Lifestyle

Everything You Absolutely Must Do in Portland on Your Next Visit

Updated On 12/26/2017 at 05:27PM EST Updated On 12/26/2017 at 05:27PM EST
portland things to do
Chinese New Year | Flickr/aehdeschaine
Saturday
Dec 30
Mount Hood
Beat the New Year’s Day rush to Mount Hood by heading up the night before for Ski Bowl’s annual New Year’s Eve extravaganza, which features fireworks to celebrate the 30th anniversary of everyone’s favorite low-key option for night skiing and discounted ladies nights every Tuesday. The event runs 8pm to 1am and will have a DJ spinning the entire time.
Cost: That depends on if you want to ski and if you need equipment. Check out Skibowl.com for all the deets
January
Mount Hood
Mount Hood | James R. Hearn/Shutterstock.com
January
Friday - Monday
Jan 12-30
Historic District
A massive collection of rare films music docs awaits at the NW Film Center’s 35th annual Reel Music Festival. From Fats Domino to Deer Tick, Reel Music features films about musicians of all levels of fame and obscurity.
Cost: Prices for individual screenings vary; visit the Reel Music Festival site for a schedule.
Saturday
Jan 13
Southeast waterfront
For the third year in a row, OMSI’s popular After Dark series invites a coterie of bacon and bourbon purveyors to their facility for a wild night of boozy gluttony. The event is obviously 21+ and will run from 7-10pm (or 6-10pm for VIP). Are you still reading this? Buy your ticket now!
Cost: $20 for a “safe driver” bacon-only ticket, $40 for general admission, and $75 for VIP
Saturday - Sunday
Jan 13-14
Lloyd district
If dressing the dog up like a zombie and pretending to be Rick while your girlfriend films it is getting old, maybe a trip to Walker Stalker Con -- the largest traveling by-the-fans, for-the-fans The Walking Dead convention in the world -- is on your horizon. The guy who plays Rick won’t actually be there, but you can shell out $70 to pose with Dwight if you want! Or $150 to pose with The Boondock Saints, if that’s more your vibe.
Cost: $55 for Saturday, $45 for Sunday; $90 for a two-day pass; photo-op tickets sold separately.
Sunday
Jan 14
West Hills
Now’s the perfect time to check out the $33.5 million renovation at the Portland Japanese Garden, which celebrates the new year with O-Shogatsu. You won’t be bothered with some tacky Champagne toast here -- just a serene afternoon that includes a tea ceremony, calligraphy demonstrations, a koto harp performance and a guided walk through one of downtown Portland’s most tranquil and secluded corners.
Cost: Included with regular $14.95 admission.
Monday
Jan 15
Downtown
Here’s your chance to leave the house pantsless and protest the patriarchy by riding the MAX around town while keeping it breezy down there. Be sure to bring a clothing item to donate to charity, because not everyone is fortunate enough to go pantsless on purpose this winter season. The shebang begins around 1pm with a pre-party and the bus takes off at 2... be there, or be... left pantsless at a bus stop.
Cost: Free, but the donation of a gently-used winter clothing item is encouraged.
Thursday
Jan 25
Timberline Lodge (Mount Hood)
A food and wine pairing on Mount Hood is one thing, but enjoying wines chosen by a former Willamette Valley rock-star chef (Jason Stoller Smith) in the comfort of the Silcox Hut -- the go-between on the lift line from Timberline Lodge to their epic alpine expanse that is the Palmer Glacier -- is guaranteed to be an otherworldly experience. Price includes dinner, wine, transportation, and gratuity.
Cost: $215 for a six-course meal
Thursday - Saturday
Jan 25-27
Vancouver, Washington
Head to Clark College in Vancouver for a solid three days of middle and high school jazz ensembles duking it out for skronky supremacy. There will be around 60 ensembles all playing for an actual trophy that’s been passed down since 1963 (as well as bragging rights). These kids can wail, and the fact that it’s jazz means that even if they screw up it’ll still sound cool!
Cost: $5 per day
Friday - Sunday
Jan 26-28
PDX Holiday Inn
Stuck in a studio apartment that doesn’t allow pets? Don’t fret! The annual glory of the Portland International Cat Show is upon us, and it’s guaranteed to be filled with enough feline hijinx to keep even the craziest of cat ladies (or gentlemen!) purring for hours on end. The show runs 3-9pm on Friday and Saturday & Sunday 9am - 6pm.
Cost: $8 plus two cans of food.
February
Oregon Truffle Festival
PK289/Shutterstock.com
February
Saturday
Feb 3
Lloyd District
Just in time for Dungeness Crab season is the 13th annual Portland Seafood & Wine Festival, the perfect chance for prawn pros and namasu newbs alike to slate their thirst for fish and fermentation. Coastal classics like Newport Fishermen's Wives and Oyster Farms will be alongside Yamhill Co. heavyweights like Naked Winery and Cathedral Ridge, creating a divine convergence of the small-town charms that us city folk only get to feast on so often.
Cost: $13 for GA tix
Friday - Saturday
Feb 9-10
Mount Angel
Replica Bavarian villages are generally super cheesy (looking at you, Leavenworth), but this small town near Salem has it dialed in with the perfect blend of new-school amenities and old-world charm. Already on the map for its raucous Oktoberfest celebration, the fine folks of Mount Angel are back at it again with a bratwurst bash fit for a könig, featuring sausages from Ebner’s, Mount Angel Sausage Company and Portland’s Urban German, as well as beer from Benedictine, Seven Brides, and the always satisfying Warsteiner.
Cost: Admission is $5 (or $10 to get a sweet mug)
Thursday - Sunday
Feb 15-25
Various venues
Venerable jazz venues like Jimmy Mak’s and the Blue Monk may be gone, but the spirit of the legendary club gets the chance to live on at the PDX Jazz Festival, which is spread across 11 days and is one of the biggest annual jazz happenings on the West Coast. Watch new bands play old classics as well as new material and pay homage to legends like Coltrane.  
Cost: Varies per show; check the cost here.
Thursday - Thursday
Feb 15-Mar 1
Various venues
Hit up the 41st annual Portland International Film Festival for a daring docket of independent films from across the globe. PIFF often has unprecedented access to first screenings of rare documentaries and controversial foreign films, making it a great place for aspiring film nerds to get a jump on the pack of festival heads who can’t wait to get their eyes on something different.
Cost: $300 for a film festival pass (which gives you access to everything)
Friday - Sunday
Feb 16-18
Truffles have gone mainstream, so it’s time to make the pilgrimage to the fertile grounds of Yamhill County to check out the Oregon Truffle Festival, quite possibly the biggest and greatest ode to edible mushrooms on the West Coast that doesn’t prominently feature lasers and EDM music. It’s actually been called one of the most “exclusive gastro-fests on the plants”... for better or worse.
Cost: $750 for the deluxe weekend-long “Terroir of Truffles” package; $15-$60 for a la carte single-event tickets.
Friday - Wednesday
Feb 16-Mar 14
Chinatown
Head to the Lan Su Chinese Garden for three weeks of Chinese New Year events, which include lantern viewings and dragon processions in the garden, as well as a “Rolling in the Wealth” kickoff event on Friday, February 16 that involves gold coins and oranges being rolled into the front doors of the garden.
Cost: GA tix are $7-$10