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6 Weird Things to Do in Portland

Posted by 
Diana Bernardo
Diana Bernardo
 29 days ago
Janne Simoes/Unsplash

“Keep Portland weird”, they say.

That’s exactly what the creators of these experiences accomplished. In a city that is well known for its quirkiness, we set out to discover some of the weirdest activities you can do. Here is what we found.

Voodoo Doughnut and Wedding Chapel

Why would a doughnut shop be on a list of weird places to visit?

Because here you can do much more than eating pastries! For example… getting married. Legally. You can invite up to 50 people to celebrate your love amongst fried deliciousness, with a variety of fillings and topics. Certainly, a much cheaper option for a wedding cake than the traditional one.

However, if if you are not craving for a wedding, you can still step in and try the doughnuts, no strings attached. Alternatively, order online from the shop’s website.

Shanghai Tunnels

From the mid 19th to mid 20th century, Portland’s ports were considered to be some of the most dangerous in the world, and certainly were some of the busiest.

Under the city, there is an intricate system of tunnels that were used to keep ships’ supplies safe. But while the goods were safe, many people were not. Or so goes the legend…

It is said that these tunnels were also used to trap abled men, who were then sold to the ships to be slaves at sea. Women were also captured and taken to prostitution schemes. The capturing of these people was commonly known as “Shanghaiing”. 

Whether it is true or not, the tunnels still make for a weird, interesting visit in Portland. You can access them in a guided tour as, for example, this one.

Freakybuttrue Peculiarium

In the words of its creator, Conrad Elwood, the Peculiarium is “a store dedicated to learning and terror”. 

Inside, visitors can discover “interactive displays for all six senses, including retro candies, toys, novelties, gags, books, original artwork, tricks one-of-a-kind oddities, ephemera and more”. 

Photos are allowed and even encouraged and there are great places to take selfies that will certainly cause an impact on social media.

Admission costs $5 but it is free if you go in a costume or take your pet with you. A good place to walk your dog one of these days, huh?

You can learn more about it on the Peculiarium website.

Collins Beach UFO Boat

Is it a boat? Is it a UFO? It’s both, plus an art installation, as it is completely covered in graffiti. 

This abandoned shipwreck has the shape of a UFO and is tucked amongst the trees nearby Collins Beach, in Oregon’s Sauvie Island, north of Portland. 

After years of abandonment and no maintenance at all, the UFO boat is not a safe place to enter. But you can still admire its weirdness from the outside.

Sauvie Island is a great place for a day trip, and you can enjoy some outdoorsy activities, like hiking, bird-watching or simply lying down on the beach.

The Witch’s Castle

Interestingly, this castle has no connection to any witches. But its history is still pretty terrifying… The land where it was built was acquired in the mid-1800s by a man called Danford Balch, who is said to have shot on the face the man who eloped with his daughter. Balch was arrested but managed to escape, only to be caught again and executed, in the first legal execution in Oregon.

Later on, in the 1930s, a structure was built to be used as a toilet for hikers. However, it was badly damaged during a storm in 1962 and left to slowly degrade. 

In the 1980s, high school students found the ruins of the old bathrooms and started using them as a spot for gatherings and parties, having baptized it “The Witch's Castle”. 

The Wishing Tree

This tree grows on the corner of Northeast Morris Street and 7th Avenue but, instead of being covered in leaves, it is covered in wishes. 

The wishing tree was born when Nicole Helprin wrote some wishes and hung them on a tree growing in her garden. Then, she left for a trip. When she returned, the tree was covered in wishes that other people had left. Which stick on the tree a note that read “This is a wishing tree. Please find a blank tag. Write your wish *for you, a loved one, the neighborhood, etc.)”.

While this tree is not exactly a weird thing, some of the wishes you will read there are. As, for example, this one: “I am wishing for golden threads and a year full of crepes”.

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