Originally built in the 1980s on the site of a former parking garage, Pioneer Square is centrally located, and covers a full city block. The square is named for the nearby Pioneer Courthouse. This National Historic Landmark dates to 1875 and is Oregon's home of the US Court of Appeals.
Strolling through the square you find tiered seating and a popular coffee shop, with numerous events on offer throughout the year. You can swing by independently, or take the guesswork out of getting around with a guided tour. Many Portland sightseeing tours stop here, and even quirky options—like scavenger hunts—often take you through this central destination.
Things to know before you go
- Dine alfresco at one of the square's reasonably priced food carts.
- This is a prime people-watching destination where you can get a sense of Portland's culture; you may encounter street musicians and the occasional panhandler.
- The square has a weathervane sculpture, chess tables, and a TriMet ticket office.
How to get there
Pioneer Square is situated in Downtown Portland, and it's easy to access by public transit, on a guided tour, or with your own two feet. You can avoid the hassle of navigating with a hop-on hop-off bus tour, and if you don't mind the train, try Portland's MAX light rail service. Transit stops on the north and south sides of the square offer Red Line and Blue Line access.
When to get there
There's really no bad time to visit. It's often busiest here in the summer, when you find concerts, food festivals, and the energetic vibes Pioneer Square is known for. Over the winter months, you can enjoy the Christmas tree lighting. Even if you're not visiting for a special event, stop by anytime while exploring downtown, or if you need to catch public transit.
What to Do in Downtown Portland
Within a short walk of Pioneer Square you can find several destinations to make the most of your time downtown. Shoppers enjoy retail therapy at Nordstrom, history fans can tour the Pioneer Courthouse, and art enthusiasts should head to the Portland Art Museum. If you have a sweet tooth, don't miss the confections at Voodoo Doughnut, or pick up your next favorite paperback at Powell's City of Books.
- Portland Art Museum
- Powell’s City of Books
- Portland Chinatown
- South Park Blocks
- Portland Steel Bridge
- Portland Pearl District
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
- Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)
- Oregon Rail Heritage Center (ORHC)
- International Rose Test Garden
- Portland Japanese Garden
- Hoyt Arboretum
- Pittock Mansion
- Oregon Zoo
- North Mississippi Avenue