What to See in Portland: Spring/Summer Edition [+VIDEO]

Oregon’s biggest city really comes to life when the sun is shining. Luckily, my time in Portland last summer was filled with high temperatures and plenty of sunlight! If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ll already know some of my favorite places to eat, drink, and sleep in PDX. Now it’s time to fill you in on the best places to enjoy good weather in the city, while mixing in a bit of culture and history. Here we go…!


Do yourself a favor and hop in an Uber up to the West Hills of Portland, a thousand feet above the city’s skyline. Pittock Mansion should be on everyone’s Portland list, whether you’re interested in going inside the house or not (hint: go inside). Anyone is welcome to stroll around the beautiful property and enjoy stunning views of the city. If you’re lucky to grab a spot on a bench, this makes for a killer picnic spot.

Pittock Mansion was built over 100 years ago in 1914 for one of Oregon’s most prominent families. Henry Pittock, owner of The Oregonian newspaper, and his wife Georgianna were the original owners. The mansion stayed in the Pittock family up until 1958, and by 1965, it was owned by the City of Portland and opened to the public. Lucky for us, tourists can explore several rooms and admire the original furniture and beautiful artwork. I felt transported back in time while touring the home and loved learning about the Pittock family, as well as history of Portland.

It’s open daily; tickets for adults are $10, seniors (65+) are $9, and youth (6-18) are $7. For more details, visit their website.


You’ll find Portland’s beautiful Japanese Garden about 2 miles downhill from Pittock Mansion. PLEASE don’t let the admission rates put you off; it’s $14.95 for adults and there are discounts available for seniors, students, and youths. It is easily one of the most serene and stunning places in the city. If you want to escape the bustling center but don’t have enough time to take a day trip far out into nature, this is the perfect compromise. From the moment you enter, you feel hundreds of miles away from the city center.

You can easily spend half a day here, as there are several different garden spaces, a cultural village, cafe, art exhibitions, and complimentary tours. If you love photography, you’ll be in heaven! I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to take a bad photo here. There are also plenty of fun events and activities, especially in the warmer months, so be sure to check out their website for more details.


Portland is very proud of its International Rose Test Garden, and understandably so. Not only is it a visual feast for the eyes, it’s also the oldest continuously public rose test garden in the United States! The best time to view (and smell) more than 8,000 of these roses are from May through September. It is right across the street from the Japanese Garden so there’s no reason why you can’t see both in one day.

Unlike the Japanese Garden, there is no admission cost! If you’re all about getting that perfect Instagram shot, or simply enjoy smelling the roses, don’t miss out on this famous garden while in Portland. Click here for details about the garden’s history.


Pioneer Courthouse Square is also known as Portland’s Living Room, which is a phrase I love so much! This picturesque square is right in the middle of the city and is almost always buzzing with activity. Throughout the spring and summer, it’s home to Portland’s Farmers Market, which is widely considered to be one of the best farmers’ markets in the world. Perhaps you can grab some delicious picnic food at the market and then head up to Pittock Mansion?!

Click here to read all about the upcoming events in the square.


Let’s face it, you’re bound to have a day (or two) of rain and will need somewhere to hide out. I cannot talk about Portland without mentioning Powell’s Books. It’s just against the rules. A visit to PDX wouldn’t be complete without visiting the world’s largest independent bookstore! This magical place covers an entire city block and contains more than 1 million books in 3,500 different sections. Are you overwhelmed just reading that? Don’t be. Powell’s is incredibly organized and fun to stroll through. I particularly love the fact that they sell used books right alongside the new ones. Their travel section is my new happy place and I could honestly spend a whole day (possibly a week) inside here. I don’t think my bank account would like that…

Lucky for us, it’s open 365 days a year from 9 AM – 11 PM. Visit their website for more details about this location and others.

Have you visited Portland before? Which one of these places would be at the top of your list? Let me know in the comments below!


My Portland Food Guide: http://bonvoyagelauren.com/eat-portland-brunch-happy-hour/
My Portland Accommodation Guide: http://bonvoyagelauren.com/stay-portland-budgets/

Happy travels!

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  1. Elena Nemets says:

    Ha-ha, I just finished watch Grimm series which is set in Portland and here is this article. It seems like a nice city (without magical creatures, I assume :)))

  2. Corinne says:

    No trip to Portland could ever be complete without a trip to Powell’s Books! I think I’ll add the Japanese garden to my next visit as well.

  3. Miranda says:

    Portland and the general PNW area has been on my list for awhile now, but mostly for the hikes and trails. This was really cool to see some other stuff in Portland–I think I’d definitely head to Pittock Mansion!

  4. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    What a charming place. Pittock Mansion looks intriguing given its rich history and heritage.The Japanese garden to looks so surreal and mystical and of course being a book fanatic, I would really freak out on Powell’s.

  5. Angie says:

    The gardens are my favorites. Japanese Garden and Rose Test Garden are perfect for taking creative shots. I didn’t know Portland is as amazing as this.

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