Coming Up Roses: One Day in Portland, Oregon

You could spend countless days eating donuts, drinking IPAs, and wandering through Portland’s parks.  If you’ve got a limited amount of time, it’s easy to make the most of it downtown. It’s easily walkable and home to some must see spots. Here’s how to spend one day downtown in Portland, Oregon.

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When in Oregon, your top priorities are eat, drink, and enjoy the scenery. And the state’s largest city of Portland is no exception. When you’ve only got one day in Portland, the food and views are top priorities.

Portland, also called the City of Roses, is known for its food, craft beer, and outdoor spaces. The city is divided into five areas — Northwest, Southwest, Southeast Northeast, and North Portland. You could spend countless days eating donuts, drinking IPAs, and wandering through its parks, marveling at the abundance of greenery.  

If you’ve got a limited amount of time, it’s easy to make the most of it downtown, which is in the Southwest section of the city. It’s conveniently walkable, home to some must see spots, and full of that good food and drink. Seriously, get ready, there’s a lot to eat and drink.

Here’s your travel guide for how to spend one day downtown in Portland, Oregon.

Morning coffee at The Original Dinerant

Have Breakfast at The Original Dinerant

There are so many wonderful restaurants in this city, it’s seriously hard to choose where to eat for each meal. To start off your one day downtown in Portland, keep it simple and head to The Original Dinerant, right on the corner of SW Oak Street and SW 6th Avenue.

The Original serves up classic diner fare, complete with giant biscuits and fresh juices, in a modern setting. It’s a great spot for a traditional breakfast to get your day started. You can’t go wrong with a simple plate of bacon and eggs with a cup of coffee.

The Original Dinerant is located at 300 SW 6th Ave, Portland, OR 97204 (technically inside Courtyard by Marriott Portland City Center).

Browsing the wonderful Powell’s City of Books

Browse the Bookstores and Shops

Even if you don’t usually head straight for the bookstore when you get to a new city, you can’t miss Powell’s City of Books when in Portland. Even if you’re only in Portland for one day, a visit to Powell’s is a must.

This beloved landmark, the largest independent bookstore in the world, is a massive series of bookshelves featuring all genres of new, rare, and used books. It’s also got plenty of great souvenirs and a coffee shop to keep you browsing as long as you need. (If you’re in need of some book recommendations for when you’re there, here ya go.)

There are a few Powell’s locations around the city. The one downtown is the flagship store. It’s located at 1005 W Burnside St.

If you haven’t had enough book shopping, there’s also Cameron’s Books & Magazines. This downtown shop has a great selection of used books as well with plenty of hidden gems.

Cameron’s Books and Magazines is located at 336 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204.

There’s also the Portland Saturday Market. The open-air market is open on weekends from March through December. Local artists and chefs set up shop along the river, offering all different kinds of unique crafts and treats.

The Portland Saturday Market is located at 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204.

The city blocks of downtown are dotted with a variety of other lovely shops, so stop and look through whichever catches your eye as you make your way around.

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Pine Street Market

Eat Lunch at Pine Street Market

Once you’re in need of a shopping and exploring break, it’s time for lunch. For a quick lunch downtown, stop by Pine Street Market. This indoor food hall has something for everyone.

From bibimbap bowls to pizza or ramen to cheeseburgers, there’s a little bit of everything. Large, long tables provide ample space for community seating and string lights provide a comfortable atmosphere. Just grab a drink, choose your fare, and enjoy.

Pine Street Market is located at 126 SW 2nd Ave, Portland, OR 97204.

Downtown Portland
Downtown Portland

Have Coffee and Doughnuts

At some point, you will need to refuel. Or maybe you’ve just finished lunch and you’re ready for dessert and a pick-me-up. You do you! Just remember, in Portland, eating and drinking are top priorities, so your day will be filled with food and drink. 

When in Portland, that means coffee and doughnuts. The top spots are Blue Star Donuts and Voodoo Doughnut. They are full of creative baked goods and hot coffee, plus they both have convenient locations downtown. The signature doughnuts at Voodoo include the maple bacon bar and the jelly doughnut voodoo doll!

The downtown location of Blue Star Donuts is at 1155 SW Morrison St #102, Portland, OR 97205. The downtown location of Voodoo Doughnut is 22 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97204.

White Stag building Portland Oregon
The famous Portland, Oregon sign atop the White Stag building along the river

Walk Along the River

When you’re ready to walk off some of that food, head down to the Waterfront Loop

Here you’ll find a paved path running along the Willamette River bordered by open green spaces. Stroll down the path and admire the gorgeous Oregon trees and the city skyline across the river. It’s a great place to enjoy some city views on your one day downtown in Portland.

You can also catch a glimpse of the famous neon Portland, Oregon sign atop the White Stag building. The building is within the White Stag Block, which is also home to the University of Oregon’s Portland campus. You’ll find the famous neon sign at 70 NW Couch St.

Stearns Road Trail to Rose Garden

Visit the Rose Garden

This isn’t quite downtown, but it’s close by, and it’s one of Portland’s best sights.

The International Rose Test Garden was founded in 1917 and serves as a testing area for all kinds of roses. The garden is home to more than 10,000 rose bushes, which are in bloom from late may through October. The garden is up on a hill overlooking the city, making it a beautiful place to see the flowers and enjoy some views of the City of Roses.

While the roses are only in bloom part of the year, the garden is also close to some other great spots, like the Portland Japanese Garden. Plus, you can enjoy those city views year-round.

To get to the International Rose Test Garden, you can drive or walk. It’s located within Washington Park at 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205.

Multnomah Whiskey Library
Inside Multnomah Whiskey Library

Ready to Eat Again? Time for Happy Hour and Dinner!

Food and drink are no joke in the PNW. Get ready because it’s time for more.

For happy hour downtown in Portland, head to Multnomah Whiskey Library. Tucked between a couple shops and without much of a sign, it’s barely noticeable. Downstairs at street level is The Green Room, where you can relax with a cocktail if there’s a wait to get up to the library.

The Green Room is nice, but the experience of the library is exceptional. The library is a cozy room with walls of liquor, armchairs surrounding the fireplace, and classic details. Order some small plates to enjoy while your server mixes up cocktails at your table. Between the drinks and the ambiance, happy hour just might turn into dinner.

Multnomah Whiskey Library is located at 1124 SW Alder St, Portland, OR 97205. (But, if you’re like me, you’ll spend a few minutes staring at that address from across the street, wondering where the door is. Don’t worry, it may be a bit hidden, but it’s there!)

Ninkasi Brewing Eugene Oregon
A few pints from another essential Oregon brewery, Eugene-based Ninkasi Brewing.

Explore the Breweries

It’s not a trip to Oregon without sampling some delicious craft beer. You can’t go wrong with a visit to Oregon favorites Deschutes Brewery Portland Public House or Rogue Pearl Public House.

Descutes is based in Bend, and while they brew plenty of great beers, their classic staple is the Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Rogue was founded in Ashland, but is now based in Newport. Their classic brew is the Dead Guy Ale.

Both Deschutes and Rogue are classic Oregon institutions serving up delicious beer in downtown Portland, you really can’t go wrong with a visit to either (or pretty much any other brewery in Portland, for that matter). In true Pacific Northwest fashion, make sure to try all the IPAs!

Deschutes in downtown Portland is at 210 NW 11th Ave, Portland, OR 97209. You’ll find Rogue at 1339 NW Flanders St, Portland, OR 97209.

Portland Oregon waterfront
Open space along the waterfront

Stay the Night

If your day downtown extends into the night, you’ve got plenty of accomodation options.

Hotel Lucia and The Nines, a Luxury Collection Hotel are both great choices. Hotel Lucia has a lovely modern look and friendly staff. The Nines has got a contemporary style, great service, and nice large rooms. Both are in central locations that make it easy to get around on foot.

Powells PNW recs
Some accurate PNW recommendations from Powell’s City of Books

Portland is a great city full of delicious food, top notch drinks, and gorgeous scenery. You can get a taste of it all, even if  you’ve only got one day to spend downtown. When in Portland, simply eat, drink, and enjoy. Cheers!

One Day Downtown in Portland Oregon

One Day Downtown in Portland, Oregon

One Day Downtown in Portland, Oregon

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