10 FREE Things to Do in Portland, Oregon That Are Just as Quirky As Portland Itself

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Brag About How Your Home Brewed-Ale is So Much Better on a Brewery Tour

Dubbed the “craft beer capital of the world” by The Beer ConnoisseurPortland is well known for its beer-friendly culture. In fact you’ll find over 85 craft breweries in the city (and counting!). There are many different breweries that offer tours for free.

From Ecliptic Brewing, which offers tours three times per week, to the Portland Brewing Company, which offers free tours on Saturdays, you’ll find a whole host of breweries to tour (even a gluten-free one!). Some, but not all, of the tours offer free samples- so check ahead of time to see if there’s free booze involved.

Ride a Bicycle Naked in Public for Socio-Political Reasons

Yes, the annual World Naked Bike Ride*  is a thing and it occurs in (where else?) Portland. By law, public nudity is legal in the state of Oregon so long as it is a form of protest. Thus the naked bike riders get away with their public displays of nudity by officially being a protest against our society’s dependency on fossil fuels and body shaming.

Attending the bike ride is completely free, although they accept donations. The only things you will need to bring are a bicycle, your birthday suit, and an open mind. A very, very, very open mind.

*link contains NSFW content

Play Hide and Seek at Powell’s City of Books

Occupying a full city block on Burnside Street, this store was dubbed one of the planet’s ten coolest bookstores and is considered to be the largest independently-owned used and new bookstore in the world. One could easily get lost at Powell’s, which has over 3,500 different sections. Thankfully the nine color-coded rooms help to guide you along the way.

Each Sunday they offer free guided tours on a first come, first serve basis and numerous author events throughout the year.

You can visit their website here

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Image credit: Matt Davis

Try to Save Hansel and Gretel From The Witch’s Castle in Forest Park

Not to pour cold water on the situation (although maybe that’s better for the witches), but technically this isn’t a castle nor does it have any real connection to witchery. What you will find at the end of the Lower Macleay Trail, however, is a very cool structure with some beautiful scenery nearby.

Originally built as a park ranger station (and restroom!) by the City of Portland in the 1930’s, this stone building was eventually destroyed in a storm and abandoned. Over the years teenagers would had parties around it and dubbed it the “Witch’s Castle” for its creepy vibes and alleged hauntings.

Meditate to the Sight of Vintage Vacuums at the Vacuum Museum

Located in the back of a Stark’s Vacuum Store, this recently-renovated museum takes you through decades of history of the vacuum cleaner. While the collection was recently reduced from over 300 vacuums to a much slimmer selection of 25, Stark’s promises that they include the most “iconic and loved vacuums in history.”

Admission to the Vacuum Museum is totally free and you can check it out any time during Stark’s normal business hours.

Visit the Saturday Market on a Sunday

Despite what the name may suggest, the Saturday Market is actually open on both Saturdays and Sundays from March through December. Located near the bank of the Willamette River, it is only a short walk away from some neat riverfront views.

At the Saturday Market, you’ll find some of Portland’s famous food trucks and local vendors selling homemade goods in addition to free live music. This makes for a nice place to walk around and soak up some of the ambience of the local culture in Portland.

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Image Credit: Matt Davis

Sing to the Leprechauns in the World’s Smallest Park 

To the naked eye, Mills End Park may seem like an ordinary piece of shrubbery in the median of Southwest Naito Parkway. This tiny, two-foot wide plot of greenery, however, happens to hold the Guinness World Record as the world’s smallest park.

Founded in 1948 by the Oregon Journal columnist Dick Fagan, this was declared the “only leprechaun colony west of Ireland” and Mr. Fagan often wrote humorous stories about the leprechauns that allegedly lived in the park. Throughout the years it has been adorned with various items such as a small swimming pool and miniature ferris wheel.

Confess Your Sins at The Grotto

Traveling can be stressful, so why not spend some time reflecting in a beautiful outdoor sanctuary? The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, popularly known as The Grotto, is an internationally renowned Catholic shrine that features botanical gardens and over 100 statues and reflecting pools set over 62 acres.

You can visit the lower garden, chapel, Grotto, Vistor Center, and gift shop for free according to their website, but expect to pay a modest admission price to go to the upper level.

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Image Credit: Matt Davis

Instagram Some Pics of the World’s Largest Oyster Cracker

In downtown Portland, you will find the historic “Dan and Louis Oyster Bar.” A nifty little seafood restaurant that was first opened in 1907, it features what is considered to be the world’s largest oyster cracker. The cracker was presented to the restaurant in 1982 in recognition that they had served more than 3 million oyster crackers.

Like you might expect from an oyster cracker that has been mounted on a wall since the early days of the Reagan administration, it looks a bit cracked and maybe a little past its expiration date. If you walk past the oyster bar at night, you can see it through through the windows to snap a photo. Of course, you can always gaze upon it while enjoying a warm bowl of clam chowder as well.

Toot Your Train Whistle at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center

This is a railway museum that is operated by an organization that restores and preserves historic trains. The locomotives you’ll find at this facility are very absolutely massive and make for an impressive sight. Tours of the museum are given by volunteers Thursday through Sunday each week and are completely free, although donations are accepted.

It’s easily accessible by the Light Rail Orange Line, too, so you’ll have no issue getting there by foot. While the tour is free, if you want to actually board the Oregon Pacific Railroad for a 45 minute joyride you’ll need to pay a small fee (which is really cool and totally worth it).

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