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What to See and Do in Portland – a guide to notable attractions and landmarks

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It may be a mecca of hipster and urban cool, but Portland also has an enviable position close to the natural beauty of the Oregon countryside, and is surrounded by areas of national forest land. The city is split in two by the Willamette River, with downtown parks, museums, and art galleries that show off the city's cultural side, and plenty of outdoor attractions where you can appreciate the changing seasons.



Inside the ultra-modern, glass-fronted Oregon Museum of Science & Industry, you'll find a complex dedicated to technology, and full of interactive exhibitions for all ages. From the starry dome of the planetarium to guided tours of a fast-attack submarine, the museum is a unique attraction that's bound to bring out your curious side. There's a vast movie theater showing mind-expanding educational films, as well as Hollywood blockbusters, and there's also a program of events where kids can try out their own messy science experiments.


Oregon Zoo



Oregon Zoo is set over 60 acres of land, with many spacious habitats that help the different exotic species feel at home. You'll see elephants lazing around the swimming hole, spot snakes and lizards hiding amid the grass in the simulated Amazonian rainforest, or watch monkeys swinging through the trees. For sheer cuteness overload, you've got to check out the waddling penguins, while lovers of stranger beasts will be fascinated by the Visayan warty pigs and Malayan sun bears.


Portland Art Museum



The Portland Art Museum is housed in a late 19th century red brick building, and boasts an eclectic collection of artworks. You'll find traditional works – think oil paintings in gilded frames – but there's also a strong focus on the contemporary and cutting edge, with exhibitions featuring graphic designs, photography, and challenging modern art. From Asian to Native American works, there are permanent and visiting exhibits from around the world, as well as lectures and screenings where you can gain an in-depth insight into the various masterpieces.


Crystal Ballroom



The grand, Romanesque revival architecture of the Crystal Ballroom made it the perfect spot for live jazz and dancing into the night during the 1920s, and nowadays the iconic venue has a wider choice of music, from rock bands to pop acts. With high ceilings decorated with chandeliers, and dramatic arch windows, there's an intimate feel to the venue. There's even a mechanically mobile "floating" dance floor that makes visitors feel like they're hovering on a cloud.