67 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

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.

 

 

Aerial tram Portland

 

 

 

 

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 street sign

 

 

 

 

BEARDS

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

 

 

Portland man with beard

 

 

 

 

BENSON BUBBLER

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

 

 

Benson bubbler water fountain Portland

 

 

 

 

BIKE DELIVERY

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

 

 

Bike delivery

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Portland transit

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Food bowl 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.

 

 

Tilikum crossing bridge 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.

 

 

Brunch in Portland

 

 

 

 

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”.

 

 

We love bikes sticker

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Cannon beach

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Car2go

 

 

 

 

CAT CAFE

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

 

 

Purringtons cat cafe

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Cathedral park

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Columbia gorge

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Beer

 

 

 

 

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 SHOPS

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

 

 

Cupcake shop

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bike at bar Portland

 

 

 

 

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 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. 

 

 

Electric vehicle charging station

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Farmers market

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Food cart pod

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Forest park

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Free piles

 

 

 

 

FULL-SLEEVE TATTOOS

With the sheer amount of creativity, originality, and tattoo shops about, you'll see tons of sleeve tattoos. 

 

 

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.

 

 

Spinning bread

 

 

 

 

GOATS

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

 

 

Goats

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Portland bar

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Heart in Oregon

 

 

 

 

INSPIRATION STATIONS

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

 

 

Portland Art

 

 

 

 

JAPANESE GARDENS

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

 

 

Japanese gardens Portland

 

 

 

 

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, kale tee-shirts, and people named Kale.

 

 

Kale

 

 

 

 

KAYAKING

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

 

 

Kayak

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Kelley point park

 

 

 

 

KOMBUCHA

A fermented effervescent tea, with a bit of alcohol, loved for its 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.

 

 

Kombucha

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Little free library

 

 

 

 

MARIONBERRIES

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

 

 

Marionberries

 

 

 

 

MASON JAR LAMPS

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

 

 

Mason jar lamp

 

 

 

 

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) children's poems.

 

 

McMenamins

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Mill ends park

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Mount hood

 

 

 

 

MULTNOMAH FALLS

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

 

 

Multnomah falls

 

 

 

 

MULTNOMAH VILLAGE

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

 

 

Candy shop

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Market

 

 

 

 

OMSI

The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry always has fun, interactive displays, plus a real live decommissioned naval submarine in the water, with guided tours.

 

 

Omsi Portland

 

 

 

 

PICKLING

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

PITTOCK MANSION

A gigantic classic French chateau built in 1909 stands atop Portland's west hills, famous for its stellar city views, and is open for tours to the public. 

 

 

Pittock mansion

 

 

 

 

PORTLAND SIGN

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

 

 

Portland sign

 

 

 

 

QUINOA

Another food the city is obsessed with. You can't walk a city block without running into quinoa. It's pretty much in everything and on everything and sold everywhere. 

 

 

Quinoa

 

 

 

 

RIVER TUBING

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

ROSE GARDEN

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

 

 

Rose garden Portland

 

 

 

 

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 spooky Halloween corn field mazes and haunted houses. 

 

 

Corn maze

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Banana slug

 

 

 

 

SQUIRRELS

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

 

 

Squirrel

 

 

 

 

SRIRACHA ART

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

 

 

Sriracha bottle

 

 

 

 

STREET ART

Portland has a ton of street art, due to it's punk, alternative, creative and artistic nature, there are giant beautiful murals throughout the city.

 

 

Street art

 

 

 

 

STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING

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

 

 

Sup

 

 

 

 

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. 

 

 

Swifts

 

 

 

 

THAI FOOD

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

 

 

Thai 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

URBAN CHICKEN COOPS

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

 

 

Chickens

 

 

 

 

URBAN GARDENS

Portlanders grow veggies everywhere, usually in their front yards.

 

 

Veggie garden

 

 

 

 

VIDEORAMA

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

 

 

VHS

 

 

 

 

VISTA HOUSE

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

 

 

Vista house

 

 

 

 

VOODOO DOUGHNUTS

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

 

 

Voodoo doughnut

 

 

 

 

YARN SHOPS

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

 

 

Yarn shop