Portland boasts a stellar music scene, ample museums and galleries, and some of the best arts walks and festivals anywhere — and exploring them all doesn’t take busting your budget. This itinerary of cheap things to do in Portland is designed to help any arts lover 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.
Introduced in 2016, Portland’s bike-share program brings 1,000 smart bicycles to the central city.
Portland's efficient light rail system connects the metro area and downtown core. Learn how to ride and where to go on MAX.
In April 2019, Portland launched a year-long citywide trial in of shareable electric scooters ("e-scooters"). Before boarding, check out our dos and don’ts for riding e-scooters in Portland.
Cheap Arts Activities in Portland
Breakfast and Browsing in Hawthorne District
Estimated cost: $7.50
Indulge in a heaping, music-themed breakfast sandwich at Fried Egg I’m in Love, which began as a beloved Portland food cart. Savor your gooey pesto and parmesan “Yolko Ono” sandwich ($7.50) amidst an egg-themed mural and plenty of yolk-yellow accents.
Stroll the boulevard and check out nearby murals using online maps from Portland Street Art Alliance (don’t forget to snap some souvenir photos in front of these works of art!). Next, do some vintage shopping — or browsing, to protect your pocketbook — at House of Vintage, Red Light or Savvy Plus. Hawthorne is known for its resale shops and even if you don’t buy, you’ll find plenty of entertaining eye candy.
Travel Time to Next Destination
Pedal Downtown for Public Art
Estimated cost: $6–7
Next, hop on a neon orange Biketown rental at a nearby kiosk for a quick ride to downtown Portland. You’ll pay a $5 sign-up fee plus $0.08 per minute, and the downhill ride will take about 15 minutes ($6.20).
Dock the bike and spend an hour or two scoping out some of the city’s expansive public art collection. Download this free walking map to explore more than 100 centrally located sites, both indoors and out. Standouts include Manuel Izquierdo’s The Dreamer (Southwest Third Avenue and Market Street) and Roland Hinton Perry’s Elk (Southwest Main Street and Third Avenue).
Don’t leave downtown without heading to the free Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art at Portland State University. Opened in 2019, this multi-floor museum features works by Northwest artists, as well as art by PSU faculty and students. The museum also hosts frequent events and rotates in works by national and international artists, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat and David Hockney.
Lunch and a Concert
Estimated cost: $5–10
For lunch, pick up some food cart fare ($5–10) and head to the elegant Old Church for its Wednesday lunchtime concert series (free). Soak in the classics performed by concert pianists, cellists and other musicians in this impressive restored 1882 church-turned-concert hall.
Travel Time to Next Destination
Get Lost in a City of Books
Estimated cost: Free
Weave through nine color-coded rooms packed with books at the three-story Powell’s City of Books (free), open since 1971. (There’s a map to help you find your way.) On Sundays, visitors can join a free 45-minute tour. Any day, you can get a glimpse of the rare book room, which houses 9,000 volumes valued at $1.8 million. Their oldest book dates back to 1480! Don’t miss the stellar art book collection and frequent free reading in the top-floor Pearl Room.
Punk Rock Pizza
Estimated cost: $2–8
Across the street, grab a hand-tossed slice at Sizzle Pie and take a photo with the pizza-themed food pyramid mural. The punk rock pizza shop offers $2 half-slices, crave-worthy salads and plenty of options for vegans, vegetarians and omnivores alike.
Estimated cost: Free–$6
Up the block, catch an art-house film at the plush Living Room Theaters ($6 on Mondays and Tuesdays). Or duck into the basement of the Crystal Hotel for free live music from rotating musicians-in-residence at Al’s Den (free). Back on the eastside, you can also catch free local music at Rontoms‘ Sunday Sessions (free).
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 Things to Do in Portland for History Buffs
Experience Portland’s history without breaking your budget.
Powell’s City of Books
Covering an entire city block, Powell’s has grown into a Portland landmark and the world's largest new and used bookstore — and its location is at the heart of the city, bridging the Pearl District, downtown and the West End.
Visual Arts in Portland
View paintings, sculptures and other visual art in a wide range of galleries, public spaces and unexpected venues.
Piano Push Play Brings Music to the People
Piano Push Play invites local artists to transform old, donated pianos into whimsical works of art which are distributed across the city.
Popular Food Carts
Rather than being overwhelmed by the hundreds of food carts in Portland, choose a day's worth of meals from these popular food carts.
Portland’s cycling culture peaks during summer’s multi-week Pedalpalooza, featuring 200+ local-led, themed rides, all open to the public.
Portland Parks & Recreation offers over 400 free events including free movie screenings, concerts and rock climbing.
Celebrate the season of DAHLIAS. A Rainbow of Color. Stroll through almost 40 acres and a beautiful display garden of stunning dahlias featuring over 370 varieties. The beautiful fields are open from August to September each year, closed on Wednesday. Pick out and order your favorite dahlias for Spring delivery and planting. Purchase a beautiful…
Minority Retort, the NW’s premier standup showcase featuring Black and Brown comedians, is proud to team up with Kickstand Comedy and Portland Parks and Rec to bring you Comedy in the Park. The show starts at 6 pm with Kickstand Comedy and another one of their outstanding lineups that make them Portland’s home for local…
Join in one of the oldest Street Fairs in Portland Portland’s Multnomah Village is filled with character – as well as dozens of unique shops, galleries, restaurants, arts and more. Multnomah Days is a one-day open-air family-friendly street festival with 100+ vendor booths, live musical acts, street entertainers, art, food and beverage carts, plus outdoor…
Year-round on Saturdays, the Hollywood Farmers Markets hosts 50+ vendors, bringing you the best of the region’s agricultural bounty. In addition to amazingly fresh, local food, you’ll find live music, children’s activities, and fun events throughout the season. April through September, every Saturday 8 AM to 1 PM,October and November, every Saturday 9 AM to…
The Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University will be open every Saturday, year-round. April through October hours are 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. November through March hours are 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Market at PSU is located in Downtown Portland in the South Park Blocks between SW College & Montgomery Streets.
Rocky Butte Farmers Market is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit providing area residents with access to affordable, seasonal, and locally grown foods and artisan products. The market’s goal is to lower barriers to market participation for beginning and under-represented vendors and to strengthen connections within these diverse NE Portland communities. Rocky Butte Farmers Market is organized…
The PDX Adult Soapbox Derby at Mt. Tabor Park pits grown-up kids against each other every August in pursuit of speed and laughs.
Open every Saturday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
Lents International Farmers Market opens on Sunday, June 5, 2022, and is open every Sunday through November 20, 2020. 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…
The popular Woodstock Farmers Market features fresh produce, baked goods, fresh juices, sweets, cheese, meat and more from 30+ vendors, along with artisan-made products like jewelry, ceramics and art.
The Portland Flea + Food is a weekly market held every Sunday from April to October in Portland, Oregon. Every market features 80+ local artists, makers, and curators of the best vintage, handmade and locally sourced goods in town.
Come out and enjoy the last Sunday Parkways of the season with this 6 -mile (9.7km) ride in Northeast Portland. Enjoy the walking/biking in the Southeast Neighborhoods. Visit Gateway Discovery Park, Ventura Park, Lincoln Park, and Parklane Park. This year’s Sunday Parkways routes are specially designed to highlight Portland’s neighborhood greenway network and parks. There…
Visit one of Portland’s original “shop local” districts every August for the Hawthorne Street Fair, where you can explore over 200 businesses while enjoying food, beer and activities. Hawthorne: From the Drawbridge to the Volcano.
Portland’s annual, family-friendly Middle East Festival showcases food, drinks, live dancing and concerts, along with children’s activities, a bookstore and a silent auction.
Started in 1986, First Thursday in the Pearl is a district-wide celebration that occurs on the first Thursday of each month. Originally a gathering of art collectors and dealers, the celebration has grown to a monthly event of over ten thousand people that includes art enthusiasts, wine aficionados, and scenesters looking to see and be…
Every September, spectators gather to see the world’s largest roost of Vaux’s swifts swarm and spiral into the chimney of a Northwest Portland school.
Portland’s Art In The Pearl Fine Arts and Craft Festival celebrates 26 years of bringing art to the community. The distinctly artist-run event has long been a favorite in Portland, and it’s the perfect Labor Day destination to gather and celebrate the end of summer. Art In The Pearl is Portland’s largest outdoor art fair,…
Lents Cultural Fair at the Lents International Farmers Market. Sunday, Sept. 4 (Labor Day Weekend). Live Music. Dance Performances (Portland Lee’s Lion and Dragon Dance Team, Moon Patrol Breakdancers, and more.) Prizes and giveaways too. Free / All ages. (PBOT plaza SE 91st and Foster in Lents Town Center.)
Come Thru Market is an incubator market centering on Black and Indigenous Farmers and Makers. The market supports BIPOC growers in taking their small business dreams to the farmers’ market environment.
Enjoy Portland’s annual Dragon Boat Festival, featuring dragon boat racing along with food vendors, a beer garden and more. The event features as many as 96 dragon boat teams from all over the world who race in Taiwan-style dragon boats.
Parkrose Marketplace is a new outdoor market in NE Portland located at 10750 NE Sandy Blvd, across from Parkrose Hardware. Over 60 vendors bringing extraordinary art and craft, jewelry and clothing and things that are just hard to describe – but very cool. Great food, a family-friendly beer garden, live music and just friendly people…
Portland Indigenous Marketplace supports indigenous artists and entrepreneurs by providing barrier-free, culturally respectful spaces that encourage cultural resilience and economic sustainability by promoting public education through cultural arts. Indigenous & Black Vendors Raffle Music You can not miss it, in the parking lot 432 NE 74th Ave Portland, OR 97213 Plenty of parking available on-site…
El Grito Fiestas Patrias celebrates the independence of Mexico and other Latin American countries from Spain. As the Mexican President presents the nation’s traditional El Grito in Mexico City, so too will Portland commemorates Mexico’s independence at the Moda Center/Rose Quarter Commons. Join in the most important holiday celebrated by the Hispanic community in Oregon….
The historic town of St. Helens, located 45 minutes from Portland, celebrates Halloween all month long with haunted tours, costume contests and more.
The Annual Serbian Festival celebrates the Serbian culture and customs through the food, music, dances and the spirit of our Serbian hospitality. Many festival goers have come to enjoy the flavors of traditional Serbian food and join in the traditional kolo dancing and singing. This has helped raise money to keep cultural programs and activities…
For two weekends every October, Portland Open Studios invites visitors to explore the houses and offices of artists across the city.
This annual race series consists of paddlers piloting a gaggle of gigantic gourds through a watercourse.
Looking to up your bike bag game? Have gear gathering dust in the closet? Come to the shop, trade in your used items, and North St. Bags will give you a discount on your next purchase. This summer, North St. is partnering with the Community Cycling Center, a PDX-based nonprofit, to connect your old bags…
Explore Portland Independent Bookstores and Libraries for a chance to win Prizes. Find your favorite Portland based Author, Book, Story or Setting and share on BabbleBuy for more chances to win. Presented by Venture Portland.
Folktales inspire those young and old. They harken back to childhood and stories of culture and home. This exhibit showcases tales of the past from voices of contemporary artists. Our exhibit hall will be the home to work from local artists who have reimagined classical Nordic folktales. These tales include The Witch in the Stone…
The exhibition showcases contemporary works on paper from 23 artists whose drawing practices emphasize process, including William Anastasi, Arnold Kemp, Marco Maggi, Allyson Strafella, and Joan Waltemath. Making a Mark illuminates the wide variety of expressions possible when materials and tools take center stage.
DJ Jupiter Williams will be performing at the Square over the lunch hour. Pioneer Courthouse Square, also known as Portland’s living room, is a public space occupying a full 40,000-square-foot city block in the center of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States.
FUNK SOUL COLLECTIVE Outer Orbit is a funk-soul collective led by Galen Clark (Trio Subtonic, Sleater Kinney) and fronted by vocalist Sarah Clarke (Dirty Revival, Con Brio). The band features an all-star lineup of Tyrone Hendrix (Prince, Allen Stone), Damian Erskine (Skerik Band), Peter Knudsen (Ghost-note, greaterkind) and Mike Elson (Swatkins and the Positive Agenda)….
4th Wall has a Nintendo Switch, a pile of games, and a 150 inch projector screen. They also have beer, pizza, and popcorn, a little something for everyone. 8/3 – Family Game Night8/10 – Jackbox Night8/17 – Mario Kart Tournament ($5 entry)8/24 – Smash Bros Tournament ($5 entry)
Music Workshop’s Soundwaves program will bring youth ages 8 and up and their families to The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts for eight interactive performances with professional musicians. Concerts will be held Aug. 16, 18, 23 and 24 and will include performances by Thomas Lauderdale and China Forbes of Pink Martini, DJ Prashant, Thunderstorm…
Join for lunch-time serenades downtown in Portland’s living room—Pioneer Courthouse Square. Inspired by Portland’s food cart culture, Opera a la Cart is a mobile performance venue that brings live opera performances directly into the community spaces where people gather. Designed and built by architecture students at Portland State University, the cart features a fold-out stage…
Stephanie Chefas Projects is delighted to Lindsey Cuenca Walker’s solo debut at the gallery. Walker’s work intimately draws from the artist’s daily life, surroundings, and imagination. “I find my work ends up straddling lines or being of a dichotomous nature – strange/familiar, tough/fragile, abstraction/representation – and I think that’s where my interests lie.”
A bonus mid-week, bite-sized market for the summer season, Thursdays on the Plaza will typically include five farmers and food vendors, a beer garden courtesy of Threshold Brewing, and live music. Families, leashed dogs, and outside food are welcome. Check Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, for updates on vendors, music schedules, and more. In collaboration with…
PDX Originals is a local shop that specializes in custom furniture. They love supporting local artists by curating and adorning the showroom with their art and ceramics. They are hosting their second annual party with drinks, snacks, and art. Come by to see the new art and meet the artists.
Join Erath every Thursday this Summer for our Summer Tunes music series. Every Thursday from June through August, the Erath Urban Tasting Room will host a different Portland-based musician for an evening of great music and, of course, great wine. They will have wine tasting experiences available by reservation as well as wine by the…
CONCERT: Sabroso – Latin to funk and everything in between Brothers Pablo and Ricardo Ojeda have been writing and playing music together for as long as they can remember. Their musical writing style has taken many forms during the evolution of their sound. From the national touring dance floor packing beats of Rubberneck to the…
The Juicy Jam’s only goal is to jam, and The Juicy Jam’s only rule is no covers. Instrumentalists can blast off on space jams and be the backing band to songwriters from all over the place. Songwriters can find their band and explore new material in an environment that’s soaking wet with excitement. Parker’s Hideout…
Pull up a lawn chair and enjoy a beautiful evening showing The Goonies (1985) PG Old-fashioned yarn about a band of adventurous kids who take on the might of a property development company that plans to destroy their home to build a country club. When the children discover an old pirate map in the attic,…
Fantasy full of life, magic, laughter, and love is the perfect reemergence for Shakespeare in the Park. The Tempest, The Bard’s final play, is an adventure unlike any other, and Bag&Baggage Productions is pleased to be bringing you a beautiful bilingual adaptation by TS McCormick and director Yasmin Ruvalcaba. Twelve years ago, Prospero was Duke…
Stop by the Hoyt Arboretum Visitor Center courtyard from 10 AM -12 PM to explore Pop-Up Nature displays and pick-up your own Nature Passport. Collect stamps of discovery for each weekly display you visit. After collecting 6 stamps, you earn a nature investigation prize.
Oregon Contemporary presents In My Own Little Corner, a solo exhibition by Willie Little. In My Own Little Corner is the third and final exhibition in the large-scale program Site, a series of exhibitions by Oregon artists replacing the Portland 2021 Biennial. The exhibition is a multimedia, interactive installation consisting of a series of vignettes…
On the Ledge is Blanchet House’s annual art show benefiting Portland’s art community and helping people experiencing homelessness. The Art Show is a special opportunity to see the work of 30+ local artists centered around this year’s theme of Comfort Food. Opening Night Reception will be on August 4th from 5-8 pm Register for Opening…
CONCERT: Eldon T Jones + Friends – Romantic sounds of saxophone jazz and love songs, featuring Arietta Ward, Rich Layton, Rae Gordon, and Ronnie Wright. Saxophonist Eldon T Jones is one of Portland’s best saxophone players of jazz, gospel, and soul music.
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