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Top 9 Free Things to Do in Portland, Oregon


If you're low on cash but you still want to get out of the house, you're in luck. Here's a list of parks, attractions, and neighborhoods you can visit for free.

1. Forest Park

What: With more than 5,000 acres to explore, Forest Park is the largest city park in the United States. There are 50 miles of trails and 30 miles of gated roadways for mountain biking. Visit Forest Park for a run, hike, bike ride, or horseback ride.

Where: Because the park is so large, there are many entrance points. Check the maps at the Friends of Forest Park website

When: Daily 5 a.m. to 10 p.m.

2. Saturday Market

What: Hundreds of vendors sell handmade goods such as pottery, jewelry clothing and candles. Plus, enjoy food from the international food court. Each week, there's entertainment from live musicians, jugglers, and a variety of street performers. This is a great place to bring out-of-town visitors.

Where: Underneath the Burnside Bridge on the west side of downtown Portland.

When:Saturdays and Sundays from March – December 24. The market is also open for an entire week leading up to Christmas Eve for what’s called “The Festival of the Last Minute.”

3. Portland Farmer’s Market

What: Local farmers and food vendors sell the goods they’ve grown or made locally. In addition to excellent produce, you’ll find baked goods, meats, cheeses, and a variety of gourmet foods.

Where: Saturdays in the south park blocks between SW Harrison and Montgomery. Wednesdays in the south park blocks between SW Salmon and Main.

When: Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., April - October

Visit the farmer’s market photo gallery

4. Pioneer Courthouse Square

What: A public square in the center of downtown, known as “Portland’s living room.” The square hosts hundreds of events each year, including concerts and cultural fairs. In the warmer months, it’s a great place to sit and people watch.

Where: The block between SW 6th and Broadway and between SW Yamhill and Morrison

When: The square never closes. For event information, check the online calendar.

5. International Rose Test Garden

What: This garden receives and plants roses from all over the world. 8,000 rose bushes are on display here. Bring a picnic and savor the views of downtown and Mount Hood. Don’t forget your camera!

Where: 400 SW Kingston Ave., (inside Washington Park)

When: Daily from 7:30 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. The roses begin blooming in early May and peak around the first week of June.

Rose Garden FAQ

6. Powell’s City of Books

What: A must-see bookstore that takes up an entire city block and holds more than a million volumes. Every Portlander must get lost here at least once. Beyond books, Powell’s also has a coffee shop and an art gallery in the Pearl Room.

Where: Enter at the Corner of W. Burnside and 10th Ave.

When: Daily 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. with shorter hours on holidays. Reasons to shop Powell's Books

7. Hoyt Arboretum

What: The definition of arboretum is “A botanical garden devoted to trees.” Here, you can walk among more than 1,100 species. Twelve miles of trails wind through the park, and the Visitor Center provides maps, trail guides, and detailed plant information.

Where: 2 miles west of downtown near the zoo. See the website for directions.

When: Grounds: Daily, 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visitor Center: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. M – F, closes at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

8. Tom McCall Waterfront Park

What: Along the west bank of the Willamette River is a beautiful green space named after Governor Tom McCall, who held office from 1967 - 1975. Attractions at the park include Salmon Street Springs, a public fountain where kids frolic in summertime. There’s also a paved trail for walkers, runners, or bikers, which connects to the Eastside Esplanade.

Where: Naito Pkwy between SW Harrison St and NW Glisan St.

When: 24 hours a day

9. Brewery Tours

What: Learn about the brewing process and see the inner workings of Portland's best breweries. You might even get to taste the suds.

When: Call ahead to schedule your tour.

Where: There are lots of breweries to choose from. The most popular are:

Widmer Portland Brewing Bridgeport Brewing McMenamins Edgefield

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