Portland Bucket List: 20 Things to Do

Portland Bucket List

Portland is the largest city in Oregon and filled with quirky things to do that range from adventurous to romantic to just plain weird. It is a mix of scenic landscapes, bustling neighborhoods, microbreweries, distilleries and bucket list worthy adventures for everyone.

20 Bucket List Things to Do in Portland

TIP: Many of these places can be reached with the Big Pink Hop-On Hop-Off Trolly that has 14 stops.

1. See the Smallest Park in the World

The Smallest Park in the World in Portland, Oregon

At the intersection of two streets in Southwest Portland, located in the center divide, you will find Mill Ends Park. At a whopping 452 square inches it is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as being the smallest park in the world.

The spot was actually meant for a light pole, but when that failed to happen it was turned into this minuscule piece of prime real estate. The landscape sporadically changes, but on this day it was a single, teeny tree surrounded by a trio of miniature green bushes.

SW Taylor St & SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, Oregon | Map | WEBSITE

2. Eat a Bug Sundae at the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

Eat a Bug Sundae - Bucket List Things to do in Portland

Who wouldn’t want to visit a place with a name like the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium?  It is filled with creepy oddities and experiences, like the opportunity to have your photo taken getting an alien autopsy or viewing a dollhouse where one of the rooms had a bloody massacre.

Not only is it bizarre (and free), but you can also order a Bug Eaters Delight sundae before leaving. It is topped with real bug larva and if you dare to eat it your photo will make it onto the Insectarian Club Hall of Fame. Look for my picture there.

2234 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97210 | Map | WEBSITE

3. Pose Under the Keep Portland Weird Sign

Pose under the Keep Portland Weird Sign

The “Keep Portland Weird” slogan is meant to embrace the uniqueness of the city and support local businesses. You will see the saying on bumper stickers throughout the town, but no sticker is quite as impressive as the huge painted wall located just South of the Burnside bridge.

Bucket List bonus: Voodoo Doughnuts is right across the street (see #16).

SW 3rd Ave (between Burnside and Ankeny) Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

4. Go to a BrewPub Movie Theater
Bagdad Theater Portland Portland

What’s better than a night at the movies with buttery popcorn? A night at the movies with buttery popcorn and BEER. McMenamins Bagdad Theater is a relic of Hollywood’s golden age and a place to enjoy a slice of pizza while drinking a cold, hand-crafted ale. Don’t worry if you are a wine lover like me, they have that too. {photo}

3702 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

5. Smell the Roses at the International Rose Test Garden

International Rose Test Garden in Portland International Rose Test Garden in PortlandInternational Rose Test Garden in Portland

Portland’s International Rose Test Garden’s is the oldest public garden of its kind with a primary purpose of testing rose varieties. Before visiting I thought I wasn’t a rose girl, but these aren’t your typical supermarket flowers. They come in all shapes, colors, sizes and have unique names like Hot Tamale, Walking on Sunshine and Grand Amore. 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

6. Eat at a Food Truck

PBJ Food Truck in Portland, Oregon
Potato Champion Food Truck in Portland

The food truck scene in Portland continues to boom. You can visit a cluster of them that take up a square block in the city or a solo one in the middle of a retail street or, my favorite, a small corner that contains 5-10 with picnic tables in the middle. For something unique, hit up PBJ for one of their savory sandwiches made with homemade jam and/or peanut butter. Or head a couple trucks down to indulge in the Poutine fries at Potato Champion.

PBJ | 12th & Hawthrone, Portland OR | Map | WEBSITE
Potato Champion | 1207 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland, OR | 

Book a Tour > Portland Food Cart Walking Tour

7. Do a Spirit Tasting at a Distillery

Drink at a Distillery - Things to do in Portland

Amongst industrial warehouses and businesses in Portland lies a handful of distilleries which produce an array of unique liquors. This frequently visited area is known as Distillery Row and once you need a break from the downtown pubs, you must venture to do a spirit tasting at a Portland Distillery{photo}

Related Article: Do a Liquor Tasting at a Portland Distillery

Multiple Portland Locations | Map | WEBSITE

8. Eat Dirty Fries

Eat Dirty Fries at Lardo - Portland Bucket List

What makes dirty fries at Lardo dirty? Pork scraps, marinated peppers, fried herbs and parmesan. These fries can be the perfect side for their popular Pork Meatball Banh Mi or are large enough for a meal on its own.

Multiple Locations | Map | WEBSIT

9. See a Roller Derby Bout

Roller Derby at the Rose City Roller Portland

A roller derby bout at Rose City Rollers is filled with hard hits, fast feet and sometimes accented with alterations between the female players. This rowdy indoor sport will get your heart pumping while you root for your favorite team member. {photo}

Multiple Locations | Locations Schedule WEBSITE

10. Try the World-Famous Fish Sauce Wings at Pok Pok

Eat Famous Fish Sauce Wings - Portland Things to Do

How can chicken wings be this addictive and cult-forming is beyond me. But, they can. The Vietnamese chicken wings at Pok Pok are layered with flavor and the absolute best wings I have ever eaten in my life . Plus, just like the traditional fried wings from Buffalo, you can order them mild, medium or spicy.

Try this recipe to make your own at home: Ike’s Fish Sauce Wings

3226 SE Division St, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

11. Stroll Through the Japanese Garden

Koi Pond at the Japanese Garden in Portland, Oregon
Japanese Garden Portland in Portland, Oregon

Portland’s 5.5 acre Japanese Garden is influenced by Shinto, Buddhist, and Taoist philosophies. It is comprised of five garden styles, each one more beautiful than the last. Strolling through this environment will transport you to the gardens in Japan.

Make a day of it: The Japanese Garden is next to the International Rose Test Garden (see #5), so visiting both in one day is possible.

611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

12. Drink Liquor in Detention

Detention Bar at Kennedy School in Portland

McMenamins Kennedy School is an old elementary school turned into an entertainment haven. You can sleep in one of their guestrooms, eat in the Boiler Room and watch a movie in the comfy theater. Plus, if you have ever been late to class or offended a teacher you are able to pay your penance in the Detention Bar where they will serve you beer, wine, single malts or bourbons. That sounds like my kind of detention.  {photo}

5736 N.E. 33rd Ave., Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

13. Play a Round of Glow in the Dark Mini Golf

The Glowing Greens is a black light miniature golf adventure good for the entire family. The glow in the dark neon is sure to add a new twist to a regular game of mini golf.

It’s a bucket list bonus if you get a hole in one.

509 Sw Taylor St., Portland, Oregon | Map | WEBSITE

14. Take a Road Trip to Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls Portland  Multnomah Falls Portland

Technically, this is not in the Portland city limits, but it is a bucket list worthy thing to do that is on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, only a forty minute drive East .

Multnomah Falls is split into two sections for a total of 611 feet and every inch is stunning. If is quite a sight from the ground floor, but you can also take a hike to walk across the bridge and on to the top.

Mount Hood National Forest | Map | WEBSITE

Book a Tour: Multnomah Falls and Columbia River Gorge Half-Day Tour
Book a Tour: Full Day Wine & Waterfall Tour

15. Eat Pigeon at Le Pigeon

Eat Pigeon at Le Pigeon in Portland

There are not too many restaurants around the world that offer pigeon on their menu. So, when you find one that does you must take the bucket list opportunity to eat one. Le Pigeon in Portland is that restaurant.

Their menu changes so confirm ahead of time what form of pigeon they are featuring on the menu. On the evening I had a delightful dinner there they were making pigeon with liver toast, grapes and white anchovies.

Bucket List bonus: Le Pigeon also sporadically features a variety of offal on the menu. So, this is your opportunity to eat things like sweetbreads, heart and cheeks.

Related Article: Have an Adventurous Meal of Pigeon, Heart & Cheeks

738 E Burnside St, Portland, OR 97214 | Map | WEBSITE

16. Eat a Voodoo Doughnut

Eat a Voodoo Doughnut - Portland Bucket List

I will admit that the base of these donuts taste just like the rest to me, but what makes this the hot spot in Portland is the unique flavors that that have. The Marshall Mathers is covered in M&Ms to signify the rapper Eminem, the Loop Donut is covered in Fruit Loops and the Dirty Snowballs have marshmallow topping dipped in coconut and topped with peanut butter.

Everyone talks about the Maple Bacon donut, but my favorite is the Old Dirty Bastard that is covered in crumbled Oreo cookies and peanut butter. If you head over to the Original Location on 3rd Ave., the ‘Keep the Portland Weird’ sign is right across the street (see #3).

Related Article: Eat the Old Dirty Bastard at Voodoo Doughnut

Original Location: 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

17. Do a Tea Tasting at Smith Teamaker

Tea Tasting - Bucket List Things to do in Portland, Oregon

Doing a tea tasting at Smith Teamaker is similar doing one at a local distillery, you select four varieties from the menu to compare and contrast. The flight can be all black teas, like the Lord Bergamot or all herbal infusions, like the Big Hibiscus. If you are unsure of what to choose, ask the knowledgeable staff to guide you with your selections.

Related Article: Wear a Fez at a Portland Tea Tasting.

1626 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

18. Drink a Cup of Stumptown Coffee 

This coffee is all the rage in Portland and I did due diligence by hunting for others, but Stumptown always came out on top. They source the best coffees from all over the world and you can taste it in every cup. Go one step further than simply drinking a cup of Stumptown by visiting The Annex location to get a coffee education and do a free tasting.

Monday – Saturday at 3PM | 100 SE Salmon Street, Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

19. Get Lost in Powells Books

Get Lost in Powells Books - Portland Bucket List

I was reluctant to include this goal here because it seems to be on every “Things to Do in Portland” list and it is “just a book store”. But, then I went to Powells Books flagship location that is home to more than one million books.

It is way more than just a book store.

The cookbook section, complete with a vintage selection, would be enough to keep me coming back to Powell’s. Consider adding it to your Couple’s Bucket List, as it would be a great way for you and your spouse to pass a Portland rainy day. {photo}

1005 W Burnside St., Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

20. Drink a Flaming Spanish Coffee

A Flaming Spanish Coffee at Huber’s consists of Bacardi 151 rum, Kahlua, Bols Triple Sec, coffee, fresh whipped cream and a touch of nutmeg on top. But, what makes this drink a special thing to do in Portland is the execution that involves a fire-filled show, prepared table-side and with lots flair.

11 SW 3rd Ave., Portland, OR | Map | WEBSITE

. . . Read More . .

Visit the 611 Foot Multnomah Waterfall in Oregon
Tell a Love Story Through an International Rose Garden
Do a Liquor Tasting at a Portland Distillery
Eat the Old Dirty Bastard at Portland’s Voodoo Doughnuts
Eat a Bug Sundae at Portland’s Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

2017-07-09T21:13:10+00:00 September 24th, 2014|Categories: BUCKET LISTS, North America, Oregon, TRAVEL|Tags: , , |


  1. Renuka September 24, 2014 at 11:30 am - Reply

    Portland is seriously amazing! So many things to do.

  2. Ryan Biddulph September 24, 2014 at 9:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Annette,

    LOL on 1.

    Have you seen Portlandia? Awesome show, funny as heck, and 1, as well as a few items on this list are consistent with the show’s take on the city.

    Portland seems so off the wall, funny, intriguing and just a change up from any city on earth. We’ve seen some pretty wild spots from growing up 30 minutes from NYC, to frequently hitting Bangkok, to Phnom Penh, etc, etc….and Portland seems like it’d be right up there for a spot to see.

    The food scene looks awesome.

    I’d have at those dirty fries in a minute because here in Fiji the fare is not up to snuff compared to Thailand and other places we’ve hit over the past 40 months. Dying to get at those dirty fries….oh well, back home in NJ for Christmas so we’ll have whatever we want, food-wise.

    Thanks much Annette way cool read.

    I’ll tweet this one to my travel blogger buddies in a bit.


    • Annette White September 25, 2014 at 6:18 am - Reply

      So funny, but as I was reading this comment I was watching Portlandia reruns because I’d never seen it!
      The food scene in Portland is ridiculously good and a large reason it’s one of my favorite cities in the world. The laid back vibe and quirkiness is also I huge factor.

      I’ve never been to Figi, but Thailand has incredible food too. Hope you get fries soon!

  3. Dane Homenick September 25, 2014 at 1:07 pm - Reply

    I can’t wait to hit up Portland. Thanks for the list!

  4. rebecca September 25, 2014 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    sooo much to do! dirty fries is one I really want to try

  5. Emma September 26, 2014 at 1:56 am - Reply

    So many great ideas. Don’t think I’ll be going for the insect sundae, though!

    • Annette White September 26, 2014 at 7:28 am - Reply

      I understand. But, still visit the Freakybuttrue Peculiarium because it’s not just about the bugs 🙂

  6. `Kerry September 26, 2014 at 8:54 am - Reply

    MMMMMM. Doughnuts, coffee, and books. 🙂 I love bookstores and have a goal of visiting bookstores all over the world.

  7. Stan September 30, 2014 at 11:29 pm - Reply

    That’s absolutely great glow in the dark miniature golf- such a fun place

  8. birmingham Taxi October 1, 2014 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Have you seen Portlandia? Awesome show, funny as heck, and 1, as well as a few items on this list are consistent with the show’s take on the city.

  9. Adam Sommer October 1, 2014 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    The worlds smallest park is hilarious! I actually think Id have to see that on my upcoming Portland trip!

    • Annette White October 2, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

      It is the cutest little thing! It’s worth a quick visit. Have fun in Portland 🙂

  10. […] 20 Bucket List Things to Do in PORTLAND | Bucket List Journey […]

  11. […] Annette White Portland is the largest city in Oregon and filled with quirky things to do that range from […]

  12. Mary Bolton October 26, 2014 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    My sons live in Porltland and with two of my gradsons! At one time they were working at The Bagdad and The Kennedy School! One worked at Powell’s too! Now one has a design company and the other works for him. Check out Murmur Creative! I live in Santa Cruz, CA…but I am in Maui right now! Found your site through Pinterest!

  13. […] when he strongly recommended we go to Dean’s Scene. With all of my hours of ‘things to do in Portland, Oregon” research this name escaped me. What? Where? He continued to give us a lengthy […]

  14. […] Want more ideas unique things to do in Portland? Read 20 Bucket List Things to Do in Portland. […]

  15. Courtney Sambuceto November 21, 2015 at 7:58 pm - Reply

    WOW! I was honestly really happy to find this very well put together post! I have traveled all over the country and Oregon in general is one of my favorite places…thank goodness I live here :)~ For those that haven’t been through Portland, WHAT ARE YOU THINKING?? Thank you for posting this, I truly appreciated it. FYI – I, like you, LOVE sharing this beautiful state, and everything there is to enjoy about Oregon. I have created a really awesome Resource Guide that took me quite a bit of effort and thought to put together. I am sharing it with anyone that wants to either get “Discover” or simply “Broaden” their Oregon Horizons!! I would love it if you could continue to share this with YOUR followers 😉 I am always looking to expand my own blog, and if you would like to share more of your postings with MY followers, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

  16. Mathew April 21, 2016 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Nice list! This was a big help in planning our trip!

    • Annette White April 22, 2016 at 4:59 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Hope you have a great time and have some Pok Pok wings for me!

  17. Jason April 30, 2017 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Super dope list of things to do. I’m visiting Portland soon and will be doing many of the things you suggested.

  18. Kalei May 22, 2017 at 4:27 pm - Reply

    Do you have a list (Part Deux, perhaps) for a Portland local that has done all of the things on this list, but wants to continue to explore the city? For example, one could be going to the Ping Pong bar, or other things that are more local like that. Let me know what you think!

  19. Jessica Zeigler August 11, 2017 at 8:52 am - Reply

    I’ve lived in Portland all my life and I’m still using your list to play “tourist” today. You touched on many of the gems. Thanks for loving my city.

    • Annette White August 14, 2017 at 6:19 am - Reply

      That means a lot coming from someone from Portland! I love your city 🙂

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