Summer is a time to enjoy the warm weather and eat ice cream, go swimming in the river, and embark on other water-based adventures. From free movies at the park to local riverfront adventures and splash pad visits, there is something for Portland locals and tourists to enjoy. Here are the 15 best things to do in summer in or nearby Portland, Oregon…
1. See the Roses at the International Rose Test Garden – a must-see place in the summer
With over 10,000 roses in the garden and 650 varieties of them, you will be in awe when you visit to see the roses at the International Rose Test Garden in the Arlington Heights District of Portland.
It’s one of the best things to do in summer in Portland because the flowery fields will put you right into the summer spirit. Just go to Washington Park and follow the signs to get to the rose garden so that you can enjoy the experience this summer!
Address: 400 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205
2. Float Down Clackamas River – a great summer activity for nature lovers
As an 83-mile tributary that leads to the Willamette River, you will have to travel west from the Cascade Range to get to a part of it.
The Barton to Carver route when floating down Clackamas River is the most convenient because it is located closer to Portland.
There are 3 other routes for floating down the Clackamas River including Upper McIver Ramp to Lower McIver Ramp, McIver to Barton, and McIver to Carver.
McIver Ramp to Lower McIver Ramp is a 45-minute adventure that begins and finishes at McIver Park, so this is the quickest floating experience.
The McIver to Carver route is the longest clocking in at a 7 to 8-hour floating adventure.
Address: South of the Columbia River Gorge
3. Paddling or Canoeing the Willamette River Water Trail – the perfect summer pastime near Portland
The Willamette River Water Trail spans 187 miles of beautiful scenery including peaceful waters, lush plains, and awesome wildlife. Go paddling or canoeing on this long water trail for many hours of nature exploration in Portland.
If you want to plan a whole few days’ trips out of it, there are campsites nearby the trail so that you can stop for a rest before starting your journey again the next day.
As part of the National Recreation Trails program, the Willamette River Water Trail seeks to conserve its nearby waters and wildlife while increasing people’s access to the walking trails and other nature activities nearby.
Address: Western Oregon
4. Enjoy Swimming Holes – for summer fun and memories
Dougan Falls at Lewisville Park is one of the local swimming holes near Portland. Lewisville Park is the oldest park located in Washington State’s Clark County, so it has seen many years of fun and memories from Portland and Washington State natives and tourists.
Lewisville Park spans 154 acres and their walking trails are 2.8-miles long. In between taking a dip at the swimming hole, you can also hike along the trail.
Besides this swimming hole, you can enjoy other swimming holes throughout the Lewis River’s East Fork.
Address: Clark County of Washington State
5. Take the Kids to Interactive Fountains and Splash Pads – a fun family-friendly thing to do during the Portland Summer
Throughout Portland, you and your family can enjoy interactive fountains and splash pads to cool off during your summer adventures.
For example, the Bill Naito Legacy Fountain at Waterfront Park located in the Old Town Community Association is a fountain that honors Portland’s immigrants with a poem that you can read on the fountain’s steps.
It’s one of the many interactive fountains at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland which can help you and your family stay cool during the hot summer days.
Address: 2 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204
6. Kayaking at Mount Hood – get closer to nature
Nearby Mt. Hood stratovolcano is the waters of the Columbia River Gorge. Mt. Hood is the tallest mountain in Portland and it meets with the Columbia Gorge measuring 4,000 feet deep and 80 miles long. Hence, there is so much to explore when you go kayaking at Mt. Hood
When you’re not kayaking the Columbia River Gorge in the summer, you can stop by one of the ski resorts in the American location that has the longest ski season come to the wintertime. Remember to put that activity on your winter bucket list!
Address: Cascade Volcanic Arc in Oregon
7. Have a Vegan Ice Cream – a must-do summer activity in Portland
For some people, the thought of eating anything vegan can get them sceptical. However, Kate’s Ice Cream is becoming highly talked about as an up and coming best vegan ice cream in Portland. This new establishment will open in the Boise District of Portland in spring 2022 for vegans and all consumers alike.
Selling plant-based and gluten-free vegan ice cream confections, Kate’s Ice Cream has a Marionberry Cobbler ice cream to showcase Portland’s marionberries. Other flavors include Your Favorite Vanilla, Cookies and Cream, Salted Peanut Brittle, and Rosewater Cardamom Almond amongst others.
Address: 3713 N Mississippi Ave, Portland, OR 97227
8. Bike Ride Along Eastbank Esplanade – fun for all the family
The Eastbank Esplanade is located in the Buckman District of Portland and is a great location for biking along in the summer.
This trail measures 2.7 miles and everybody of all hiking and biking skill sets can travel the trail. If you want to bike while taking Fido or Fida along, he or she must be leashed for the safety of other explorers.
While getting your bike workout in on the Eastbank Esplanade, enjoy the city scenery and beautiful water views that are unlike any other biking and hiking trails that you have traveled before.
Address: SE Salmon St, Portland, OR 97214
9. Sunbathe at George Rogers Park – a great place for swimming and for sunbathing in the summer
It takes about 20 minutes to drive from Portland to the George Rogers Park located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. It’s worth the trip if you plan to sunbathe at the park.
Set up like you are at the beach next to the Willamette River by laying on a towel, applying your sunscreen, putting up the beach umbrella for when you need a bit of shade, and sunbathing away!
Sunbathing is not only a relaxing activity, but you will also increase your Vitamin D intake with more sun exposure. Be sure to have a balance of sunlight exposure so as not to become sunburned.
Address: 611 S State St, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Distance from Portland — 21 minutes
10. Go to an Outdoor Concert – there are great venues all over in Portland hosting summer events
Many outdoor concerts take place every year throughout Portland. Outdoor concerts usually take place at popular Portland venues such as the Pioneer Courthouse Square which hosts Noon Tunes.
Music on Main takes place annually at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall and the trademark Summer Free For All takes place throughout different public parks in Portland.
Address: Various locations depending on the outdoor concert venue.
11. Go for a Picnic and Views at Council Crest – for beautiful summer scenery and views
Picnics are a popular activity in the spring and summer. Be in awe of the great views at Council Crest as you enjoy a picnic with your family and/or friends at their picnic tables. You may even witness a wedding during your visit because there is a nearby site that can be reserved at Council Crest for someone planning a wedding.
The great views you will see at Council Crest include the nearby 5 snow-capped mountains including Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Jefferson.
This was home to the Council Crest Amusement Park from 1907 to 1929 and was torn down in 1941, which means you are sitting on a piece of key Portland history when you visit here.
Address: 1120 SW Council Crest Dr, Portland, OR 97239
12. Summer Concert Round-Up – one of the best and most fun events of the summer
When you attend the Summer Concert Round-Up, you can catch a free movie at one of Portland’s local parks or you catch live music, beer, art and food. Check the schedule for the upcoming free events that will be hosted throughout Portland.
The parks nearby Portland that have hosted free summer movies and concerts in the past include North Clackamas Park, Lake Oswego’s Millenium Lake Park as well as Westlake Park, Vancouver’s Fort Vancouver Site, and other locations.
Address: Depends on the park you attend for the event.
13. Waterfront Blues Festival – downtown Portland’s largest and longest-running music summer celebration
The Waterfront Blues Festival usually takes place annually at the Tom McCall Waterfront Park in Portland. Whether you are a blues lover or looking for a new music genre to listen to or you just love attending concerts in general, no matter your reasoning, you will have fun at the Waterfront Blues Festival.
This annual festival is known as the longest-running music event tradition in Portland’s history, which is why there are so many local and tourist fans of the annual attraction. People get to set up on the lawn at the waterpark to enjoy warm weather, delicious food, and great music with their family and/or friends.
Address: 98 SW Naito Pkwy, Portland, OR 97204
14. Go to a Rooftop Bar – a stylish summertime activity
There are 9 notable rooftop bars located in Portland that you can try. Get a great breeze during the day and a nostalgic summer chill during the night when you visit and enjoy Portland’s food fare at one of their rooftop bars.
Migration Brewery Rooftop Bar is the newest rooftop bar located in Portland and is only a walk away from Providence Park. Enjoy their beers and their pub’s shared plates.
Botanist and Havana Cafe has a rooftop bar where there is live entertainment that takes place on the weekends. If it’s not too busy and gets to dine at the rooftop bar, you will surely have fun!
Address: Depends on the rooftop bar you attend.
15. Brave Sauvie Island Nudist beach – for all over summer tans!
Sauvie Island Nudist Beach is for people who want to explore themselves and be around like-minded people at a place where clothing is optional. Collins Beach is located on the Columbia River side of Sauvie Island, which is where many locals and tourists congregate.
Whether you want to go skinny dipping, sunbathe with no clothes on, or barbecue burgers and hot dogs sans clothes, you will have a lot of fun with your nudist friends or even go on to make new ones at Sauvie Island.
Address: Sauvie Island, Oregon, United States
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My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I’ve lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up visits to over 40 countries. I’m a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian – from cloudberry liquors to Nordic noirs. When not wandering the world and running Global Grasshopper, you’ll find me walking my rescued Greek street dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Lanes on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about my favourite places; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Laos, California and the surreally beautiful landscapes of a wintry Iceland.