PortlandWildly unexpected and always unique

First published 2 September 2022

Portland has many nicknames: Rose City, Beervana and Bridgetown, to name a few.

What makes Portland unique?

Above all, the people of Portland are why the city is so exceptional. Portland has a thriving community of artists and makers who encourage innovation in design and craft (whether it be creating a sneaker or a new flavor of doughnut). In Portland, it’s good to experiment with what you love. Portlanders also place a high value on sustainability, which can be seen in the way locals maintain and enjoy the city’s public gardens and green spaces, urban forests, miles of protected bike lanes, efficient public transportation and preserved natural areas.

It has world-renowned chefs and hundreds of food carts; art in theaters and outside on the street; the world’s largest independent bookstore and highest concentration of craft breweries; a huge urban forest; and a bridge reserved for bicyclists. This isn’t your typical city. If Portland wasn’t so different, it wouldn’t be Portland.

Getting here is easy with Amtrak Cascades.

Portland is a picturesque, relaxing 3 hours train experience from Seattle on Amtrak Cascades. Union Station is one of the most iconic train depots and landmarks of the city. If you're looking for things to do in Portland that are close to Union Station, Amtrak Cascades is a great option. The food is fantastic and the walkable city center means you won't have to go far to find something to do. Make sure to check out some of the great restaurants and bars near Union Station. And if you're looking for something to do on a rainy day, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is just a short walk away.

Amtrak Cascades is the perfect place to start your exploration of Portland.

Check out this article about the Portland day-trip rail experience

Day Trip Ideas for Portland

If you're looking for things to do in Portland, Oregon that are close to Union Station, then you've come to the right place. There are plenty of activities and attractions within walking or biking distance of the train station, so you won't have to go far to find something fun to do. Here's a suggested itinerary if you have a day to spend in Portland.

  • Of course, Coffee and Donuts should be on the itinerary for any morning or afternoon arrival - try Stumptown Coffee and of course, Voodoo Doughnuts

  • The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a great place to start your day. The museum has tons of interactive exhibits, as well as a planetarium and an OMNIMAX theater. You can easily spend a few hours here exploring everything the museum has to offer.

  • Next, take a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram. The tram takes you from Union Station up to the South Waterfront district, where you can get a great view of the city. If you're feeling adventurous, you can even walk or bike back down to Union Station.

  • There are also plenty of parks in the area if you want to get some fresh air.

  • Walk or bike around downtown and check out Portland's famous food carts.

  • Powell's City of Books is another must-see attraction - it's the largest independent bookstore in the world!

  • In the evening, catch a show at the Oregon Symphony or watch a movie at the Hollywood Theatre.

  • And if you're looking to get some exercise, The Grotto is a great place to go for a walk or run.

So what are you waiting for? There's plenty to do near Amtrak Cascades Union Station, so start exploring today!

It wouldn’t be a trip to Portland without Stumptown Coffee.

There are two locations downtown (as well as countless businesses that carry Stumptown), but for the real deal find them on SW 3rd and Pine, or on SW 10th and Harvey Milk inside the Ace Hotel. Try the coffee that started it all. Hair Bender is our most popular coffee with good reason – it's sweet, complex, and balanced - a true original.

At Voodoo Doughnut, good things come in pink boxes

Founded in Portland, Oregon in 2003, Voodoo Doughnut created the gourmet doughnut category. Famous for introducing the world to the Bacon Maple Bar, Memphis Mafia, and The Cannolo, Voodoo Doughnut now offers more than 50 artisan flavor options, including 25 vegan options with focus on the guest experience, employee incentives and giving back to the community through its charitable initiatives.

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, this cozy corner shop attracts lines of doughnut worshippers from breakfast until last call. A social scene unto itself, the line for Voodoo can wrap around the block and is packed with anxious eaters. But most customers take their treats outside to enjoy at the picnic tables in Ankeny Alley. A year-round, open-air pedestrian zone that is closed to vehicular traffic, Ankeny Alley is situated right next door to the doughnut shop, amidst the hubbub of bars, clubs and restaurants in the city’s Old Town Chinatown neighborhood.

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry


Founded in 1944, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is one of the nation’s leading science museums and a trusted educational resource for communities throughout Oregon and the region. Through museum exhibitions, public programs at the museum and across the region, outdoor programs, traveling exhibitions, digital learning, and learning research and design, OMSI nourishes a lifelong love of science, curiosity and learning for diverse audiences.

OMSI's mission is to inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action.

Visit their website for hours and ticket prices.

OMSI is located at 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland OR

Go by Tram too...


The Portland Aerial Tram or OHSU Tram is an aerial tramway in Portland that connects the city's South Waterfront district and the main Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus, located in the Marquam Hill neighborhood. It is one of only two commuter aerial tramways in the United States, the other being New York City's Roosevelt Island Tramway.[2] The tram travels a horizontal distance of 3,300 feet (1,000 m) and a vertical distance of 500 feet (152 m) in a ride that lasts three minutes.

Visit their website for hours and ticket pricing

The lower tram is located at 3303 S Bond Ave, Portland, OR 97239

Sample a taste of Portland’s legendary food-cart scene

Food trucks flourish in Portland’s culinary scene, though in Portland they are called food carts. With hundreds throughout the city, Portland’s food-cart scene is legendary. The flavorful proliferation has drawn raves from Bon Appétit magazine and CNN (which declared Portland home to the world’s best street food). Unlike other cities’ mobile food trucks, most Portland carts stay put in groups dubbed “pods,” making it a snap to sample several at a time. Explore international flavors and unique new food concepts — without the wait of a sit-down restaurant — at Portland’s many food cart pods.

Try the 5th Avenue Pod. This eclectic collection of eateries in downtown Portland is a local favorite for weekday lunch.

Located at 324 SW 5th Ave, Portland, OR 97204

Powell's City of Books

Powell’s City of Books is the largest used and new bookstore in the world, occupying an entire city block and housing approximately one million books. Located in downtown Portland’s Pearl District, the City of Books has nine color-coded rooms and over 3,500 different sections, offering something for every interest, including an incredible selection of out-of-print and hard-to-find titles. Dozens of acclaimed writers, artists, and thinkers visit each month to read in the Basil Hallward Gallery (located upstairs in the Pearl Room), and a one-of-a-kind Rare Book Room draws bibliophiles from near and far to browse an impressive collection of autographed first editions and other collectible volumes.

Visit their website for hours

Located at 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209

Portland is the City of Roses

You can’t visit the City of Roses without seeing the very roses we’re so famous for. Within Washington Park is the International Rose Test Gardens that features over 10,000 individual roses with incredible views and delightful smells. And it’s all free!

The city earned its name back in 1905 when they planted 200 miles of roses along its streets for the Lewis and Clark Centennial celebration. Legend has it that Georgiana Burton Pittock (of the famous Pittock mansion) was obsessed with roses and it was largely her influence that spurred the city into the massive undertaking.

If you’re into Japanese architecture and gardens, you’ll be in heaven at the nearby Japanese Gardens.

Pittock Mansion is a “French Renaissance-style château,” (I’m no art major, but I’ll take Wikipedia’s word for it) and is great for a number of reasons. Not only is it impeccably decorated and maintained, but it also offers some of the best views of the city, and it’s super close, and there’s an awesome hike up to the top of it!

Visit their website for hours and tickets.

Located at: 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210

The Pearl District

Fashionable and lively, the Pearl District is a shopping destination with hip brands, indie boutiques and the massive Powell's City of Books. Reclaimed warehouse spaces house The Pearl's many bars and restaurants, from craft breweries and artisan coffee shops to fine dining mainstays. Galleries showcase contemporary art, photography and glass works. In summer, families cool off in Jamison Square’s wading fountain.

Pearl District Bars and Breweries include Deschutes Brewery & Public House , 10 Barrel Brewing, Teardrop Lounge, Low Brow Loung, and Von Ebert Brewing

If you are looking for a bite to eat, Sip an espresso from Barista or La Perlita. Nuvrei has beautiful French-style pastries, and if you’re looking for a sunny lunch spot with outdoor seating, Lovejoy Bakers, offers a wide array of freshly baked bread and creative sandwiches. At Andina enjoy live Latin-inspired music at the adjoining Bar Mestizo before dining on cebiche, tamales, empanadas and other Novo-Andean tapas dishes at this celebrated Peruvian restaurant. Other Pearl favorites are Khao San serving authentic Thai food served in a Thai street setting, pizza and Italian dishes made of fresh Northwest ingredients are on the menu at Piattino, Break Bread serves up Portland-style subs on local bread, and get your fill of sustainably source fish at Yama Sushi and Sake Bar. For dessert, try Cool Moon Ice Cream.