Cheap things to do in Portland for weekend adventurers

Experience Portland’s food and culture without breaking your budget on this Saturday or Sunday itinerary.

maxThe MAX Light Rail is a budget-friendly way to reach Washington Park.
Ashley Anderson

Bring your walking shoes, water bottle and day-pack for an urban adventure that highlights several things locals love about Portland. This itinerary of cheap things to do in Portland is designed to help you make the most of a weekend day in the city.

Getting around on a budget

For each of our budget itineraries, we recommend getting an all-day TriMet pass ($5) good for the city’s public light rail, streetcar and bus.

Cheap weekend activities in Portland

A morning at the market (and lunch for later)

Estimated cost: $8–20

Portland offers lively farmers’ markets throughout the city, but the granddaddy of them all is the Saturday-morning edition at Portland State University in downtown Portland.

The PSU Farmers Market runs year-round on Saturdays (8:30 a.m.–2 p.m. April–October; 9 a.m.–2 p.m. November–March). In operation since 1996, this vibrant market boasts fresh produce, food carts and flowers galore. There’s also live music every week and chef demonstrations from June–October. Visit more than 100 vendor stalls, and keep an eye out for free samples of fruit, cheese, baked goods and more. Grab breakfast at one of the food carts ($4–10) and stock up for a healthy lunch for later ($4–10).

A walk in the park

Estimated cost: $3

Next, hop on the speedy MAX Light Rail Red or Blue line toward attraction-filled Washington Park. Use the free Washington Park shuttle to reach the Hoyt Arboretum Visitor Center (located within the park) by noon for a stunning 90-minute tour ($3 donation requested). Portland’s 190-acre (77 ha) museum of living trees is home to more than 6,000 specimens, including vulnerable and endangered types. Aromatic magnolias and dogwoods abound in spring, wildflowers thrive in summer and warm autumnal colors paint the sky in fall. (Free.)

After the tour, keep exploring the arboretum’s 12 miles [19 km] of trails, or make the 30-minute trek to Forest Park for an equally awe-inspiring change of setting within city bounds. Take plenty of breaks and enjoy a scenic lunch in nature.

Dinner & down-home tunes

Estimated cost: $8–12

Return downtown using bus 63 or MAX, then make your way to Portland’s east side via bus 19.

Enjoy a leisurely dinner at Northeast Portland institution Laurelthirst Public House after a day exploring the town. Choose from standard pub fare like BLTs and mac ‘n’ cheese (for vegans and vegetarians, they also make a mean kale salad and vegan burger [$8–12]). Every meal comes with a free side of live music — typically of the down-home bluegrass, Americana and folk varieties.

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