How to spend a day in Portland, Oregon

Want to spend 24 hours in Portland, Oregon? Like New York City, the city is best known for its abundance of natural beauty and the never-ending list of outdoor activities is one city to visit next time you’re in the Pacific North West.

With unique cannabis culture, the most vegan restaurants in the United States, and the most breweries in the world. The “City of Roses” has much to offer to different kinds of travelers.

If you want to discover Portland in one day, here’s how.

Where is Portland

Portland Oregon is located right up against the Washington border in the north and is about three hours from downtown Seattle, Washington.

Facts about Portland, Oregon

  • Nike World’s Headquarters is in Oregon and you can go on a campus tour to learn about their history and products. Thanks to the lovely Nicole from Nike, whom I met in a Uber Pool and she generously gifted me passes.
  • Portland has more strip clubs per capita than any other city in the US.
  • Matt Groening (founder of The Simpson’s) is a Portlandian. A lot of the Simpson characters are named after streets and spots in Portland.

How to spend 24 hours in Portland

Here’s the ultimate guide to exploring Portland in one day.

9 am – Fuel up on breakfast

The first order of business, find a local coffee shop and take a cold brew and a spot of breakie.

10 am – Hop on the train to Washington Park

Washington Park Station Portland

The Washington Park station, which at 259 feet (79 m) deep is the deepest subway station in the United States and the fifth-deepest in the world. It is reachable by the Blue or Red Line Max light rail through The Robertson Tunnel, which is 2.9 miles (4.7km) long and consists of twin 21-foot-diameter tunnels.

11 am – Learn about exotic animals

Oregon Zoo, Portland

Spotted 2 rhinos that had me wishing I was back in South Africa. The Oregon Zoo has over 1000 exotic plants, 1800 animals that represent 232 species of birds, mammals, reptiles, fish, amphibians, and invertebrates.

Admission – Adult (12–64): $14.95; Senior/ military (65 and up): $12.95; Youth (3–11): $9.95 & 2 and under: Free. (You receive a $1 discount if you park at the zoo or make use of the light rail)

12 pm – Stroll through Portland Japanese Garden

Portland Japanese Garden

Considered as the most authentic Japanese garden outside of Japan, the Portland Japanese Garden boasts 12 acres of stunning gardens nestled in the hills. It has eight separate garden styles and includes an authentic Japanese Tea House, meandering streams, intimate walkways, and a spectacular view of Mt. Hood.

Admission includes access to the Garden, the Garden Gift Shop, the Umami Cafe, and the Art in the Garden exhibitions. Cost: Adult: $14.95; Senior (65+): $12.95; Student: $11.95; Youth (6-17): $10.45 and Children (5 and under): Free

1 pm – Hike to Council Crest Park

At 1,073 feet this is the highest point in Portland and affords a great view of the city as well as Mt. Hood and Mt. Ranier.

Portland 4T Trail Experience

The 4T Trail comprises of hiking trails, tram (Portland Aerial Tram), trolley (Portland Streetcar), and train (MAX). It links urban living and outdoor adventure, made possible by mass transit.

The venerable trip connects so much of what makes Portland fantastic: Hikers traverse the trails through the Washington Park forests which are never far from the hustle and bustle of the city.

2 pm – Open 24/724 hours in Portland

Open 24 hours per day, seven days a week, Voodoo Doughnuts is an American doughnut company that doubles as a wedding chapel.

After waiting in line for 40 minutes, I was finally able to taste a doughnut from Portland’s famed independent doughnut mini-chain. Blueberry Cheesecake doughnut was my favorite. (Note: The store only accepts cash.)

There are many other Doughnuts shops you can discover on these Portland food tours.

3 pm – Lunch Time

Food Tour Portland

With hundreds of gourmet food carts serving up the most exhilarating street food. You could eat at a Portland food cart every night for two years before you’d be forced to eat at the same place again.

4 pm – Wine o’Clock

Oregon Wine's on Broadway
If you need a break, check out Oregon Wine’s on Broadway for a $10 wine tasting.

5 pm- Visit the Pioneer Courthouse

One day in Portland

The Pioneer Courthouse is the single most important 19th-century government building in the Pacific Northwest to survive into the 21st century.

Known as Portlands living room, this federal courthouse was built and opened in 1875 as the seat of the federal government in the region—incorporating the post office, judiciary, customs office, and tax department

It covers an area of 40,000 square feet and features the Italianate architectural style. The Pioneer Courthouse welcomed presidents, witnessed significant trials and court hearings, and has stood watch as Portland has grown from a small town to a large city.

6 pm – Watch the sunset from the waterfront

Ride a bike along the downtown waterfront.

7 pm – Happy Hour in Portland

one day in Portland

Pop into Hyatt House Downtown Portland for happy hour and try their Veggie & Pesto Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Tomato soup.

8 pm – I Scream for Ice Cream

Save a little room for dessert because a trip to Portland isn’t complete without a visit to Salt & Straw. Renowned for its quirky but oh-so-delicious ice cream flavors — such as strawberry with cilantro-lime cheesecake, sea salt with a caramel ribbon.

Where to stay in Portland

If you have to stay in Portland overnight, here are some recommendations for the best places to stay in Portland.

The Duniway Portland

One day in Porltand


Located in the heart of downtown Portland, the Duniway Portland, a Hilton hotel, is within walking distance of premier shopping, nightlife, major offices, and the MAX Light Rail. Each boutique-style room boasts a 65-inch HDTV.

Each boutique room at this contemporary-style hotel features Waldorf Serenity beds with 500 thread count linens. All rooms are air-conditioned and include every amenity imaginable to make your stay convenient.

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Hyatt House Portland

24 hours in Portland

Hyatt House in Downtown Portland is set in the Riverplace district in Marquam Hill, 1.1 miles from Portland, and 8.7 miles from Vancouver. Guests can enjoy the on-site restaurant and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Studio rooms and one-bedroom suites offer fully equipped kitchens, separate living, and sleeping spaces. All rooms include a 42-inch flat-panel TV, workspace, coffee/tea maker, and private bathroom.

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Red Lion Hotel on the River Jantzen Beach

One day in Portland

Located 9.5 miles away from Portland International Airport, this waterfront Oregon hotel features on-site dining and marina services. All guest rooms include free Wi-Fi.

Each room at Red Lion Hotel on the River Jantzen Beach Portland features a flat-screen TV with extended cable. Warmly decorated, all spacious accommodations include tea and coffee making facilities

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More USA Travel Guides

Travel Insurance for Portland

Use travel insurance while visiting Oregon so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of fun things to do in Portland, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking, and trying some of the best food in the world.

Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance Review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

2 thoughts on “How to spend a day in Portland, Oregon”

  1. Pingback: Top Summer Destinations in the US on ANY Budget

  2. Amanda Porrey

    Long time Portland resident, read your blog to fish for ideas for when friends visit. I like the style you have of laying out the day and where to go and what to do. I don’t know if you live in Portland but you know what’d be amazing? A similar itinerary for rainy days. Because most of the year it rains. And all I can think to do are pubs, Powell’s and McMenamins. And not being much of a drinker those aren’t the best options.

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