Perusing Portland: A Tourist's Guide to Outdoor Activities in Portland
Portland Oregon Downtown Cityscape in the Fall colors, with Mt Hood in the background.

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Asfa Rasheed

Did you know Portland is home to the world’s smallest park? Designated a park in 1948, Mills End Park is only two feet wide and has only one tree.

Of course, Mills End Park is a cute tourist attraction. However, there are plenty of other options if you want to really check out all that the Oregon nature scene has to offer. 

In fact, with so many outdoor activities in Portland, you might struggle to explore anything else in the city! So, what exactly are the best outdoor things to do in Portland?

We’re here to fill you in. Keep reading below for the ultimate outdoor Portland travel guide!

Willamette River

The Willamette River offers a plethora of activities for visitors. The river is safe to swim in, but you can also stay dry but explore the waterfront. The Willamette River Water Trail offers a collection of exciting and relaxing Portland hiking trails.

The Willamette River is also the perfect place to take a boating adventure. If you’re looking for an interactive yet peaceful activity, salmon fishing is an excellent way to unwind. The river supports over 60 species of fish, so you’ll have no trouble landing the perfect catch.

The Gorge

Only around 30 miles east of Portland, you’ll find yourself at the largest designated National Scenic Area. The Gorge offers panoramic views of the Columbia River as it winds through the Cascade Mountains.

The Gorge offers diverse landscapes, from rainforests to grasslands. Visitors will constantly discover waterfalls during their exploration—in fact; there are over 90 waterfalls on the Oregon side of The Gorge alone. There are trails of varying difficulties, making The Gorge an absolute necessity on any hiker’s bucket list.

Sauvie Island

If you’re looking for family-friendly outdoor activities in Portland, check out Sauvie Island. About 10 miles north of Portland, Sauvie Island is the largest island on the Columbia River and is the perfect place to taste local flavors and see native wildlife.

At Sauvie Island Farms, visitors can pick their own fruits and vegetables during the summer months. The Sauvie Island Wildlife Area is the perfect place to birdwatch and observe the critters that roam the island. Picnicking is even allowed, so you can enjoy any of the fresh produce you picked along the way!

Rose Test Garden 

The International Rose Test Garden is a must-see during the spring and summer months. With around 600-650 rose varieties and over 10,000 bushes, the garden is bursting with vibrancy.

It has a long history as the oldest, continuously operated public rose test garden in the country. The Gold Medal Garden actually showcases the results of the 100+ years of rose breeding. If you’re looking for a shady place to take a break, the Shakespeare Garden offers relief from the sun.

Discover the Amazing Outdoor Activities in Portland

Whether you’re building a personal Portland hiking tour or just looking for exciting things to do in Oregon, there are endless opportunities for outdoor lovers. You’ll have no trouble discovering all the beautiful sites Oregon has to offer with this list of outdoor activities in Portland.

So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring today!

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