Portland, Oregon Guide: 2 Days in the City

What do you think when you think of Portland? Unique foods, funky locals and possibly, Portlandia? I know that this is what I thought of whenever I would try to picture this city.

My fiance and I visited Portland recently and had about 2 days to explore the city. In this guide, I’ll share different spots to visit, foods to try (doughnuts, anyone?) and some tips about visiting Portland!

Visiting Southern Oregon as well? Check out my Ashland and Crater Lake National Park guides!

Visit my Oregon & Washington: Pacific Northwest Pinterest board for more PNW travel ideas!

Day 1: Land around noon and start exploring Portland, Oregon

My fiance and I landed around 12 and had some time to kill before we could check into our Airbnb, so decided to stop for lunch.

Visiting the Alberta Arts District

We took a Lyft from the airport to The Radio Room, a hip restaurant in the Alberta neighborhood. Also known as the Alberta Arts District, this neighborhood is full of local art, great food and shopping.

We both got yummy drinks, an appetizer to split and an entree each. Lunch here was great, but it was the start of a trend that noticed throughout the trip: food in Portland is not cheap. It wasn’t something that ruined our trip by any means, just something to note as your plan your trip to Portland, Oregon!

Burger and fries from the Radio Room
Burger and fries from the Radio Room

Shopping and Sweet Treats

After lunch, we meandered around Alberta Street for a while, stopping at cute shops along the way. One shop in particular, Collage, was my absolute favorite. Picture this: art supplies and cute journals/notebooks everywhere! It was heaven on earth for me, I can die happy now.

After spending probably way too much time in Collage, we then stopped for some ice cream at Salt & Straw, which is a specialty ice cream shop that has a couple of locations throughout the city.

hand holding a cone of ice cream
Salt & Straw ice cream cone

The ice cream was super yummy and the cone was hand-made right in the store. Their flavors change by the season, so it’s an unique experience each time you go.

After our treat, we continued our walk down to our Airbnb and chilled out for the rest of the day.

Day 2: Explore the city

On Day 2, we wanted to see as much as the city as we could so we set out around 9 am to start the day with a very important first step: breakfast. We had passed by Pine State Biscuits on our way to the Airbnb the night before and decided that this would be our first stop.

person in front of colorful mural
Mural in the Alberta District, Portland

Breakfast at Pine State Biscuits

We both got two different types of biscuit sandwiches as well as a side of hashbrowns. The sandwiches were pretty good, but I’m not sure I would get the hashbrowns again, because they were pretty crispy and thin, but to each her own, right? I got the sausage and apple butter biscuit with cheddar cheese.

After breakfast we took an Uber Washington Park to explore the International Test Rose Garden as well as the Portland Japanese Garden. Washington Park is huge and honestly, I could have spent the whole day exploring it, but we only had time for those two attractions. I would love to go back and explore more.

Washington Park

International Test Rose Garden, Portland, Oregon.
International Test Rose Garden, Portland

The International Test Rose Garden

The International Test Rose Garden has dozens of rows of different types roses spread out throughout different tiers of the garden. It reminded me a bit of the San Jose Municipal Rose Garden, located near us, but a lot bigger.

Rows of red and pink roses. International Test Rose Garden.
Gorgeous rows of roses in the Portland International Test Rose Garden.

After wandering around the various rows of gorgeous roses, we decided to head across the street to the Portland Japanese Garden.

Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is located in Washington Park, right across the street from the Rose Garden, so if you are planning on visiting one, I would suggest to definitely visit the other.

Pricing and Visiting Hours

The Japanese Garden is located up on hill, with the entrance at the bottom. The tickets are $18.75 for an adult (other tickets prices) and the hours do vary per season, so make sure to check their website before visiting.

Entrance to Portland Japanese Garden
Entrance to the Portland Japanese Garden

After walking up the hill, you are greeted by beautiful sights and a feeling of being transported to another land. The gardens are massive, with varying levels and gardens spread across 12 acres. There is also a wonderful gift shop, which we spent some time in, and an authentic Japanese Tea House, which unfortunately we did not get to visit, but we will be back!

After visiting the gift shop, we explored the gardens for about an hour. It felt like a hidden oasis, tucked away from the rest of Washington Park, up on the hill. Downloadable map of Washington Park.

Waterful set amongst the trees. "Heavenly Waterfall" in the Strolling Pond Garden, Portland Japanese Garden
“Heavenly Waterfall” in the Strolling Pond Garden, Portland Japanese Garden
Various Gardens

We visiting the following gardens: Tea Garden, Strolling Pond Garden, Natural Garden, and the Flat Garden (map of the gardens). It was wonderful to walk through all of the different spaces and take in all the lush greenery! I loved how each garden had its own unique design, with different focal points in each space.

My advice for visiting the gardens is take your time and really appreciate the beauty that is the space. I can’t wait to go back.

After leaving the gardens, we hiked over to San Sai Japanese Grill for lunch, I was really craving sushi. Lunch was pretty good, but again a bit pricey. After our late lunch, we decided to rent some electric scooters and ride down to a place I was really looking forward to going the Portland’s famous bookstore!

Powell’s City of Books

Powells city of books, portland oregon
Powell’s Books

Portland’s Powell’s Books is a massive bookstore located in downtown that takes up a whole city block. Books are my first love and visiting any kind of bookstore is a treat, but visiting Powells was honestly on another level. Due to its sheer size, the bookstore has a map, detailing all of the different levels and the various sections.

Powell's bookstore. Portland, Oregon
Powell’s Bookstore
Tips for Visiting

After reviewing the map, my fiance and I split up to see the different sections that we each wanted to see and had planned to meet up about two hours later. Let me tell you, the time flew by and before I knew it, the hour and a half was up. We met up and both gushed about all that we had seen. We had a couple of books and souvenirs in our baskets, both agreeing that we needed way more time there. I had to put a couple books back because I just didn’t have room in my carry on. I will be back and this time, with a bigger suitcase!

If you are a massive book lover like me, I was suggest more than two hours here. If you just want to visit and peruse the store, I think that an hour should cover it (perhaps, hehe).

Doughnuts to end the day

We had both heard that a visit to Portland isn’t complete without trying one of the city’s most famous sweets. Voodoo Doughnuts is a funky doughnuts shop that makes a variety of doughnuts, with one of its more famous ones being a voodoo doll with a little pretzel knife through its heart.

Voodoo Doughnuts sign in Portland, Oregon
Voodoo Doughnuts

We waited in line for about 10 minutes before going into the shop. We had decided in line to get a box of seven different donuts, including the classic and a maple bacon bar.

Review of the doughnuts

I’ve heard that not everyone likes these doughnuts because they are super sweet or can seem kind of touristy, but I honestly thought that they were all pretty good. I think we spent about $20 for the box of doughnuts and a tip, so overall not bad. I did want to try other doughnuts shops in Portland to get a comparison, but we didn’t have enough time.

Overall Thoughts on Portland

Our trip to Portland was short but sweet and I really enjoyed seeing the city that I had always heard about. I think that two days was just enough time to see some of the more famous sights, but I think that I would like to go back to spend more time in a couple of my favorite spots.

Let me know what you think and if you have ever been to Portland! Visiting Southern Oregon as well? Check out my Ashland and Crater Lake National Park guides!

Portland, Oregon. Text box over image says, 2 days in portland, oregon guide. hello madds. hellomadds.com

Visit my Oregon & Washington: Pacific Northwest Pinterest board for more PNW travel ideas!

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