You don’t need a massive budget to enjoy Portland. This awesome city has fun things to do at every price point. Some are even free!
“Are you saying I can visit Portland and not spend ANY money on attractions?”
Yes, that’s what we’re saying. Portland prides itself on being an eclectic, captivating, and accepting city. You don’t need to break the bank to see the best of what we have to offer.
If you’re bursting with excitement to plan your Portland trip, keep reading. Here are ten of the awesome free things to do in Portland that you should check out.
1. First Thursdays of Portland
Every first Thursday of the month, Portland’s best art galleries open their doors to the public. For no admission fee, you can walk from gallery to gallery exploring this beautiful city’s art scene.
It takes place in the evening between five and eight. But, before it starts there are plenty of street vendors and performers to entertain you. Enjoy the live music as locals and visitors alike enjoy this free event.
There are participating galleries in the Downtown and Nob Hill neighborhoods — as well as in Old Town, Pearl District, Slabtown, and the Northwest District. Make sure you wear your walking shoes!
2. Marvel at Forest Park
Portland has the best of both worlds: a bustling urban vibe as well as plenty of natural space. Forest Hill is a 5200-acre forest located inside this urban jungle.
If you’re looking for free things to do, hiking one of the 80 miles of trails here is a must. You could also walk, bike, or experience the forest on horseback.
For a spooky experience, check out the Witch’s Castle. Built in the 1800’s, this structure sits at the scene of a historical murder. Legend says it’s haunted; find out for yourself.
3. Bike the Springwater Corridor
To experience what it’s like to be a native Portlander, you need to go biking on the Springwater Corridor. At 21 miles long, you’ll have plenty of time to explore Portland’s different terrains.
The trail will take you through farmland, buttes, wetlands, and some residential areas. Most of the trail is far from the road so you don’t have to worry about cars.
In remote areas of the trail, mountain lions have been sighted along with deer and coyotes.
4. Take a Photo with Paul Bunyan
Who is Paul Bunyan? If you are of a younger generation, you may not have heard of him. Paul Bunyan is a hero of American lumberjack folklore.
He’s said to have had super-human strength and impeccable lumberjack skills. Bunyan is so admired in Portland that his 31-foot statue was built here in 1959.
If you’re looking for quintessential Portland photo-ops, this is number one. And, it’s free!
5. Check out Multnomah Falls
If you have access to a car on your trip, venture 30 minutes outside Portland to the Multnomah Falls. This 600-foot tall waterfall will not disappoint.
While you are able to see the falls from your parked car, There are ample walking trails along with as Tourist Center and restaurant. Note the local folklore that surrounds them. According to Native American legend, the falls gave a young princess a private place to bathe.
To be extra impressed, check out the view from Benson Bridge. If you’re scared of heights, you might not want to look down.
6. Portland Saturday Market
Although the market is full of vendors with plenty to buy, you don’t have to make any purchases. Simply walk around and enjoy the hustle and bustle of this busy market. You may just find some interesting characters working the stalls.
The Saturday Market sits on the waterfront, so at the very least you can marvel at the views. Enjoy the live music, people-watch, and live as the locals do.
7. See the Ira Keller Fountain
Located inside the Keller Fountain Park sits a gorgeous industrial fountain. This structure is unlike any other fountain you may have seen. It’s an industrial portrayal of the surrounding waterfalls of Portland.
This monument is one of the many ways Portland tries to incorporate nature with urban life. It’s a fascinating look at this city’s identity that you need to see for yourself.
8. Free Brewery Tour
This one might be hard to believe. “I can tour a brewery and drink beer for free?”
Yes and if you are gluten-free then you’ll be even happier.
The Ground Breaker Brewery makes gluten-free craft beers local to Portland. If you’re a fan of craft brews, you’ll find their brewing process especially interesting. They don’t use any corn or wheat in their recipes.
9. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge
Anyone looking to explore Northwest wildlife needs to check out Oaks Bottom. Here you’ll find some of Portland’s best bird watching and nature observing.
With over 140 acres of conservation space, plenty of animals have made this refuge their home. Visitors report seeing great blue heron, hawks, and woodpeckers.
10. Visit The Streets of The Simpsons
If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, Portland has a special treat for you. Mark Groening, The Simpson’s writer, is from here and he named many of the characters after local streets.
You need to check out NE Flanders street. Someone added a “D” after the NE rightfully marking it as Ned Flanders’ street.
You’ll also enjoy wandering down Quimby, Kearney, and Lovejoy. Stop by Lincoln High to see the Bart drawing Groening drew in the wet concrete of the sidewalk. Take a gander through Montgomery Park and Burns Street for some true-fan magic.
Want More Fun Free Things to do in Portland?
Portland is a city for all budgets. Whether you’re visiting for vacation or live nearby, you’ll find a ton of free things to do in Portland.
You’ll notice that many of the attractions vary from urban and industrial to scenic and natural. Portland is a city that straddles the gap between the natural and manmade. You can get your fill of inner-city culture while enjoying the serenity of the great outdoors.
For more ideas of things to do, places to eat, and what to see, check out our other Portland posts on Clever Neighbor.