Just like the TV show Portlandia said, the dream of the 90s is alive in Portland. Alternative culture is very much cool in the biggest city in Oregon. The locals are charming, the music scene is alive and kicking, bicycles are way more popular than cars, and the latest craze is craft beer.
So if you are planning to explore this Pacific Northwest gem alone, here are some exciting things to see and do in Portland.
See the Shanghai Tunnels
Portland didn’t always have the super chill and laid-back reputation. This place was once a bustling port. Of course, ships dropped various goods here, and not all of them were legal. So sailors and locals built the Shanghai Tunnels.
This web of underground passages runs in all directions. Sailors used them for smuggling nearly everything, including people. Today, a fascinating walking tour takes you through some of the tunnels that are still useable.
Find the Witches Castle
If you like creepy-looking structures and hiking, the Witches Castle is the place to be. The abandoned house is located on the southern edge of Forest Park, next to a riverbank. The history of this place doesn’t involve any witches; but instead, it is a story of forbidden love and murder.
The house dates back to 1850, and park rangers used it at some point too. Then it was damaged and abandoned, just to be rediscovered by college students back in the 1980s. They named it the Witches Castle because it was in terrible shape. Today, this location is a favorite among hikers, as well as urban explorers.
Visit the Smallest Park in the World
Mill Ends is the smallest park in the world, and it is right here in Portland. This 452-square inch green surface is a testament to Portland’s quirkiness. After all, it was built for leprechauns. But the park itself had a completely different start.
The “park” was supposed to be a light pole but plans quickly changed when someone planted a tiny tree. Its look constantly changes, so you never know what you will see. So if you want to be surprised, head out to Southwest Portland.
Be a Part of the Naked Bike Ride
Just like the name says, the Naked Bike Ride involves cyclists riding around with no clothes on. They encourage other people to choose bikes over cars and reduce their carbon footprint.
If all of this sounds good to you and you are not shy, get your bike in shape by June. The Naked Bike Ride happens annually, and the location is kept secret until the day of the ride.
Tour the Pittock Mansion
Located in the West Hills, Pittock Mansion is a great place to learn more about the history of Portland. Built by Henry and Georgiana Pittock, a wealthy couple from England, this small French-Renaissance castle features rooms full of artwork and turn-of-the-century furniture.
Pittock Mansion offers guided tours that allow you to explore the surrounding grounds too. You will learn a lot about the fascinating lives of the Pittock family, who played a massive role in the development of Portland. Plus, photos of the Pittock Mansion will be an absolute hit on your social media profile.
Wander Around the Japanese Garden
Portland might not be the most typical location for a traditional Japanese Garden, but it is a beloved sight for many Portlanders. It was constructed back in the 1960s as a symbol of peace. The Japanese Garden is the perfect place for relaxation in the very heart of the city.
It has walking paths, zen gardens, pavilions, ponds, and so much more. The garden is open all year round, and visitors can come here to wind down regardless of the season.
Drop by the Portland Art Museum
Did you know that the Portland Art Museum is the oldest one in this part of the United States? It was opened in 1892 and now has more than 42,000 art pieces on display. They are all a part of the permanent exhibition, so art lovers will have plenty of things to see here.
The mixture of different art styles makes this museum attractive to everyone. From contemporary pieces to Native American art, this is the place to be if you want to get familiar with the Pacific Northwest culture. And don’t forget to visit the sculpture park too!