Portland has something for every type of traveler to enjoy. Whether you’re looking for great food, beautiful hiking trails, or cozy cafes to while away the afternoon, Portland has plenty of interesting options for you to choose from. This list features some of the more random locations that you might not hear about otherwise.
1. Mill Ends Park
You won’t need to spend a lot of time here. In fact, you’ll probably be there no longer than a few minutes because Mill Ends Park is the smallest park in the world. That’s what makes it worth visiting. It is located in the median strip of SW Naito Parkway. Make sure you’re paying close attention so you don’t miss it!
2. The Hat Museum
The Hat Museum, previously known as the Ladd-Reingold House, was originally built in the early 1900s. It is the largest hat museum in America and houses over 1,000 bowlers, buckets, and bonnets. The museum has a strange layout that includes secret hiding spots, pocket doors, and a backward-hung door. It may have even more secret alcoves as of this writing, as it just underwent a renovation, reopening at the end of April 2018. The museum offers tours which will provide you with tons of random hat facts that are sure to get stuck on — I mean in — your head.
3. Voodoo Doughnuts and Wedding Chapel
Voodoo Doughnut is a great place to grab a baked treat, but did you know you can also get married there? The doughy deliciousness is what draws customers in, but the option of getting hitched is what keeps them ’til death do they part! Some of the most popular doughnut options include Cap’n Crunch and the Bacon Maple Bar.
4. Cathedral Park
Portland dedicates more space and resources to public parks than almost any city in the United States, but this one definitely stands out. Cathedral Park can be found on the banks of the Willamette River and is full of history. It’s thought to be one of the fourteen Lewis and Clark landing sites in the Vancouver-Portland area. It was also a fishing and camping spot for local Indian tribes. Today, the park hosts many concerts, festivals and other community events.
5. Kidd’s Toy Museum
The toys on display at Kidd’s Toy Museum were created between the years 1869 and 1939. Its curator and benefactor, Frank Kidd, began collecting antique toys as an adult. He has traveled all over the world, adding over 15,000 of them to his collection!
6. The Zymoglyphic Museum
The Zymoglyphic Museum is the world’s only institution devoted to the study and display of art, artifacts, and natural history a strange, unique style. The museum was previously located in San Mateo, California, but can now be found in Portland. The art on display combines artifacts that have been naturally weathered with creative interpretations from artists. They mold together so well that it’s hard to tell what is real, and what is creative license. Visit their FAQ page to learn what, exactly, is going on here.
What does ‘zymoglyphic’ mean, you ask? Your guess is basically as good as ours. As far as we can tell, it involves poetic fermentation. Whatever it is, it’s worth spending a few hours pondering if you’re in the neighborhood.
7. The Vacuum Cleaner Museum
Finally, a museum that straight-up tells you that it sucks!
Have you ever wanted to learn about the history of the vacuum cleaner? Now that you know this museum exists, I bet you do. The Vacuum Cleaner Museum can be found inside Stark’s Vacuum Cleaner Sales & Service in downtown Portland. There you will find over 300 different models of vacuums with a history you’re bound to get swept up in. Plus, admission is free!
8. The Grotto
The Grotto is an internationally-renowned Catholic shrine and botanical garden. It covers 62 acres of land and is open daily throughout the year. The atmosphere is peaceful and serene, matching the beauty of the surroundings. The Grotto offers two masses and, if the weather permits, the noon mass is held outside. It is a non-profit organization and is supported solely by donations and revenue from the gift shop.
9. Hippo Hardware & Trading Company
Adding a hardware store to your personal “places to visit” list probably seems odd, but Hippo Hardware is an iconic Portland landmark. They sell an eclectic collection of hardware, plumbing, architecture, and lighting fixtures. They are all about celebrating what is unique and what makes an individual space special. Each interesting item in the store is likely to have an equally interesting story behind it.
10. The Witch’s Castle
Though not directly associated with witches, The Witch’s Castle has its own haunting backstory. In the mid-1800s, Danford Balch bought a large tract of land in Portland, including the house known today as the Witch’s Castle.
He hired a man named Mortimer Stump to help clean up the property for him. Stump fell in love with Balch’s daughter, Anna, and asked him for permission to marry her. When Balch refused, the young couple eloped. Balch became depressed when he realized they had married without his consent, and he eventually shot Stump in the face. Since then, the area has become a backdrop for teenage shenanigans, but it also makes for an interesting and eerie stop if you’re hiking through the area.
As you can see, Portland has a ton of quirky things to do. A visit to the city is sure to make your trip to Oregon more interesting than you could have imagined!