Portland, Oregon is a West Coast city known for its quirky culture, progressive politics, and abundant parks and gardens. There is a lot to do in Portland, and 24 hours is only going to scratch the surface. If you are planning on visiting Portland, Oregon for the first time and only have 24 hours to visit, you’re going to want to see the highlights. In this post, I will be covering some of the highlights. If you plan to spend 24 hours in Portland Oregon, here are some of the things to do that I recommend. Whether you’re traveling to Portland solo, with your significant other, or with your family, there is something to do for everyone.
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How to Spend 24 Hours in Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon is a nature lover’s dream. There are many hikes, rivers, lakes, and waterfalls in the area. It’s an hour from both the mountains and the beach. Since this is only a guide for visiting Portland in 24 hours, I didn’t include any hikes in this guide. However, if that’s how you want to spend your time in Portland there are many options for that as well! You can check out my list of the best hikes in the nearby Columbia River Gorge here or Multnomah Falls here.
How to Get to Portland
If you are flying to Portland, you are going to fly into Portland International Airport (PDX). This airport is pretty big, second only to the Seatac airport near Seattle. PDX services Alaska, American, United, Delta, Frontier, Spirit, Volaris, Air Canada, and Southwest Airlines. The next largest airport to fly into would be Seatac.
Depending on where you are heading from, it is fairly easy to get to Portland by car. From the largest surrounding metro areas, you can see the travel time to get to Spoakne below.
- Seattle, Washington: 3 hours (174 miles)
- Spokane, Washington: 5.5 hours (351 miles)
- Tacoma, Washington 2.5 hours (143 miles)
- Salem, Oregon: 55 minutes (47 miles)
How to Spend 24 Hours in Portland, Oregon
Grab Coffee at Sisters Coffee Co.
Sisters Coffee Co. has several locations with one of them being in The Pearl district (Portland’s main downtown). Start your day at this location by grabbing a coffee. You can grab a seat in this cute cafe, or take your coffee to go if you’re ready to start your day. On-brand for Portland, there is about every type of alternative milk under the sun here including hemp, soy, oat, coconut, and almond milk. I highly recommend grabbing one of their seasonal lattes with hemp milk.
Grab a Donut
If you’re visiting Portland, you have probably heard of VooDoo donuts and it might be on your list to try. I am hopefully going to convince you otherwise. If you are a local, you stay far away from VooDoo! You can get the same quality and taste of donut from a grocery store. Portland is known for having many far better donut shops around town. Since you are already in The Pearl District, I recommend stopping by Blue Star Donuts.
Blue Star Donuts has ‘adult’ flavor combinations that are so delicious. You are going to want to try them all! I recommend the Lemon Poppy Old Fashioned or The O.G. (Orxata Glaze) for their original donuts. If you are vegan, there are several options. I recommend the Orange Olive Oil!
If you’re vegan: If you are vegan and looking for an alternative donut shop to try while you’re in Portland, check out Doe Donuts! If you’re in The Pearl District, it’s a bit out of the way. They have many different flavors (all of them being vegan), and will rotate new flavors each month. From their year-round donuts, I recommend the Portland Fog or the Doe.
Visit Powell’s Books
Once you’ve had your coffee and a donut, it’s time to spend a few hours exploring the largest new and used independent bookstore in the world. Powell’s Books occupies an entire city block. There are over a million books among the 68,000 square feet, nine rooms, three floors, and 3,500 sections. This bookstore is loved by locals and tourists alike. If you love to read or just want to browse the books, I highly recommend visiting!
There are three different levels at Powell’s Books. In each, you can find different genres and sections.
Orange Room: If you enter through the back entrance you will end up in the orange room. In this room, you can find check-outs, a book-buying counter, best-selling bookshelf, journals, and stationary. Additionally, you can find cooking books, gardening and agriculture, humor, movies + TV, music, and new arrivals.
Rose Room: In the rose room you can find the young adult (YA) and children’s books.
Green Room: In you enter through the main entrance you will end up in the green room. In this room, you can find check-outs, best-selling books, books on sale, new arrivals, and souvenirs.
Blue Room: In this room, you can find contemporary, classics, poetry, drama, and other literature books.
Yellow Room: In this room, you can find science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, mystery, and horror books. This room also holds manga and graphic novels.
Coffee Room: In the coffee room (lower-left corner in the map above) you can find the romance section, as well as an overflow of mystery and thrillers.
Red Room: In the red room you can find books on LGBTQ and gender, nature, military, languages, references, sociology, politics, and travel.
Purple Room: In the purple room you can find books on Mythology, religion, health, metaphysics, sports, business, self-help, philosophy, and psychology.
Pearl Room: In the pearl room you can find books on art, architecture, interiors, photography, crafts, math, and physics. There is also a gallery and event space.
Rare Book Room: The third floor is where the rare books room is open that can be browsed.
Visit Washington Park
After you have browsed the books at Powells, head to Washington Park which is only a short drive away. At Washington Park, you can choose one of the many different family-friendly attractions to visit such as Oregon Zoo, Hoyt Arboretum, Portland Japanese Garden, International Rose Test Garden, and World Forestry Center Discovery Museum.
The Oregon Zoo is home to nearly 2,000 animals of more than 200 different species from around the world. The zoo is open year-round. You can buy timed entry tickets by visiting the website, or grab your tickers at the gate.
The Hoyt Arboretum is a ‘living museum’ that contains more than 6,000 trees and 12 miles of walking trails. Within the arboretum, there are over 2,300 species of trees and shrubs from six different continents. It is open year-round and there is no admission fee.
Portland Japanese Garden
The Portland Japanese Garden has eight different garden styles open year-round. At the garden, you can immerse yourself in Japanese art and culture. There are different seasonal activities, performances, and demonstrations to enjoy.
International Rose Test Garden
The International Rose Test Garden has over 10,000 roses in bloom from May through October. There are over 600 different varieties of roses. The grounds act as a test location for new rose varieties. This rose garden began during World War I where hybridists sent roses from all over the world.
Wold Forestry Discovery Museum
The World Forestry Discovery Museum is a family-friendly museum with interactive exhibits. The museum is open daily from Wednesday through Sunday.
Grab Lunch at a Food Cart Pod
Portland is known for its many different food carts. I recommend heading to one of the food cart pods scattered throughout the city for lunch. One of my favorites is Hawthorne Asylum. At this food cart pod, there are 21 different food carts with nearly every kind of food.
Shop Along Hawthorne
After grabbing a bite to eat at Hawthorne Asylum, take a walk along Hawthorne to find a unique souvenir and visit some of the shops. There are plenty of different local shops along the street. Be sure to check out House of Vintage, Excaliber Comics, Tender Loving Empire, and Presents of Mind. As you’re exploring you will find plenty of other vintage shops and local businesses to pop into along the street.
Alternate: Shop Along Mississippi Avenue
If you opt to go to another food cart pod, Mississippi Ave is another great street to explore. There are plenty of food options (including a small food cart pod), live music venues, and shops. Some of the shops I recommend along Mississippi Ave are Mississippi Vinyls, The Meadow, ReBuilding Center, Rose City Comics, and Flutter. In the summer, be on the lookout for street fairs. Mississippi has a great one!
Eat Dinner on 23rd Ave
The Portland food scene is thriving. There are so many good places to eat in Portland, that it’s hard to narrow it down to just one place to eat for dinner. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat, I recommend checking out the restaurants along 23rd Ave. Some of my favorites are below.
Zula is a Mediterranean bistro. It’s a fairly new restaurant, but so delicious. If you visit, you can’t miss the filo & feta, seared halloumi, and of course the hummus.
If you are looking for a lighter or healthier option after a day of sweets, you can’t go wrong with Harlow. There is a location on Hawthorne, Alberta, and 23rd. At Harlow, you can get 100% gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. There are juices, wellness tonics, bowls, salads, and sandwiches.
Bamboo is hands-down the best place that I have had sushi. The sushi is delicious. There are also options if you are vegan. You also can’t go wrong with the drinks. If you are looking for a more upscale option, this would be a good choice.
Grassa is the place to go if you want pasta for dinner. There are several locations in the Portland area, including on 23rd Ave.
Life of Pi
If you are craving pizza, Life of Pi is a great choice near 23rd Ave. These pizzas are anything but basic and they have vegan options.
Go to Salt and Straw for Ice Cream
Salt and Straw is an ice cream shop that was started in Portland and has since expanded to other cities like Anaheim, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Miami. It’s that good! There are several locations throughout the city including on 23rd Ave. Each month there is a whole new set of seasonal flavors. There are always 1- 2 dairy-free options in the season selection, as well as on their permanent menu.
In January the seasonal selection theme is veganuary so if you’re vegan it’s the perfect time to go! The ice cream flavors are all unique. I recommend the Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons and Honey Lavender. if you’re vegan, go for the seasonal flavors! This location is the original salt and straw and most nights there is a line out the door. It’s worth the wait and you can try as many flavors as you want without being rushed if you’re not sure what to get!
Tips for Visiting Portland, Oregon
- You’re going to need a car, especially if you only have 24 hours in Portland, Oregon. While there are public transport options such as the MAX light rail, most things are not accessible by walking and the MAX alone. If you rely on just public transportation, you’re going to spend a lot of your time getting from place to place.
- The Pearl District, like other areas of Portland, has a lot of homelessness. Some of the city parks are gated off, and there are streets full of tents. I would avoid Chinatown because there are a lot of homeless encampments in this area. Also, in some areas near the waterfront and around Pioneer Square Mall, there are a lot of homeless encampments. Just be aware of this since some of the above are located in the Pearl District.
- It can be rainy most of the year! Be sure to prepare by bringing a raincoat if you are visiting anytime other than the summer. If you are deciding when to visit Portland, I would recommend going in the summer for the best weather, longer hours of sunlight, and more options for things to do!
How to Spend 24 Hours in Portland, Oregon
Portland is a great destination for a day trip, or to visit for the weekend. I hope this guide helped plan out how to spend 24 hours in Portland, Oregon. If you have more time in Portland, I recommend finding a hike, visiting some of the breweries, or taking a day trip to Mt. Hood or Cannon Beach.
If you have visited Portland and have more recommendations, I would love to read about them below in the comments, so feel free to share! As always, you can find me on Instagram @maddie_deer here, or can follow me on my Facebook page to be alerted of any new posts here. Thanks for reading! 🙂