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 is a landmark, a great bookstore and a microcosm of the city itself.
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.
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. The Noon Tunes Summer Concert Series will return for its 30th year on Tuesdays in July and August! From noon-1:00pm enjoy music from some of Portland’s best regional and local musical talent. With eight FREE concerts, dancing, some of Portland’s favorite food vendors at Carts…
Open every Saturday and Sunday from March–December, Portland Saturday Market is the largest arts-and-crafts fair in the U.S.
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Bring a blanket or chair to enjoy the fourth annual Portland Picnic in Westmoreland Park. Featuring tastings from an array of 100 wines from around the world. There will also be beer available from Level Beer and nonalcoholic beverages to enjoy. A great selection of…
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. The Fete de la Bastille is the West Coast’s largest Bastille Day celebration. The festival is free and open to the public and attracts as many 8,000 participants. A fun tradition during this festival is the Annual Waiters Race. The popular Portland Waiters Race returns…
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. On five Friday evenings in July and August, the Square will be transformed into Portland’s largest outdoor movie theater for the entire community to enjoy! Flicks on the Bricks will kick-off on Friday, July 17 and continue through August 14 on Friday nights. IKEA will…
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Oregon Northwest Merfest is a festival for the entire family that brings awareness to conservation with a fun “under the sea” theme. Join Oregon Mermaids for a day of mermaids, pirates, sea-themed entertainers, puppet shows and ocean-themed yoga. Oregon Mermaids impart their love of the…
This family-friendly bike ride features local vendors and live entertainment.
Head to Gateway in Northeast Portland for Sunday Parkways’ 4.8-mile loop of the neighborhood. One of the shorter routes of the summer, Gateway’s Sunday Parkways is a great option for families and friends who want to walk (instead of bike) at the event. Parks along the route include Hazelwood Hydro Park, Gateway Discovery Park, Knott…
EVENT POSTPONED. Please visit the event website for current information. Celebrate the funky charm of one of Southeast Portland’s oldest neighborhoods at the Division/Clinton District’s annual Street Fair and Parade. The morning parade along Division and Clinton Streets will kick off a full day of live music, family fun, children’s events, great food, interesting art,…
Portland’s biannual art and craft fair boasts unique handmade wares from 225+ local vendors.
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Stroll down Stark Street and enjoy district businesses, vendors, a farmer’s market and family-friendly entertainment and activities.
EVENT POSTPONED. Please visit the event website for current information. The Portland Flea + Food is a monthly market held on the last Sunday of the month in Portland, Oregon. Every market features 80+ local artists, makers, and curators of the best vintage, handmade and locally-sourced goods in town.
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Join the Oregon Chinese Coalition for the city’s annual Chinese Festival in the Square! Celebrate Chinese American culture and enjoy nonstop entertainment, delicious Chinese food, authentic arts, crafts and much more.
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. The 23rd Annual Elephant Garlic Festival is a three-day festival celebrating, you guessed it, elephant garlic! The family-friendly event includes a parade, 10K run, live music, kids play area, crafts vendors and more. Fun stinks!
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Oregon’s annual Pan African Festival celebrates the presence, resilience, strength, and influence of Pan Africans (Africans, Caribbean and African Americans) in Oregon. We believe the festival is a cultural vehicle to galvanize, mobilize and empower Diaspora Africans in Oregon. It is a springboard to community…
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Portland’s Multnomah Village is filled with character – as well as dozens of unique shops, galleries, restaurants, arts and more. The annual Multnomah Days Parade (dubbed “the biggest little parade in Portland”) is the neighborhood’s old-school street fair, starting with a parade and featuring vendors…
The PDX Adult Soapbox Derby at Mt. Tabor Park pits grown-up kids against each other every August in pursuit of speed and laughs.
LIVE EVENT CANCELED. This event will now be held virtually, please visit the event website for current information. India Festival brings India to downtown Portland! This festival is a celebration of India’s Independence Day with live music, dance, food and other entertainment. India Festival is hosted by the India Cultural Association, a non-profit dedicated to…
Sunday Parkways heads to the historic North Park Blocks forit s 7-mile route along Portland’s Green Loop. This ride will pass by multiple cultural hotspots, including the Portland Art Museum, North and South Park Blocks, Lovejoy Fountain, Portland State University and the city’s Central Eastside. To view the complete route (and find more rides), visit…
The Art in the Pearl annual Fine Arts & Crafts Festival occurs every year on Labor Day weekend in the Pearl District’s North Park Blocks. The Festival is free and requires no tickets for entry. Art In The Pearl has been named one of the top 10 Arts and Crafts Festivals in the country and…
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.
Come out and enjoy the last Sunday Parkways of the season with this 7.6-mile ride in Northeast Portland! Enjoy the walking/biking boulevard of Ainsworth along with the neighborhood greenways of Going street, Holman street and Alberta Court. Parks along this route include Alberta Park, Woodlawn Park, Fernhill Park and Khunamokwst Park. To view the complete…
The Portland Greek Festival is celebrated as the largest Greek Festival on the west coast with more than 15,000 people attending. This cultural experience features Greek food, music, dance and shopping! The Agora – the Greek marketplace features imported merchandise, clothing, jewelry, icons, flokati rugs and cookbooks. Among the fabulous food, exclusive cooking demonstrations, and…
This annual race series consists of paddlers piloting a gaggle of gigantic gourds through a water course.
Honor Veterans Day with Portland’s annual Veterans Day Parade. The Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. at Northeast 40th and Northeast Sandy Boulevard and travels down Sandy, ending at Sandy & 48th in front of Ross Hollywood Chapel, which is the site of the Veterans Memorial Flag pole. At the conclusion of the parade, there is…
EVENT CANCELED FOR 2020. Please visit the event website for current information. 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…
Looptworks uses only what already exists to create new functional products (including upcycled bags, apparel and accessories). Looptworks is committed to upcycling and closed loop solutions. Its intent is to reduce and eliminate waste in its industry headed to the landfill. Participate and witness the Looptworks upcycling production and circular economy firsthand. Tour Schedule &…
Chamber Music’s biggest stars – André Watts, Ida Kavafian, Paul Neubauer, Tara Helen O’Connor, Emerson String Quartet, and more – perform colorful works by great French composers Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Poulenc, and Ravel. Presented by Chamber Music Northwest.
A comedy open mic hosted by Eddie Churnetski and Benton Crider. 18+ until 8 p.m., 21+ after 8 p.m. If you are under 21 and would like to go up early, please message the Trash Amp Productions Facebook page.
Join up on a 30-minute tour of Saké Brewery. Starts 1pm, 2pm & 3pm
In this new exclusive performance from Austin, TX, the Miró Quartet will conclude their year-long cycle of Beethoven’s string quartets with Opus 131 – considered by Beethoven his greatest achievement in the quartet form – and Opus 135 and 130 Finale, his last compositions before his death. Presented by Chamber Music Northwest.
Chamber Music Northwest takes you to the zoo with Saint-Saëns famous The Carnival of the Animals! Enjoy an auditory parade of lions, elephants, kangaroos, and more in this fun, family-friendly performance with entertaining narration by pianist Orion Weiss.
Chamber Music Northwest future Artistic Directors Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim perform masterpieces by Bartók and Shostakovich, followed by Stravinsky’s powerhouse The Rite of Spring performed by pianists Anne-Marie McDermott and Gilles Vonsattel.
Every third Wednesday of the month at noon, photography enthusiasts gather at the Portland Art Museum to hear talks by regional photographers, gallerists, historians, curators and collectors.
Celebrate the great American composer and humorist Peter Schickele on his 85th birthday! Chamber Music Northwest’s program will include his acclaimed Spring Forward clarinet quintet.
One of Brooks Winery’s most popular events is back! We are extending our hours and serving delicious pizza from our wood-fired oven as well as a salad and dessert option (sorry, no gluten free pizza option). Wines by the glass or bottle will be available for purchase. Come get your pizza on! Please note that…
EVENT CANCELED. Please visit the event website for current information. Celebrate art with free, family-friendly fun at the annual Gresham Arts Festival with more than 140 artists, live music, a break dance competition and more. The Gresham Arts Festival draws thousands from around the region each year to Gresham’s charming downtown streets to meet, browse…
In this new exclusive performance from their hometown of Boston, Chamber Music Northwest Artistic Directors Gloria Chien and Soovin Kim, along with cellist Paul Watkins, will play Beethoven piano trio masterpieces from “Archduke Trio.” Presented by Chamber Music Northwest.
Presented by Chamber Music Northwest (CMNW) Summer Festival. Bring the whole family to this magical, mysterious and funny performance of Bruce Adolphe’s Marita and Her Heart’s Desire. Young Marita – whose role is played by the violin – goes on a journey searching for her heart’s desire and is joined by a menagerie of animals…
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.
Discover the next generation of classical music stars in this program of Ravel, Mozart, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time performed by Chamber Music Northwest Protégé Project artists and mentors. Chamber Music Northwest’s Protégé Project is a world-class professional residency for emerging professional musicians. Since its founding in 2010, Chamber Music Northwest’s Protégé…
From his home in Nashville, Grammy Award-winning bassist and composer Edgar Meyer preforms an evening of classical and crossover music, including a world premiere composed by CMNW Protégé George Meyer. Presented by Chamber Music Northwest.
Join us for Brooks’ inaugural all-day Saturday brunch! Our brunch menu will feature Chef Norma’s famous chicken and waffles and other delicious brunch dishes! Please note that reservations are required.
Join David Shifrin in his final performance as Chamber Music Northwest’s Artistic Director. Preformance includes new clarinet solo written for him by David Ludwig and revisiting great performances of Bach’s Concerto for Violin and Oboe in C Minor with solos by oboist Allan Vogel and violinist Soovin Kim and more. Presented by Chamber Music Northwest.
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…
Discover the advantage custom wood cabinetry provides when facing complex design challenges! By balancing period-appropriate architectural specifications with modern performance standards, and combining historic techniques and modern technologies, we break down how to tackle the toughest of challenges. Learn why wood, one of our most valuable, renewable resources, is a key component to achieving seamless…
Enjoy free admission to the Museum the first Thursday of each month from 5 – 8 p.m.
On the First Thursday of the month from 5-8 p.m, the Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education participates in the city-wide First Thursday Gallery Walk. During the First Thursday hours, the museum is open and free to the public.
Come one, come all and join up for First Friday at Portland Craft Bar! Each First Friday of the month, the Portland Craft Bar will select a small art or craft to do in the studio and open for free to all people, all ages. Check the Bar’s website or its Facebook or Instagram feeds…
Enjoy a pop-up reading library at Portland’s Independent Publishing Resource Center. Browse a selection of unique zines focused on grassroots movements, both local and global.