How to Explore Portland On A Budget

How can you explore Portland on a budget? I’ve got you covered!

Portland StreetCar

A few years ago, my daughter Krxssy decided to leave the mile-high city of Denver and head for the weird city of Portland. While I was sorry to see her leave, I was kind of excited as Oregon, a state that I’d never before thought of visiting, was now a must-see. And I sure did get to see it, as I booked a flight once she was settled and spent an entire week with her in the fall. We got to see the sights, took a mini road trip and spent 6hrs in Seattle, WA., and even chased waterfalls.

If you are looking to visit Portland, you can have an amazing time without spending a fortune. Portland is fairly expensive, but Portland has fantastic attractions, amazing natural beauty, and an immersive culture that will keep you entertained throughout your stay. You simply need to know where to go, when to visit, and the kinds of budget-friendly attractions to check out. Some of these attractions do not charge entry fees, and other attraction spots offer discounted rates depending on the time of year.

In this article, we researched some of the best places you can visit in Portland on a budget. 

How to Explore Portland on a Budget

1. Visit the Farmers Market in Portland

In Portland, you can always get great deals and local delicacies at a great price. There are numerous farmers’ markets in the city, and each one sets up numerous stands to showcase their fresh produce. In most cases, you will get free samples. You will also buy products at an excellent rate here. In addition, there is a popular farmers market at the Portland State University if you are pressed for time.

2. Visit the Local Parks

Enjoying a relaxing moment in one of the state parks in Portland is a great way to spend time here without spending too much money. These parks offer a great opportunity for outdoor lovers to immerse themselves in nature. If you love hiking, picnicking, and bird watching, there are thousands of acres to explore in Portland’s state parks. There is the Forest Park (with over 5,000 acres), the Albert Kelly Park, and other small parks you can enter for free. 

3. Visit a Swimming hole

How about taking a dip in one of the many swimming holes near the city while you are surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty? In the summer, many of the swimming holes near Portland are popular, as people come to enjoy a dip and the relaxing environment here. Less than 20 miles from Portland City, you will find the Glenn Otto Community Park, a popular sunbathing, fishing, swimming, and floating spot. Most of these swimming holes do not charge entry fees, while others charge a moderate parking fee.

4. Visit a U-Pick Farm in Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is one of the largest river islands in the US, with over 24,000 acres of land. You can take your family here for a day of adventure. Popular activities include bird watching, kayaking, cycling, and the all-time favorite activity of picking berries and flowers. Imagine being surrounded by thousands of beautiful flowers and berries as you take stunning photos. You can purchase a day-use permit cheaply and enjoy dining and spending time with nature on Sauvie Island.

5. Visit Powell’s City of Books

There is no better place to explore if you love reading than at Powell’s City of Books. This bookstore has the world’s largest collection of new and used books covering every possible sphere, genre, or subject you can imagine. In addition, the store is conveniently located in the city, something that allows you a few hours of relaxed reading and unwinding before moving on to see the attractions close by. With over 9 rooms, 3 floors, and 3,500 different sections, there is something for everyone at Powell’s.

Powell's City of Books

6. Visit the Oregon Zoo

Located in Washington Park, the Oregon Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the region, housing over 2,500 animals. Animals from all over the world, in over 200 species, can be found here. Some of the popular ones include the Asian elephants that put on a spectacular show for guests, the endangered California condors (Thunderbirds in native Oregon), black bears, bald eagles, cougars, and bobcats. In the summer, you can join an Oregon Zoo Summer Concert where hundreds mingle to have fun and raise money for the conservation of the park and animals. The entry fee is affordable. 

7. Visit the Lan Su Chinese Garden

The Lan Su Chinese Garden offers a glimpse into traditional Chinese heritage and culture. The paved walkways, arched bridges, and pavilions are a reflection of what used to be The Ming Dynasty in ancient Chinese history. The blossoming Chinese community in the Chinatown district here preserves this location as an important spot for relaxation, reflection, and meditation.

You will also learn a ton about Chinese culture and its contribution to Oregon’s and US history. Make sure to grab a cup of tea at the Tao of Tea inside this facility. If you happen to visit this location in Winter, you will enjoy the Chinese New Year celebrations. These are colorful and jovial events that last for two weeks involving dances, calligraphy, and sterling performances by Chinese artists.

8. Oaks Amusement Park

Looking for a thrilling, hair-raising adventure in Portland? Check out the Oaks Amusement Park. Carnival games, classic rides, obstacle courses, and other adventurous activities await your kids inside the Oaks amusement park. This is an ancient, family-owned business located on the banks of the Willamette River and spans over 44 acres of land. Roller skating, mini-train tours, miniature golf, zero-gravity rides, bumper cars, zip lines, and death-defying drops are some of the attractions you will experience here. In addition, the Ferris wheel gives you stunning views of the river and downtown Portland.

9. Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

Do not forget to satisfy the little geek in you by visiting the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. You may need to schedule more time, especially if you or your kids are into science and innovative stuff. There are traveling exhibits, hands-on science projects, and thousands of exciting exhibits to see here. Your kids will be thrilled with the Science Playground that contains a splash area if they want to have fun with water. Do not worry about getting wet. The facility provides waterproof aprons for this purpose. There is also a planetarium and a giant screen theater where you can watch engaging and interesting scientific and historical anecdotes.

10. Go Hiking Around Portland

There are numerous hiking trails to explore in Portland, and your choice of location will largely depend on what you want to see or experiment with. For instance, if you love flowers and beautiful gardens, visit the Leach Botanical Gardens or the Japanese Gardens. The Hoyt Arboretum, Macleay Trail, and trails leading to the Latourell Falls are also great places to explore.

Go Hiking Around Portland

In Conclusion

Portland is an amazing city, and I’m so glad I was able to visit. But as mentioned previously, it’s not entirely a cheap city to live in or visit. However, it is possible to explore it on a budget if you know how to do so. After all, with the cost of living on the rise, keeping as much money in your pocket when traveling is certainly key. We hope this article will help you on your visit to Portland. Here’s to an amazing visit!

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