As a Portland, Oregon native, I’ve often joked that the rainy season here stretches from Halloween until the Fourth of July. And it’s not the kind of aggressive but short thunderstorms that you often get in the south. It’s a drizzly, gloomy, unrelenting kind of rain. The kind that is just light enough that you don’t think you need an umbrella and it swirls around, soaking you all the way through.
If rain is in the forecast for your upcoming trip, you’ll want to plan a few indoor activities to keep yourself busy. Check out our list of the top 10 things to do in Portland in the rain and don’t forget to pack your umbrella!
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Rainy Portland Travel Basics
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10 Things to do in Portland in the Rain
1. See a Second Run Movie
Nothing beats scarfing down a bucket of popcorn and getting lost in an action movie while it’s pouring down rain outside. And unless you are vying to see the latest blockbuster, the second-run movie theaters in Portland tend to be more popular with the locals. They sell reasonably priced craft beer, wine, pizza, and yummy snacks to make your movie-going experience even more entertaining.
The movies shown at second-run theaters generally aren’t the newest releases but were popular among audiences. If you are lucky, sometimes you can catch cult classic nights where people dress up like their favorite character from the movie and scream out all of the lines! It’s a rowdy good time!
Our favorite second-run theaters:
2. Soak in Hot Pools
Another amazing rainy day activity in Portland is to enjoy a relaxing soak in a hot pool. There are several natural hot springs around Oregon as well as a few in the city of Portland that you must pay to enter.
The McMenamins Kennedy School is a unique establishment in NE Portland. The McMenamins brewery turned an old elementary school into a space that has a movie theater, several bars, and a beautiful heated pool in a private outdoor courtyard. It is in the space that was previously used as a Teacher’s Lounge. For a fee of $5 per person, you can access the pool between 10:00am and 8:00pm daily. And once you’re done soaking you can enjoy a beer in detention!
If you want some privacy during your soak, you can rent an entire hot tub all to yourself at Portland Tub and Tan. Included in your private room are a restroom, towels, a large tv, surround sound, and mood lighting.
And if you’re looking for a more upscale soaking experience, the Knot Springs Social Club has a relaxing hot springs that will run you $55 for a 2-hour soak. They offer a variety of other treatments as well including fitness classes and spa treatments. It’s the perfect place to spend a rainy Portland afternoon!
3. Drive the Historic Columbia River Highway
The Historic Columbia River Highway (now also known as Highway 30) is a 75-mile stretch of scenic highway along the Columbia River Gorge. It was the first planned scenic roadway in the US and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark.
And while the Columbia River Highway is beautiful at anytime throughout the year, the rainy season is especially gorgeous as all of the waterfalls are flowing and the fog gives the area a dream-like effect. Allow 3-5 hours to complete the entire drive and make a few stops along the way. To access the highway from Portland, you’ll take I-84 and take exit 22 towards Corbett. Then follow signs for the Vista House and the Historic Columbia River Highway.
Be sure to stop at the epic waterfalls along the way. Multnomah Falls is the most famous along the highway as it is the second highest year-round waterfall in the US with a 620 foot drop. It’s a popular stop but there are several large parking lots to accommodate the crowds.
4. Enjoy a Long, Boozy Brunch
Native Portlanders love spending rainy weekend mornings drinking mimosas at the hippest brunch spots in the city. We prefer to shy away from the trendy spots because they mean long wait times and higher prices. We love the following 3 brunch spots because they offer big portions of classic brunch favorites, reasonable prices, and won’t bother you if you choose to linger long after you’ve finished eating.
- Radio Room offers a lively environment with cozy fire pits and plenty of tables to accommodate the breakfast rush. Plus they have a build-your-own Bloody Mary bar with house made pickled veggies and over 80 hot sauce choices!
- Genies Cafe is quite popular so you may be in for a wait. But thankfully you can grab one of the best Bloody Marys in town from the bar to entertain you while you wait. They only use the freshest ingredients like local cage-free eggs and farm-raised meats and everything on the menu is delicious.
- Screen Door serves up some of the best Southern home cooking in the Pacific NW. It’s popular for both brunch and dinner so expect a bit of a wait, even if you get there right when they open. Be sure to order the fried chicken and waffles, it’s their specialty!
5. Visit OMSI
A visit to the Oregon Museum of Science & Industry (OMSI) in SE Portland is an intellectually stimulating and fun way to spend a rainy afternoon. Their mission is to “Inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action.” And they do it incredibly well – they serve over 1 million visitors and they are ranked as one of the top science centers in the US!
But OMSI isn’t just fun for kids, adults will love their permanent and rotating exhibits. They offer a submarine tour daily and amazingly entertaining movies on their massive IMAX screen.
6. Play Games
Remember going to the arcade as a kid and having a blast? Well arcades aren’t just for kids anymore and it’s the perfect place to duck into to get out of the rain. Ground Kontrol has over 100 of the best arcade games from the ‘70s through the ’00s and the largest public pinball gameroom in the PNW! Minors are allowed daily from noon-5:00pm but it’s really more of an adult gaming room – with a bar serving beer, cider, and cocktails.
And Wunderland is another entertaining spot that offers arcade games, a movie theater, and even laser tag!
7. Go Roller Skating
If you want to get some exercise while avoiding the rain, an indoor roller skating rink will be a fun way to work up a sweat! Oaks Amusement Park is popular with adults and kids alike for roller skating, games, rides, and mini golf. It’s great fun for all ages.
If you don’t feel talented to roller skate yourself, you can always head to Oaks Amusement Park to check out the girls of the Roller Derby! They have matches here regularly and you’ll love the energy and excitement that they bring to the rink.
8. Sing Karaoke
You don’t need to have any talent whatsoever to have a great time singing karaoke in Portland! You can sip on mai tais while singing your favorite tune at the tiki-themed Alibi in North Portland. Or sing onstage with a live band on Monday nights at Dante’s “Karaoke From Hell”. And you can belt out a song while a stripper dances around you at Devil’s Point (awkward and hilarious but not meant for kids).
It’s the perfect way to spend an evening (or afternoon, or morning!) on a rainy day in Portland.
9. Get Crafty
If you love saving pins on Pinterest for future DIY (do it yourself) projects, you’ll love the DIY bars around rainy Portland!
DIY Bar has different projects that you can pick from at a variety of price ranges. Just pick the project you want to make and they’ll provide the material and the guidance. Plus they have wine, beer, and cider on tap so you can imbibe while spending the rainy afternoon crafting. Check out their afternoon happy hour for better pricing and their bottomless mimosa Sundays!
ADX Portland is a workshop, classroom, and community space. Their knowledgeable staff give classes on everything from woodworking, metal working, screen printing, jewelry making, and more! You’ll be warm and toasty inside while it’s raining outside.
10. Sample Craft Beer
With approximately 8.5 breweries for every 100,000 residents, Oregon is consistently leading the US in producing quality craft beer. And on a per capita basis, Oregon consumes almost 11 gallons of craft beer per adult each year. So to say that Oregonians love their beer is a bit of an understatement. You really can’t visit this beautiful state and not sample our wares.
And sampling craft beers in the plethora of breweries around Portland is also a perfect rainy day activity! Breakside Brewery in NW Portland offers a huge and lively indoor space, a wide selection of brews, and generous portions of delicious grub.
If sustainability is on your mind, you’ll love Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)! They source organic malts and salmon-safe hops for their beers. Plus they donate 1% of all beer sales to environmental organizations that focus on forests, bikes, and water. Plus they have an amazing happy hour.
Basecamp Brewing is another lively spot that has events going on year-round. Their beers are outstanding and be sure to check out their awesome merchandise before you leave!
Want to even more things to do in Portland? Read 56 weird and wonderful things to do in Portland, Oregon.
Planning a trip to Portland? Check out some of our favorite books about the city and surrounding area!