If you’re in Portland, Oregon, on a budget but are weary of hipsters in skinny jeans and canvas shoes screwing up your day, then you need to know the four best free things to do in Portland that won’t make you look like a hipster. Of course if you insist on wearing your Che Guevara head gear when ever you leave home, don’t bother to read this. But if you truly want to enjoy yourself, you can’t go wrong with these four free Portland things to do.
Pioneer Courthouse Square. Situated in the center of downtown, Portland’s "living room" is an urban park dubbed the most-visited site in Oregon as it draws over 9.5 million visitors each year. Check out the Portland Visitor Information Center or catch a ride at TriMet's bus and lightrail station. Since this is one of the City’s most used outdoor entertainment venues with over 300 concerts and cultural festival events annually, chances are you’ll be in for some free entertainment. If you’re on the Square on a Monday during June through October, then you’ll have a chance to experience the Portland Farmer’s Market. Pioneer Courthouse Square is located within SW 6thAve. and Broadway, bordered by Yamhill and Morrison streets. An events calendar can also be found online at pioneercourthousesquare.org.
Saturday Market in Waterfront Park.Beneath the Burnside Bridge located at SW Ankeny St. and Naito Parkway on downtown Portland’s west side, you’ll find this open-air free event with hundreds of craft and food vendors, as well as live entertainment from local musicians, jugglers, tarot card readers, and street performers. This free Portland event happens every Saturday and Sunday from March through the entire week leading up to Christmas Eve for last minute shoppers. But even if you are there in January or February when the Market isn’t happening, you can check out the nearby Waterfront Park along the bank of the Willamette River between SW Harrison St. and NW Glisan St. There’s a paved trail that connects to the eastside Esplanade and the Waterfront Park is open 24 hours a day. The Park also hosts the Waterfront Blues Festival in July, considered the second largest blues festival in the nation.
Powell’s City of Books. Yea, hanging out in a book store doesn’t sound so great at first, especially since you might trip over a few hipsters. But Powell’s engulfs an entire city block, houses over a million new, used, out-of-print and rare titles, and is considered the largest independent bookstore on the planet. Located at 1005 W. Burnside St. on the corner of 10th Ave., it costs nothing to browse this bookworm Mecca, which also has an art gallery and a coffee shop where you can actually take up to three books to sit and survey. Exploring this Portland icon, which is open daily all year from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m., is worth the trip if only to ride the store’s three-door elevator.
Forest Park. Everybody knows hipsters don’t do outdoor exercise, so spending some time in the 5,100-acre Forest Park—the largest urban park in the Nation—offers you one of the best free things to do in Portland that won’t make you look like a hipster. You’ll find 70 miles of trails and gravel roads for jogging, hiking, dog walking, mountain biking, and horseback riding through an evergreen forest. The Park, open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., is popular because it is only 10 minutes from downtown Portland and has many entrance points from NW 29th Ave. and Upshur St., to Newberry Rd. You can also get maps off the friendsofforestpark.org website.