While you might think it would be hard to find much to do for $10 or less in any major city, it’s surprisingly easy in Portland, Oregon. In fact, many of its best attractions are totally free. Whether you want to experience its striking beauty and natural attractions or enjoy city delights, you’re sure to find something on this list that’s just for you.
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Smell the Flowers in the Rose Test Garden (Nearby Hotels)
Known as the “City of Roses,” Portland is famous as an incubator for these much-beloved flowers. It’s home to the Rose Test Garden, the oldest continuously operated public test garden in the U.S., opened over a century ago in 2017. It got its start when a forward-thinking citizen convinced the local government to set up the garden during the First World War to preserve the species of European roses that might be decimated by the bombings. Today, it develops new rose varieties as well as miniatures. The grounds are divided up into a number of sections, each one showcasing various interesting plants. If you visit between April and October, you’ll be able to take a stroll for free among some 7,000 spectacular rose bushes. The award winners are planted in the Gold Medal Garden, which also features a charming gazebo.
Dine on Tasty Street Food (Nearby Hotels)
Portland is renowned for its amazing street food with an impressive array of options, many of which can be enjoyed for under $10. There’s no other place in the nation with as many clusters of unique food carts that cook up dishes like reindeer sausage at Beez Neez, Porklandia Pulled Pork on a Jalapeno Cornbread Waffle at Gaufre Gourmet or that comfort food favorite at Potato Champion, a poutine delight over a cone of fries. The carts are clustered in pods throughout town, allowing you to sample various options, and even become a master cart jumper.
Live Theater in the Park (Nearby Hotels)
You can even catch live theater in Portland for free while enjoy a beautiful summer day in the park. Offered at multiple outdoor venues found throughout the city, including Washington Park, Laurelhurst Park and Mount Tabor Park, the event known as “Portland Actors Shakespeare in the Park” allows visitors to bring a blanket and a picnic, kick back and enjoy one of the top free attractions the city.
Check Out Multnomah Falls (Nearby Hotels)
The most photographed, and tallest, waterfall in the state, Multnomah Falls surely stands above the rest as a spectacular sight, cascading 620 feet into a pool below. Fed by rainwater and snow melt, the steady stream of water runs all year, with the highest volume in winter and spring. In the winter it’s just as impressive, partially freezing during the height of the season if temperatures drop low enough. While most only view the falls from its base, locals know that by hiking just another mile from the bridge to the top, they’ll get to enjoy the very best perspective, sometimes all to themselves.
Walk Through Forest Park (Nearby Hotels)
Forest Park is a city oasis just 10 minutes from downtown. The 5,157-acre park hosts 80 miles of trails as the largest forested natural area within a city limits in the country. It flanks the hills on the west side of Portland overlooking the Willamette River, and is popular for hiking, jogging, off-road cycling and bird watching. It doesn’t cost a thing to come and enjoy the tranquility of nature and a respite from urban life, and you can even check out an interesting castle too. Built by a murderer in the mid-19th-century, it was abandoned in the 1960s, and today, the moss-covered stone wall ruins known as Witch’s Castle is said to be haunted.
Stand In Line for a Voodoo Doughnut (Nearby Hotels)
Thee delectable and unique doughnuts at legendary Voodoo Doughnuts come at a bargain price, making it easy to pick up at least a few for ten bucks or less. This Portland icon features a rotating and regular menu of items with names like the Voodoo Doll, a sinfully indulgent raised yeast doughnut filled with raspberry jelly topped with chocolate frosting and a pretzel stake. There are even caffeinated and vegan delights too. If there is ever a place that exemplifies that slogan “Keep Portland Weird,” this is it, meaning you really don’t want to miss it.
Catch a Show at a Brew 'N' View Theater (Nearby Hotels)
The Brew ‘N’View Theaters aren’t your ordinary movie theater. They offer the chance to experience something more unique, taking movie-going to a whole new level. Running the gamut from upscale and elegant to funky, they serve a wide range of handcrafted ales and pub fare along with art films and cult classics as well as art films and new releases. Even better, admission is less than $10.
Pick and Eat Wild Blackberries (Nearby Hotels)
Blackberries can be found growing just about anywhere throughout Portland and beyond. You’ll often see locals picking them, and eating them right from the bush. From around mid-July through late September, look for them along fences, roadsides and many other spots. Just be sure to wear a pair of tough gloves as the vines are extremely thorny.
Watch or Participate in Zoobombing (Nearby Hotels)
Zoobombing is a weird and wacky sport that’s quintessential Portland. More for fun than competition, locals don costumes, or sometimes wear nothing at all, and race down the hills in all types of kid-sized bicycles. A tower of mini-bikes is anchored to a bicycle rack, referred to as “Zoobomb Point,” serving as a spot for people who don’t have one to borrow one, as well as being a popular landmark – and it’s all free.
Coffee and Dessert in a Unique Ghostly Atmosphere at the Rimsky Korsokoffee House (Nearby Hotels)
One of the city’s true hidden gems, the mysterious Rimsky Korsokoffee House is an original “Keep Portland Weird” coffee shop. It’s tucked away in an unmarked Victorian home and opens up at in the evening for to-die-for desserts and coffee served with live classical music. It does no advertising and has limited hours, but it’s remained busy for more than a quarter-century just by word of mouth. It’s most famous for its ghostly atmosphere – in fact, owner Goody Cable believes his place is haunted by some former tenants, a couple of writers who bore witness to the Russian revolution, which is why he named each table for deceased composers.