Know Before You Go
For any budget itinerary in Portland, we recommend getting an all-day TriMet pass ($5) good for the city’s public light rail, streetcar and bus.
To truly get to know Portland, it’s good to start with its historical roots. These beloved, longstanding local institutions and attractions allow you to explore the Rose City’s history without busting your budget.
Breakfast in Old Town
Estimated cost: $7–10
Start your morning with diner classics like cheesy Denver omelets and decadent chicken-fried steak and eggs at John’s Café ($7–10, cash only). This retro, family-run breakfast joint in Portland’s oldest neighborhood is perfect for early birds. John and Kristina Kapsopoulos have served customers in their cozy establishment since 1973 and eagerly share stories of yesteryear.
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Step Back in Time Downtown
Estimated cost: $5
Next, head to the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center ($5) for an exploration of Oregon’s history of Nikkei, or people of Japanese descent living in the United States. Located in the heart of where Nihonmachi (Japantown) once stood, the center features a permanent exhibit that retraces the history of Japanese immigration and internment, while rotating exhibits have explored topics such as multi-generational storytelling, printmaking and photography. Walk around historic Old Town Chinatown with the aid of the free “Japantown PDX” app.
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Take a quick stroll through the South Park Blocks (free), a Dutch elm-lined corridor developed in the late 19th century. Two blocks south of the Oregon Historical Society (free to Multnomah County residents, with ID), you’ll find Director Park (free), a modern spin on the park blocks. This former parking lot turned European-style plaza features a seasonal wading fountain, family games and cultural events in the summer.
A couple of blocks west, you’ll arrive at the Multnomah County Central Library (free). Built in 1913, it’s the oldest library on the West Coast! Peruse the library’s expansive collection, gorgeous Georgian architecture and works by local zinesters. Between April and October, you may even be able to snag a spot on the library’s free eco-roof tour. General library tours are offered a couple of times a month, all year.
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Lunch in Northeast Portland
Estimated cost: $5–10
After all the knowledge-building works up your appetite, take TriMet bus line #6 to Northeast Portland’s Alberta Street for lunch. Budget-friendly choices include hefty, vegan burritos from family-owned El Nutri Taco ($6–10) or La Bonita ($5–9). Or opt for a gooey sandwich from Grilled Cheese Grill ($5–8) or wings and jojos from popular corner store Alberta Street Market ($6).
Alberta Street Black Heritage Walk
Estimated cost: Free
After lunch, head to Northeast Alberta Street for an educational self-guided walking tour of the area’s rich Black history. Debuted in 2019, the Alberta Street Black Heritage Markers are a series of five markers commemorating the accomplishments and experiences of African American residents from the Alberta neighborhood. The markers stretch along Northeast Alberta Street from 11th to 24th avenues.
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Drink (And Dine) at School
Estimated cost: $10–12
End with dinner, drinks and educational entertainment at McMenamins Kennedy School. This quirky hotel and entertainment complex inhabits the refurbished site of a once-abandoned elementary school, originally constructed in 1915.
Happy hour offerings at the former school’s five bars and restaurants include $5 pints of brewed-on-site beer and pub fare like Cajun tater tots and cheeseburger sliders ($4.25–7). The Kennedy School hosts trivia twice a month and regular free history-themed events in the on-site movie theater, and offers a ceramic saltwater soaking pool ($5 per person, per hour) that’s open to non-hotel guests daily from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (don’t forget your swimsuit and towel!).
Free & Nearly Free
Sample food and beverage and plenty of the famous "Keep Portland Weird" spirit at these free and almost-free attractions.
Cheap Things to Do in Portland for Weekend Adventurers
Bring your walking shoes, water bottle and day-pack for an affordable urban adventure that highlights several things locals love about Portland.
Free Live Music and Comedy in Portland
Discover a new favorite comic or musician at Portland's free concerts and comedy nights, scattered across the city and scheduled throughout the week.
Cheap/Affordable Things to Do in Portland for Arts Lovers
Experience Portland’s stellar music scene, ample museums and galleries, arts walks and festivals — all without busting your budget.
Portland Saturday Market
Open every Saturday and Sunday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
The Portland Old Time Music Gathering is going all online for 2021. Since an in-person square dance isn’t possible on Wednesday, the festival will kick things off on Thursday Jan. 14 with a night of Cajun/Honky Tonk concerts and will wrap up with the Sunday Cabaret and a Moon and Sixpence type show via Zoom….
See Portland’s newest theater and dance works every January at Portland’s Fertile Ground Festival.
VIRTUAL EVENT. Please visit the event website for current information. The 2021 Cascade Festival of African Films will be held virtually in 2021. The festival will remain free and open to the public, but films will be shown online. Visit the event website for more details and the list of films! Founded in 1991, the…
Brighten your February with glowing sculptures and thousands of twinkling lights at the annual Winter Lights Festival.
The St. Johns Bizarre is a uniquely crafted celebration that kicks off the summer street fair season in Portland with music, kids’ activities and more. Held annually on the second Saturday in May, the Bizarre brings music, crafts and food to the crowds attending the St. Johns Parade. After the parade, the entire six block…
Winter Mercado this year will be different at the Portland Mercado. There will have fewer vendors in order to provide more space for customers to maintain social distancing during the pandemic. Come support local makers, artisans, and Latino entrepreneurs at the Portland Mercado
Fuller Rosen Gallery presents NO SANCTUARY, a two-person show of new work by Panteha Abareshi and Kayley Berezney. Set against the backdrop of a global pandemic, NO SANCTUARY explores the intimate relationship each artist has with their own health. Panteha Abareshi’s practice is rooted in her existence as a body with a genetic blood disorder…
TIMELINES FOR THE FUTURE: CHRISTINE HOWARD SANDOVAL is the first exhibition in Turnstones, Lucy Cotter’s program as Disjecta Curator in Residence 2020-21. “Turnstones” is a word found in a poem that, being unfamiliar, offers the freedom to imagine. It recalls how every structure that has sedimented over time contains another possibility and hopes to evoke…
Artist Alyson Provax presents Old Long Since. This appointment based art exhibit invites viewers to schedule a 15 minute time slot to handle the work with gloved hands. The gloves will be printed with a phrase that will change depending on which gloves are chosen and will be gifted to each viewer who participates in…
A public labyrinth walk held on the third Monday of every month on the beautiful wood labyrinth at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral. No prior experience needed, and there is no wrong way to walk.
This RACC-supported project is a fun, serial fiction podcast for young kids, families, dog lovers, and anyone that could use a hero right about now.
Christmas at Grace Cathedral is a cherished San Francisco tradition; in 2020 Grace Cathedral asked Great Arts. Period. to help create a virtual holiday performance. Relive the magic of the holiday season with classic carols, sacred masterpieces, poetry, and more captured in the beautiful cathedral. Recorded live and while following all health & safety guidelines…
Carnation Contemporary is pleased to present Pangea, a solo show featuring recent work by Hannah Newman. Pangea releases a stream of potential energy from language and inanimate objects, sending resources and bodies into intersecting orbits. Rocks, minerals, research, digital technology, sound, and sculpture are mined for their poetic possibilities to create new supercontinents–clumps of information…
All of Portland is a stage in Resonance Ensemble’s new digital concert series, Under the Overpass. Beginning in the summer of 2020, artists were filmed in acoustic spaces under Portland’s famous bridges — six feet apart, masked, and yet making music together. On Wednesday, January 27 at 3:00 PM, Resonance will release its third episode…
“Observations from Nature” is a visual arts exhibition including a series of approximately one dozen hand thrown ceramic plate forms on view in the Fishbowl II window of Blackfish Gallery. These works depict illustrations of rural plant life created bytKate Simmons a Clackams County based artist and educator working in a variety of media.
Lents International Farmers Market opens on Sunday, June 2, 2019 and is open every Sunday through November 24, 2019. The Lents International Farmers Market (LIFM) is the only one in Portland with an intentional international focus. LIFM provides fresh, affordable and culturally appropriate produce to the diverse community of Lents neighbors. Founded in 2006 by…
Blanchet House’s 7th Annual Lend a Helping Hand Brunch will be held virtually on March 7, 2021, from 11 am – 12 pm. Blanchet House has provided free meals, clothing, and shelter to thousands of people during the pandemic. Join us in celebrating and supporting the Blanchet House community while honoring the legacy many have…
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