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12 Free Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

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If you are looking to travel to the best of Portland spots, this will be your ultimate travel guide. Portland is well known for hosting beautiful events and being very welcoming to all tourists. You can be from anywhere and feel at home in the warmth of Portland. This small town is full of people having an artistic bent of mind will it a great experience for you. If you are traveling on a tight budget, Portland is the town for you. There are many free things to do in Portland, which will make your experience the best one!

The scenic town encompasses beautiful mountain tops, green lands, parks, forests, etc. Many famous bars and restaurants are also situated here. Residents are welcoming and open-minded. One of the most unique things to do in Portland is drink beer brewed from local Oregonian bars.  If you are looking for adult fun, Portland houses the best strip clubs in the entire USA!

Are you planning a trip to Portland & you don’t have time to read this whole post? Here are some of our top recommendations to save you time.

Best Hotels in Portland

Best Restaurants in Portland

Best Guided Tours in Portland

Transportation in Portland

Stroll in the Portland International Rose Test Garden

rose garden in portland

Portland is called the ‘City of Roses’ for a reason. You can easily find the most beautiful roses of the season while enjoying a walk in this garden. It displays more than 10,000 roses each year and attracts a lot of tourists.

I suggest you visit this park sometime between May and September. Visiting the park is one of the best free things to do in Portland with family and kids; it is open daily and the variety of beautiful roses can be seen without an admission fee!

Hike through Forest Park

green forest with a walkway

Located on the northwestern side of the city, Forest Park is one of the best hiking spots which you can enjoy with your family. Full of lush green trees and clean pathways, if you plan a long or short hiking trip, you won’t be disappointed.

You will find on this hike a unique thing to do in Portland i.e. walking to the Witches Castle. It is an old building filled with colorful graffiti; one of the top photoshoot places in Portland. Portland is filled with lovely green spaces and Forest Park is an example of that. On your way out, you can enjoy a hot or cold coffee from the nearby cafes too!

If you have more time in the area, you could also visit a lot more gorgeous forests and parks by taking a weekend trip from Portland!

Enjoy Portland’s Naked Bike Ride

If you are a fun-loving and open-minded traveler looking for fun things to do in Portland, this bike experience will be a treat for you. Many residents and tourists take part in this free annual biking experience, bonding, exchanging, and having loads of fun biking through the beautiful streets of Portland.

Some cafes offer free hot and cold drinks to the biker on the way, and it is a fun thing to do in Portland.

If you are wondering what to do in Portland for free and something which will remain fresh in your travel memories, choose this biking experience. 

Tip: It is advisable to not take children along with you.

Visit the Laurelhurst Park

people walking on a trail in the park

Located at SE Cesar E Chavez Blvd & Stark St, this is a beautiful park in the heart of Laurelhurst. If you want to enjoy the best green spaces of Portland this is the park for you. You will see many tourists here, enjoying the sun or even sitting casually while it drizzles in the lovely Laurelhurst Park.

If you are looking for free things to do in Portland with family and kids, enjoy your time in this park while playing basketball and tennis; they won’t charge you if you are using the sports courts in this park. Your little ones can enjoy feeding the beautiful ducks in this park.

Many other public spots in Portland will charge you for organizing small picnics or even enjoying yourself with your dogs. Laurelhurst Park is one of the cheapest places in Oregon to have fun with your kids and dogs. Many residents also offer treats/snacks to your dog.

If you’re looking for more outdoorsy attractions in Oregon, check out this post on fun things to do in Bend!

Watch the Portland Adult Soapbox Derby

car driving in the soapbox derby

You can add an interesting activity to your checklist of free things to do in Portland. Portland Adult Soapbox Derby is held every year in August on the beautiful Mount Tabor. You will find many people dressed up in absurd costumes, wearing outlandish funny makeup, racing through the pathways of Mount Tabor.

However, their automobiles are as unique as their getup. They make these weird automobiles at their homes and race with each other. Most tourists claim this event to be one of the most fun activities to do in Portland. So get yourself a beer, and watch this event unfold. It can be observed by physically challenged people, children, and even trained pets!

Have Leisure time at the Powell’s City of Books

inside a bookstore

Located at 1005 W. Burnside St., Powell’s City of Books houses the largest collection of used and new books. You can find rooms separated according to different colors like Green, Blue, Orange, Rose, Purple, Red, Gold, Pearl, and Coffee.

Various genres are also available like literature, children’s and young adult, science fiction and fantasy, mystery, romance, graphic novels, history, politics, religion, health, and wellness, etc. You can easily find a new book to read here.

I was on a road trip from Portland to San Francisco when it suddenly occurred to me that we had to get gifts for our family. We quickly made a detour to Powell’s and found great quality locally made gift items available in this bookstore. It is an affordable gift center for budget travelers.

Stroll through the Portland Saturday Market

farmers market in portland

This is one of the best free things to do in Portland, where you can enjoy the local market of Portland and yet not pay a dime. If you are in Portland during the weekend, do not miss the Saturday market.

Many residents and tourists enjoy this huge market laid across Waterfront to Old Town in downtown Portland. Portlanders are fond of supporting their local businesses and you can find its evidence in their Saturday market. 

Handmade goods are available at cheap rates, local food tasting is available without any charges and you might even see singers and dancers performing on the streets! Grab your partner and visit this colorful, vibrant atmosphere of the local market, a great free activity in Portland for your weekends.

Go to Stark’s Vacuum Museum

Visiting this spot might be one of the most fun things to do in Portland. Stark’s Vacuum Museum is situated near 107 NE Grand Avenue and usually remains less crowded. It will give you ample opportunity to roam around this space with your partner and kids with ease. More than 100 types of vacuum cleaners are available in this museum.

The Museum authority has kept them safe from the 1800s to the 1960s. It is one of the best spots for free things to do in Portland with family and kids. Guides are available there and they might provide you with free notes and pamphlets regarding their upcoming events or shows.

Tip: It closes at 5 pm. The ideal way to visit here would be to have quick lunch in the nearby cafe and then take a casual troll inside this museum.

See The ‘Swift’ Show

One of the extraordinary features of Portland is the beautiful landscape it possesses. This town expects tourists all year round because of its beautiful surroundings and welcoming nature. The incoming of thousands of tiny Vaux’s swifts in the month of early September is a beautiful sight to see, in the city of Portland.

They usually fly in a mob and are a sight to behold; watching them with your family is another free thing to do in Portland. While migrating southwards, they make a long stop in the high chimneys of Chapman Elementary School. This Elementary school opening its gates to many tourists to overlook this magnificent sight is no less than great. 

You can take your blankets and drinks and snacks and enjoy quiet evenings and afternoons watching the ‘Swift Show’. Many tourists who are visiting in September wondering what to do in Portland for free, may watch this beautiful sight and make a memory of a lifetime!

Enjoy the Grotto

small white church in a forest

This place is located in the Madison South District of Portland and was built in 1924. There is a beautiful church located in this place however, many tourists find the walking trails situated in this place a free activity in Portland.

The unique mix of walking through a Catholic sanctuary and Botanical garden is the best thing to do in Portland for free. All parts of the garden are accessible without an admission fee, however, a visit to the upper level needs to be paid for.

You will find on the Plaza Level, unique spots like the Chapel of Mary, The Grotto Stations of the Cross, statues, Gift Shop, Conference Center, etc. If you are traveling with your family, the Plaza level will be a great place to visit.

The Grotto’s Gift Center designs unique gifts and you can spend time here buying souvenirs for your family and friends. These items are reasonably cheaper than the other shops and will act as the perfect memoir of your trip.

Visit Portland’s Under Bridge Skate Park

Pop in the east side of the Burnside Bridge to experience a unique thing in Portland. You can spend quality time under the bridge to watch experience skaters perform tricks for free! Novices can also learn a trick or two here.

When I was in Portland, learning the art of skating in this skate park was a great free activity in Portland for me to participate in. If you are an adventure lover and are thinking of what to do in Portland for free, come and visit this skate park, without a doubt!

Click a Pic at The White Stag Sign

sign that says the white stag

This architectural famous landmark is located near Old Town Portland across the Burnside Bridge. After spending some time at the skate park, you can visit this tourist spot. Most of the tourists are interested in photography or carrying a landmark picture to show off their beautiful travel. 

In Portland, this is the spot for you. Taking a picture here is a must-do thing with your family. While the sign flashes and sparkles, creating a historical landmark, you can enjoy your time photographing it!

If this small town is your travel destination, you will find plenty of free things to do in Portland Oregon. It is famous for its indie culture, local food and drinks, green spaces, and of course adult fun! However, we have mentioned many free things to do in Portland with family and kids, which you will remember for a lifetime. Do not waste and pack a bag for Portland, now!

This post and its photos were contributed by Trijit from Budget Travel Buff. Follow along with Trijit’s adventures on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Instagram.

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