John Patrick Pullen

48 hours in Portland

A two-day walking tour of Portland includes an indie book mecca, local art, peaceful gardens, craft beer and lots of great food.

4 min read

John Patrick Pullen

Two days and too much to see — that’s the battle cry of many a traveler. Luckily, Portland is easy to traverse and has plenty of attractions convenient to its city center. Make the most of your spin through Stumptown with this 48-hour plan.

Day 1: Northwest walking

On your first day in town, explore the central city’s northwest quadrant to get a feel for our diverse neighborhoods.

Old Town Chinatown

You’ll burn plenty of calories on this adventure, so don’t be shy with the breakfast menu at Bijou Cafe, a Portland institution that’s been slinging oyster omelets and tofu scrambles for 35 years. It’s only a three-block jaunt to Portland Saturday Market (also open Sundays), where artisans sell local, hand-crafted goods that include jewelry, pottery and clothes.

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.

If you’ve been bit by the shopping bug, walk up West Burnside Street to Powell’s City of Books, which, with 3,500 different sections, is the world’s largest independent bookstore. Or, if you’re shopped out, take a short detour into the Old Town Chinatown district, where the Lan Su Chinese Garden carves a walled sanctuary out of an entire block, offering visitors a Zen-filled escape.

Pearl District

After enjoying the garden’s leafy trees or leafing through books, head back to the bricks to explore the Pearl District. A former industrial area, this neighborhood is now home to boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cocktail lounges. Make your way north and enjoy the people watching at Jamison Square.

If you’re ready to tap into Portland’s famed microbrew scene, head to Deschutes Brewery & Public House. The state’s largest craft beer producer, Central-Oregon-based Deschutes has been a Pearl District staple since 2008. Order the sampler tray to taste a variety of beers, some available only at this location.

Northwest Portland

Next, head west (either on foot or by streetcar) to Northwest Portland. A tree-lined street with some of the city’s toniest shops and eateries, Northwest 23rd Avenue is perfect for a leisurely stroll, but don’t resist the temptation of happy hour specials and dinner menus along the way. Neighborhood favorites include Olympia Provisions NW, which serves up finger-licking snacks like fried almonds and marinated olives; Northwest 21st’s Paley’s Place is helmed by an acclaimed local chef and specializes in Pacific Northwest fare; and Bamboo Sushi, which serves the most eco-friendly Japanese dishes you’ll find anywhere.

Goose Hollow or West End

Finally, it’s time for evening entertainment. From Northwest Portland, it’s a short walk south to Providence Park, home of the Portland Timbers soccer team, or east to the Crystal Ballroom, which frequently hosts bands and dance parties.

If there’s no more bounce left in your step, a movie at Living Room Theaters is in order. With art films, popular movies, cocktails and food, this comfortable movie house close to Powell’s will even let you put your feet up.

Day 2: Hitting the heights

Spend your second day discovering some of Portland’s most beloved destinations.

Museums for all ages

If you’re with children (or are a kid at heart), it’s less than a mile’s walk over the Hawthorne Bridge to OMSI, where hands-on exhibits and a decommissioned submarine stir the imagination.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

With a planetarium, a giant-screen theater, a retired navy submarine, traveling exhibits and “After Dark” events, OMSI has lures for all ages.

Alternatively, it’s only a half-mile stroll downtown to the Portland Art Museum, where Native, modern and contemporary art have inspired visitors since 1892.

Washington Park

Spend the afternoon in Washington Park, a 160-acre wonderland with multiple attractions that could each fill up a day.

It’s easiest to take MAX to the park’s west edge, where the World Forestry CenterPortland Children’s Museum and Oregon Zoo pull together educational exhibits that kids will never forget.

The park’s east side can be reached on foot or by bus from downtown Portland, and is home to the peaceful International Rose Test Garden and stunning Portland Japanese Garden, both of which are impeccably maintained and perfect for capturing quiet moments of reflection – and great skyline views.

Oregon Zoo

The West's oldest zoo, located just minutes from downtown Portland in visitor-friendly Washington Park, is home to 2,200 animals.

Dinner and dessert

For more inspiring sights, head back downtown for dinner at Portland City Grill or Departure, where the sky-high views will put your two days criss-crossing the city in perspective. Or visit Higgins Restaurant or Clyde Common, where the focus is on delectable regional fare and expertly crafted cocktails.

Wherever you eat, be sure to leave room for dessert at Voodoo Doughnut — their colorful, sugar-coated treats are available 24 hours a day, so their Old Town shop makes a great final stop, whenever your evening or trip comes to an end.

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