several blocks, you can’t miss it! Cuisines range from italian, thai, chinese, greek, middle eastern, vietnamese, and so much more. The food served are not only affordable, but also delicious and in big portions. My husband and I ate at the food trucks everyday, for lunch and dinner. Our goal was to try each truck, but it was an unattainable goal as there were just too many. My favourite food truck was Nong’s Khao Man Gai. Just thinking about their chicken, makes me wish we had that food truck here in Vancouver BC.

6) Portland Saturday Market

Address: 2 SW Naito Parkway Portland, OR

A popular shopping destination, Portland’s Saturday Market is home to countless vendors selling handcrafted goods. There is also live music, and more food trucks.

7) Window shopping at Pearl District

The Pearl District is commonly visited for their one of a kind stores. Some stores offer products and clothing that you cannot find anywhere else.

8) Portland’s Aerial Tram

Address: 3303 SW Bond Ave, Portland, OR

The main reason people take the tram is for the view! The Aerial tram climbs 500 ft, presenting a wonderful view of the city. Locals mainly use the tram to commute from the Southside waterfront up to Marquam Hill, the main Health & Science University, hiking trails, and a residential community. A round trip fare is under $5.

9) Pioneer Courthouse Square

Well known as, Portland’s “Living Room,” the Pioneer Courthouse Square is a lounging park. They offer many amenities for visitors to help make their stay at Portland a memorable one. The square is paved with thousands of red bricks, which can be seen blocks away. Each brick has a name on it, and you can also purchase a brick for yourself too!

10) Lloyd Center Mall

Address: 2201 Lloyd Center, Portland, OR

A large mall, home to numerous chain stores. Its great to shop in Portland because everything is cheap AND it’s tax free!

11) Go for a Hike

Pretty self explanatory, isnt it? Popular hiking trails are Linnton Loop and Marquam Nature Park.

12) Voodoo Doughnuts


Address: 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR

If you have a sweet tooth, Voodoo Doughnut’s will satisfy it for you. They are famous for their odd doughnut flavours, peculiar doughnut names, and one of a kind doughnut shapes. Of course, this is not free, and will cost a little bit more than your average doughnut. I should warn you, that this store often has a line stretching around the block, so you will have to wait a while before you get a taste of the deliciousness!

I hope this blog post will help you save money on your next trip to Portland. If you have any questions or suggestions, please comment them down below! 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *