Which museums are free in Portland Oregon

Portland in Oregon - the unmistakable trendsetter among US cities

Creative, alternative, sustainable, innovative, green and so much more. Portland, the largest city in Oregon, is a place that is a little bit the model city of the USA and offers a very special flair. In addition, visitors can also expect a lot of nature, tax-free shopping, numerous breweries, a lot of handicrafts and an unbelievable creative scene.

Table of Contents
Portland Numbers, Dates, Facts | Weather and Climate in Portland | Tickets for attractions and activities | Portland population | Politics | Economy and Infrastructure | Portland for tourists | Portland and its bridges | Activities in Portland | Find Accommodation in Portland | Worthwhile day trips from Portland | Portland's story

But also a lot of clichés. The US TV series "Portlandia" seems to be a parody at first glance. But - it is said - reality and television are very similar, which makes the visit even more exciting.

We have summarized some reasons for and information about the unique city in Oregon for you. Portland is located in the northwestern United States on the northwestern edge of Oregon.

Numbers, data, facts about Portland

  • founding: February 8, 1851
  • State: Oregon
  • Time zone: Pacific (UTC-8 / -7)
  • Residents: 654,741 (2019 estimated)
  • surface: 376.5 square kilometers
  • Population density: 1,734.7 inhabitants per square kilometer
  • height: 15.2 meters
  • Postcodes: 97222-97296
  • prefix: +1 503, 971
  • mayor: Ted Wheeler
  • Nicknames: Rose City, P-Town, Stumptown, Bridgetown, PDX, Little Beirut, Beertown


Weather and climate in Portland

Portland's climate is relatively mild with high rainfall. Portland is the rainiest city in the state of Oregon and you have to expect rainfall almost always except in summer. Even then, it is not extremely hot with average temperatures of 27 degrees Celsius. In winter, between November and January, the lowest temperatures are between 4.7 degrees Celsius and 1.8 degrees Celsius. At these times, precipitation between 400 and 600 mm can be expected. Nonetheless, it is relatively sunny in Portland. While you can look forward to at least two hours of sunshine a day in winter, up to seven hours of sunshine a day are possible in July. Thanks to the mild temperatures, Portland is worth a trip all year round. The best time to travel is from spring to autumn, when there is comparatively little rainfall.

Tickets for attractions and activities

Tickets for sights and activities in Portland can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

Population of Portland

More than 2.3 million people live in the greater Portland area. In the city in the northwest, 77.1 percent of the population is predominantly white. 5.8 percent are African American, 8.1 percent have Asian roots, 0.7 percent are Native Americans or people of Alaskan ancestry, while 0.7 percent are from Hawaii or other Pacific islands. 9.7 percent of the population are Hispanics. The distribution between men and women is even. The proportion of women is just over 50 percent.

The metropolitan area of ​​Portland is considered to be the least religious city in the United States. A full 42 percent of the population say they are atheists, agnostics or do not belong to any religion.


Politics in Portland, Oregon, is primarily democratic. Since 1988 the Democratic presidential candidates have been given preference in the elections. In 2016, Hillary Clinton (Democrat) was elected by 50.07 percent and Donald Trump (Republican) by 39.09 percent of the people. Acting Mayor Ted Wheeler is also a Democrat. He has held this office since 2017. Portland and its suburbs are administered by a district government. Portland is one of the focal points of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.

Economy and Infrastructure

The town in the northwest is economically well positioned and in 2016 was ranked 20th among the metropolitan areas of the USA with an economic output of 165.5 billion US dollars. The unemployment rate is below the national average. The breweries are of particular importance to companies. Because this is where most of the breweries in the United States are based in terms of population. Other important companies include Adidas, the Leatherman Tool Group and Columbia Sportswear. The seaport is also very important to the city's economy. It is the third largest port in the United States by tonnage.

When it comes to infrastructure, the Oregon city is increasingly focusing on environmental protection. There is a tram and a light rail with Portland Streetcar and the MAX Light Rail. In addition, buses run in local public transport and there are special parking spaces for electric vehicles, which, unlike ordinary vehicles, are free. Those who like to ride a bike will get their money's worth in Portland. 400 kilometers of bike paths lead through the city and the town is also one of four municipalities in the USA that has been awarded the platinum rating of the League of American Bicyclists as a "Bicycle Friendly Community".

It can be reached by plane via Portland International Airport. For a long time, a highlight at the airport was the floor there. Because there on the floor was a blue-green carpet with a memorable pattern, which became famous around the world and was included in many clothing lines. When the carpet was removed, it attracted a lot of media attention.

Portland Union Station on the west bank of the Willamette River is served by the Amtrak long-distance trains Empire Builder, Cascades and Coast Starlight.

Portland for tourists

Rose City, P-Town, Bridgetown, PDX, Stumptown, Little Beirut, Beertown. Portland, Oregon has many names and so much more to offer its visitors. The city is incredibly green, a real El Dorado for all those who would like to combine nature and city trips. It is an insider tip for foodies and a not so secret tip for beer lovers, you can go shopping there, enjoy the unique creative scene, visit one or more microbreweries, experience art and much more. Depending on where you focus, you will always find something entertaining in Portland.

In the city on the northwestern outskirts of Oregon, you should definitely not miss the following attractions.

Cultural sights in Portland

  • Shanghai tunnel: Once upon a time, this great city, which we now know as Portland, was a place on the river where a lot went on. Did you know that Portland is also known as the "Forbidden City of the West"? This goes back to the time between around 1850 and 1941, when the so-called Shanghaiing is said to have been carried out in the Shanghai Tunnel. Young, strong men were made drunk and then captured and sold to captains, on whose ships they then had to work without pay. Probably one of the less moral and certainly not at all friendly ways to get a crew.

    The Shanghai Tunnels or the Portland Underground consist of tunnel passages that connect the old town of Portland (Chinatown) with the central downtown area of ​​Portland. The basement floors of many bars and hotels in the city center were connected to the promenade of the Willamette River by the tunnels, so that the supplies from ships docking there could be brought directly to the basement for storage. These catacombs can be visited today as part of various guided tours. There is also a museum to learn more about this part of Portland's history, where decency and morality were in short supply, at least in the Shanghai Tunnel.

  • Portland City Hall: Portland City Hall is the seat of the city council. In addition to being home to the city council, it's also a historic building from 1895 that is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Must-see museums in Portland

  • Pittock Mansion: The Pittock Mansion, built in 1914, tells the story of Portland's transformation from a pioneering city to a modern, industrialized city through the history and legacy of one of its most influential families, the Pittocks. The house was saved from demolition in 1964 by committed citizens. Today the manor house and the surrounding property are accessible as a museum. The Pittock-Mansion impresses with its impressive architecture and 23 rooms full of antiques and works of art. Pittock Mansion hosts changing historical exhibitions that allow visitors to learn more about the lives of residents of the city, Oregon, and the United States. Pittock Mansion is particularly beautiful at Christmas time when the house is festively decorated.
  • Portland Art Museum: The Portland Art Museum was founded in 1892 and is the seventh oldest museum in the United States and the oldest of its kind on the west coast of the United States. The museum has an exhibition area of ​​22,000 square meters and over 42,000 exhibits. The focus of the collection is, inter alia, Artwork by artists who practiced their art in Oregon. But also French art, exhibits from the arts and crafts and more works by internationally known artists can be found there. Anyone who loves art should definitely get their money's worth here while marveling at the works of art. Because Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso are just a few internationally known names whose art you can experience in the Portland Art Museum.
  • Oregon Historical Society: The Oregon Historical Society offers an interactive exhibit that makes the history of Oregon and America visible and accessible. Permanent and traveling exhibitions, in which rare documents and artifacts are shown, await on three floors. An excellent opportunity to learn more about the people, places and events that shaped the history of Oregon and America.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry: The OMSI is located on the banks of the Willamette River and opened in 1944. It is a technology museum that houses several science areas, including the Turbine Hall, which houses a steam turbine, and several laboratories for chemistry, lasers, and other areas. The absolute highlight, however, is the USS Blueback (SS-581), a submarine that lies in the river in front of the museum and can be viewed.
  • Pioneer Courthouse: The Pioneer Courthouse is located in the heart of downtown Portland right on Pioneer Courthouse Square. Listed as a National Historic Landmark, the courthouse is the most important 19th century government building in the Pacific Northwest that survived into the 21st century. Visitors can marvel at the building, with its ornate corridors and dignified courtroom and dome, and view the many exhibits that tell the story of the building and the people who worked here.
  • World Forestry Center: Located in Portland's beautiful Washington Park, this 20,000 square meter Discovery Museum promises an entertaining stay for young and old. Visitors can learn and be entertained here at the World Forestry Center. You will learn more about the importance of trees and forests in our lives and the importance of ecological sustainability.
  • Eyes Gallery: The Augen Gallery was founded in 1979 and has been exhibiting works by internationally known artists for over 35 years. The artists come from the region, but also from other parts of the country.

Portland for nature lovers

  • Berry Botanic Garden: The Berry Botanic Garden was founded in 1938 by Rae Selling Berry. Rae Berry was known for her love for primroses, rhododendrons, alpine and native plants. Accordingly, you will find many plants from the Pacific Northwest, but also from all over the world, in the botanical garden.
  • Leach Botanical Garden: At the heart of this popular Portland attraction is the estate of John and Lila Leach, who went on botanical expeditions and began landscaping the gardens around their mansion in the 1930s. After her death, they left the beautiful grounds with over 2,000 species of plants and the buildings to the city of Portland. Today the garden in the south of the city is open to the public and has been expanded over the years.
  • Lan Su Chinese Garden: The traditional Chinese garden is also known as the "Garden of Awakening Orchids" and is located in the Old Town Chinatown. The 4,000 square meter walled garden was influenced by many of Suzhou's famous classical gardens.
  • International Rose Test Garden: Do you love roses and would like to experience as many types of roses as possible in one place? Then be sure to visit the rose test garden in town. The International Rose Test Garden is a rose garden in Washington Park in Stumptown that has over 10,000 rose bushes from around 650 species of roses. The roses bloom from April to October. However, June is considered the best month to visit the garden.
  • Ross Island Natural Area: Ross Island in the middle of the Willamette River is part of the Holgate Channel and Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge. The area is a habitat for fish and other wildlife and is definitely on the list of places in Portland to spend a day or more. One of the highlights is the nest of a bald eagle.
  • Portland Japanese Garden: The Portland Japanese Garden is located in Washington Park. It is a traditional Japanese garden that gives you the opportunity to unwind in peace and quiet after a few exhausting days of sightseeing.

Portland's cultural offerings

Portland, Oregon has a lot to offer culture lovers too. Home of the Oregon Symphony, the Portland Youth Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Youth Symphony, the White Bird Dance Company and the Portland Arts & Lectures is the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. Live performances, art house films, and music can also be enjoyed at the Alberta Rose Theater. The theater is on Northeast Alberta Street. And the various festivals, for example in the areas of beer and film, and the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, along with many other offers, are always worth a visit if you are planning a trip to the city on the north-western edge of Oregon.

The most beautiful parks in Portland

When it comes to the most beautiful and famous parks in Portland, there is no way around them.

  • Washington Park: Washington Park in Portland is a special place with many different gardens, monuments and statues, a zoo, picnic tables, lots of activities for children, tennis courts and much more. It's right in the heart of the city. The park is about an 11-minute drive from the city center.
  • Hoyt Arboretum: The Hoyt Arboretum is located on a hill in the hilly west of Stumptown. With its impressive trees, the arboretum is part of Washington Park. The Oregon Zoo and the International Rose Test Garden with its many rose species are not far away. The arboretum is open to the public. If you want, you can take a detour to the green paradise from Washington Park. But also from Forest Park, the Wildwood Trail is a hiking trail leading up to the hill.
  • Forest Park: With over 2,000 acres, Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the United States of America. With more than 100 kilometers of trails, firebreaks and forest roads, Forest Park stretches for more than seven miles along the Tualatin Mountains overlooking northwest Portland and the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. A hike on the hilly Wildwood Trail past numerous leaves in lush green is perfect for switching off and taking in the wild landscape in this urban forest. The hiking trail through the urban forest is designated as a National Recreation Area. The hilly landscape is home to coyotes, bobcats, black bears, pumas and mule deer, among others.
  • Tom McCall Waterfront Park: In the south of the city center is this beautiful park. Here you can relax and picnic on the huge area under the shady trees. The visit is a real experience, especially in spring when the cherry trees are in bloom.
  • Mills End Park: Maybe not the most beautiful, but definitely the smallest park in the world is in Portland. The "park" is only 0.3 square meters and is often redesigned.

Portland for kids

Families with children should also get their money's worth in the city in the northwest. In addition to the zoo and the OMSI, the Portland Children's Museum is definitely worth a visit. Located in Washington Park in close proximity to the Oregon Zoo, the Children's Museum is the oldest of its kind west of the Mississippi River and is visited by over a quarter of a million children annually. The youngsters have plenty of opportunities to learn through play and to find out more about the world around us.

Portland and its bridges

The city in the northwest of the United States has a lot of bridges that are worth visiting and often prove to be great photo locations.

We have put together a list of bridges for you to cross on a walk and enjoy the beautiful views as you tour the city on the north-western edge of the state.

  • Tilikum Crossing: The bridge is the largest car-free bridge in the country, making it easy to walk to key destinations like Portland State University and more.
  • St. John's Bridge: The historic bridge with a length of over 1,000 meters is definitely one of the most famous bridges in Oregon and the country. When completed, it was - in terms of span - the longest suspension bridge west of Detroit's Ambassador Bridge.
  • Hawthorne Bridge: The Hawthorne Bridge is the oldest of the U.S. vertical lift bridges still in service. The bridge was built to allow people to travel by foot, horse, or vehicle from downtown Portland and East Portland. And the bridge is still used extensively today.
  • Steel Bridge: The construction of the Steel Bridge is unique. On this double-decker bridge it is possible, if necessary, to raise only the lower deck level so that smaller boats can pass without the upper deck level having to be raised. In the case of larger ships, the entire headroom can be made available by lifting the entire bridge.
  • Burnside Bridge: The Burnside Bridge is one of the busiest bridges in Portland. Traffic is often heavy on the five-lane bridge that connects downtown Portland with Beaverton in the west and Gresham in the east, and there are not only vehicles but also many pedestrians and cyclists. The bridge is also interesting for historical reasons, as it was the first bridge over the Willamette River that was designed with the help of an architect.

Activities in Portland

  • shop: Portland is a shopping lover's paradise, as you can save on sales tax there, as in all of Oregon. Numerous shops await in Downtown’s West End. There is also great shopping in the Union Way Shopping Arcade and the Pearl District. But don't miss the Farmers Markets!
  • Enjoy: Do you love good food and clearly focus on culinary delights during your holiday? Then you've found paradise in Portland and its exciting neighborhoods. There is a multitude of good restaurants with a wide variety of cuisines on site, but the farmers' markets and food trucks, which you will find in one place or another in the city in Oregon, often promise real culinary delights with their dishes.

    Beer lovers should get their money's worth at the Old Port. There are many microbreweries there and it is not far to the city center, where you can buy and taste seafood at the market. There are over 50 microbreweries spread across the city. The perfect day for a stroll through the city center is Saturday, when you can stroll from stall to stall at the farmers' market.

    A good coffee is somehow a part of Portland. In the southeast of the city, Stumptown Coffee awaits coffee lovers and in the southeast you can also enjoy one or two voodoo donuts.

  • nightlife: As the day draws to a close and the sun disappears on the horizon, Portland comes to life. There are countless dance clubs, bars and many other places where you can turn night into day.
  • to do sports: In and around Portland there are countless opportunities to do sports and keep fit while on vacation. How about, for example, a bike tour through the Columbia River Gorge, a little winter sports on Mount Hood or white water rafting in the mighty Clackamas River? Kayaking is also no problem while on vacation in the Oregon city.

Tickets for attractions and activities

Tickets for sights and activities in Portland can be found at www.getyourguide.de.

Find accommodation in Portland

Whether it's a private room, hotel, apartment or even a large villa, there is a large selection of accommodations in Portland to suit all budgets. In order to save money when booking, it is worthwhile to fall back on a provider where you can easily compare the offers for villas and co. We have had excellent experiences here with www.booking.com.

For hotels, apartments and vacation rentals in Portland, visit www.booking.com.

Worthwhile day trips from Portland

  • Vancouver (Washington): The city is located on the Columbia River in Washington State and is only a few kilometers away from Portland via a bridge. It is the oldest city in Washington state. After just a few minutes' drive, holidaymakers can visit the Pearson Air Field, the oldest still operating airport in the western United States, and the Pearson Air Museum, or simply stroll down Main Street and enjoy the unique atmosphere of the city let it work.
  • Canby Farm Loop: The Canby Farm Loop is a self-guided farm tour that takes you to ten farm stations in the Canby Aurora area. A perfect getaway for families with plenty to see and do all year round.
  • Farmlandia Farm Loop: This tour includes a large number of stops at courtyards, where a lot is possible, from sightseeing to food, wine tasting and buying vegetables, fruit and herbs.
  • Salem: The capital of Oregon is about 60 minutes drive south of Portlandia and has various interesting museums and more to offer. Warning: Salem, made famous by the witch trials, is in Massachusetts, not Oregon.
  • Wolves and People Farmhouse Brewery: Beer lovers should definitely take a trip to this Newberg, Oregon brewery. Unique old world style beers are brewed here. Most of the ingredients used come from the farm itself.
  • New York City: A trip from Portland, Oregon to New York City would be a little more than a day trip. The distance between New York and Portland can be bridged well by plane. For example, you can extend a round trip along the American west coast towards the northeast and also experience the millions of sights on the east coast. Make sure to look out for cheap offers here.
  • San Francisco: The Golden Gate Bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf and of course Alcatraz. San Francisco has many attractions to offer in a variety of forms, but it is half a day's journey from Portland. A visit to San Francisco can be combined with a tour along the west coast. Or you simply plan two or three days for your trip to the metropolis.

Portland's story

Portland was founded in the 19th century, more precisely in 1843, on the banks of the Willamette River and was initially known as "The Clearing" or "Stumptown". Portland had only 800 inhabitants in 1850, but it soon developed into a major port. Just a few years later, Washington Park, the Pioneer Court House, the Old Church and the Portland Art Museum created many well-known sights in the 19th century that we can still marvel at today. And the population grew steadily too. In 1900, around 90,000 people were already living in the Oregon city. And the population continued to grow after the Lewis and Clark Exhibition in 1905. In 1910 there were already 207,000 residents and at the beginning of the 20th century construction continued diligently and the city continued to develop until it became the economically important metropolis that we know today.

The Oregonian: A newspaper with a long history

The Oregonian is a newspaper that has been around since 1850. It is the only daily newspaper that has been published continuously on the west coast of the USA since then. For years, The Oregonian was the only newspaper in the seven northwestern states. In 1861 the management was taken over by Henry Pittock, whose house can now be visited as a museum.