The Best Portland Summer Activities to Enjoy This Year

There’s no point in being coy about it: We love Portland in the summertime. Sure, there’s always something great to get up to around here any time of year, but summers are truly special. Our excess of green space, outstanding weather, and abundance of entertainment opportunities are pretty legendary. Read on to discover the best Portland summer activities, and start planning your warm-weather visit to “The City of Roses.”

Portland Rose Festival (May 31 – June 13, 2021)

Speaking of roses, Portland earned our favorite nickname for a very good reason. Portland’s unique climate is absolutely ideal for growing these lush and fragrant botanical beauties, and the city enjoys an absolute super bloom during peak season. We celebrate with the city’s biggest party: the Portland Rose Festival. Although this year’s rave-up may be a bit more subdued than we’d like (as we continue to battle the pandemic), visitors and locals alike can still expect a joyful and series of safe, virtual, and socially distanced events.

Waterfront Blues Festival (July 2 – 5, 2021)

You just can’t keep good music down. After a 2020 filled with many disappointing cancellations and postponements, live music is returning to Portland in a major way in 2021. Since its beginnings as the Rose City Blues Festival in 1987, the Waterfront Blues Festival has delighted audiences with stellar performances by some of the best artists in the genre (such as John Lee Hooker, George Thorogood, Chris Isaak, Elvin Bishop, Susan Tedeschi, Dr. John, and more). As in years past, this year’s COVID-conscious event will benefit local efforts to combat hunger and homelessness. 

Forest Park

One of the things that has always set Portland apart from other urban centers is our deep and abiding respect for our unspoiled green space. This reverence enjoys its finest expression at Forest Park, a breathtakingly beautiful reserve that stretches out northwest of the city and comprises more than 5,000 acres. The Tualatin mountains stretch up and away from Forest Park’s 70-plus miles of exceptional hiking trails, some of which afford absolutely stunning views of the Willamette River. So pack your binoculars, mix up some gorp, and enjoy the fresh air. 

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

As one of the most popular museums in the Pacific Northwest, OMSI welcomes more than a million visitors per year. First founded in 1944, the museum has grown to be one of the nation’s leading educational and research centers. In addition to permanent features like the three-screen IMAX Theater and planetarium, visitors will discover a wide-ranging collection of permanent and touring exhibits, many of which are interactive and hands-on. This summer guests can enjoy the museum’s “Dinosaurs Revealed” exhibit and come face-to-face with these giant reptiles.

Visit the Wildlife at Oregon Zoo

 If you prefer your animal encounters to be a bit less Mesozoic, then make time to visit the Oregon Zoo at Washington Park. As one of the city’s most beloved attractions, the Oregon Zoo is both one of the largest zoos in the country (at 64 acres) and one of the most well-established (having been first founded in 1888). The current menagerie includes more than 1,800 animals of more than 230 species (including many endangered and threatened). Although the zoo is open year round, summer is truly the time to visit to enjoy the weather right along with the animals. 

Indulge in Ice Cream 

There’s just something special about diving face-first into a cone of your favorite frozen flavor when the mercury climbs. Few cities realize this on a grander scale than Portland, which is home to several gourmet ice cream parlors you simply won’t find anywhere else. The famous Salt & Straw has quickly become a local institution with its imaginative flavors and legendary quality. Stop by Ruby Jewel for handcrafted confections created from locally curated ingredients. And if you’re in the mood for something lighter, Eb & Bean offers organic frozen yogurt so decadent, you’ll swoon.

Plan Your Summer Stay

Ready to plan your perfect Portland getaway? Make sure to check out the exclusive offers and specials at The Hotel Zags and get the best rates.