Portland is a beautiful city. It doesn’t overwhelm with skyscrapers and instead offers a manageable downtown core and stunning views of looming mountains. If you’d like to experience the city’s beauty for yourself, allow me to share the 10 BEST viewpoints in Portland, Oregon.
Even though I’ve lived here my entire life, I still find myself taken aback by the beautiful cityscape when it catches me off guard. It’s nice to know that my hometown can still stop me in my tracks — she’s still got it. 😉
Best Viewpoints in Portland, Oregon
#10. Overlook Park
Overlook Park is absolutely lovely, especially on a crisp fall day. A patch of grass is shaded by a handful of trees, enticing visitors to linger with friends while lounging on picnic baskets and watching the sunset.
I suggest following suit during a warm summer evening because the views of Portland are spectacular. You’ll get unparalleled access of the Fremont Bridge and the city skyline looming in the background.
There’s plenty of great restaurants nearby, if you’d like to swing by for a bite after the sun sets. Here’s a mini-guide on N Mississippi Avenue.
#9. Departure Rooftop Bar
Imagine a warm summer night hanging out with a group of friends while enjoying drinks at a rooftop bar. If that sounds like your idea of fun (call me!), then Departure is the place for you.
Located in the heart of downtown Portland, one block from Pioneer Courthouse Square, lovingly known as “Portland’s Living Room,” this is a great place to hang out and get some great views of Portland.
Another Portland restaurant with awesome city views is the Portland City Grill, located in the Big Pink Building.
The Big Pink Building is the tallest building in Portland and someone was clever enough to put a restaurant on the top floor – genius! Happy Hour is a good deal, I suggest arriving an hour before sunset because the place fills up quickly and the seats with the best views get snatched up the fastest.
#8. Powell Butte
Since Portland is home to many (many) extinct cinder cones, there’s no shortage of great viewpoints to choose from and Powell Butte Nature Park is no exception.
Powell Butte is located in Southeast Portland and is worth the drive from downtown. As if the panoramic mountain views weren’t enough, the nature is spectacular — open meadows, woodlands and beautiful trails.
Powell Butte offers some of the best hiking in Portland, so bring a pair of hiking shoes and come during sunset for a spectacular and colorful display of Mt. Hood on a clear day.
Visiting Powell Butte makes you feel completely removed from any city, even though you’re within city limits.
#7. Tom McCall Waterfront Park/Eastbank Esplanade
Tom McCall Waterfront Park sits on the Willamette River and is located a stone’s throw from the busiest section of the downtown core, while still technically being located downtown.
The park swells with employees during the lunch hour and it’s a great people-watching spot to rest tired legs.
As you can imagine, the views of downtown Portland are great from here because you’re so close to all the tall buildings!
Swing by the Eastbank Esplanade to take in a more panoramic view of downtown Portland.
Try to time your visit to the waterfront with the spring season because this is the best spot in Portland for cherry blossoms. The 100 Akebono cherry trees that line the waterfront were gifted by the Japanese Grain Importers Association in 1990.
#6. NW Westover Road
There’s a plethora of great views of downtown Portland from various points off of NW Westover Road. My personal favorite view is found near Papa Hayden (there’s a long staircase two blocks up from the restaurant).
Climb the stairs to the top to be rewarded with a great vantage point of the Fremont Bridge and Mt. Adams looming in the background. You can also see Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier on a clear day.
If you’d like to spend some time exploring NW Portland, read Local’s Mini-Guide to NW Portland.
#5. Council Crest Park
At 1,071 feet, Council Crest Park is the highest point in the city — so yes, you’re guaranteed to see some of the best views Portland has to offer!
Since the park is also located atop a cinder cone, you can drive up to the top. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, I suggest hiking to the top (no better way to get your heart pumping).
Plus, the old-growth forest surrounding this area is quite impressive.
You’ll see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and even Mt. Rainier. So if I may offer some advice, head to the park for sunset as soon as you see a clear day in the forecast.
#4. Mt. Tabor Park
Portland is one of four American cities to have an extinct volcano within city limits. The culprit? Mount Tabor. But since Mt. Tabor is considered a dormant volcano it’s not expected to erupt.
Since volcanoes sit at a higher elevation, they offer great vantage points of the beautiful city skyline. You can bet that Mt. Tabor Park has one of the best views of Portland.
It’s hard to find a better spot for a summer picnic with friends. So pack your favorite picnic basket, or better yet, grab a pizza from Apizza Scholls (one of the best pizza places in Portland) and watch the sun fade over downtown Portland.
If you’re curious, the other three cities in the United States that have extinct volcanoes are Bend, Oregon, Jackson, Mississippi and Honolulu.
#3. Can’t Miss Portland Viewpoint: OHSU Campus
In 2007 the City of Portland celebrated the opening of the Portland Aerial Tram to great fanfare from excited locals and hospital employees.
Originally built as a vital connection between the Oregon Health & Science University’s (OHSU) main campus on Marquam Hill and the south waterfront, the Tram is a creative solution to a problem that was difficult to solve for a while.
The result? An awesome Portland experience that offers breathtaking views of Portland. On
On a clear day the panoramic views put the biggest names in the Cascade Range on full display. You’ll see Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and even Mt. Rainier from the OHSU Campus.
Portland Viewpoint: The South Waterfront at sunset from the OHSU campus with Mt Hood in the background
#2. Classic Portland Viewpoint: Washington Park
400 acres of unparalleled beauty with 6 cultural institutions tucked into the park boundary – what’s not to like? In terms of spectacular views of Portland, Washington Park is hard to beat.
There’s several views of downtown Portland withing Washington Park, but my personal favorite is located off the staircase near the tennis courts because of the higher vantage point.
Also, The Portland Rose Garden is located within Washington Park. It’s the largest and oldest rose garden in America. Home to an impressive 650+ varieties of roses and more than 10,000+ bushes, it’s easily one of the best free things to do in Portland, so check it out while you’re in the park!
Further Reading: The 12 Most Stunning Parks in Portland, Oregon
Portland Viewpoint: Downtown Portland and Mt Hood at sunrise from Washington Park
#1. Best Portland Viewpoint: Pittock Mansion
This probably comes as no surprise, but the best viewpoint in Portland is easily Pittock Mansion.
Pittock Mansion is a stunning French-Renaissance mansion that sits atop the West Hills and spans 16,000 square feet, boasts 46 elaborate rooms and is open to the public. The house was built so well that the even the original elevator is operational to this day.
If you’re pressed for time and decide not to tour the mansion, at least make sure to head to the overlook behind the mansion for the best views of downtown Portland.
The entire city lays before you, nestled into the demanding shadow of Mt. Hood. It’s a beautiful sight and one you would be remiss to skip.
Portland Viewpoint: Downtown Portland in Autumn from Pittock Mansion with Mt Hood in the distance
Best Portland Viewpoints (Post Summary)
In sum, here’s the best viewpoints in Portland:
- Pittock Mansion
- Washington Park & Portland Rose Garden
- The Portland Aerial Tram
- Mt. Tabor Park
- Council Crest Park
- Powell Butte
- Portland City Grill
- Eastbank Esplanade
- Overlook Park
Map of the best viewpoints in Portland
Love Portland? Here’s some articles you may find interesting
- 20 HONEST Pros & Cons of Living in Portland
- 25+ EPIC Things to Do in Portland (+4 Tourist Traps to Avoid)
- 12 Stunning Parks in Portland, Oregon
- 20 Interesting Facts About Portland You Probably Don’t Know
- 10 Epic Portland Viewpoints to Check Off Your List
- 10 Adventurous Day Trips from Portland
- 30 Weird, Free & Cheap Things to Do in Portland
- Let’s Talk: Portland, Oregon Vs. Portland, Maine
And there you have it, my friends. I hope you enjoyed this quick list of the best viewpoints in Portland. Let me know if you think I missed any spots, happy to add more to the list!
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Until next time,
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Mark Seibold says
Great article, and great advice on where to find all these famous viewpoints in the central region of Portland Oregon.
I’ve been photographing the city for most of my life since I was born here in August of 1954. I’ve also photographed the night sky often as an astronomer and I’ve also produced large pastel artwork from observations through my telescopic eyepieces, which has appeared in NASA websites for over a decade.
Mark Seibold says
I just read your beautiful article about viewpoints in Portland. I too have lived here for my entire life of over 66 years.
You’ve got some beautiful photographs here throughout the article. I was just thinking I go to the top of the Departure Restaurant rooftop bar quite often over the years and take a large panoramas with my medium grade Sony digital camera.
I just thought I’d show you a link to it which is in my DP Review Gallery, although all of my photography is also in my Facebook in over 235 albums. Much of my work is of the night sky as I am an astronomy photographer and artist.
I hope this message sends okay, because usually there’s a catch to get messages to send.
Thanks again for the great article, as I enjoyed it.
Now I cannot seem to copy-paste my DP Review Gallery link.
Antonina Pattiz says
Thank you for sharing your beautiful photography! The link goes to your facebook page. Also, big thank you for the kind words, I’m glad you enjoyed the article!
Great list! Any way you could add addresses for the GPS to these lovely places?
Traveling Cooking says
Good post . i love Portland!!
John Wells says
Very excited to visit your city, especially after reading this. Hope to find a room with a great view