There is a huge number of things to do in and around
Portland, Oregon, but only if the weather cooperates.
And, as most everyone knows, the weather in Portland is rarely
good: the rainfall averages an equivalent 37.5 inches
(950 mm) per year in downtown Portland, spread over 155
days a year (doesn't include the days it's too foggy to see
anything past a block).
Portlandiers smirk and claim that the rain is gentle and
short-lived - hogwash! They will also say, "Oh, it's not that
bad hiking in the rain," but the rest of us know that hiking in
the rain is no fun - there's no views, and even the smallest of
hills become treacherous.
There are endless numbers of web sites and books that provide
tips on what to do in Portland, but most, if not all of the
suggestions, require the weather to be dry - and in some cases,
to be clear as well (foggy days in rose gardens that supposedly
have amazing views are no fun - trust me).
I made my own list of things to do in and around Portland,
Oregon when it rains because my German in-laws have visited us
three times in the summer, in May, June or July, in five years
-- we lived first in a town South of Portland, and now, in
Forest Grove, which is west of Portland -- and finding things to
do when it rains, which is most of the time when they visit, has
been a huge struggle. We're limited not only by language, but
their rather limited interests in things like going to the
movies, art museums or history museums (they aren't really
interested in American history - and certainly not interested in
museums where everything is in English-only). Also, most of the
web sites I found for things to do in Portland when it rains
were focused on kids, or places to eat. My list here, that you
are about to read, isn't focused on kids or places to eat (there
are many, many web sites with food suggestions already, and a
restaurant takes care of 60 - 90 minutes - and a day has a lot
more minutes than that. Food is always easy to find).
If you are coming from anywhere west of Portland, I highly
recommend you park at the Sunset Transit Center (it's free, as
is its overflow parking) and take the red or blue line into
Portland, then walk or use buses to get around, even if it's
raining, unless you are sure you can find parking in downtown.
For coming from South of the city, I recommend you park in the
Tri-Met parking (free) in Milwaukie for either the express bus
33, which takes you downtown very quickly, or the new Orange
line (opens September 2015). You can plan your trip using the TriMet
Transit Planner (an all-day transit pass is very
affordable). For coming from East of the city, try Clackamas
Town Center (though parking there is often a nightmare, even if
Suggestions for more things to do are welcomed! I'd love
suggestions of places to sit down and hear live music during the
day, or a place with a LOT of stuff imported from Central
Activity ideas for rainy days with adults in and around
Brew Bus Last I looked, it departs at 1:30 pm from the
lobby of the DoubleTree Hotel at Lloyd Center, 1000 NE
Multnomah Boulevard, Portland, just south of Lloyd Center.
Only problem - someone has to NOT drink, so that person can
drive everyone home after the tour (unless you are staying
downtown and can walk). It's $45 (or was the last I
Books - This is a great half-day experience if your
parents or other adult visitor's speak English and love books.
But you will need something else to do in Portland to fill
your day - and I don't mean just eating. So you could try...
Belmont Firehouse - This is in downtown Portland. Come
on - who doesn't like to look at historic fire equipment?!
- Oregon Rail
Heritage Center. For the train lover inside of you.
- Ballroom dancing, country dancing, any dancing in Portland -
web site says it lists all such partner dancing in Portland.
- Give curling a try at the Evergreen
Curling Club in Portland.
- See if there is something interesting at the Portland
Expo Center (we loved the RV show a while back - we're
not in the market for such, but always wanted to see the
insides of the luxury models).
Zoo. I know, should be an outdoor activity, but several
reviews on Yelp say that, if the rain isn't too bad, it's
still a good thing to do. Only thing is the conditions of the
elephants is horrific.
It's worth going down to the Max station deep inside the
mountain, to see the history of the world presented in core
Forestry Center - this doesn't get stellar reviews on
yelp. But it is entirely in-doors, which means it's
always dry. And it's right across from the zoo. It's worth
going down to the Max station deep inside the mountain, to see
the history of the world presented in core samples
- Oregon Museum
of Science and Industry (OMSI). Can be overwhelming when
lots of kids are there, but does have some nice exhibits of
interest to adults , an IMAX movie theatre, planetarium shows,
plus a permanent exhibit of a submarine. Many exhibits change
regularly. Warning: it's
Art Museum, Portland
Institute for Contemporary Art, and oh-so-many art
galleries in PDX.
Historical Society and the Oregon History Museum. This
Portland museum is really only for die-hard history fans,
though check the web site for a current temporary exhibit that
might be of interest to those not all that interested in
Mansion. This was home to Portland pioneers Henry and
Georgiana Pittock, with eclectic architectural design and
richly decorated interior, including family artifacts. The
mansion was completed in 1914, replete with progressive
features for the time, including a central vacuum system,
intercoms and indirect lighting. The house also creatively
incorporated Turkish, English, and French designs. The final
estate included the mansion, a three-car garage, a greenhouse,
and the Italianate gate lodge servants’ residence, all
situated on 46 acres of land almost 1,000 feet above downtown
Trail Blazers - professional basketball. If you can get
tickets, if you like basketball, and if there's a game, here
Winterhawks. Portland's minor league hockey team, part
of the Western Hockey League.
Broadway and other tours, including Cirque
du Soleil. Also see the Keller
Auditorium | Portland Center for the Performing Arts web
- There are also a lot of colleges or universities in the
area that have sporting events, theater performances, dance
performances, etc. It will take some research on your part to
find what's going on when at individual colleges and
universities, but it's worth looking into.
- There are a fair number of concerts and tours in the area.
for bands and individual performers playing in the Portland
area for any given time.
- Look at the web sites for city libraries throughout the
area - Oregon
Newberg, etc. Often, they will have a musical
performance that might be worth looking into.
- There's the Oregon
Symphony (based in Portland), the Portland
Baroque Orchestra, and oh so many more classical music
groups in the area. Lewis
and Clark College has a terrific, comprehensive list of such.
Center Stage (live theater)
City Rollers - Portland's flat track roller derby league
team. "The league’s goals are to serve our community by
empowering women and girls, providing entertainment for our
fans and supporting charitable causes." It's guaranteed to be
a lively event. It's one of my very favorite things to do in
Portland, rain or shine. That Portlandia still hasn't included
it on its show is ridiculous.
Park Skating Rink (Roller Skating)
- Lloyd Center Ice
- Indoor archery.
- NE Alberta Neighborhood, between 14th and NE 33rd Ave.
There are a wide range of boutiques, vintage shops and other
unique stores. The street is spotted with food trucks and
bars. You can park or take mass transit there and walk around,
eat, shop, and people-watch, even in the rain. It’s the
“hipster” Portland so many talk about.
- Portland Nob Hill Neighborhood. It's boutique-y, cute. You
can park and walk around, eat, shop, and people-watch, even in
the rain. There's a direct bus from near the stop next to the
soccer stadium (whatever they are calling it these
- There are some specialty shops in downtown Portland that
various people have recommended as good places to browse.
Record stores: "Music Millennium, Mississippi Records and
Jackpot all both cool." Also: "Reading Frenzy is a funky
bookstore that I like - there's always cool stuff there. Hand
Eye Supply is good for browsing but quite pricey for buying.
I've never been to the Faux Museum, but it looks cool...
Paxton Gate is a weird taxidermy store on Mississippi."
- More specialty/funky stores to pass the time in downtown
Portland on a rainy day: Ground Kontrol Arcade, Lincoln Street
Kayak & Canoe Museum, Mike's Movie Memorabilia Collection,
Ping-Pong Pint Sized Puppet Museum, and Kidd's Toy Museum. And
Fossil Cartel, 333 SW Taylor St., which sells minerals,
crystals, fossils, meteorites, and petrified wood, as well as
and jewelry made from such, from around the world.
Home Store, 210 NW Broadway, a 3,000-square foot
showcase for this Oregon institution, featuring Native
American-inspired designs. The store sells Pendleton blankets,
throws, apparel, home furnishings, gifts and accessories,
including items that have not yet been featured in the
Pendleton catalog. There's also the The Woolen Mill store, on
8550 SE McLoughlin Blvd, a source for first quality Pendleton
fabrics, remnants and notions for sewing and crafting.
- There are three leather goods shops in the same
neighborhood in Portland, and the shops feature some
interesting items (wallets, hats - not kinky stuff): Orox
Leather Co., Tanner
Goods Retail Store and the Oregon Leather Company.
- She Bop: A Female
Friendly Sex Toy Boutique (for every body, not just
women). Women-owned. 909 N. Beech Street, in the Historic
Mississippi District in North Portland, just off N.
Mississippi around the corner from Ruby Jewel. Division shop
is in Southeast Portland, on SE Division St near the corner of
Division and 32nd, right across from Pok Pok and next to Sugar
Outside of downtown PDX (you
will need a car to get to these places):
- Planetarium Sky
Theater at Mt. Hood Community College
outlet. This is a huge shopping complex South of
Portland. This is the highlight of my in-laws visits to the
area-they've been every
time they have visited. They love to shop, and this is
- Also South of Portland, the Aurora Colony antique shops and
Hazelnut Factory. The museum in the historic district is
also worth visiting if you are interested in history or want
to see the coolest - and I mean the coolest - music box you
will ever see in your life. The antique shops are open
Sundays, and many are open Monday as well; some are right
downtown, but there are a few a bit South on 99, towards the
hazelnut factory. You can walk to most, even in awful weather.
- Visit Canby, South of Portland: St.
Joseph's Winery is scenic even on a rainy day - the
tasting room is lovely. Canby also has two specialty chocolate
River, the latter of which is also a restaurant. Note:
Canby and Aurora are right next to each other, which means,
together, they make an all-day outing, rain or shine.
- Spa day (massage, manicure, pedicure). There are many
options in the area for this. Mcmenamins
GrandLodge in Forest Grove, West of Portland, provides a
lovely atmosphere on vast, historic, grounds.
- While in Forest Grove for a spa day (see above), or instead
of a spa day, check out the
shop downtown for the Vally Arts Association. It's one
of the oldest nonprofit art galleries in the Pacific
Northwest, and features work by more than 200 local artists.
"We offer an eclectic assortment of paintings, fine pottery,
jewelry, wood carvings, glass art, metal sculpture, textiles
and garden art." There's an antique store just a few doors
down as well.
- Still in Forest Grove? Take a
guided tour of the Sake One factory and see where the
best sake in the USA is made. There are also very affordable sake
tastings in the tasting room / gift shop, and tastes are
paired with hors d'oeuvres. There's usually an in-door
special event at least once a month, featuring
specialized hors d'oeuvres (like chocolate for Valentine's
Day) paired with different sakes. But, remember: someone needs
to NOT drink for the drive back to Portland.
- On your way to or from Forest Grove, check out the Rice
Northwest Museum of Rocks & Minerals. These
galleries and displays cover a wide range of geologic wonders,
including Northwest stones such as thunder eggs and sunstones
and a vast collection of semi-precious rocks, gems and
crystals that include gold, emeralds, rubies, diamonds,
sapphires and the famous "Alma Rose" rhodochrosite from
Colorado. There's a petrified wood gallery, a meteorite
display and a fossil gallery as well. And, of course, a gift
- On your way to the coast or just headed West from Portland,
stop by the Lawrence
Gallery Sheridan, out in the middle of NO WHERE on 19700
SW Highway 18, outside of McMinnville. "For 36 years,
collectors and artists from around the world have known
Lawrence Gallery as Oregon's foremost purveyor of fine art.
Lawrence Gallery is dedicated to showcasing the finest art the
Pacific Northwest has to offer. Specializing in original
paintings, indoor and outdoor sculpture, clay, glass, and
wood, Lawrence Gallery features world class work by local
artists with special exhibitions of modern masters such as
Dali, Picasso, and Chagall." It's a small gallery, but worth a
visit - you never know what they're going to have. The grounds
are lovely, and there's a tiny restaurant and coffee bar.
There's also a gallery right across the street.
- West of Portland and Forest Grove is the Lafayette
Antique Market, Oregon's largest antique mall, in the
old Lafayette School House and Gym. It's 30 miles from
Porltand and has more than 100 antique dealers.
Aviation & Space Museum (Spruce Goose)
This is an all-day experience, thank goodness! Perfect for a
rainy/super-foggy day. Probably my very favorite thing to take
someone to on a rainy day. In addition to the airplanes and
space craft, there's also an iMax theater that's always
showing something worth watching. My in-laws loved it - even
the iMax movie, which was in English only. This remains the
best thing they've done in the area. (For the kids, there's a
waterpark - not something most adults without kids are into).
Warning: it's expensive! Nearby is the city of McMinnville,
which has an historic downtown that is a good place to eat,
get ice cream, or get coffee - and if the weather isn't too
dreadful, for a short walk around.
- Oregon City: there's the End
of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the Museum
of the Oregon Territory and the Oregon
City Municipal Elevator. I suggest these only if you
have done absolutely everything else and really are completely
out of ideas - the museums don't get must-see reviews on Yelp.
- Sky High Sports
Trampoline Park in Tigard.
City Cultural Center. This is out on the coast, so it's
an all-day trip there and back. There is an in-door farmer's
market/crafts market. Sometimes has concerts as well. It's an
hour away from Tillamook (see next item). Check the schedule
online before schlepping out there.
Cheese factory. This is all day trip from Portland out
to the coast and back. You will have to leave super early from
Portland to get there and back. It's an hour away from Lincoln
City (see previous item). Call ahead to make sure its open and
you can tour. And if it's a holiday weekend, forget it - the
crowds will be too overwhelming.
- Bonneville Dam - I could not find any official information
about visiting the Dam. I did find this information on
an unofficial site: When visiting Bonneville Dam, you have
three touring options:
1) Explore the facilities on your own (self-guided)
, 2) Join
in on an interpretive program or
3) Schedule an interpretive
program for your group.
Phone 541-374-8820 for information on
these tour options or to schedule a reservation. Supposedly,
it's worth visiting even if it's raining. Here's the
Yelp review of a dam visit.
Air Museum, Vancouver, Washington - this is the oldest
operating air field in the West. This small museum displays
vintage aircraft. Tiny compared to Evergreen, but gets descent
reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Check for the days it's open
(it's not open every day). It's near Fort Vancouver.
- Winery tours. I think the most beautiful wineries are West
of Portland. So when you look to book, I recommend you look at
Dundee winery tours or Yamhill winery tours. I recommend Yelp
for finding the best tours. Remember: you need to take
public transit to the pick up and drop off point for your
winery tour, or get a pickup/drop off service from your front
door, or someone needs to NOT drink and be the designated
- Go to the movies. There are iMax theaters, historic movie
houses, art houses, and traditional mega cinemas showing a
variety of current and classic movies throughout the Portland
- Churches, temples and mosques in the area have performances
and open houses. It will take a lot of research on your part
to find out what public events are happening at various houses
- Pubs with a British, Irish or Scottish theme will have World
Cup soccer games in 2014, Euro games in 2016, summer Olympic
games in 2012, winter Olympic games in 2014, and so forth.
Watching international matches in such a pub, such as the Highland
Still House in Oregon City (largest selection of single
malt scotches in the Portland area), is a very lively 2 - 3
hour experience! Call first to make sure they will be showing
the international game of your choice. Throw in a game of
darts before or after the game, and a meal, and you've knocked
out half a day.
- Find a bar that has pool, darts, table shuffleboard, or even
snooker table. Call first to make sure whatever table
the Internet says a bar has is still there (and, indeed, to
make sure a particular bar or pub is still open!)
- Find a bar that has karaoke. Call first to make sure the bar
still has such (the Internet is often wrong about this).
- Indoor paintball.
- And your last option: Buy a wii, buy some beer, stay home
and enjoy your living room.
Also see these travel resources (in a different section of
my web site):
The rest of this section of my web site is focused mostly on
community service, volunteering, etc. - not Portland specific:
Finding Community Service and
Volunteering for Teens
How to Find Volunteering
Opportunities, a resource for adults who want to
Advice for volunteering as a group /
volunteering in a group
Family Volunteer - Volunteering by
Families with Children
You are NOT too young to volunteer! Ways
you can volunteer, no matter how young you are
Advice for Finding Volunteer
Activities During the Holidays
Using Your Business Skills for
Good - Volunteering Your Business Management Skills, to
help people starting or running small businesses / micro
enterprises, to help people building businesses in
high-poverty areas, and to help people entering or re-entering
the work force.
Volunteering In Pursuit of a
Medical, Veterinary or Social Work degree / career
Fund Raising For a Cause or
Creating or Holding a Successful
Community Event or Fund Raising Event.
Volunteering To Help After
How to Make a Difference
Internationally/Globally/in Another Country Without
Donating Things Instead of Cash
or Time (In-Kind Contributions)
Details on how to quickly fill a community
service obligation from a court or school.
Group Volunteering for Atheist and
Ideas for Funding Your
Volunteering Abroad Trip.
Details on volunteering
abroad (volunteering internationally).
Ideas for Leadership
These are more than just do-it-yourself volunteering - these
are ideas to create or lead a sustainable, lasting benefit to
a community, recruiting others to help and to have a
leadership role as a volunteer. These can also be activities
for the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award
(U.K.), a mitzvah project, or even scholarship consideration.
Ideas for Creating Your Own
Careers Working With Animals
(for the benefit of animals)
Helping People Address Their
Problems with Plastic
How to mobilize a community to clean up plastic bottles,
plastic bags and other plastic waste from their environment,
and how to reduce their use of such items in the future
© 2010-2012 by Jayne
Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can
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written permission by Jayne Cravens.