100+ Quintessentially Quirky Things About Portland

An A-Z list of cool things to see, do and know in Portland, Oregon. 

100+ Quintessentially Quirky Things about Portland

An A-Z collection of everything that is quintessentially unique about Portland. Things to do, see, know and more fun facts!

benson bubbler water fountain portland
benson bubbler

aerial tram: A silver bullet that runs 500 feet up Portland's southwest hills at 22 miles per hour, it takes only minutes to go up or down and gives some spectacular city views.

alphabet streets: In downtown Portland, all the east-west streets are named alphabetically, after the founding fathers of the city.

beards: There is quite an array of manly facial hair in the city, from beards to mustaches, and lots of classic barber shops, too.

benson bubbler: 52 iconic drinking fountains made out bronze, and named after their benefactor, adorn the streets of Portland. 

bike delivery: You can get almost anything delivered on a bike, especially food. There's even a soup cycle delivery service.

biodiesel buses: Trimet, the city's public bus system, uses a clean burning biodiesel fuel blend, so you're not contributing to global warming by taking public transportation. 

bowls: Possibly the most ubiquitous food dish, you can get a bowl of food at restaurants and food carts, many of which use bowl in their name, and lots are called Portland Bowls.

bridges: 17 magnificent bridges connect the city over both the Willamette and Columbia rivers, including the newest, the Tilikum Crossing, which is the largest car-free bridge in the US.

brunch: Every Saturday and Sunday morning, the entire city waits in line to get brunch at the endless brunch spots in the city. 

bumper stickers: Portlandians are a political bunch. They'll protest anything and usually win. There are several stickers you often see around town, mainly about reading, beer, portlandia slogans, anything democratic, and the infamous 'keep portland weird'.

bungalows: A common house style in Portland's cozy neighborhoods, bungalows line the streets. Built back in the early 1900s, they're classically styled, front or side gabled, low to the ground, with huge front porches.

tilikum crossing bridge portland
tilikum crossing

cannon beach: A quick one and a half hour drive from the city is Cannon Beach, on the Oregon coast. It's famous Haystack Rock, a huge rock formation that juts out of the water and is a whopping 235 feet tall. Also the filming location for the original Point Break.

car 2 gos: With hundreds of these adorable bright blue and white smart cars all over the city, you can use a smartphone app to rent one, drive it, and then leave it anywhere you want, even at the airport. 

caravan: The tiny house hotel, Caravan, is in NE Portland on Alberta. It has 6 tiny houses of all different designs and styles that you can rent by the night and experience what's it's like to live tiny. 

casa diablos vegan strip club: Not one, but two, vegan strip clubs to watch dancing ladies and eat vegan comfort foods.

cascadia: The entire Pacific Northwest (Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) started an independence movement to start their own country called Cascadia. Their flag is the classic lone doug fir tree on a background of blue, white and green stripes. 

cat cafe: Portland's first cat cafe, Purrington's Cat Lounge, helps cats get adopted and offers beers, snacks, yoga and movie nights. 

cathedral park: A beautiful green park under the iconically gothic steel suspension bridge St Johns Bridge, Cathedral Park is believed to be one of the original landing sties of the famous Western explorers Lewis and Clark. 

columbia gorge: A stunning natural landscape surround the Columbia river, this national scenic area stretches into an 80 mile long canyon and began formation all the way back in the Miocene era up to 17 million years ago. Today it's a popular attraction for water sports, and world famous for kite surfing. 

community gardens: Most neighborhoods have a community garden where people can share land to grow vegetables and flowers. 

craft beer: Portland is king of craft beer and you can take walking and cycling bar tours, and even ride a peddle-powered bar.

car2go smart car portland

crows: Portland's most common urban wildlife, black crows are everywhere and are protected under Federal law as well. 

cupcake shop: The city has a thing for cupcakes, and bakeries in general, and especially vegan cupcakes, which they do quite well. 

cyclists: "Bike City USA" caters to its cyclists, with bicycle lanes throughout the city, tons of commuter cyclists, and even rental bikes. 

dogs: Portland loves its canine companions. More than a few menus of local bars and restaurants even have a separate dog menu. 

dutch bros coffee: Drive-through coffee and espresso stands, with an iconic blue windmill, and a positive upbeat company vibe.

electric vehicle charging stations: Portlanders love being eco-friendly, and many drive electric cars, so many local business, including libraries, have charging stations and the power company has installed some of the first public charging stations in the US. 

elk: There is a giant bronze elk statue on top of a water fountain downtown that is a designated historic landmark of the city. 

farmers markets: Portland is all about keeping it local, and they do this by hosting multiple farmers markets where you can find amazing plethoras of produce, local products, food carts, and more. 

fleet week: One week in June, the Willamette is flooded with military and non-miliarty ships visiting the waterfront.

food cart pods: With well over 500 food carts scattered around the city, most are organized into 'pods', groups of food carts that usually form a circle around a central dining area filled with picnic tables and usually a biergarten, too. 

electric vehicle charging station portland oregon
electric vehicle charging station

forest park: America's premier urban forest, and the largest in the US, Forest Park is a giant park within a city. It's massive, encompassing 5,157 acres over 7 miles long. Stepping off the city streets into this magical forest is like going back in time. 

free piles: Keeping it local and reducing waste, Portlanders put piles of unwanted things in a box on the sidewalk with a 'free" sign.

friends of trees: A local organization that goes around the city planting trees, complete with support structures and care manuals.

full sleeve tattoos: With the sheer amount of hipsters and tattoo shops about, you're bound to see tons of full-sleeve tattoos. 

giant spinning bread: A monster 25 foot long (fake) loaf of bread that both lights up and spins around on a pole at the Franz Bakery.

glowing greens: A huge, indoor, 3-D blacklight miniature golf course that's like Pirates of the Caribbean and Halloween combined.

goats: An entire herd of goats, and a chicken, live in a vacant lot in the Southest and you can visit them and donate to support them. 

grimm: This fantasy TV show showcases the fair city in all of its glory, and rain. Often you can even catch them about filming. 

haunted shanghai tunnels: Said to be one of the most haunted places in the US, you can tour these creepy tunnels underneath downtown Portland, and see how people used to get shanghaied out of the bars and stolen away on ships. 

heart in oregon: Seen on everything from bumper stickers to coffee mugs, the Heart in Oregon logo lets Portlanders show their pride.

heart in oregon logo mug
heart in oregon

inspiration station: Scattered around the city and neighborhoods are 'inspiration stations', where you'll find signs showcasing local original artwork, poems, drawings, quotes, photography, and more. 

japenese gardens: A popular, sprawling, and beautiful five and half acre Japanese garden exhibit in the city's west hills. 

joan of arc statue: A massive 12 feet tall bronze statue of Joan of arc riding a horse in Portland's Laurelhurst neighborhood. 

kale: I can't think of any other city in the world that's so obsessed with kale. Kale bowls, kale salads, kale smoothies, kale chips. 

kayaking: A hugely popular water sport on all of the rivers in and around the town. Kayak rental shops line the waterfront. 

kelley point park: A unique triangle shaped park that forms a tip of land surrounded by 3 different rivers, the Willamette, the Columbia and the Columbia Slough. Also a great beach popular for lounging and swimming. 

kombucha: A fermented effervescent tea, with a bit of alcohol, loved for it's probiotic health benefits. With several local producers in town, it's sold in stores, you can get it in a growler, and it's on tap at most bars, restaurants, and even convenience stores.

little free libraries: Small mailbox shaped libraries on poles are scattered among the neighborhoods of Portland. They have about a dozen or so books in them that you can borrow to read, and swap out for other books. Honor system only.

marionberries: Appearing in everything from smoothies to sauces to pancakes, marrionberries are a popular local berry made in Oregon. They're actually a genetically made hybrid of about 12 berries including blackberries, raspberries, and boysenberries. 

mason jar lamps: Hipster bars, cafes, restaurants, and shops all share a great love for homemade mason jar lighting fixtures. 

poem at mcmenamins kennedy school portland oregon
poem at mcmenamins kennedy school

mcmenamins: A local chain of bars, breweries, restaurants, movie theaters, concert venues and hotels (usually all combined in one), McMenamins takes interesting old buildings and turns them into funky and fun spots like the Kennedy school, a 100 year old school building that has artwork of the original (and hilarious) childrens' poems. 

mill ends park: A tiny patch of grass 2 feet across (and with a total area of 452 sq in) is the smallest park in the world. 

mount hood: Popular for skiing, camping and hiking Mount Hood is an active volcano part of the ring of fire. It is also the home to the Timberline Lodge, famous for its appearance in The Shining. 

multnomah falls: The most famous of Portland's waterfalls, the 611 foot tall waterfall stays running throughout all four seasons. 

multnomah village: A small Bavarian village in the southwest takes you back in time and even has an old-fashioned candy shop.

new seasons markets: A local supermarket chain that is impressively classified as zero-waste, recycling 92 percent of its waste. 

nude beaches: There are a couple nude beaches in the city along with several natural hot springs that are clothing optional, too. 

omsi: The science museum has a real live decommissioned naval submarine, in the water, that you can take guided tours on. 

paul bunyan statue: A giant 31 foot tall Paul Bunyan statue, complete with red and white checkerboard shirt and ax. 

pedicab: Pedicabs are Portland's pedal-powered cabs that you can use for rides or as a fun way to tour around the city.

mount hood, oregon
mount hood

pittock mansion: A gigantic classic French chateau built in 1909 stands atop Portland's west hills, and is open for tours to the public. 

portland bingo: A cool local artist made a series of bingo cards to make spotting all the weird, quirky stuff of the city a fun game.

portland sign: The famous Portland Oregon sign with the deer, which used formerly read White Stag for the clothing company it's on.

portlandia: Sketch comedy series that highlights Portland's weirdness as in "The Dream of the 90s is alive in Portland".

portlandia statue: A large copper repousse woman statue with a trident, after the city's seal in downtown. Also heavily copyrighted.

prii: Eco-Conscious Portlanders liked to drive these because a prius has excellent gas mileage and also comes in electric. 

quinoa: Another food the city is obsessed with. You can hardly walk a city block without running into a quinoa bowl. 

rain: Oregon is part of a temperate rainforest, and Portland gets a lot of rain most of the year, keeping everything nice and green. 

rainer beer: Although from Seattle, Rainer has quite a presence in hipster Portand because it's the more local version of PBR.

river tubing: In the summertime, locals float down rivers on inner tubes, with elaborate floats, beer coolers, radios, foods, and more. 

multnomah falls, oregon
multnomah falls

rose festival grand floral parade: A 100 year old Portland tradition, the annual parade showcases floats adorned in flowers.

rose garden: The city of roses would not be complete with out its very own rose garden, with over 7000 plants. 

saturday market: Portland's waterfront park hosts the largest weekly continuous outdoor arts and crafts market in the US.

secret aardvark sauce: In a town that takes it's love of hot sauces pretty seriously, this one wins the game because it's everywhere. 

sidewalk stamps: Stolling around the neighborhoods of the city, you will find old date stamps on the corners of the sidewalks. 

simpson street signs: Portlandian Matt Groening got characters' names from streets like Flanders, Lovejoy, Kearney, and Quimby.

slugs: Native to the Pacific Northwest, the banana slug is a large yellow slug often with brown spots, so it looks like a ripe banana. 

solar powered trash cans: The city has solar powered trash cans that compact waste and reduce trash collection by 80%.

squirrels: More wild residents are townsend's chipmunks, western gray, douglas, california ground and northern flying squirrels.

srihahca lamps: Another popular hipster craft, empty srihahca bottles turned into chandelier-like lighting fixtures. 

street art portland oregon
street art + suburu

street art: Every city has some street art, but Portland has a ton, due to it's punk, alternative, creative and artistic nature. 

street car: Classic street cars circulate the city on railways as public transportation. Definitely a must try at least once.

street side vegetable gardens: Next to neighborhood sidewalks, you'll find private vegetable gardens of tomatoes, kale and more.

suave island: North of the city is an island that's one of of the largest river islands in the US, and home to many farms and beaches. 

subarus: Portlanders love them some suburus because the all-weather vehicles help take them on adventures around the state. 

sup: Stand-up paddle boarding is super popular along the Willamette, where you can rent them and coast along under the bridges.

swift watch: Every fall, tens of thousands of swifts gather, swirling in the sky, and then dive down to enter the chimney of the Chapman Elementary School to roost for the night. It's quite a sight to see. 

tall bikes: These can occasionally be seen on the street, just like a regular cyclist, but especially during Pedalpalooza.

tandem bikes: Another cycling curiosity, tandem bikes are quite common, and also available for rental city-wide. 

thai food: Yet another obsession of Portlanders, Thai food, is everywhere. Mainly in street cart form, like typical Asian street food. 

tiny house hotel caravan portland oregon
caravan, the tiny house hotel

tiny horses: Old horse rings are all over the city and people tie little tiny plastic horses to them as art. 

twilight: Over 32 locations all in and around Portland were used to film the Twilight movie. The Cullen house, the cafe, school, etc...

urban chicken coop: Yep. It's a thing. Don't be surprised to walk down a street and see a chicken coop in someone's yard. 

vegan food: Portland is THE city of vegan food. Everything from burgers to pizzas to hotdogs to ice cream to eggs benedict.

vegan mini mall: The world's first vegan mini mall has a bakery/restaurant, clothing/book store, grocery shop and tattoo parlor. 

victorian houses: Many beautiful and ornate 100+ year old Victorian (and Tudor) style homes adorn the neighborhoods. 

videorama: Portland is so retro that they actually have video stores that rent physical copies of movies. Just like olden times. 

vista house: An Oregon pioneer memorial and vintage art nouveau inspired lookout point high above the Columbia River Gorge

voodoo doughnuts: The iconic bright pink doughnut shop with the world's most creative doughnuts and the wackiest slogans. 

yarn shops: The city is full of yarn stores and some bars and restaurants hold special knitting nights for knitting parties.

zoo bombers: Cyclists gather weekly to ride weird and unusual bikes crazy fast down the high hills of the west side (by the zoo).

voodoo doughnut portland oregon
voodoo doughnut
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I'm amanda burger of burger abroad, a vegan solo full-time world traveler.

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