5 Free Things to Do in Portland, Oregon

farmers' marketPhoto by Allison Jones

Play in Forest Park

Spanning more than 5,000 acres, Forest Park is the largest city park in the country. Take a hike along its 50 miles of trails, ride a mountain bike ride over 30 miles of gated roadways, or take a trot on horseback. Some 112 bird and 62 mammal species make their homes under the forest’s vast tree canopy. Guided tours are available.

Stop and smell the roses

Portland’s International Rose Test Garden, home to more than 10,000 rose plants, is the oldest official continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. The best months to see blooms are May through September. From June 2 through September 19, there are free tours of the garden on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Wander a farmers’ market

Portland’s six farmers’ markets have more to offer than fresh produce. Vendors hawk vinegars, chocolate, fresh fish, flowers, pies, spices, cider, and an endless array of ethnic foods. Chefs perform cooking demonstrations. Live music entertains visitors. Do some people watching while the kids take free cooking classes and learn how to whip up local foods.

Take a tasting tour

Many of Portland’s breweries and distilleries offer free tours. Try the Clear Creek Distillery, Rogue Ales Distillery and Public House, House Spirits Distillery, and the BridgePort Brewing Company.

See the shrine

The National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, popularly known as The Grotto, is a 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden of shimmering beauty. Our Lady’s Grotto, a rock cave carved into the base of a 110-foot cliff, holds a life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pietà. In addition to its gardens, The Grotto offers comfort, support, and healing through The Grotto Counseling Center and The Grotto Spirituality Program.

Sources: Portlandonline.com, About.com, Travelportland.com, Oregonlive.com, freefunguides.com, discoverourtown.com

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