There is a huge number of things to do in and around
Portland, Oregon, but only if the weather cooperates.
And, as most everyone knows, the weather in Portland is rarely
good: the rainfall averages an equivalent 37.5 inches
(950 mm) per year in downtown Portland, spread over 155
days a year (doesn't include the days it's too foggy to see
anything past a block).
Portlandiers smirk and claim that the rain is gentle and
short-lived - hogwash! They will also say, "Oh, it's not that
bad hiking in the rain," but the rest of us know that hiking in
the rain is no fun - there's no views, and even the smallest of
hills become treacherous.
There are endless numbers of web sites and books that provide
tips on what to do in Portland, but most, if not all of the
suggestions, require the weather to be dry - and in some cases,
to be clear as well (foggy days in rose gardens that supposedly
have amazing views are no fun - trust me).
I made my own list of things to do in and around Portland,
Oregon when it rains because my German in-laws have visited us
twice in three years -- we live South of Portland -- and finding
things to do when it rains, which is most of the time, has been
a huge struggle. We're limited not only by language, but their
rather limited interests in things like going to the movies, art
museums or history museums (they aren't really interested in
American history - and certainly not interested in museums where
everything is in English-only). Most of the web sites I did find
for things to do in Portland when it rains were focused on kids,
or places to eat. This list doesn't either (here are many, many
web sites with food suggestions already, and a restaurant takes
care of 60 - 90 minutes - and a day has a lot more minutes than
that. Food is always easy to find).
Suggestions for more things to do are welcomed!
Activity ideas for rainy days with adults in and around
Aviation & Space Museum (Spruce Goose)
This is an all-day experience, thank goodness! Perfect for a
rainy/super-foggy day. In addition to the airplanes and space
craft, there's also an iMax theater that's always showing
something worth watching. My in-laws loved it - even the iMax
movie, which was in English only. This remains the best thing
they've done in the area. (For the kids, there's a waterpark -
not something most adults without kids are into). Nearby is
the city of McMinnville, which has an historic downtown that
is a good place to eat, get ice cream, or get coffee - and if
the weather isn't too dreadful, for a short walk around.
outlet. This is a huge shopping complex South of
Portland. Actually, maybe this is the highlight of my in-laws
visits to the area, as they've been three times.
- The Aurora Colony antique shops and the Pacific
Hazelnut Factory. The museum in the historic district is
also worth visiting if you are interested in history or want
to see the coolest - and I mean the coolest - music box you
will ever see in your life. The antique shops are open
Sundays, and many are open Monday as well; some are right
downtown, but there are a few a bit South on 99, towards the
- Visit Canby: St.
Joseph's Winery is scenic even on a rainy day - the
tasting room is lovely. Canby also has two specialty chocolate
River, the latter of which is also a restaurant. Note:
Canby and Aurora are right next to each other.
Brew Bus Last I looked, it departs at 1:30 pm from the
lobby of the DoubleTree Hotel at Lloyd Center, 1000 NE
Multnomah Boulevard, Portland, just south of Lloyd Center.
Only problem - someone has to NOT drink, so that person can
drive everyone home after the tour (unless you are staying
downtown and can walk).
Books - This is a great half-day experience if your
parents or other adult visitor's speak English and love books.
But you will need something else to do in Portland to fill
your day - and I don't mean just eating. So you could try...
Belmont Firehouse - This is in downtown Portland. Come
on - who doesn't like to look at historic fire equipment?!
- Ballroom dancing, country dancing, any dancing in Portland -
web site says it lists all such partner dancing in Portland.
Air Museum, Vancouver, Washington - this is the oldest
operating air field in the West. This small museum displays
vintage aircraft. Tiny compared to Evergreen, but gets descent
reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp. Check for the days it's open
(it's not open every day). It's near Fort Vancouver.
Trail Blazers - professional basketball. If you can get
tickets, if you like basketball, and if there's a game, here
Winterhawks. Portland's minor league hockey team, part
of the Western Hockey League.
Broadway and other tours, including Cirque
du Soleil. Also see the Keller
Auditorium | Portland Center for the Performing Arts web
- There are also a lot of colleges or universities in the
area that have sporting events, theater performances, dance
performances, etc. It will take some research on your part to
find what's going on when.
- There are a fair number of concerts and tours in the area.
for bands and individual performers playing in the Portland
area for any given time.
- Look at the web sites for city libraries throughout the
area - Oregon
Newberg, etc. Often, they will have a musical
performance that might be worth looking into.
- There's the Oregon
Symphony (based in Portland), the Portland
Baroque Orchestra, and oh so many more classical music
groups in the area. Lewis
and Clark College has a terrific, comprehensive list of such.
Center Stage (live theater)
City Rollers - Portland's flat track roller derby league
team. "The league’s goals are to serve our community by
empowering women and girls, providing entertainment for our
fans and supporting charitable causes." It's guaranteed to be
a lively event.
Park Skating Rink (Roller Skating)
- Spa day (massage, manicure, pedicure). There are many
options in the area for this.
Zoo. I know, should be an outdoor activity, but several
reviews on Yelp say that, if the rain isn't too bad, it's
still a good thing to do.
Forestry Center - this doesn't get stellar reviews on
yelp. But it is entirely in-doors, which means it's
- Oregon Museum
of Science and Industry (OMSI). Can be overwhelming when
lots of kids are there, but does have some nice exhibits of
interest to adults. Exhibits change regularly.
Art Museum, Portland
Institute for Contemporary Art, and oh-so-many art
Historical Society and the Oregon History Museum. This
Portland museum is really only for die-hard history fans,
though check the web site for a current temporary exhibit that
might be of interest.
- Oregon City: there's the End
of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, the Museum
of the Oregon Territory and the Oregon
City Municipal Elevator. I suggest these only if you
have done absolutely everything else and really are completely
out of ideas - the museums don't get must-see reviews on Yelp.
- See if there is something interesting at the Portland
City Cultural Center. This is out on the coast, so it's
an all-day trip there and back. There is an in-door farmer's
market/crafts market. Sometimes has concerts as well. It's an
hour away from Tillamook (see next item). Check the schedule
online before schlepping out there.
Cheese factory. This is all day trip from Portland out
to the coast and back. You will have to leave super early from
Portland to get there and back. It's an hour away from Lincoln
City (see previous item). Call ahead to make sure its open and
you can tour.
- Bonneville Dam - I could not find any official information
about visiting the Dam. I did find this information on
an unofficial site: When visiting Bonneville Dam, you have
three touring options:
1) Explore the facilities on your own (self-guided)
, 2) Join
in on an interpretive program or
3) Schedule an interpretive
program for your group.
Phone 541-374-8820 for information on
these tour options or to schedule a reservation. Supposedly,
it's worth visiting even if it's raining. Here's the
Yelp review of a dam visit.
- Go to the movies. There are iMax theaters, historic movie
houses, art houses, and traditional mega cinemas showing a
variety of current and classic movies throughout the Portland
- Churches, temples and mosques in the area have performances
and open houses. It will take a lot of research on your part
to find out what public events are happening at various houses
- Pubs with a British, Irish or Scottish theme will have World
Cup soccer games in 2014, Euro games in 2016, summer Olympic
games in 2012, winter Olympic games in 2014, and so forth.
Watching international matches in such a pub, such as the Highland
Still House in Oregon City (largest selection of single
malt scotches in the Portland area), is a very lively 2 - 3
hour experience! Call first to make sure they will be showing
the international game of your choice. Throw in a game of
darts before or after the game, and a meal, and you've knocked
out half a day.
- Find a bar that has pool, darts, table shuffleboard, or even
snooker table. Call first to make sure whatever table
the Internet says a bar has is still there (and, indeed, to
make sure a particular bar or pub is still open!)
- And your last option: Buy a wii, buy some beer, stay home
and enjoy your living room.
Also see these travel resources (in a different section of
my web site):
The rest of this section of my web site is focused mostly on
community service, volunteering, etc. - not Portland specific:
Finding Community Service and
Volunteering for Teens
How to Find Volunteering
Opportunities, a resource for adults who want to
Advice for volunteering as a group /
volunteering in a group
Family Volunteer - Volunteering by
Families with Children
You are NOT too young to volunteer! Ways
you can volunteer, no matter how young you are
Advice for Finding Volunteer
Activities During the Holidays
Using Your Business Skills for
Good - Volunteering Your Business Management Skills, to
help people starting or running small businesses / micro
enterprises, to help people building businesses in
high-poverty areas, and to help people entering or re-entering
the work force.
Volunteering In Pursuit of a
Medical, Veterinary or Social Work degree / career
Fund Raising For a Cause or
Creating or Holding a Successful
Community Event or Fund Raising Event.
Volunteering To Help After
How to Make a Difference
Internationally/Globally/in Another Country Without
Donating Things Instead of Cash
or Time (In-Kind Contributions)
Details on how to quickly fill a community
service obligation from a court or school.
Group Volunteering for Atheist and
Ideas for Funding Your
Volunteering Abroad Trip.
Details on volunteering
abroad (volunteering internationally).
Ideas for Leadership
These are more than just do-it-yourself volunteering - these
are ideas to create or lead a sustainable, lasting benefit to
a community, recruiting others to help and to have a
leadership role as a volunteer. These can also be activities
for the Girl Scouts Gold Award, the Duke of Edinburgh's Award
(U.K.), a mitzvah project, or even scholarship consideration.
Ideas for Creating Your Own
Careers Working With Animals
(for the benefit of animals)
Helping People Address Their
Problems with Plastic
How to mobilize a community to clean up plastic bottles,
plastic bags and other plastic waste from their environment,
and how to reduce their use of such items in the future
© 2010-2012 by Jayne
Cravens, all rights reserved. No part of this material can
be reproduced in print or in electronic form without express
written permission by Jayne Cravens.