Portland: The Summer Vacation You’ll Come Back Cooler From

Deal Expert, Los Angeles
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If you want a different kind of summer vacation than theme parks and crowded beaches, then Portland, Oregon, should be high on your list.

Expect sunshine-filled days from May-September, average highs around 70-80 degrees, blooming city gardens (and pop-up beer gardens), outdoor music concerts and a constant stream of festivals.

Or, take a day trip for forest hikes, white-water rafting and photos at one of the most photographed beaches in the world.

Here’s why our deal experts are picking Portland this summer:

1. Just about everything is outdoors.

Thanks to the temperate sunny weather, everything moves outdoors in the summer, from the bars to the food to the music. Locals even get around downtown by bike (instead of car) — there’s a citywide public bike share, and  they’re bright orange, you can’t miss them.

There’s so much going on outside that you can find a free summer events nearly every day. Parks across the city host more than 60 concerts from July-August (aka Concerts in the Park), while Pioneer Courthouse Square showcases films during Flicks on the Bricks (Fridays, July 21 – Aug. 18); you just need to bring your own blanket or chair. On the weekends, street fairs close down streets and fill with artists, musicians, artisans and performers like at Last Thursday on Alberta.

Last Thursday on Alberta

Even the bars move outside: the patio and rooftop bar scene is hugely popular, with everything from stellar views of downtown at 10 Barrel Brewing to the Pearl District’s largest outdoor patio at On Deck Sports Bar and Grill to family-friendly patios like Radio Room.

The Knock Back

2. It’s the best beer city in America.

With more than 75 microbreweries — more than any other city in the world — it’s no wonder Lonely Planet named Portland the best beer city in America. And come summer, beer gardens pop up all over the city. Try local fruit beers, IPAs and ryes during PDX Beer Week (June 8-18).

Beer tasting

Oregon Brewers Festival (July 26-30) is one of the nation’s longest-running craft beer festivals right, in the downtown Tom McCall Waterfront Park. The focus is to learn (and sample) more than two dozen beer styles, and the event also features live music and local foods. There’s no admission fee, and it’s open to all ages; there’s even a free handcrafted soda garden for minors and designated drivers.

3. A trend-setting soundtrack.

Portland is the birthplace of bands such as the Decemberists and the Kingsmen. This indie music hub is home to intimate venues and pop-up shows that give the city a rockin’ soundtrack seven days a week.

Don’t miss Booker T., Chris Isaak and Cedric Burnside Project at the Waterfront Blues Festival (June 30 – July 4) or Iggy Pop and Beck at MusicfestNW presents Project Pabst (Aug. 26-27).

Waterfront Blues Festival

4. Some of Portland best eats are on the street.

Who needs a reservation? More than 600 food carts serve up fresh eats. These carts are operated by chefs dedicated to perfecting everything from jambalaya to pierogies to Thai chicken. If you’re eyeing a specific food cart, check the hours online, as some are open only until mid-afternoon.

Alder Street food carts

Summer’s biggest culinary event is Feast Portland (Sept. 14-17). It’s held across the city with more than 40 events, including hands-on classes, a night market featuring Latin street food (think fusion tacos and grilled Argentine meats), cocktail crawls downtown and the Grand Tasting — a two-day mash-up of local artisans and cuisine centered around Pacific Northwest ingredients. The final schedule and tickets will be available in June: Follow @feastpdx on Twitter for updates.

5. Quirky summer bevvies.

Portland takes its coffee culture very, very seriously. There’s a coffee shop on almost every corner — but it goes further than just your typical cup of joe. Locals beat the heat with summer drinks as distinctive as the city. Try boozy milkshakes at Tasty ‘n’ Alder, iced coffee on nitro from Stumptown Coffee Roasters and jelly beer (basically a beer slushie) at Whiskey Soda Lounge.

Coava Coffee Roasters

6. Bleu cheese, black pepper and olive oil — in your ice cream.

It should come as no surprise that ice cream is big in Portland; the state is known for its dairy, after all (thanks to Tillamook).

Salt & Straw is gaining notoriety due to its inventive flavors like strawberry with balsamic vinegar and black pepper, pear with blue cheese, and Arbequina olive oil. There are four locations in Portland, including a soft serve (only) dessert bar at Pine Street Market.

Fifty Licks

If you get the chance, don’t pass up family owned shops like Fifty Licks, which still makes a custard base by hand from scratch. Its farmers market-inspired spring and summer flavors include Blood Orange Creamsicle and Blackberry Bomb.

7. No sales tax + creative boutiques = sweet summer souvenirs.

Portland, like the rest of Oregon, is sales tax-free, so you can shop all you want at the indie boutiques. Browse through locally handmade arts, crafts and foods at the weekend Portland Saturday Market; it’s the largest continuously operating open-air arts and crafts market in the country. Or hunt for vintage pieces and vinyl along North Mississippi and Williams avenues.

Rock n’ Rose

8. 200-plus city parks and no lines.

Who needs theme parks when there are more than 200 parks within Portland’s city limits? Portland is home to both America’s largest urban park, Forest Park, and the world’s smallest dedicated park, Mill Ends — a small pocket of flowers where the fictitious leprechaun Patrick O’Toole resides. The city has it all, from forests to marshlands and trails to skateboarding rails.

Forest Park

Portland’s signature park, Washington Park, is a kid-centric place with the Oregon Zoo (there are extended summer hours), Portland Children’s Museum and The International Rose Test Garden, which has more than 10,000 rose bushes. You can even travel around by a steam train.

It’s full of free summer events, too: Follow @WashingtonPark on Twitter for the latest Concerts and Movies in the Park schedules and updates on the Washington Park Summer Festival (Aug. 4-7). From May through Labor Day, the Washington Park free shuttle stops at all the park’s major attractions, as well as the Washington Park MAX light rail station to downtown.

9. Waterfalls > waterslides.

It’s an easy day trip to the surrounding forests and rivers from the city. The iconic Multnomah Falls is just 45 minutes by car or the Columbia Gorge Express bus from downtown. The waterfall is good for all ages, as it’s visible from the base, or you can opt to hike a mile to the top; plan to visit early and during the week for fewer crowds.

Once you’re at the top, you can continue on the 6-mile Wahkeena Loop Trail or try the more challenging Larch Mountain Hike to see more waterfalls visible only to those who seek them out.

Multnomah Falls

10. Real-life water parks.

What better way to spend a hot summer day than by making a splash in Portland-area rivers and water parks? The picturesque Columbia River Gorge is less than an hour away. The gorge is famous for windsurfing and kiteboarding — try it if you dare, with a private lesson. Or join in with a stand-up paddle board, kayak or a swim at Hood River Waterfront Park.

Columbia River Gorge

Seeking more thrilling water sports? Head to Calckamas River (30 miles outside Portland), where rapids start flowing as the winter’s snow melts off the mountain. Or book a jet boat ride on the Willamette through the city’s central waterway; tours from Willamette Jetboat Excursions only run from May-September.

White water rafting

11. A beach your Instagram will love.

OK, it’s summer vacation. Do you want to go to a beach? Then go to one that’s one of the most photographed in the world; Cannon Beach.

It’s easy to get here (and to the surrounding 363 miles of public coastline), with a 1.5-hour-drive on the US-26 W from downtown Portland. Plan to leave in the morning to beat summer traffic and stay for sunset to capture the sun’s glow behind iconic Haystack Rock. This view alone is why National Geographic named Cannon Beach one of the best beaches in the world (2017).

Cannon Beach

12. It’s weird — in the best possible way.

Most of all, what’s cool about Portland is it’s quirky side. It’s just a little bit different than anywhere else you’ve been before, and it fully embraces the things that keep it weird — from the striking pedestrian-only Tilikum Crossing over the Willamette River to tours of the infamous underground Shanghai tunnels to blooming “tattoos” during the Festival of Flowers to the vintage outfits on passersby. The city’s quirky personality even inspired the hit show “Portlandia,” which explores the eccentric lives of fictional Portlanders.

Festival of Flowers

Ready to go? We’ve put together hotel deals for spring and summer travel.

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Show 65 Comments
  • Keith

    From the looks of the images display on this site, it appear there is no diversity in Portland whatsoever. All is see is “WHITE, WHITE WHITE.” No LATINOS, NO ASIANS, NO AFRICAN AMERICANS.
    I, as person of color who loves to travel, see no incentive to visit Portland, which is a shame because this location is missing out on an opportunity to boost its economy if only it will embrace diversity.

    • kimberlee stebbins

      oh please….you have nothing better to do or comment on other than the Travelzoo ad for Portland does not appear to have people of color in the ad???? Gimme a break and find a real problem to worry about.

      • Keith

        Kimberlee, why are you so offended? Does the truth offend you? Regardless of your incensed feeling, the fact remains the same. Portland lacks diversity, and thus is not appealing to people of color. And in response to your cretinous statement about me commenting on Travelzoo, let’s just put it this way. Travelzoo provided an online forum for its viewer to post statements. I posted and apparently ruffled your feathers. So to my dear I say, “Gimme a Break” or better yet – Go jump in a lake.

        • Joe the plumber

          I’ve been there a few times, and you’re right. There is a low number of minorities in Portland. That explains why their public transportation is clean and safe, and not marked up with graffiti.

          • Laurie Daniel

            You havent been here lately. Sadly Portland has gone downhill fast.

          • Joe the plumber

            My son lives in Beaverton. I went to visit him in 2015. It still seemed pretty nice in Portland. Other than a whole passle of homeless hanging around, it still seemed o.k. I was also there in 2014. Lot of nice restaurants. We visited the rose garden, zoo, and Oakes amusement park. All seemed nice. How has it gone downhill? My son hasn’t said anything negative lately.

          • Tina Crosby

            NO need to get ugly, Joe.

          • Joe the plumber

            I think that when someone makes a comment that they don’t want to visit a city because there are too many white people, they’re showing their racism. He deserves a hit back. Maybe he’s better off visiting somewhere like Detroit, where there’s more of his kind. If a white person said they didn’t want to visit a city because there are too many blacks, all the liberals and blacks would be screaming racism.

        • Sheri Ellis

          I don’t think Kimberlee is the one offended here, it appears that Keith you are. I have to say that anyone who would judge a city that they have never been to by a few photos on a website that is advertising a deal is pretty ignorant. I am a former Oregon resident, 11 years, and there is plenty diversity. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover or statistics. BTW, I have many friends from different ethnic backgrounds and a few have gone to Portland with me and absolutely loved the city and felt very welcome. People there are warm and friendly, so perhaps based on your comments above, warm and friendly is not your style.

          • Keith

            Sheri, as a 11 year resident of Portland, I expect that type of response from you, as you are for Team Portland and feel a responsibility to defend your home. But still, it doesn’t negate the fact that Portland lacks diversity and a handful of Asian or Mexica, etc. don’t qualify. Do me a favor Sheri and look at the statistics again because the numbers don’t lie. Portland is one of in the Whitest cities in America and because of that, the pictures Travel Zoo posted were very befitting. Furthermore, if anyone is ignorant or offended, it”s you Sheri because you refuse to accept Facts. You prefer alternative Facts and we know where that got Kellyanne Conway.

            From what I gather from your argument is that you’ve only got as far as getting your high school diploma. What I am going to do is escort you back to school to educate you on Diversity 101- starting with a few websites for read. Be sure to study them well because you might have a pop quiz tomorrow morning on D.I.V.E.R.S.I.T.Y.





          • Sheri Ellis

            Wow Keith. You are judging me without having any facts which seem to be very important to you. So here are some facts; my degree is from USC, I was born and raised in Los Angeles (Team L.A.), very diverse. I have Latino, African American and Asian family (not by way of marriage by way of blood relation). Living my life with a mixed family I really don’t need any Diversity education. I believe that people with different opinions can have a respectable conversation but your insults and assumptions towards me, knowing absolutely nothing about me, tells me that you are not open to the diversity of opinion. So it’s best we end the conversation here. I hope that in future posts you will be able to share your opinions without insult. Best of luck to you.

    • Jim

      Portland is probably in the top 5 cities in the USA for diversity. I travel there three times per year and I am very grateful for its diversity.


      I agree Keith!

      • Keith

        BISONFAN, thanks for your response. People like you and me and WOKE. Kimberlee, on the other hand, still has her head buried in the sand.

        • Gordon Campbell

          I personally hope people do stay away, it’s getting very crowded here in the Portland area. Sorry Travel Zoo.
          I don’t know what it is that complainers expect locals to do about changing demographics, we are who we are. Portland and Oregon are probably the most friendly areas I have lived in over my 80 yrs. If you want diversity, check out Intel and other tech businesses in the area, they look & sound like the United Nations.

          • Ronald Wanner

            Gordon, maybe if Phil Knight gave Keith a free pair of NIKE Air Jordons he would be happy 😉

          • Keith

            You seem like one who have one token friend who is non white so you feel you qualify as culturally aware. NOT… But I will take a pair of Air Nike Jordans if you buy the me if it will make you feel better.

          • Keith

            Over 80 years? Boy, there’s no changing your mind, as I am sure you are stuck in your ways and not accustomed to diversity. Surely, you grew up in the Jim Crow era. I bet you have a dirty past of opposition to anyone who didn’t look like you. But guess was Gordon. There is more people of color in the world than White and studies show white people is a dying breed. So watch out because we are coming to get you.

          • Gordon Campbell

            It’s people like you that cause racial tension in this world, spewing unfounded comments regarding others you know nothing about. You assume others have bigoted feelings, just because you do.
            You are the one that needs an attitude change and I hope it comes so you can relax and enjoy life in the greatest country in the World.
            That is my hope for you.

    • carriea

      The Alberta street area is more diverse than other parts of Portland. And the city does have a China town around our beautiful Tea Garden (which was constructed as a gift from our Sister-city) and an amazing Japanese garden which has recently been upgraded. So sorry if the photos don’t display the diversity you could hope for, but it seems to me you will be missing out on some amazing sights by foregoing Portland. I hope you do decide
      to come visit

      • Keith

        Carriea, truth be told, I am open to visiting Portland. My point, however, is as a person of color who loves to travel and often search Travel Zoo for interesting place to visit, the images of Portland displayed on this site are quite discouraging. If you can, please tell me how are these images of all white people having a great time is suppose to entice me to purchase a plane ticket to visit the city. It’s all about cultural relevance and I don’t see that on the Portland page. And thanks for pointing out these other cultural spots in Portland. It would have been nice if Travel Zoo highlighted these areas for their diverse audience.

        • notasimpatientasyou

          So let me get this straight: you are not white and you think diversity is the best thing ever. Therefore, being non-white, you do not want to go where there are white people (because mixing white people with non-white people is not diversity)? Sorry Portland is too white for you (I’m certainly not arguing it isn’t white – one trip to a major city in California or the northeast will immediately show the difference) and you’re welcome to your opinion, but just because a place is predominantl

      • Ronald Wanner

        Carriea, I was born & raised in Portland for over 50 years! I agree with all that you’ve said!!! It’s ppl like Keith that probably do the rioting in downtown pdx & should be made to feel unwelcomed IMHO.

        • Keith

          Oh no Ronald Mc Donald. I would never do rioting. Not my style.

    • Ken

      Keith, if people of color boycott Portland, how is it ever going to change?

      • Keith

        Im not calling for a boycott. All I am saying is that I won’t be visiting Portland anytime soon because the culture seem bland and it appears like the city will never reach its full potential when it’s homogeneously White.

        • Sue Bovelle

          Portland will Never miss anything if you never show up!! In fact a negative attitude like yours can just stay the heck away!! You are as narrow minded as anyone you are portraying from the few pictures you have seen… Go to a continent where Everyone is like you and enjoy yourself!!

          • Keith

            Once again Sue, look at the demographics. Numbers do lie. Sounds like you been drinking the same Kool Aid Ken, Carries and the rest of them on here’s been drinking. You poor little pathetic thing. You are far from being WOKE to social injustices and White appropriation. You are in total denial. And don’t worry, I won’t be visiting Portland anytime soon but then I do, I will knock on your door and introduce you to diversity.

    • Amir Hosseini

      With that logic don’t go to Japan!!! Travel is for new experiences.

      • Keith

        Japan is a country of a distinct culture. Portland is an city of a nation made up of immigrants. If you can’t see the difference, then you need some serious cultural sensitivity training.

        • Amir Hosseini

          Keith, to diversify Portland, people of different backgrounds perhaps should visit there first … Maybe they will decide to move there. Also, it sounds like you would be sending anyone with different options than yours to reeducation camps;)

          • Keith

            Amir, the fact of the matter is, people with different background are not moving to Portland. Could it be, uhh, that Portland has whitewash just about everything in the city making it unattractive to people of color. And if it is accepting, it very well may be a case where one must assimilate or be outcast. Regarding your statement on different options, I dismiss it. But let me reeducate you with some hard cold facts with this link below. If you can’t support your argument with facts Amir, the STFU.


    • Lia Booker

      Keith I’m an AA woman from Atlanta and I recently moved to Portland by the way of Seattle and I absolutely Love it here!! There are a few neighborhoods that are cultured (Irvington, Alberta, parts of SE Portland, Gresham OR, etc) The people are very welcoming and nice! I even just told a friend that Portland may be a “white city” but they have a lot of swag! 😉 Definitely don’t judge a book by its cover and pay it visit, I think your opinion will differ!

      • Keith

        Thank you for your input Lia. I received much opposition on this forum so I think I will take your advice and give Portland a try. By the way, I am not African American but I get the feeling the most on here reading my post think I am. I am actually Puerto Rican who is cultured and culturally in tune with what going on in society.

    • Cindi Perry

      you’re an idiot, its a rainbow of beautiful people in Oregon, especially Portland. and I might add that it is one of the most ethnically welcoming community I have had the privilege of visiting. you should see for yourself before you make such a stupid statement

    • Senya

      I hear you, Keith. I noticed the same thing. White people HAVE TO START NOTICING these things, because it’s our actions (and lack of actions) that perpetuate them. All you white people who are so quick to jump like you’ve been stung by a bee whenever someone points out racism or a lack of diversity—what exactly is it that irks you so much about someone pointing out a lack of diversity? No one is attacking YOU— but if the shoe fits, wear it.

      • Keith

        Right on Senya. You speak the truth. I don’t know why White People get to offended when the obvious it pointed out to them. I think they have control issues.

    • Penny Bradshaw

      Actually Keith Portland is a very diverse city. Where did you get your statistics’?

      • Keith


        Portland is nearly 80% white. While I will agree that other races reside in Portland, the numbers are so low, they can be easily be missed, thus, not making it an attractive place for people of color to visit for a vacation. The numbers do lie Penny. Here is a link.


    • Tina Crosby

      @Keith: I’ve been to Portland a number of times and yes, you’re right…there’s not much cultural diversity. It’s mostly artsy, hippie-ish white people who live there, though you do see some non-whites. You shouldn’t let this stop you from visiting the city. There’s plenty to see and do, and the white folks there are truly easy-going. Trust me, I’ve gone there a lot! A good friend of mine lives there, and has had no problems whatsovever (she’s black and I’m not white either). It depends on YOUR attitude as well….approach people in a nice, respectful demeanor, and you should have no problem at all. After all, it’s about being respectful to one another, no matter what color/race/ethnicity we are…right??

      • Keith

        Thanks Tina for you comment. I will take that into consideration.

    • http://www.athletepath.com/david David Embree

      Hi Keith –
      As a Portlander I have to agree with you that we absolutely are lacking in diversity, and I really hope that we see a huge influx of people from all communities and cultures – not just to visit, but to live here, work here, love life, etc…

      • Keith

        Hey David,
        More diversity for Portland would be awesome. Perhaps the city can put in more effort to attract people from different ethnicities to the city. A good marking plan, and establish relationships with organizations representing different cultures is a great starting point. My goal was not to offend Porlanders on this thread. I was just pointing out the fact, as a traveler of color, Portland did have anything the would motivate me to visit the city. I am sure it is a wonderful place with a beautiful landscape but so are a lot of other places. Thanks for your post and understanding. After all the back and forth on this thread, I think I will visit Portland and give it a chance.

        • artrickwo

          Or… you could just stop thinking every city should cater to your culture, and take the opportunity to explore other cultures that make the city unique. Just because there’s a lot of white people doesn’t make it bad, just means a lot of white people live there.. what’s the big deal?

          • Keith

            artrickwo, you just told on yourself. I now know that you are a member of a small group who are determine to protect small segments of America so that it will remains All White. Well, I got some bad news for you artrickwo, It’s not going to happen. You are outnumbers and there is a real possibility that your descendants will have more melanin than you like. What do you think about that?

    • notasimpatientasyou

      Thank you, Keith. I never understood how the term “Social Justice Warrior” came to have a negative connotation until I read your comments here. Now I know.

      • Keith

        notasimpatientasyou, I think that you made that up just to have something to say. Whoever said “Social Justice Warrior” was a negative term? Social Justice moved mountains and it the main cause of change in America. In the 60’s people took a stance and even today, we see “Social Justice Warriors” speaking out to fight injustices in America. Can somebody say “Colin Kaepernick ?”

    • azafvet

      Keith don’t judge anyplace by the photographer’s choice of pictures. Go there, the people are friendly and they, like everywhere else, respond well to money. I’m not a minority but I didn’t notice any animosities towards anyone as I have in other parts of the country. Enjoy the area, it is beautiful.

      • Keith

        Thanks azafvef for your suggestion. Considering the flood gate of comments I received from my original post stating my opinion, I am open to visiting Portland. Hopefully, I’ll meet someone from this post who is will show me around show me the diversity the hidden within the city.

    • RHNW

      There’s probably a historic reason why there is such a lack of diversity. Oregon is the only state of the union that excluded blacks from residency in the state constitution. That language was not removed until 2002.


      Not so surprising that there is still little diversity in the state.

    • artrickwo

      Well, maybe you should visit and diversify it a bit.

      • Keith

        I am seriously considering it. When I arrive, let’s meet for coffee.

    • Shawn Norris

      Hey Keith. I read your post and wanted to chime in a little. Admittedly, I’m not the best with words so I hope what I type comes across ok. I lived in Portland from 2011-13 and was just there in January for a month. I’m a white guy who was in an interracial relationship (black woman). When I first moved to Portland one of the statistics that frightened me to a degree was that out of cities with 500K or more people, Portland is the least diverse city in the country (Coming from Tampa that’s a pretty big culture shock.) You are spot on outside of the fact that there is a large Asian population on the west side of the city (even though it’s more than 70% white…maybe higher now) but most people of color are moving away based on gerrymandering practices (at least that’s what I read.) The reason I brought up my relationship was because everywhere we went nobody cared, we never had stares, issues, etc (where i have had problems in the past in the south.)
      My advice to you is that if you love the outdoors, good food and good beer than it’s a must visit location (especially since you can squeeze Seattle in there too!) The people are super friendly as well. If you have any questions let me know! Of course…..they are getting more and more busy there, especially with tons of transplants so I wonder how that may change the vibe over the next 3-5 years. Living in a transient city it definitely has an effect. Cheers mate!

  • Lynn

    The pics also don’t show any people that appear to be much older than their 30s. Just saying.

    • Arthur Fisher

      Or under eighteen. Or with pets. No children and no pet-diversity. Sounds pretty bad, Keith.

      • Keith

        LOL.. it does sound bad Arthur. What are we going to do?

      • Keith

        I didn’t see any Afros or Dookie Braids either. What a tragedy.

  • Lia Booker

    Can someone tell me what park is that that is pictured on the email of this deal? It’s a picnic table with a few teens overlooking the city of Portland! Thanks in advance! 🙂 (I just moved here and making a to do list for the Summer)

    • Lin

      My guess would be that it might be off the Leif Erickson trail in Forest Park. You take NW Thurman to get there. It is a great walking trail, especially now with waterfalls, easy mostly level walking about 14 miles long. There were a few landslides but passable.

    • Rick

      That picture was taken from Council Crest. It’s in the West Hills. You can get to it off of the Sylvan Exit on Hwy 26. The only things missing in the picture are Mt Hood and Mt St Helens, both of which are very visable on a clear day from this spot. In fact, the sign the person in green is looking at, points out the peaks you can see from there.

    • Heidi B

      Hey Lia, that photo is actually taken at the Pittock Mansion. It’s a cool place to visit inside (you should do it once just to see it, it’s worth the admission fee) but you can visit the grounds for free. There’s a picnic table, some great signs showing different views, the mountains, etc. The best way to see the Pittock Mansion is to hike there! One of my favorite trails in the park is Lower Macleay Park trail to the Wildwood Trail to Pittock Mansion. Welcome to Portland! Also, Council Crest is worth a visit that Rick mentions below!

  • Julia

    Thanks for the recommendations! Now I have more reasons to visit Portland, especially that top beach named by Nat Geo!