Ah, Oregon! Home of amazing natural wonders, thousands of llamas, Nike, and Portland. If you are planning to visit Beaver State, Portland should be high on your list. The vast city is best explored in sections, and there’s no better place to start than Southeast Portland.
Set on the east side of the Willamette River, Southeast Portland is a laid-back waterfront neighborhood. From tranquil urban parks to interesting museums and chic boutiques, you won’t be hard-pressed to find things to do in Southeast Portland.
Enjoy waterside walks along the Willamette River. Rent a boat and spend some time on the water. Explore museums like the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry or wander around the Leach Botanical Garden. Bars and restaurants abound, and you’ll find everything from casual fare to five-star dining.
Ready to plan your Southeast Portland adventure? Get started with this complete neighborhood guide, including what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay!
What to see & do in Southeast Portland
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
Delve into the world of science and technology at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. Spend a few hours with the family at this fantastic Portland museum, learning all about natural sciences, industry, and technology.
Start your Oregon Museum of Science and Industry visit with a trip into space at the planetarium to discover the stars, then explore the retired navy submarine docked outside. Head to the giant-screen theater to watch doccies on Hollywood blockbusters. Learn all about physics in Turbine Hall, feel an earthquake, and watch storms form on a giant globe.
While the kids conduct experiments in the interactive labs, check out the After Dark events that pair science talk with beer and wine. When all the science has worked up an appetite, grab a pizza and a beer slider at the Theory Café.
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry overlooks the Willamette River, so take a moment to admire the beautiful views before visiting one of Portland’s top points of interest.
Oaks Amusement Park
It’s time for some fun, and the Oaks Amusement Park is the place to find it in Southeast Portland! Hailed as the park where ‘the fun never ends,’ the Oaks Amusement Park has been around for more than 100 years and is still going strong.
Located in the Sellwood neighborhood, the family-friendly park has something for everyone. At Oaks Amusement Park, you’ll find thrilling rides, gentle slides, roller skating, go-karting, and miniature golf.
Head to the Oaks Park Roller Rink with its floating floor and Wurlitzer pipe organ to show off your disco moves. Ride the vintage carousel and Ferris Wheel and win a few prizes from the carnival games.
If you aren’t into the death-defying drops of the Adrenaline Peak Roller Coaster, join the little ones on the mini train for a smoother ride.
Set on the banks of the Willamette River, the 44-acre tree-studded park is perfect for a picnic. Pack a basket, slap on some sunscreen, and head out for a day of fun in the sun.
Mount Tabor Park
An extinct volcano might not conjure images of the best place to picnic, but Mount Tabor Park will quickly quell those thoughts. This lovely park is set atop an old volcano and boasts some of the best panoramic views in Portland.
Established over a century ago, Mount Tabor Park is a popular spot for hiking, mountain biking, and picnicking. Follow one of the easy trails to the summit of the 636-foot-tall Mount Tabor and take in the spectacular views from the top. There are three official trails for all levels of hikers; it’s a gentle trek to the top and well worth it.
Mount Tabor Park also hosts the PDX Adult Soapbox Derby on the third Saturday in August. Dozens of daring amateur racers zip down Mount Tabor to the cheering of thousands of onlookers. It’s a great event and worth a look if you’re in Southeast Portland!
Powell Butte Nature Park
Another great Southeast Portland park with an extinct cinder cone volcano is Powell Butte Nature Park. Based near the headwaters of Johnson Creek, the park features beautiful natural landscapes of thick forests and rolling meadowland.
If you enjoy exploring the outdoors, this is a great spot to do it. Powell Butte Nature Park offers miles of trails for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, with plenty of wildlife to be spotted. Keep an eye out for birds of prey, as well as ring-necked pheasants, foxes, and raccoons. The wetlands near Johnson Creek have several species of waterfowl. The creek is also full of salmon and steelhead.
Take the day off from typical Portland sightseeing and spend a few hours in this wonderland exploring and enjoying the beauty of nature.
Leach Botanical Garden
Take a step back in time with a visit to the Leach Botanical Garden. Formerly known as Sleepy Hollow, the Leach Gardens were established in 1931 and are a treasure trove of flora, fauna, and history. Over 2,000 species of plants are spread over 16 acres, divided by Johnson Creek. Winding pathways make their way through the dense undergrowth, making this a fun park to explore.
The terraced gardens at Leach Botanical Garden feature all kinds of flora, from alpines and camellias to medicinal herbs and rock garden plants. Bring out your inner botanist and try to spot a few of the 125 species of fern in the gardens.
Visit the Leaches’ historic former residence at the center of the garden and learn the rich history through interesting exhibits. John Leach was a talented craftsman, and you’ll see some of his metalwork dotted about the gardens.
Home to ducks, turtles, and beautiful scenery, Laurelhurst Park is a delightful spot to spend a few hours. This 31-acre park has something for everyone, from feeding the ducks to watching a live comedy show.
The large central lawn at Laurelhurst Park is ideal for a picnic, with drinking fountains and restrooms close by. The kids can burn off some energy at the playground, and your dog can play in the designated off-leash dog area.
Relax next to the tranquil pond and feed the ducks. Try to spot the resident turtles who muscle in for a few crumbs. Hang a hammock on the tree-lined hillside and soak up the views.
Laurelhurst Park comes alive in summer with various events like music concerts, comedy shows, and free plays by performance troupes.
Feeling peckish? Several food carts and pods in the park offer fresh coffee and light bites.
Where to eat & drink
Craft beer may be a mainstay in Southeast Portland, but when it comes to food, the neighborhood has some pretty good options, too. From European deli fare to traditional Turkish cuisine, you’ll find a mouthwatering range of global cuisine right on your doorstep.
For classic Italian fare and paper-thin pizza, Nostrana is a winner. Tuck into creative seasonal pasta, robust meat, and fish dishes in an enchanting setting and sip award-winning wines from Italy and the Northwest. Book a table outside in the summer and watch the world go by.
Take a culinary trip to the Eastern Mediterranean with a visit to Shalom Y’all. Traditional favorites like falafel, hummus, and house-made pita are great starters. If you’re really hungry, order the Chicken Shawarma or the Lamb Carnitas for a hunger-busting dish.
Tucked into a beautifully restored industrial building, Olympia Provisions Southeast is Southeast Portland’s go-to for refined, European-style fare. You’ll find everything from fat Spanish olives to German charcuterie and rich French cheeses.
Mediterranean gastropub Bar Maven offers an upscale dining experience on Foster Street. Gyros, kabobs, falafel, and burgers are on the menu, as well as melt-in-your-mouth pork shanks served with pickles.
As you might have guessed, Rum Club is all about the rum. Try one of the nine eye-wateringly strong specialty rum-centric cocktails. If rum’s not your thing, there are several other classic cocktails to choose from, too. Pair your cocktail with a classic pub grub-like shrimp cocktail and braised ribs.
The slogan for Slow Bar, “burgers, booze, and bad decisions,” says it all! Slide into a cozy booth and enjoy burgers and beers in a low-lit, laid-back atmosphere.
Where to stay
Lola Pass is a super cool, budget-friendly hybrid hotel offering shared and private rooms and minimalist, stylish common spaces. A retro lobby bar serves eclectic cuisine. There’s also a shared kitchen if you prefer making your own meals. Sip cocktails from the seasonal bar on the rooftop terrace. A short walk across the Burnside Bridge will get you to the Portland Saturday Market in Old Town Chinatown.
Another trendy hostel option is the KEX Hotel. A short walk from a light rail station, the hotel offers clean, mixed-gender, and female-only dorms with bunk beds and shared or en suite bathrooms. Grab a bite and a drink at the hotel restaurant and bar and relax in the in-house sauna.
Named for the intersection on which it stands, Hotel Grand Stark is a beautifully reimagined historic hotel with a retro vibe. Unpretentiously luxurious guest rooms are stylish yet comfortable with luxe extras like Diptyque bath products and Nespresso machines. The all-day Grand Stark Deli promises to keep hunger at bay. A short stroll will get you to the Portland Art Museum and the Portland Japanese Garden in Downtown Portland.