How to Tour Portland Like a Local

Explore our Portland, OR travel guide to find out about the best attractions and places to visit, curated by a professional tour guide!

Meet David Penilton: He’s a professional tour guide, and a passionate world traveler who loves sharing the story of Portland, Oregon, with visitors from all over the globe.

David first visited the Portland area when he attended Oregon State University. After finishing his coursework at another school, David graduated and moved to South America. No matter where he went, Portland never left his heart. “It was always the place I knew I’d come back to,” he says. For David, the friendly people and great outdoors made Portland feel like home. “Everything is here,” he says. “I can see almost everything I see in other parts of the world right here in my own backyard.”

Through his tours, David says he wants to help people have experiences they’ll be excited to share with others. “No matter what direction you go, there’s an experience waiting to be discovered,” he says. For travelers visiting the area, David suggests these six experiences:

 

Stop and Smell the Roses at the Portland Rose Garden

The City of Roses has the award-winning International Rose Test Garden. Located in Washington Park, the 4.5-acre garden was dedicated in 1924 and now boasts about 10,000 roses. The garden also has amazing views to offer. “It’s like a crow’s nest overlooking the city,” says David. “Beyond Portland, you’ll see the mountains, including Mount Hood in the Cascade Mountain Range.”

 

International Rose Test Garden


See the Awe-inspiring Multnomah Falls and Beyond

“Once you get outside Portland, the number one attraction is Multnomah Falls. It’s just amazing,” he says. A 611-foot cascade, Multnomah is visited by thousands of people every day. “It’s a gateway into an area that has a little over 200 different waterfalls,” David says. The area is easily accessible since it’s only about 40 minutes outside downtown Portland. To get there, head east on Interstate Highway 84 for about 25 miles.

Multnomah Falls


Take in the Natural Beauty of the Great Outdoors

David encourages visitors to wear their hiking shoes and bring their cameras. “The hiking in this area is unlike anywhere else in the world,” he says. “Seeing the natural beauty of the streams, mountains and wildflowers is an incredible experience.” The fishing in the area is also very popular with outdoors enthusiasts. For stunning views of redwood forests and the rocky Oregon coast, David suggests driving along Highway 101 (aka the Pacific Coast Highway) to Crater Lake , which is just over four hours southeast of Portland.

Crater Lake


Indulge Your Inner Foodie With Fresh, Local Cuisine

You may have heard people talk about farm-to-table dining, but in Portland they don’t just talk about it — they live it. “People care about what restaurants are preparing,” David says. “We have so many amazing new chefs coming onto the scene every day.” Portland is widely known as a foodie city, and David recommends exploring the rich food scene. When it’s time to chow down, Ken's Artisan Pizza and Boxer Ramen are two local favorites.

Raise a Glass to the Local Flavor of Portland

With so many local breweries, some call Portland “Beervana.” Base Camp and Hopworks are two of the favorites with locals. Even though it’s widely known as the craft brewing capital of the world, the area also has world-class pinot noir. “What’s beautiful about our wine country is that no matter where you are, you’ll have beautiful mountain views,” David says. Visit Saffron Fields Vineyard or Elk Cove Vineyards to enjoy a glass of wine while you take in the view.

Local Vineyard


Immerse Yourself in the Cultural Center of Portland

David tells visitors to walk the city to get a feel for the vibe. His favorite part of Portland? The people. They make visitors feel at comfortable and at ease. “Portland is a vibrant city, but it’s made by the people who live there,” he says. To get acquainted with the local people and culture, head to the Portland Saturday Market. Open every Saturday and Sunday from early March to Dec. 24, it’s brimming with handcrafted goods from local artisans and it’s a prime spot for people watching.

David says he’s confident that if you visit Portland, you’ll return home with a unique story to tell.

The Culture/Neighborhoods

About the Author

David Penilton

A seasoned world traveler, David Penilton specializes in custom travel experiences in the Pacific Northwest. Visit his Vayable guide page for more information.

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