How to Enjoy Your Summer in Portland

As the summer sun warms the Pacific Northwest, Portland blossoms into an outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise. From lush gardens to scenic bikeways, towering forests to roaring waterfalls, this vibrant city offers endless opportunities for adventure and exploration. As you plan your summer getaway, consider making Hotel Zags your home away from home to experience all that Portland has to offer! In the meantime, read on to get an inside line to start planning for the best ways to enjoy your Rose City summer.

Visit a Public Garden

No summer in Portland is complete without immersing yourself in the city’s beautiful public gardens. The International Rose Test Garden — with its 10,000 roses of 650 varieties — is a true feast for the senses. Stroll through the fragrant air, marveling at the kaleidoscope of colors that surrounds you. Enjoy a serene escape when you visit the Portland Japanese Garden, a tranquil oasis inspired by the classical gardens of the Land of the Rising Sun. Or explore the Lan Su Chinese Garden, an authentic recreation of a traditional Suzhou green space, complete with covered walkways, ornate pavilions, and a serene lake.

Attend the Oregon Shakespeare Festival

For a cultural experience you’ll treasure forever, catch a performance at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in nearby Ashland. This world-renowned theater company brings the Bard’s timeless works to life with exceptional talent in breathtaking outdoor venues. Whether you’re a Shakespeare aficionado or a newcomer to his works, you’ll be captivated by the magic unfolding on stage beneath the starry Rogue Valley sky.

Go Hiking in Forest Park

Spanning more than 5,000 acres, Forest Park is an urban oasis offering a respite from the buzz of city life. With over 80 miles of trails winding through dense evergreen forests, mossy ravines, and crystalline streams, this sprawling park is a hiker’s dream. Pack a picnic and spend the day exploring the park’s diverse ecosystems, keeping an eye out for the many species of birds and wildlife that call it home.

Visit Portland’s Saturday Market

No visit to Portland is complete without experiencing the city’s iconic Saturday Market. This vibrant outdoor bazaar — located in the heart of the Old Town neighborhood — is a treasure trove of local arts, crafts, and culinary delights. Peruse the stalls brimming with handmade jewelry, ceramics, textiles, and artwork created by talented local makers and artisans. Then, satisfy your appetite with an array of tantalizing food offerings, from fresh seafood to wood-fired pizzas and international street food.

Take a Bike Tour

Portland is renowned for its bike-friendly culture, and there’s no better way to explore the city than on two wheels. Join a guided bike tour and pedal your way through scenic neighborhoods like the Alberta Arts District, Hawthorne, and the Pearl District. You can opt to roll solo, or avail yourself of a knowledgeable guide who can share insights into Portland’s rich history and vibrant culture as you cruise past iconic landmarks, eclectic shops, and charming cafés.

Tour Local Breweries

As the craft beer capital of the world, Portland is a beer lover’s paradise. Embark on a brewery tour and sample the city’s renowned brews at establishments like Cascade Barrel Brewing House, Steeplejack Brewing Company, and Away Days Brewing. Learn about the art of brewing from passionate brewmasters and discover the unique flavors and styles that have made Portland a must-visit hub for beer enthusiasts worldwide.

Ride the Portland Aerial Tram

For a truly unique perspective of Portland, take a ride on the Portland Aerial Tram. This cable-propelled transit system soars high above the city, offering breathtaking views of the skyline, the Willamette River, and the verdant West Hills. As you glide smoothly between the South Waterfront and the Marquam Hill campuses, you’ll be treated to a bird’s-eye view of Portland that few visitors get to experience.

Kayak or Paddleboard on the Willamette River

Cool off from the summer heat by taking to the waters of the picturesque Willamette River. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the river’s serene stretches, paddling beneath historic bridges and past lush riverbanks teeming with wildlife. For a unique perspective, join a guided tour and learn about the river’s rich history and ecology from knowledgeable guides.

Attend an Outdoor Music Festival

Portland’s summer months are filled with an array of outdoor music festivals, each offering a unique and unforgettable experience. The Waterfront Blues Festival (July 4-7) is the largest blues festival west of the Mississippi, featuring an impressive lineup of national and international acts. For a more intimate experience, attend Pickathon (Aug 1-4), a sustainable, family-friendly festival set amidst the stunning scenery of nearby Pendarvis Farm. Or groove to the sounds of indie, rock, and alternative music at Project Pabst (July 27-28), rocking the banks of the Willamette River.

Go Tax-Free Shopping in the Pearl District

Indulge in some retail therapy in Portland’s trendy Pearl District, where you can shop tax-free for the latest fashion, home goods, and more. This vibrant neighborhood is home to a diverse array of boutiques, galleries, and upscale shops, making it the perfect place to find unique souvenirs and mementos to commemorate your Portland adventure.

Explore Columbia River Gorge

Just a short drive from Portland lies the magnificent Columbia River Gorge, a natural wonder that offers countless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hike along the iconic trails, taking in breathtaking vistas of cascading waterfalls, basalt cliffs, and lush forests. Or, for an adrenaline-fueled adventure, try your hand at windsurfing or kiteboarding on the Columbia River, renowned for its ideal wind conditions.

Take a Food Cart Tour

Portland’s food cart scene is legendary, with an astonishing array of culinary offerings from around the world. Embark on a food cart tour and let your taste buds embark on a global adventure, sampling everything from authentic Thai curries and Japanese ramen to gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and decadent desserts. With so many delicious options, you’ll never go hungry in this food-loving city.

Hotel Zags is Your Summer Base Camp

With its abundant natural beauty, vibrant culture, and endless opportunities for fun, Portland is the ultimate summer destination. Make Hotel Zags your home base, hit up our Gear Shed to snag some adventure gear, then let our friendly staff guide you to the city’s best-kept secrets and most unforgettable experiences.