Visitors coming to town? Stumped on what to plan for them? Our suggestion: Skip the usual traveler’s guide, and give guests a true, off the beaten path Portland experience they wouldn’t have on their own.
We’ve compiled a few of our favorite adventures, all of which not only showcase some of the city’s true gems, but also get you moving in the process.
1. Go for a walk at Powell Butte Park
If it’s a clear day, impress visitors with the epic mountain views at Powell Butte Park. It’s the perfect place to do the tourist thing while also giving yourself a reminder of why you fell in love with Portland in the first place. Take in views of the city below, as well as Mount Hood in all her glory. Check out the trail map before you go, so you can plan out your hiking route.
2. Bike the Springwater Corridor Trail
Visitors often admire the number of cyclists pedaling around the city, but feel too timid to hop on a bike and join them. Make your guests feel like a local by taking them on the 40-mile loop of the Springwater Corridor Trail (or just a segment of it). Enjoy the beautiful, relatively flat ride as you take in views of the Willamette River and surrounding city. Hey, you may even catch some Pacific Northwest wildlife!
3. Learn more about Oregon history at a Kick Ass Oregon History Event
Visitors and residents alike can get to know the great state of Oregon a little better, with the entertaining help of local historians and comedians. As they explain, “It’s not going to be Boring History like High School, rigid and terse.” Check out their upcoming event listings here.
4. Cook up healthy eats at a Hipcooks class
If Murphy’s Law strikes, and the few days your guests are in town happen to be rainy ones, try focusing one of Portland’s proudest cultural offerings: its food. Hipcooks will offer you and your visitors a chance to cook up fresh, organic meals in an easy-to-follow format. But they’re far from the only ones — check out this complete list of our favorite cooking classes in Portland.
5. Show off Portland’s city parks and gorgeous homes
There aren’t too many cities with huge, beautiful parks interspersed within and surrounding an urban metropolis. And you simply can’t let your visitors leave Portland before showing them Forest Park. It has dozens of hiking, biking and running options — and the one we recommend is this: Park in Northwest Portland on NW 21st Avenue, and walk west towards the Macleay Park area of Forest Park. You’ll walk through a fun neighborhood with gorgeous houses before you escape into the wildlife park scenery.
6. Watch the sunset from Portland Skidmore Bluffs
The Skidmore Bluffs in North Portland are uber popular with Portland’s hipster crowd. Head there just before sunset and let your visitors engage in some top-notch people-watching. The undeveloped park offers views of the industrial area of the city and a chance to explore a park that’s away from the usual tourist spots.
7. Rock out to live music and test your yoga skills
Nothing says Portland like live music and yoga — at the same event. Plan an unconventional Friday night for your visitors with music, healthy snacks and a fun yoga class with the Friday Night Yoga Club. And as summer comes around, keep your eyes out for the 2015 Yoga Rocks the Park schedule which will take over Laurelhurst Park each Saturday in July. Events will feature outdoor classes led by local instructors and music from local DJs.
8. Explore Sauvie Island
A wildlife refuge and the largest island on the Columbia River, Sauvie Island is the perfect place to take your visitors. Try a 7-mile roundtrip hike on the Warrior Point Trail and explore the riverfront beach as you make your way towards the iconic island lighthouse.
9. Give them a taste of the city
You can’t explore Portland without taking a break at one of the many amazing food carts. Take visitors to one of the pods to show off the variety of foods — like the Mississippi Marketplace, the first pod in the city. You can enjoy one of ten food carts with covered seating and explore the surrounding historic Mississippi Avenue. Or, make your way down the list of the top new food carts of 2014.
What did we miss? Share your favorite spots to give visitors an off the beaten path Portland experience in the comments below.