Where to Explore in Portland, Oregon

I was luckily enough to go to a professional development conference for my work, which was held in Portland, Oregon! While I spent a majority of the week at the convention center, I was able to escape for some afternoons to explore around and outside of the city! A week in Oregon is not enough to see it all, but I was lucky enough to get a nice taste of what this Pacific Northwest state has to offer! If you are like me and have a limited amount of time in Portland, here are my recommendations on highlights of the city and surrounding area:

Visit one of the many gardens and parks

Japanese Garden

Oregon is a state known for its nature and you’ll definitely get a glimpse of this even in the city of Portland. There are plenty of free parks to visit, including Forest Park and the Rose Garden. There is also the Japanese Garden, which does have an entrance cost of about $19 (as of 2022), but is a 5.5 acres park with 8 gardens, a waterfall, and teahouse. It was a peaceful place to take a break from the buzz of my work conference. There were still some flowers and plants in bloom in April, but even so there were plenty of plants to enjoy. The garden even has a 500 year old bonsai tree!

Choose your own culinary adventure

I chose to eat at an “asylum” for dinner one evening!

I did not have a bad meal the entire week I was in Oregon (well, except for the conference lunches). Portland’s not a city known for a specific food or dish, but rather a melting pot of cultural cuisine. And with access to fresh ingredients, every meal felt top notch (while having affordable prices compared to other US cities). One evening, I chose to eat at Hawthorne Asylum, an outdoor food court, featuring food trucks for every dietary need and a warm firepit in the middle. I ate my very first sushi burrito there (I didn’t even know such cuisine existed!). I also highly recommend getting cheese curds in Portland from Tillamook, for those who are not dairy sensitive. While I did not make it out to Tillamook Creamery, I did try their cheese curds at the airport on my way home, which were quite heavenly. I also recommend getting dessert at Salt & Straw for some decadent ice cream. I think I may have gained 5 pounds during my week in Oregon…

Check out multiple waterfalls outside of the city

Horsetail falls, which you stand pretty close to!

You do not have to escape far outside of the city to experience some nature. One of the most picturesque waterfalls is Multnomah Falls, which is also Oregon’s tallest waterfall at 620 feet. Since Multnomah Falls is a popular site to explore, visitors do need a reservation from May through September. Continuing along the Colombia River Gorge is also Horsetail Falls, which plunges over a basalt cliff and is easily accessible to stand up close to. I thought Horsetail Falls is underrated compared to sister Multnomah Falls as it truly felt like a magical place!

Get lost at Powell’s bookstore

So many fun books at Powell’s!

Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. The bookstore is divided into 10 rooms, divided further by book genre. It’s a true bookworm’s paradise. I spent an hour and a half in the bookstore and way too much money than I care to admit. I had to start adding books in my Goodreads account to save for later, rather than buy out the entire store. I honestly could have spent an entire day there!

Escape to the Oregon Coast

Haystack Rock at Cannon Beach, Oregon

Everyone I talked to about my trip highly recommended making my way to the coast, if I could and having been to one of the beaches, I can see why! The coast is 90 minutes from Portland but is well worth the trip! I visited Cannon Beach, a small coastal city in northwest Oregon. It’s known for its long, sandy shore, Haystack Rock, and was rated as one of the 100 most beautiful places in the world by National Geographic. I was even lucky enough to see wild elk close by enjoying the spring sunshine.

Wild elk near Cannon Beach!

So if you couldn’t tell, I sort of fell in love with Oregon. While I don’t think I could live here full time (I do value my time in the sun), I definitely can’t wait to explore more of the Pacific Northwest sometime in the near future!

One response to “Where to Explore in Portland, Oregon”

  1. […] experienced my first “work trip” attending a tech conference in Portland, Oregon! In between conference sessions, I was able to sneak off on adventures around Portland and even an […]


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