There is certainly no shortage of free things to do in the city of Portland, Oregon. Part of this has to do with the city’s goal of preserving its green spaces, which is shown by its many gardens and parks, featuring hiking trails, hundreds of roses, and a play fountain for kids among them. Portland is also full of museums, some are always free while others offer free admission on specific days or times.
1.Portland Art Museum
© Portland Art Museum
The Portland Art Museum offers free admission to visitors ages seventeen and under, Veterans, and and Active-Duty Military. Free general admission is also offered to all guests from 5:00pm until 8:00pm on the first Thursday of every month. There are also free quarterly Museum Days, and occasionally other special days with free admission. The website usually lists these dates. The museum, which is closed on Mondays, showcases art history from back in the ancient times up to present day across its many galleries. It is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest and the country’s seventh oldest.
1219 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, Phone: 503-226-2811
2.Pittock Mansion Grounds
The original Pittock Mansion Grounds consisted of forty-six acres nestled high in the West Hills of Portland. The grounds include the Mansion, a three-car garage, the Gate Lodge, a tennis court, and greenhouses. The woods behind the Mansion today are a section of the city’s Forest Park and the Mansion itself a popular stop along the Wildwood Trail. The grounds are now a public park that is open until 9:00pm every day, offering visitors some of the city views. Guests can even see five of the Cascade Mountains on a clear day, including Mount St. Helens and Mount Hood.
3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210, Phone: 503-823-3623
© Shane Cotee/stock.adobe.com
The grounds of the Hoyt Arboretum are open daily from 5:00am until 10:00pm. Visitors can take advantage of the free shuttle between May and October around Washington Park. Founded in 1928, the Arboretum serves as a living tree museum where plants and trees from throughout the world are grown and exhibited in an effort to educate the community and conserve important plant biodiversity. The Visitor Center includes a nature center and staff can help with interpreting tree collections or helping guests plan their visit. The plants collection is comprised of six thousand specimens, including more than two thousand species.
4000 SW Fairview Blvd, Portland, OR 97221, Phone: 503-865-8733
4.The Oregon Historical Society
© The Oregon Historical Society
The museum at the Oregon Historical Society is open every day of the week and is situated on the South Park Blocks within the heart of the city’s Cultural District. While admission to the Research Library is free, the museum charges a small fee. There are specific Free Museum Days throughout the year, with dates listed on the society’s website. Admission to the Oregon Historical Society Museum is free year-round for youth eighteen years of age and younger. The museum is open from 10:00am until 5:00pm Monday to Saturday and from 12:00pm until 5:00pm on Sundays.
1200 SW Park Ave, Portland, OR 97205, Phone: 503-222-1741
5.International Rose Test Garden
The city of Portland is known by several nicknames, including “Rose City” and “City of Roses.” The climate of the area is ideal for growing roses outdoors. While roses can be seen throughout Portland, one of the city’s best spots for visitors to see roses is in Washington Park at the International Rose Test Garden. This free garden boasts more than eight thousand rose plants and around 550 varieties. The rose garden is America’s oldest continuously operated public rose test garden. Free tours are available from Memorial Day through Labor Day at 1:00pm, starting at the store at the Rose Garden.
400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR, Phone: 503-823-3636
© Ground Kontrol
Ground Kontrol in Portland, Oregon is considered by many to be the premier classic arcade on the West Coast. The arcade is focused on preserving and celebrating the “golden age” of video gaming by offering over twenty-five pinball machines and more than sixty classic games. Ground Kontrol also hosts DJs, trivia nights, comedy shows, Rock Band karaoke, game tournaments, and a full-service bar. Visitors of any age are welcome from 12:00pm until 5:00pm, but only twenty-one and older after 5:00pm. The blue side bar opens at 12:00pm and the red side at 5:00pm.
115 NW 5th Ave, Portland OR, Phone: 503-796-9364
7.Kidd's Toy Museum
© Kidd's Toy Museum
The Kidd’s Toy Museum is home to the toy collection of Frank Kidd, showcasing his lifetime collection that began with vehicular toys and is now comprised of all kinds of toys, including still and mechanical banks; automobiles, planes, and trains; railroad locks, lanterns, and other related toys; police badges; character toys; and memorabilia from early Oregon of nearly every kind. Frank’s wife, Joyce, has added to the collection with holiday collectibles, dolls, and teddy bears. Most of the collection consists of toys from 1869 through 1939, with a large display of die-cast vehicles as well.
1301 SE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97214, Phone: 503-233-7807
8.Portland Fire & Rescue's Historic Belmont Firehouse
© Portland Fire & Rescue's Historic Belmont Firehouse
The Portland Fire & Rescue's Historic Belmont Firehouse is situated at the corner of Belmont and Southeast 35th Avenue and is open for visitors to come and explore on specific days or on a private tour by appointment. The Historic Belmont Firehouse offers free admission during its weekly Open House that occurs from 9:00am until 3:00pm every Wednesday. Visitors can view the different exhibits on display, slide down the fire pole, sit in a fire truck, and learn about fire safety. Safety Saturday takes place from 9:00am until 3:00pm on the second Saturday of each month.
900 SE 35th Ave, Portland, OR 97214, Phone: 503-823-3615
9.Ira Keller Fountain
© Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
The Ira Keller Fountain is a unique landscape fountain in the heart of Portland. Named in honor of Ira Keller, the first chairman of Portland’s Development Commission and a civic leader, the fountain was created by Angela Danadjieva. The waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge served as the inspiration behind the Ira Keller Fountain. Approximately 13,000 gallons of water cascade through the fountain’s platforms and terraces every minute. This concrete fountain landscape has become a landmark of the city, as well as an internationally-acclaimed open space. The Ira park area is open to the public from 5:00am until 9:00pm.
SW Clay St & SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR 97201
The Springwater Corridor includes riverfront views, picnic areas, paved paths, nature area, restrooms, vistas, and trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trail is well separated for the most part from the public road, and the scenic route encompasses industrial neighborhoods, residential neighborhoods, pastures, agricultural fields, buttes, and wetlands. The hard surface part of multi-use trail is designed for accommodating walkers, hikers, joggers, strollers, bicycles, and wheelchairs, while the equestrian use part is a soft surface path east of I-205. Several open spaces and parks are connected by the Springwater Corridor, such as the the Powell Butte Nature Park.
11.Oregon Rail Heritage Center
© Oregon Rail Heritage Center
The Oregon Rail Heritage Center in Portland is open to the public free of charge from 1:00pm until 5:00pm on Thursdays and Fridays and from 12:00pm until 5:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Guests can view the latest exhibition, take a guided tour of the big engines, or look around the Gift Shop during their visit. Between the months of March and November, visitors can take a ride on the Oregon Pacific Railroad on Saturdays for a small fee. The Oregon Rail Heritage Center is closed on New Year’s, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
2250 SE Water Ave, Portland, OR 97214, Phone: 503-233-1156
12.Last Thursdays on Alberta
Last Thursdays on Alberta is a summer art walk event that takes place in the city of Portland along fifteen block of Northeast Albert Street. The art event takes place typically from 6:00pm until 9:00pm on the last Thursday night during the months of June, July, and August. Last Thursdays on Alberta is an iconic event in Portland, offering a fun place to explore, view, and maybe even purchase art. There are also street performances and food during the event. The fun and entertaining art walk is designed to support the artists in the local community.
2738 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211, Phone: 503-823-1052
13.Portland Saturday Market
The Portland Saturday Market is a nationally recognized open-air market and has been in operation since the year 1974/ It is the country’s largest continuously operating arts and crafts outdoor market. Located in the historic Old Town of the city, the Saturday Market is one of the most popular destinations for shopping for local handcrafted goods in Portland, providing a unique chance for visitors to meet more than 250 local Northwest craftspeople and artists who create the products they sell at the market. Shoppers can also enjoy a variety of local and exotic foods and live, local performances.
2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204, Phone: 503-222-6072
14.Portland Farmers Market
© RZ Images/stock.adobe.com
The Portland Farmers Market has its flagship year-round market on the Portland State University campus at the South Park Blocks. The campus offers a picturesque backdrops for the popular Saturday market. Visitors will find artisan food producers and farmers across the 140 stalls, offering a variety of what can be considered the region’s bounty. The Portland Farmers Market is open on Saturdays from 9:00am until 2:00pm November to March and from 8:30am until 2:00pm April to October. Over two hundred vendors come and go throughout the year, selling their items at the weekend market.
1831 SW Pedestrian Trail, Portland, OR 97201, Phone: 503-241-0032
15.Stark’s Vacuum Museum
The Stark’s Vacuum Museum displays over three hundred different vintage vacuum cleaners for visitors to take a look at throughout the museum, as well as a historical timeline. These range from wooden vacuums made during the 1800’s up to the “space-age” vacuums of the 1960’s. The mission of the Stark’s Vacuum Museum is to highlight the most fascinating moments of the vacuum industry from around 1876 up through 1970. The museum first opened during the 1970’s with vintage vacuums being donated to the museum by the residents of Portland. There is no charge for admission to the vacuum museum.
107 NE Grand Ave, Portland, OR 97232, Phone: 503-232-4101
16.Portland Central Library
The Portland Central Library was constructed back in the year 1913 and is the oldest public library to the west of the Mississippi River. The library is home over seventeen miles of bookshelves, along with some great artwork, most of which is reflective of a “Garden of Knowledge” theme. Some highlights of the art include a cast-bronze tree with relief images measuring fourteen feet in the children’s room and the ornately decorated staircase. The Portland Central Library is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The library is open six days a week, closed on Mondays.
801 SW 10th Ave, Portland, OR 97205, Phone: 503-988-5123
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The Forest Park in Portland, Oregon encompasses around 5,200 acres and is one of the nation’s largest urban forests. The park includes over eighty miles of forest trails, forest roads, and fire lanes, stretching over seven miles in length on the eastern side of the region’s Tualatin Mountains. Forest Park overlooks the Northwest area of Portland, as well as the convergence of the Willamette River and the Columbia River. The grounds provides unmatched opportunities for visitors to explore and experience a true forest of the Pacific Northwest without needing to leave the city limits of Portland.
18.The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
© The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium in the city of Portland is certainly a unique museum, and possibly one-of-a-kind. Found in northwestern Portland, the strange museum features sci-fi art exhibits, weird urban legends, and historical oddities. There are several urban legend displays, along with some fully-immersive experiences, such as what it would be like to be buried alive. The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium is full of strange artwork, some available for guests to purchase, and tons of opportunities for photos. There is a fee for admission unless visitors wear a costume or bring a pet, such as a well-behaved dog, cat, parakeet, or anything non-lethal.
2234 NW Thurman St, Portland, OR 97210, Phone: 503-227-3164
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© The Hopworks
The Hopworks Urban Brewery offers free tours of its brewery at 3:00pm on Saturdays. These guided tours include a tasting of two of the beers produced at the Hopworks. Visitors can join the tour as a walk-in, however, the brewery recommends reserving a spot in advance through email, particularly if guests are a group of ten people or more. Hopworks Brewery tours are limited to around twenty people, so besides reservations, it first come first serve for walk-ins. The tour takes guests through the working brewery, as such, visitors are asked to wear closed-toe shoes for safety.
2944 SE Powell Blvd, Portland, OR 97202, Phone: 503-232-4677
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20.Powell's City of Books
© Powell's City of Books
Powell's City of Books has been around since 1971 in Portland, Oregon. The independent bookseller now operates five stores across the Portland area, as well as a website, and has a book inventory of more than two million volumes. The bookstore host more than five hundred author events every year, along with storytime for children, game demonstrations, book clubs, and writing workshops. Powell’s City of Books aims to be the best destination for readers in the world, fostering a reading culture, connecting people with books they will love, and establishing a relationship with the city.
1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209, Phone: 503-228-4651
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21.Alberta Street Fair
The Alberta Street Fair is an annual event on Alberta Street in the city of Portland. Held on the second Saturday of August every year, the fair offers something for people of all ages and is a family-friendly event. The event usually runs from 11:00am until 6:00, with the Beer Garden open until 9:30pm. The Alberta Street Fair features hundreds of vendors, three entertainment stages, a children’s activity corner and parade, and more. The fair provides an eclectic mix of events and activities including vendors, music, entertainment, drinks, and food for all ages.
1722 NE Alberta St, Portland, OR 97211, Phone: 503-683-3252
22.World Naked Bike Ride
The World Naked Bike Ride is a worldwide, annual bike ride that takes place in Portland, Oregon, highlighting the vulnerability of cyclists throughout the world and decries the dependence of society on transportation that is pollution-based. The annual event is free for everyone. The bike ride typically takes place in and around the city towards the end of June every year. As it takes place at the beginning of summer, the weather is usually clear and warm. The starting location is announced in late spring and the actual route for the ride is generally kept a secret.
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23.Flicks on the Bricks
On five Friday nights throughout the months of July and August, Flicks on the Bricks take place in the Square of Portland, Oregon. The Square becomes the largest outdoor movie theater in the city, a theater that the whole community can come and enjoy a free film. The series of films typically kicks off in the middle of July and run through around the middle of August on Friday evenings. These movies are often accompanied by pre-movie live entertainment. Pre-movie entertainment starts at 7:00pm with movies following around dusk. Guests can bring a low back chair, cushions, or pillows to be more comfortable.
715 SW Morrison St, Portland, OR 97205
24.The Portland Adult Soapbox Derby
© Wolfgang Hauke/stock.adobe.com
The Portland Adult Soapbox Derby has been around since 1997, an event during which residents of Portland and the surrounding area pull their homemade creations up to the summit of Mount Tabor and then allow gravity to lead them down to the bottom. The annual event has become a popular tradition in the city during the summer. The community event typically draws in anywhere between seven and ten thousand people who come to watch the side-splitting and colorful spectacle at Mount Tabor that features more than forty coaster cars fueled only by attitude, whimsy, and gravity.
Mt. Tabor Park, Portland, OR
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25.Art in the Pearl
© Art in the Pearl
Art in the Pearl is an art-filled event in the North Park Blocks community of Portland, Oregon. More than one hundred artists show up to showcase and sell their works of art that range from beautiful paintings to wooden furniture to jewelry, metal, class, glass, photography, and so much more. Art in the Pearl is an annual art festival in the city and typically takes place during Labor Day Weekend. The Singer/Songwriter Stage provides a space for an array of original music. There is also plenty of delicious food during Art in the Pearl.
North Park Blocks, Portland, OR
25 Best Free Things to Do in Portland Year Round
- Portland Art Museum, Photo: Portland Art Museum
- Pittock Mansion Grounds, Photo: William/stock.adobe.com
- Hoyt Arboretum, Photo: Shane Cotee/stock.adobe.com
- The Oregon Historical Society, Photo: The Oregon Historical Society
- International Rose Test Garden, Photo: ananaline/stock.adobe.com
- Ground Kontrol, Photo: Ground Kontrol
- Kidd's Toy Museum, Photo: Kidd's Toy Museum
- Portland Fire & Rescue's Historic Belmont Firehouse, Photo: Portland Fire & Rescue's Historic Belmont Firehouse
- Ira Keller Fountain, Photo: Ritu Jethani/stock.adobe.com
- Springwater Corridor, Photo: thepoeticimage/stock.adobe.com
- Oregon Rail Heritage Center, Photo: Oregon Rail Heritage Center
- Last Thursdays on Alberta, Photo: Stanislaw/stock.adobe.com
- Portland Saturday Market, Photo: travelphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Portland Farmers Market, Photo: RZ Images/stock.adobe.com
- Stark’s Vacuum Museum, Photo: Colby/stock.adobe.com
- Portland Central Library, Photo: connel_design/stock.adobe.com
- Forest Park, Photo: jpldesigns/stock.adobe.com
- The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium, Photo: The Freakybuttrue Peculiarium
- The Hopworks, Photo: The Hopworks
- Powell's City of Books, Photo: Powell's City of Books
- Alberta Street Fair, Photo: khunkorn/stock.adobe.com
- World Naked Bike Ride, Photo: srckomkrit/stock.adobe.com
- Flicks on the Bricks, Photo: kohanova1991/stock.adobe.com
- The Portland Adult Soapbox Derby, Photo: Wolfgang Hauke/stock.adobe.com
- Art in the Pearl, Photo: Art in the Pearl
- Cover Photo: yooranpark/stock.adobe.com