Traveling to Portland or living in the city and looking for some activities where you can keep your distance from other people? There are plenty of beautiful parks, rivers, and lakes conveniently located in the city or right outside. You won’t have to travel far to find some solitude in the great outdoors here.
And there are quite a few creative indoor activities that you can participate in as well including virtual wine tasting, fun do-it-yourself projects, or just enjoying a staycation in a unique Portland hotel or local Airbnb!
And since I was born and raised in Portland, I have a few favorite spots that aren’t on the typical tourist track so you’ll hopefully find that you have them all to yourself. Check out my list of the best outdoor activities to do while keeping a safe social distance from others in the City of Roses!
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Tips for Socially Distancing Around Portland
- Fill up on gas and snacks before setting out. Best to limit the number of people and things you come into contact with since many of the smaller rural areas don’t have easy access to medical care.
- Wear a mask when you’re indoors or when you are outside but cannot keep a safe distance from others.
- Wash your hands frequently and keep some hand sanitizer for times soap and water aren’t readily available.
- Don’t be afraid to show your disapproval towards anyone who isn’t giving you space or wearing a mask indoors. You have the right to guard the health and safety of you and your family at all costs!
- Get up-to-date information about the mask and social distancing requirements as well as what establishments are open here!
20 Fun Activities to Do While Keeping a Safe Social Distance Around Portland, Oregon
1. Go Virtual Winetasting
Winetasting is definitely one of the best things to do in Portland, but it isn’t necessarily ideal if you want to keep a safe distance from others. Luckily several prominent Oregon wineries are hosting virtual wine tasting events. You can experience their vino from the comfort of your own home.
Brooks Wines hosts a “wine and stories” virtual event where you can choose a topic that interests you while you sample wine. Fairsing Vineyards has a library of virtual wine tastings that are easy to access on their website. Raptor Ridge Winery offers several virtual tour packages for your tasting convenience. And Stoller Family Estate has a YouTube channel with cooking and tasting videos that are fun to follow along!
2. Do an Online DIY Project
If you have a hankering to get crafty while stuck at home but don’t know where to start, consider booking a virtual DIY class! You can participate alone or invite a few friends to join as well. Add some wine and you’ve got a recipe for a fun virtual party where you’re all still safely socially distanced!
Board & Brush Creative Studio offers virtual workshops to create a wooden sign or another craft project of your choice. AR Workshop has “take-and-make” kits that are fun for all ages. Portland Craft Bar will deliver the supplies you’ll need directly to your house. And Assembly PDX has a variety of online Zoom courses to teach you embroidery, watercolor, calligraphy, or macrame depending on what new hobby you’re looking to learn!
3. Go for a Virtual Roller Coaster Ride
Oaks Park may be temporarily closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experience a roller coaster ride adrenaline rush from the comfort of your own couch! Offering virtual POV (point-of-view) ride videos on YouTube, Oaks Park allows you to experience their popular rides while safely social distancing at home.
Not only will you be able to safely avoid amusement park crowds, but you’ll also be able to avoid any actual danger from the rides! You may never want to ride an actual roller coaster again.
4. Get a Virtual Yoga Membership
You may not be able to visit your favorite yoga studio for your regular class, but that doesn’t mean you can’t practice yoga at home. ME Fitness Studio has a virtual membership that allows you to take advantage of a variety of online fitness classes. The Yoga Space has free livestream classes, and The People’s Yoga offers online classes at drop-in rates.
Check out the full list of yoga studios offering social distancing-approved online courses here!
5. Enjoy an Entertaining Delivery or Pick-up
Lucky Devil Lounge is a strip club in Portland that has made a few creative adjustments to keep its dancers working and their patrons entertained. They started with “Boober Eats”, a food delivery service that includes a short striptease on your front porch.
And if you’d like a slightly longer show, utilize their drive-through food pick-up service! You’ll remain in your car while watching dancers on platforms in a tent for two songs before you’re escorted to the other side of the parking lot to collect your food.
It’s the perfect entertainment to break up the monotony of social distancing life!
6. See a Movie at the Drive-In
Movie theaters may be closed but that doesn’t mean that you’re stuck just watching Netflix! The Northwest Film Center and the Portland Art Museum have combined efforts to host a drive-in movie experience at Zidell Yards. The whole family can have a fun night out at the movies in the safety of their own car.
Tickets cost $35 for cars and $45 for trucks, vans, and SUVs. You’ll need to purchase your tickets and any concessions online in advance as they will not allow night-of purchases. Movies begin at dusk. You can see the full line-up of movies scheduled for the coming weeks here.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the rules before buying your tickets.
7. Summit Mount Tabor
Mount Tabor Park is a volcanic cinder cone conveniently located in SE Portland and is accessible to all who wish to use it. You can head to the top for spectacular views of the city, or use any of the designated picnic areas or walking trails. It is a beautiful, well-maintained park that is the perfect place to find some peace and quiet away from the crowds.
8. Have a Picnic at Mocks Crest Park
Whether socially distancing or not, Mocks Crest Park is one of the best places to watch the sunset in all of Portland. The view from the bluff overlooks the river. It’s never overly crowded since it’s really only popular with the neighborhood locals.
Bring a blanket, a little picnic basket, and a thermos of craft beer, and enjoy some solitude (and the views).
9. Go for a Run in Forest Park
Forest Park is one of the largest urban forests in the US and has over 80 miles of trails that are perfect for day hikes and trail runs. The park is beloved by Portland locals so you probably won’t have any trail all to yourself, but many of the trails are not very popular or well known.
If you’re attempting to socially distance yourself, avoid Lower Macleay to Pittock Mansion and the Lower Maple Trail Loop.
10. Stand-up Paddle Board or Kayak on the Willamette River
The Willamette River cuts right through the middle of Downtown Portland so it’s easily accessible if you’re staying close in. The water isn’t exactly known to be the cleanest by native Portlanders, but that doesn’t stop them from getting in!
The Willamette River is the perfect place to go kayaking, boating, stand-up paddleboarding, or just grab an innertube and float right by the shore. You’ll stay cool and far away from everyone else!
You can rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards at Portland Kayak Company or Next Adventure Paddle Sports Center. Just be sure you make a reservation in advance so they can keep a safe distance between groups.
11. Have a Staycation
If you’re getting tired of social distancing at home, why not take a staycation at a unique hotel or a quaint little Airbnb in Portland for a few days? There are loads of great options around town to choose from and it’ll give you a change of scenery for a few days.
12. Go on a Drive-Through Farm Safari
We normally wouldn’t recommend drive-through wild animal safaris for many reasons (we could write an entire blog post on that) but the Frog Pond Farm in Wilsonville is another story. You won’t find the wild animals of some of the other safaris, just farm animals like llamas, pigs, and goats that are already quite accustomed to being around humans.
You’ll be safely socially distanced in your car while driving around to check out the friendly farm animals. It’s sure to be a fun time for both kids and adults!
13. Lounge on the Beach at Sauvie Island
Sauvie Island is located just north of Portland on the west side of the Columbia River. It’s the closest thing that you’ll find to a beach unless you make the drive to the coast. You can lounge on the popular Sauvie Island Beach or travel a little farther north to Collins Beach if you’d rather sunbathe in the nude.
Either beach is large enough that you can find your own bit of sand, at least 6 feet from your neighbor. Women should note that Collins Beach is known to have some creepy peeping toms lurking around.
14. Go Hiking in Tryon Creek State Natural Area
Tryon Creek State Natural Area isn’t nearly as popular or well-known as it should be considering it’s just south of the city of Portland. It’s a huge forested area with a ton of well-maintained trails for hiking where you’re unlikely to encounter many other people, especially on weekdays.
The trails can be narrow in some areas so be mindful when passing other hikers.
15. Take a Drive Through the Columbia River Gorge
The Historic Columbia River Highway cuts right through the spectacular Columbia River Gorge and is a great way to experience the beauty of Oregon without leaving your car! Also known as Highway 30, this 75-mile stretch of road is the prettiest in all of Oregon and is even listed as a National Historic Landmark.
You’ll drive through the towering walls of the gorge and past spectacular waterfalls (including Multnomah Falls, the second-highest year-round waterfall in the US) all while following the mighty Columbia River. There are countless places to stop that you’ll have all to yourself while avoiding the most popular crowded hotspots like Multnomah Falls.
From Portland, take I-84 to exit 22 towards Corbett and then follow the signs for the Vista House and the Historic Columbia River Highway. Allow yourself 3 – 5 hours to complete the drive if you plan on making a few stops along the way.
And if you want to make a weekend out of it just keep going until you get to Hood River – you’ll find plenty of fun outdoor activities there to keep you busy.
16. Smell the Roses at Peninsula Park Rose Garden
The Peninsula Park Rose Garden isn’t nearly as large or impressive as the Portland International Rose Test Garden, but it’s significantly less touristy and crowded. Located in North Portland, this park is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll to check out the beautiful rose bushes in bloom. And since it’s not on the usual Portland tourist track, you likely won’t encounter hoards of people here.
Technically the Portland International Rose Test Garden is currently open, although Portland Parks & Recreation advises people to limit travel and instead enjoy their local neighborhood parks.
17. Go Birdwatching at the Hoyt Arboretum
The Hoyt Arboretum was founded in 1928 in an effort to conserve endangered species in the Portland area. It is home to 2,300 species of trees and shrubs and has 12 miles of hiking trails. Plus, it’s conveniently located right outside of downtown Portland.
You’ll want to spend a few hours enjoying the beautiful greenery here while strolling on the well-maintained trails. If you’re lucky (and quiet) you may get to enjoy some of the birds that inhabit the park as well!
18. Snap Photos in Cathedral Park
Cathedral Park is arguably the most beautiful park in all of Portland. It sits right at the base of St. John’s Bridge. The park is aptly named due to the presence of the massive gothic cathedral-like bridge towers that are the highlight of the park.
It’s a popular photo spot for engagements, newlyweds, new parents, and anyone else that just wants an incredible backdrop for their photoshoot. You really can’t find a better spot in the city.
Of course, Cathedral Park is also a great place to lounge on the grass in the sunshine with a good book or some yummy snacks. It’s a popular place but large enough that you can find your own patch of grass. Just be sure you bring your camera to capture the bridge in all its beauty!
19. Go Berry Picking
If you are a fan of berries and want to find a socially distanced activity that is fun for the whole family, then take a trip to a u-pick farm! Sauvie Island (listed above) has several u-pick farm options that will allow you to pick your own berries while avoiding crowds.
20. Head to the Coast
Native Portlanders would never refer to their coastline as the “beach”, but instead, call it the “coast”. The word beach normally conjures images of bikini-clad bodies lounging in the warm sun and wading into the ocean to cool off. The Oregon coast is usually about 10° cooler than Portland and the water was never warm enough to swim in the 30-ish years that I lived in Oregon.
But the coast is certainly a lovely place to get away from the crowds in the city. You can bring a little picnic and watch the waves crashing against the shore. And the coastline is long enough that it’s easy to find your own little bit of sand that is far from the closest neighbor.
Cannon Beach, Manzanita, Rockaway, and Seaside are all great options that are relatively quick and easy to get to from Portland. Just be sure to fill up your tank before you leave and pack your own picnic so you don’t have to make any stops along the way or in the tiny coastal towns.
More Tips for Social Distancing Around Portland
- Don’t visit any city where you can’t make it there and back in one tank of gas. If you need to stop for gas or food, you’ll be putting a small community at risk. And they don’t have the ability to accommodate as many hospitalizations as the city of Portland.
- Be sure to check the status of parks, beaches, trails, and businesses before setting out in case they decide to close.
- Familiarize yourself with the rules of each establishment and make sure you agree to follow them. If you don’t like the rules, take your business elsewhere.
Happy safe social distancing around Portland!
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