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The Ultimate Guide to an Accessible Weekend in Portland
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The Ultimate Guide to an Accessible Weekend in Portland

Portland, Oregon, has quickly become a city known for its abundance of quirky, cool, and hip hangout spots. Although it’s a city on the smaller size, it has a huge reputation as a cosmopolitan hub of food, art, and culture. There is plenty to do and see in Portland for folks of all abilities. Here is a list of some of the best accessible things to do and see in this awesome city.

Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful canyon along the Columbia River that separates the states of Washington and Oregon. It’s known for its abundance of overlooks and amazing waterfalls, with over 90 on the Oregon side of the Gorge. It’s a popular destination for all kinds of outdoor and water activities. Although not all of the Gorge is wheelchair accessible, there are a good number of spots that are. Horsetail Falls and Multnomah Falls are two of the popular waterfalls that are accessible for those using mobility devices.  

Mount Tabor

Mount Tabor, a now dormant volcanic vent, is another popular outdoor destination near Portland that accommodates folks of all abilities. There are areas of Mount Tabor that are paved and easily traversable for wheelchair users. Many of these paved paths lead to gorgeous views of the Portland skyline and the mountainous backdrop behind it. There are also accessible picnic areas and restrooms if needed. Be sure to check this spot out in the fall for the best views!

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

If you’re an aviation aficionado, or just want to check out some really cool air and space crafts, the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. It’s very accessible, with wheelchair ramps and elevators located conveniently throughout the building. There are also free wheelchairs and scooters for use on a first come first serve basis. This Museum is home to some of history's wildest and most impressive air and space crafts.

Lan Su Chinese Garden

The Lan Su Chinese Garden, a walled garden influenced by the famous classical gardens in Suzhou, is located in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood of Portland. Its big, taking up about an entire city block. Lan Su is an incredibly serene and peaceful space and has dedicated pathways throughout the entire garden for those with limited mobility. Here you can learn and appreciate a lot about Chinese art and culture. Over 90% of the plants there are indigenous to China and many of the structures reflect specific historical periods and styles of Chinese architecture.

The Portland Farmers Market

The Portland Farmers Market at Portland State University is another great and accessible space that showcases Portland’s rich and dense food and artisan cultures. At any one time, there are up to 140 vendors filling the stalls at the market, but well over 200 come and go throughout the year. The market also features tons of other fun attractions, like chef demonstrations, live music, and food education events.

Portland Art Museum

Despite being a smaller city, Portland has come to garner a reputation for itself as a hub of creativity and artistic expression. Taking a trip to the Portland Art Museum, which has been around since 1892, is the perfect way to get a feel for the artistic pulse of the city. Along with local art, the Museum features exhibits from nationally and internationally renowned artists. All exhibits and galleries are easily accessible to those with limited mobility.

Powell’s City of Books

Powell’s City of Books is a legendary bookstore chain in Portland. It represents one of the city’s major cultural institutions, boasting the title of the largest used and new bookstore in the world. It has become a must-see destination for out-of-towners as well as an important hangout spots for Portlanders.

This Portland staple is also located in the fantastic Pearl District. Designed by ZGF Architects, the Pearl District is considered the gold standard of a successful live-work-play neighborhood, featuring lively streets, parks, and art galleries. A trip down to this lovely neighborhood is sure to keep you busy for hours.

Happy Hour at Portland City Grill

After a full day of exploring the city, why not chill out for a bit and enjoy some food and drinks? Portland City Grill is a crowd favorite and has the benefit of being accessible to those who use mobility devices. Located on the 30th floor of a downtown building, it’s a simple elevator ride up from the lobby to some delicious food and amazing views.

Oregon Zoo

Last on the list is the Oregon Zoo, an incredible place that is accessible to people of all abilities—with all the pathways, restaurants, exhibits, and restrooms being ADA compliant. The Oregon Zoo is home to plants and animals from every corner of the globe. They even have a Penguinarium (an aquarium for penguins!) as well as an insect zoo. On top of all that, the Oregon Zoo routinely hosts summer concerts and festivals, with major artists like The Roots and Billy Idol gracing their summer lineups!

A trip to Portland is sure to leave every visitor with memories to last a lifetime. The city’s unique combination of fun, lively culture and natural outdoor beauty make for an extremely one-of-a-kind experience. Make sure to visit any of the places on this list for the ultimate accessible vacation in Portland.

Image credit: Photo by Leslie Holder on Unsplash

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