Multicolored perennials coat Washington and Peninsula parks from early spring to late summer, spreading across enough acreage to sustain Portland’s reputation as “The City of Roses.” The clouds that constantly hang over their city rarely deter Portlanders from strolling through these rose gardens or biking down the tree-lined paths of Forest Park.
The prevalence of such green spaces hints at Portland's streak of environmentalism, but there are also plenty of things to do inside the city's cafes, boutiques, and museums. You can find fuel for a busy day in the form of direct-trade coffee from Stumptown Coffee Roasters or a bacon-maple bar from the world-famous Voodoo Doughnut. Nestled in Old Town's nightlife district, the 24-hour doughnut shop stakes its name on unusual pastries sprinkled with toppings such as Oreos, Cap’n Crunch, and lavender.
When the sun is shining on Portland, there’s no better place to be than at the International Rose Test Garden, where three terraced gardens bloom with 10,000 bushes and 400 varieties of roses. Directly above these terraces is the Japanese Garden, a tranquil outdoor complex comprised of five themed gardens that overlook Washington Park. Light on colorful flowers but heavy on abstract and stylized landscaping, this garden has been called the most authentic of its kind outside Japan. Amid the wooded setting, you'll find a burbling waterfall and a teahouse that was built in Japan and faithfully reconstructed upon its arrival in Portland.
Most of the city’s downtown is accessible for free via the modern MAX light-rail trolleys and streetcars, but vintage trolleys also pull into the stations on Sundays from March through December. These trolleys drop passengers off at landmarks such as Powell's City of Books, where more than 1.5 million new and used books occupy nine rooms color-coded by genre. The store covers an entire city block, but detailed maps ensure that no one gets lost in the forest of paperbacks.
Locals’ affinity for the visual arts makes the Portland Art Museum a popular destination. The museum’s galleries house everything from European Impressionist paintings to Native American artifacts, though the focus remains on modern art. Many works hail from the Pacific Northwest, such as a two-story wall of false artifacts created by glass artist William Morris. For another taste of local art, head to the Portland Saturday Market, an open-air arts and crafts market that runs along Waterfront Park.
There’s no shortage of music venues or nightlife Portland, with the Hawthorne Theatre offering music from the heavy metal rock and indie scenes.