Top Attractions for First Time Visitors

When visiting Portland for the first time, there are a few attractions and neighborhoods that should be at the top of your list. Here are six of the best places to check out on your inaugural Portland adventure.

Powell’s City of Books

No trip to Portland is complete without browsing the shelves at Powell’s City of Books in downtown Portland. Spanning an entire city block and offering over 1 million new and used books, Powell’s lives up to its title as the largest independent bookstore in the world. The multi-level bookstore has color coded rooms to help you easily find your favorite fiction, nonfiction, poetry, travel guides, cookbooks, and more. Grab a cup of coffee and wander for hours through this book lover’s paradise.

Washington Park

Washington Park, located just west of downtown Portland, provides the perfect nature escape within the city. The sprawling 160-acre park contains miles of walking trails that wind through forests and gardens. Don’t miss the historic International Rose Test Garden, one of the largest rose test gardens in the U.S. For sweeping views over Portland and Mt. Hood, take the elevator up to the observation deck of the Oregon Zoo’s Washington Park and Zoo Railway.

Japanese Garden

Also within Washington Park you’ll find the meticulously cared for Japanese Garden. Stroll along winding paths past bonsai trees, stone lanterns, koi ponds, bridges, waterfalls and other hallmarks of a classic Japanese garden. Take a moment to relax and meditate in the tranquil Tea Garden or explore the Pavilion Gallery to immerse yourself in Japanese art and culture.

Tom McCall Waterfront Park

Along the west bank of the Willamette River you’ll find Tom McCall Waterfront Park, a popular green space with fountains, sculptures, and walking paths. Take a stroll along the riverfront park and admire views of the bridges that cross the Willamette. In the summer, cool off by wading through the Salmon Street Springs fountain. On weekends you can browse through craft booths at the Portland Saturday Market.

Pioneer Courthouse Square

Nicknamed “Portland’s living room”, Pioneer Courthouse Square is a bricked plaza located in the heart of downtown Portland. Throughout the warmer months the square hosts over 300 events including outdoor concerts, art shows, and movie nights. Don’t miss Portland’s iconic “Allow Me” sculpture, more commonly known as Portlandia. This hammered copper statue has become a symbol of the city.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

If you’re visiting Portland with kids, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a must-visit. This interactive science museum offers 5 exhibit halls focusing on natural sciences, technology, and the arts. Kids can touch a real shark, fly a space shuttle simulator, and watch science-themed movies in the Kendall Planetarium. Outside, adventure continues on board the USS Blueback submarine or by climbing aboard retired railroad engines.

Forest Park

Nature lovers shouldn’t miss the opportunity to explore Forest Park during their visit. Located just northwest of downtown Portland, this 5,200 acre urban forest contains over 80 miles of walking trails that showcase the incredible Pacific Northwest landscape. Spend an afternoon wandering through thick forests of Douglas firs, western red cedars, and maple trees to stunning views over the Willamette River valley. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like great blue herons, deer, coyotes, and even endangered species like the northern spotted owl that call Forest Park home. With convenient access from downtown but an escape into true wilderness, Forest Park is the perfect blend of city meets nature.

How to Get Around Portland

While a car can provide the most flexibility for getting around Portland and its surrounding areas, the city does have some solid public transportation options. And for hassle-free group travel, nothing beats the convenience of a charter bus.

Public Transportation

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) operates buses, commuter rail, and light rail in the Portland metropolitan area. The MAX light rail system is likely your best bet for getting around the main Portland attractions without a car. There are 5 lines—the Blue, Green, Orange, Red, and Yellow lines.

Taxis and Rideshares

Taxis are available for hire in downtown Portland and close-in neighborhoods but can be difficult to hail on the street. Instead, opt for rideshares like Uber or Lyft. Surge pricing applies during peak demand times.

Charter Buses

For hassle-free transportation around Portland with a group, consider renting a charter bus. Charter buses provide door-to-door service for your entire group on your own schedule. Rather than navigating public transportation or coordinating multiple cars, ride together on a comfortable bus. Charter buses offer amenities like leather seats, WiFi, TVs, and restrooms. Portland Party Bus Company can provide charter bus rentals for any size group in the Portland area. We’ll match you with the perfect bus for your group’s needs, whether you need a luxurious coach bus or an economic school bus. Our experienced team knows Portland and the surrounding region well, so you can sit back and leave the driving to us. Give us a call at (971) 304-0402 to learn more about how our charter bus services can make your Portland trip smooth and memorable.

Ready to Get Started?

Hopefully this first timer’s guide provides a helpful introduction to Portland and gets you excited about planning your first visit. With world-class parks, quirky local shops, unique neighborhoods, and vibrant arts and food scenes—Portland offers something for everyone. Use our guide to pick a few top attractions and neighborhoods you’d like to explore, then let Portland Party Bus Company handle your group transportation needs. We’ll get you where you want to go on a comfortable charter bus, leaving you free to soak up all that Portland has to offer. Give us a call today at (971) 304-0402 to start planning your Portland getaway!