Portland is weird. So weird, in fact, that native Portlandians have come to thrive on the designation. Although no scientific consensus has yet been determined regarding the exact levels of weirdness present in Portland, it’s reasonable to assume the weirdness ranges from “a fair bit odd” to “what the heck is even happening in this city?”
Now, what most people don’t know is that Portland also has standard tourist attractions. It’s not actually a requirement that you be weird in Portland. So if you were worried that a trip to Portland meant sleeping in haunted buildings and watching someone dressed as Darth Vader play bagpipes while unicycling, fear not. The attractions listed below will provide excitement and fun with a pinch of Portland culture thrown into the mix.
This has to be one of the best parks in the United States. At 410 acres, the park not only holds a wealth of gorgeous plant and animal life, but it is also home to several of Portland’s premier attractions. For example, if you can only go one place in Portland, it’s gotta be the Oregon Zoo. Perhaps the most famous attraction in Oregon, this zoo hosts nearly 2,000 animals spanning 230+ species. Elephants ahoy! – And if you have youngsters with you who get intimidated by all the big animals, no worries. Portland Children’s Museum is located right next to the Oregon Zoo. Take a break from taking in the scenery and send your kiddos to the museum for some fun hands-on learning. Washington Park has so many attractions we could write a novel discussing them, but for the sake of efficiency, we’ll just list the rest rapid-fire. Lush yet refined Japanese gardens, an artistic arboretum, hiking trails, a playground, tennis courts, and acres of space for carefree exploring. Take your pick, or spend a full day enjoying everything this massive park has to offer.
Unless you grew up a millionaire, Pittock Mansion will probably come across as slightly weird (sorry). But hey, this is Portland – there’s only so much weirdness we can keep out. Pittock Mansion is also located within Washington Park, but since there aren’t many things more different from each other than parks and mansions, it really deserves its own entry on this list. Originally built in 1914, this century-old home contains 46 rooms and sits on 46 acres of plush property. The mansion was opened to the public in 1965, and it’s now a popular gathering spot for those who like fascinating architecture and observing nature from the comfort of a luxurious mansion balcony.
Oregon Convention Center
For this particular attraction, it’s all about finding an experience you like. The sheer number of events the Oregon Convention Center hosts is overwhelming, but that also makes it easy to find one your crew is interested in. The OCC embraces the Portland zeitgeist, hosting shows that are weird, maudlin, mainstream, hyper, traditional, or several of those things all at once. The convention center is the largest one in the Pacific Northwest, as evidenced by its two ballrooms! If dancing isn’t your thing, enjoy the unique architecture and two-million-dollars’ worth of art hung up all around the center. Take a look at what shows, events, and exhibits the Oregon Convention Center is hosting before your visit, and you’ll have no problem finding a reason (or more than one) to take a trip to the OCC.
– Or, more accurately, Powell’s City of Books. Welcome to the only building in America that manages to get sour teenagers excited about reading again. Powell’s is the single largest bookstore in the world, meaning its nickname “City of Books” is well earned. This multi-floor testament to reading contains every kind of book, graphic novel, and coffee you could hope for. Fair warning to all the introverted book lovers who are used to their book stores being silent – Powell’s Books is practically a club, it’s so lively.
Lan Su Chinese Garden
Lan Su Chinese Garden is a tranquil botanical paradise complete with cobblestone paths and a huge collection of traditional Chinese plants. Lan Su is considered the most authentic and complete Chinese garden in the United States, and that reputation has earned the park other cool opportunities as well. For example, you can swing through Lan Su’s tea shop and gift shop on your way out of the garden. Better yet, why not attend an event at Lan Su? The summer series “Jazz in the Garden” lets visitors appreciate chill live music while they relax in the splendor of nature.
Well folks, there you have it. It is possible to have a totally normal Portland vacation. But if all this talk about weird attractions has got you hankering for something stranger, you can always spend a night at the Haunted Heathman Hotel. That said, we find far fewer ghosts in these amazing vacation rentals in Portland Oregon. Have fun perusing Portland, y’all!