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.
Beyond big trees and picnic tables, Washington Park offers a zoo, two museums, gardens and more, all bordered by one of the country’s premier urban wildernesses.
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).
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.
Every year, thousands of Portlanders gather at Pioneer Courthouse Square to celebrate the lighting of the spectacular 75 Douglas-fir tree provided by Stimson Lumber Company. Join up for a community sing-a-long (limited edition holiday songbooks will be available at the event or for download on our website). Pre-show entertainment begins at 5 p.m. With a…
Find unique handmade bikey gifts for your whole crew at this year’s BikeCraft Holiday Gift Fair. When you’ve checked off your list, stick around for food, drinks, music and a comfy place to hang on a winter day. BikeCraft brings together the area’s best and brightest designers, artists, authors and crafters in a fun and…
The Christmas Ship Parade started in 1954 with one lone sailboat from Portland Yacht Club. Bows of green with some ribbon where tied along the rails and it paraded on the rivers. The next year the parade started to grow Today, the Christmas Ship Fleet averages about 55 to 60 boats between the Columbia and…
ADX and Portland Made invite you to celebrate the holidays at Gifted: A Holiday Night Market. Local artists and makers include Ayumi Angel, Animal.Plant.Mineral, Sticker Ninja, Blendily, Clay Factor Ceramics, Otter Wax, Just Joey Rose, High Society Collection, Bitter Housewife, Sweet Body Laboratories, Mad Sass Soap, New Deal Distillery, Renee Staeck, Cat Odell, Midnight Pacific,…
First Caturday is a day to reclaim the glory of the outdoors for our feline friends. It is a day for delightful outdoor cat-napping and socializing, and where cat owners can freely exchange information, friendship and joy to help make their cats happy and healthy. Some cats actually like leash walks; others like stroller walks…
Portland’s biannual art and craft fair boasts unique handmade wares from 225+ local vendors.
Together, Pioneer Courthouse Square and Portland Mall Management, Inc. are hosting the Sixth Annual Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition that was originally held throughout Downtown in the early ’90s. The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition is a fun and festive event that will bring caroling groups of all ages to the heart of downtown.
Downtown will pulse with the melodic sounds of big brass as nearly 300 tubas play in unison for the 29th Annual Tuba Christmas Concert in the heart of downtown. This event is free and open to the public.