What’s the only thing better than a vacation? A vacation that doesn’t break the bank! Portland, Oregon is a great place to see on a budget. With a wide variety of free and affordable activities, there are multiple ways to see Portland for cheap.
Things To Do
1. International Rose Test Garden
One of the most popular attractions in Portland is the Rose Test Garden. Go check out why Portland is called the city of Roses at the International Rose Test Garden where experimental and new rose varieties are cultivated. There are over 10,000 individual plants from 500 varieties, and the best part: it’s Free! Roses Bloom from May through September.
2. Portland Farmers Market
One of the neat things about Portland is it’s love of Farmers Markets. If you follow Portland Farmers Market’s newsletter you can see where and when markets are set up. We recommend the Portland State University market which has over 100 stands of locally sourced produce, spreads, treats, arts and crafts, fresh baked goods, Oregon wine and whatever else this city has to offer. And there are always free samples getting handed out to try whatever you fancy.
3. Food Trucks
Of course, we can’t forget Portland’s 500+ food trucks. Among other locales, you’ll find a hub of many mobile kitchens around 10th and Adler Street, where ethnically diverse food trucks abound. A meal typically can be had for under $10 here, whether you’re craving chicken and rice from Nong’s Khao Man Gai, a porchetta sandwich from People’s Pig, or pierogi from Eurodish.
4. Powell’s City of Books
Powell’s City of Books is the largest independent bookstore in the United States. The 1.6 acre store actually has an app just to help people get around! Browse 1.5+ million new and used books as well as stationery and gifts. If you’re planning ahead, we’d recommend making an appointment on the weekend to check out the rare book room and reference their calendar for live events.
5. Local Parks
Grab your camera, paintbrush, or a good book and head to one of Portland’s many luscious parks for a low-key and low-cost afternoon in the city. While Forest Park boasts being the country’s largest urban forest — with 5,157 acres and endless hiking and biking trails — Albert Kelly Park offers mountain views, sports fields, picnic areas, and lots of woodland. Another great choice is Governor Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where many locals go for jogging, picnicking, and boat watching along the Willamette River.
6. Free Museums
A few of Portland’s museums are free to enjoy during all open hours, including the Lewis & Clark College Hoffman Gallery, Oregon College of Art & Craft Galleries, and the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts. Otherwise, most others have designated complimentary admission hours — the Portland Art Museum, for example, is free from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. the fourth Friday of each month. Mark your calendar!
7. Tours for Locals
Sometimes, a tour is simply helpful in getting your bearings — and getting context that will enrich your time in a destination. Know Your City offers a number of city tour options for a reasonable $17 ($20 day-of), including the Multicultural Portland Tour, which introduces the city’s diversity, and The DIY PDX tour, which focuses on the local artisan community. They also occasionally host free popup tours and events. But what really sets Know Your City apart is that they’re a non-profit, with a great artsy, social justice mission. It’s as much for engaging locals as it is for introducing the city to visitors, all the while keeping costs low for accessibility.