Quirky Things About Portland

100+ Quintessentially Quirky Things about Portland

Portland is the most interesting city in the world and here's why. It's a place where uniqueness is not only accepted, it's celebrated. Here's a collection of everything that is quintessentially quirky about Portland, cool things to do and see, plus more fun facts.

Aerial tram Portland

Aerial Tram: A silver bullet tram 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.

 

Portland street sign

Alphabet Streets: In downtown Portland, all the east-west streets are named alphabetically, after the founding fathers. Portlandian Matt Groening got characters' names from streets like Flanders, Lovejoy, Kearney, and Quimby.

 

Portland man with beard

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 water fountain Portland

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


Bike delivery

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

 

 

Portland transit

Biodiesel Buses: Trimet, the city's public bus system, uses multiple eco-friendly transit services, including buses that burn a clean burning biodiesel fuel blend, so you're not contributing to global warming by taking public transportation. 


Food bowl Portland

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.

 

Tilikum crossing bridge Portland

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 in Portland

Brunch: Every Saturday and Sunday morning, the entire city waits in lines to get brunch at the endless brunch spots in the city. Interesting flavor combos like jalapeño waffles are just the beginning of the endless foodie scene.

 

We love bikes sticker

Bumper Stickers: Portlandians are a political bunch. They'll protest anything and usually win. There are several stickers you often see around town, not only on cars but also anywhere else a sticker can be, mainly about bikes, books, beer, Portlandia slogans, anything democratic, and the infamous “Keep Portland Weird”.

 

 

Cannon beach

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.

 

Car2go

Car2Go: 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. 


Purringtons cat cafe

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

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

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. 


Beer

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

 

 

Crows: Portland's most common urban wildlife, crows are everywhere, and protected under the law. These iconic Portland crows can be seen on most everything.

 

 

Cupcake shop

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

 

Bike at bar Portland

Cyclists: "Bike City USA" caters to its cyclists, with bicycle lanes throughout the city, tons of commuter cyclists, mountain bikes, tall bikes, tandem bikes, rental bikes, bicycle parking, and bike shops galore. It’s more common for a restaurant, bar, or cafe to have bicycle parking instead of car parking.

 

 

Dog-friendly: Portland loves its canine companions. There are dog parks scattered all over the city. Many local bars and restaurants even have a separate dog menu. 


Electric vehicle charging station

Electric Vehicle Charging Stations: Portlanders are 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. 


Farmers market

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. 


Food cart pod

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. 


Forest park

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

Free Piles: Keeping it local and aiming for zero waste, Portlanders put piles of unwanted things in boxes on sidewalks for other people to pick up. Anything from excess home-grown veggies to unwanted books or clothing, it’s all free.


 

Full sleeve tattoos

Full Sleeve Tattoos: With the sheer amount of hipsters and tattoo shops about, you'll see tons of sleeve tattoos. 

 

Spinning bread

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.

 

 

Goats

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. 

 

Portland bar

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

Heart in Oregon: Seen on all swag from tees to bumper stickers to coffee mugs, the Heart in Oregon logo lets Portlanders show their pride.

 

 

Portland Art

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. 

 

Japanese gardens Portland

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

 

Kale

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, tee-shirts about kale, people named Kale.

 

 

Kayak

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

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

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 library

Little Free Libraries: Small 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

Marionberries: Appearing in everything from smoothies to pancakes to soda, 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 lamp

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

 

McMenamins

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

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

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

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


Candy shop

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

 

 

Market

New Seasons Markets: A supermarket chain with local foodie products and produce that is impressively classified as zero-waste, recycling 92 percent of its waste. 


Omsi Portland

OMSI: The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry always has fun, interactive displays, plus a real live decommissioned naval submarine in the water, that you can take guided tours on. 


Pickling: So many things are pickled in Portland, from home projects to store bought pickled goods - they can pickle that. 


Pittock mansion

Pittock Mansion: A gigantic classic French chateau built in 1909 stands atop Portland's west hills, famous for its city view, and is open for tours to the public


Portland sign

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

 

Quinoa: Another food the city is obsessed with. You can't walk a city block without running into quinoa. 

 

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

 

Rose garden Portland

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


Corn maze

Sauvie Island: North of the city is sauvie island, one of of the largest river islands in the US, and home to many farms and beaches. Also famous for berry picking, autumn harvest festivals, and Halloween corn field mazes and haunted houses. 


Banana slug

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. 


Squirrel

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

 

Sriracha bottle

Srirahca Art: Another popular hipster craft, empty srirahca bottles are often turned into various art projects and chandelier-like lighting fixtures. 


Street art

Street Art: Every city has some street art, but Portland has a ton, due to it's punk, alternative, creative and artistic nature, there are giant beautiful murals throughout the city.

 

 

Sup

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

 

 

Swifts

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. 

 

Thai food

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

 

Tiny Houses: 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.

 

 

Chickens

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. 


Veggie garden

Urban Gardens: Portlanders grow veggies everywhere, usually in their front yards.

 

 

VHS

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

 

Vista house

 Vista House: Crown Point is an Oregon pioneer memorial and vintage art nouveau inspired lookout point high above the Columbia River Gorge.

 

 

Voodoo doughnut

Voodoo Doughnuts: The iconic bright pink doughnut shop with the world's most creative doughnuts complete with the wackiest slogans. 

 

Yarn shop

Yarn Shops: The city is full of yarn stores and some bars and restaurants hold special knitting nights with happy hours for knitting parties.