Majestic and much-photographed, this Columbia River Gorge attraction is one of Oregon's biggest draws. Hiking trails lead up the face of the mountain, and a bridge crossing the waterfall offers an impressive vantage point. Standing in front of the falls can be quite romantic. Legend has it that the falls were created to honor an Indian chieftain's daughter, who threw herself from the precipice to appease the gods and relieve the sickness that plagued her tribe. No matter its origin, visitors are constantly awed by the spectacle. The nearby Multnomah Falls Lodge provides refreshment and a resting place for weary hikers.
Forest Park is Portland's own enchanted forest. Forest Park is well known for being the largest urban forest in the country located within a city. Forest park encompasses more than 5000 acres full of dense trees, rivers, waterfalls, and bridges. It has more than 40 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails. Most trails are wide and well taken care of, making them good for runners and bicyclist. The park can be found on the eastern portion of the Northwest Hills and is only 10 minutes from downtown. Taking even a short hike through Forest Park allows you to truly appreciate Oregon's beauty. Deciding where exactly to enter can be confusing. McCleay Park at 29th and Upshire is a good place for entry.
Voodoo Doughnuts serves doughnut creations unlike anywhere else, because where else can you find a bacon maple bar, a chocolate donut covered in coco puffs, an apple fritter "as big as your head", or buy a coffin filled with donuts. You can even get married at it's sister location in Northeast Portland while chowing down on a sweet, yeasty treat? Voodoo doughnuts are the talk of the town and indeed, the world and thanks to an eclectic blend of flavors and toppings, a selection of vegan doughnuts, and yes, the benefit of legal weddings performed by ordained ministers. They also serve Stumptown coffee.
Housed in a five-story building that occupies an entire city block, calling Powell's a "City of Books" is hardly hyperbole. By far the largest book store in Portland, Powell's claims to be the largest independent book store in the nation. Ever been to The Strand in New York? Powell's is bigger. Selling both new and used books, shoppers will be able to find pretty much anything in print at a great price. With 1.6 acres of floor space, shoppers may have to use a map (free at the front desk) to navigate through the many color-coded rooms. The Powell's coffee shop is one of the best places in Portland to bring out of town guests for an afternoon snack. Aside from the "City of Books" Powell's has several satellite locations throughout the Portland area, including three at the airport. Online, Powell's Books competes head to head with Amazon.
Lan Su Yuan, the garden's official name, means "Garden of Awakening Orchids," and is considered the most authentic Chinese garden outside of China. Having opened in 2000, the garden was a joint project between Portland and its Chinese sister city Suzhou. Set behind a wall, the garden is a tranquil, urban oasis that fills a full city block. As a living work of art, the garden contains a balance of the five traditional garden elements: rocks, water, plants, architecture and literary inscriptions. Paths wind through the courtyards, pavilions and bridges. The Tao of Tea offers visitors a chance to experience a traditional tea service in recreated Ming Dynasty tea house.
Of all of Portland's public gardens, The Rose Test Gardens are certainly the most grand, though the Peninsula Rose Gardens are probably the most architecturally beautiful. With over 400 species of roses, the Test Gardens are proving grounds for new rose hybrids before being released into the commercial market. Portland, often referred to as the Rose City, offers the perfect climate for rose breeding, and they grow here as well as anywhere. Built on terraces in the West Hills above downtown, the Test Gardens off dramatic views of Portland. In the summer months, the roses create a rainbow of colors and scents. The best blooms start appearing in late June. Summer concerts and close proximately to other Washington Park attractions make these gardens one of Portland's most popular destinations.
Known by the acronym OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is a favorite family day trip for locals and tourists alike. Kid's will find a wide range of interactive exhibits that both educate and fascinate. Younger children have a whole exhibit hall geared towards hand-on exploration called The Science Playground, built for kids 6 and under. Science labs throughout the museum encourage experimentation that deepens visitors' understanding of life, the world and the universe. Aspiring astronomers will love the Kendall Planetarium, the largest and most advanced planetarium in the Northwest. The Omnimax theater has a five-story high domed shaped screen creating a incredibly immersive Imax movie experience. Visitors also have the rare opportunity to tour a vintage Navy submarine, mored in the Willamette River directly behind the museum.
The Portland Art Museum (PAM) is the seventh oldest museum in the country and the oldest art museum on the West Coast. In addition to a permanent collection that includes pieces from antiquity to Post Modern, PAM also owns one of the nation's largest Native American art archives. With exhibits from all continents, there is a wing dedicated to contemporary pieces and a gallery of photography. Part of PAM is the Northwest Film Center which has regular film screenings in the Whitsell Auditorium located on the Museum's lower level. Check the website for special family events and traveling exhibits from all over the world.
Among Portlanders with kids, spending a day at the zoo is probably the most favorite of family activities. Located up above the city in Washington Park, the zoo is home to more than 1000 animals. The staff work constantly to improve the living environments and enrich the lives of the many species they house. Exhibits mimicking the environments on all seven continents add to visitors' understanding of the natural world while offering great views of authentic animal behavior. During the summer, the Zoo's main lawn is a popular live music venue with a broad range of evening concerts. During the Holiday Season, more than a million bulbs create a shimmering wonderland called Zoolights.
Despite its name, the Portland Saturday Market is open on Sundays too, every weekend from March through December. Located on the West Bank of the Willamette River, the Market is sheltered by the Burnside Bridge and a glass-roofed structure custom made for open-air shopping on rainy days. Scores of venders sell their art and crafts â" all original creations, unavailable anywhere else. All sellers at the Saturday Market only sell that which they fashion themselves. This includes the freshly cooked, international food which shoppers can eat while sitting in front of the stage featuring free, live music every market day. Buskers throughout the area round out the entertainment.