What to do in Portland in the Rain: Historic Columbia River Highway

The 10 Best Things to do in Portland, Oregon in the Rain

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!

Don’t forget to check out our web story: Things to do in Portland in the Rain!

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Where to Stay in Portland

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10 Things to do in Portland in the Rain

1. See a Second Run Movie

What to do in Portland in the Rain: Bagdad Theater 2

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 are 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 as their favorite character from the movie and scream out all of the lines! It’s a rowdy good time!

Our favorite second-run theaters:

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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 am and 8 pm daily. And once you’re done soaking, you can enjoy a beer in detention!

The Best Things to do in Portland, Oregon in the Rain: Soaking Pools

And if you’re looking for a more upscale soaking experience, the Knot Springs Social Club has a relaxing hot spring that will run you $55 for a two-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

What to do in Portland in the Rain: Historic Columbia River Highway
Latourell Falls, Columbia River Gorge

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 any time 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.

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4. Enjoy a Long, Boozy Brunch

What to do in Portland in the Rain: Brunch at Radio Room
80 Hot Sauce options at Radio Room

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 three brunch spots because they offer big portions of classic brunch favorites at 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. Its 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 one 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

What to do in Portland in the Rain: Arcade

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 game room in the PNW! Minors are allowed daily from noon-5 pm 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

What to do in Portland in the Rain: 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 in roller skating 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.

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8. Sing Karaoke

What to do in Portland in the Rain: Sing Karaoke at The Alibi
The Alibi: the best karaoke joint in town!

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 on stage 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.

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9. Get Crafty

What to do in Portland in the Rain: DIY

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!

Another fun activity that will keep you warm and dry in rainy Portland is painting pottery! Mimosa Studios offers in-studio painting (be sure to make a reservation), private parties, and to-go kits if you’d rather paint your masterpiece at home. It’s a great rainy day activity if you’re feeling creative!

10. Sample Craft Beer

Grabbing a drink in Portland, Oregon by Wandering Wheatleys
Bottoms up!

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. And they have an amazing happy hour.

If you like sour beer, you’ve got to try Great Notion Brewing on Alberta Street! The Blueberry Muffin beer is maybe the best sour I’ve ever tasted. Plus they have Matt’s BBQ Tacos on site – a must-try in Portland!

Culmination 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.

Portland in the Rain FAQ

What to do in Portland if it rains?

See a Second Run Movie
Soak in Hot Pools
Drive the Historic Columbia River Highway
Enjoy a Long, Boozy Brunch
Visit OMSI
Play Games
Go Roller Skating
Sing Karaoke
Get Crafty
Sample Craft Beer

How bad is the rain in Portland?

The rain in Portland is usually more of a misty drizzle than a torrential downpour. You’ll find that most native Portlanders don’t even bother with an umbrella.

How many days out of the year does it rain in Portland, Oregon?

Portland gets an average of 156 days of rain each year.

What is the wettest month in Portland, Oregon?

November is the wettest month in Portland. On average, it rains 19 days out of the month and accumulates 5.6″ of precipitation.


About the Author:

  • Valerie Wheatley

    Val grew up in Portland, Oregon but moved to Oahu on a whim back in 2013. She sold her house and all of her belongings and bought a one-way ticket. Since then she’s taken two around-the-world trips and has visited 60-ish countries while living out of a duffel bag.

    Val started documenting the Wandering Wheatleys travels back in 2013 as a way to update friends and family about her whereabouts and to relay humorous daily interactions. The only readers were her mom and her mother-in-law but that didn’t stop her!

    These days you’ll find Val dreaming up future trips, creating new travel content, managing a team of amazing travel enthusiasts, and chasing around her two adorable but naughty kids.

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