Top 10 zany ways to spend a rainy day (or night) in Portland


While rumors of Portland's unrelenting, torrential rain have been greatly exaggerated (New Orleans averages over 62 inches yearly; Portland not even 40!), it's a fact that during the winter and into spring, you'll encounter the occasional (or even daily) cloudburst in Stumptown.

Not to worry. We've rounded up a passel of ways to get your weird on despite the drizzle.

Learn a little Portland history, a little culture

When in Rome, you know?

For example, did you know that Portland was almost named Boston? Wouldn't THAT have been confusing? (Admittedly, it's still a bit baffling that Maine and Oregon's largest cities are named Portland...).

The name was decided by the flip of a coin in 1845. You can see the "Portland Penny" on display at the Oregon Historical Society Museum, along with a wealth of other Portland historical and cultural trivia. Maybe you can discern when it became weird?

Hang out at the library (on vacation?)
Female student sitting on library floor at college campusHero Images

Zany? Well, at least this idea qualifies as unorthodox. Multnomah County (where Portland is located) boasts the second highest circulation of any public library in the country (New York's is No. 1). Translation: Portlanders read - a lot.

Ponder that statistic when you visit the majestic Central Library building (on the National Register of Historic Places) with its immense marble staircase, first floor gift shop and Popular Library reading room - and then browse more than 750,000 tomes.

Experience "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" (Portland-style)

If it's Saturday and it's still pouring at midnight, consider going to Clinton Street Theater to experience "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." CST has been screening this classic weekly since 1978 (yes, almost 40 years!). You will definitely want to check CST's web page about the show before heading out. You'll get a better idea of what to expect. For example, first and third Saturdays the Clinton Street Cabaret hosts, including a pre-show with "virgin games" and a live performance as the movie plays on the screen behind them. You can also find out what the theater considers "theater approved props."

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (minus kids plus alcohol)

Once a month, the iconic Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) sheds its grade-school-field-trip image and welcomes adults with OMSI After Dark, featuring beer, wine, food - and the run of the hands-on exhibits (without the interference of all of those little hands). These are hugely popular. Must be the geek factor?

Roller derby fun
Italy Roller Derby Photo GalleryGregorio Borgia/Associated Press

At least once a month - sometimes up to three times monthly - the all-female Rose City Rollers host a "bout" (game) at the hangar at Oaks Park. Two phrases are popular for first-timers: "Oh. My. God!" and "Are they allowed to that?"

Read the rules (Yes, there are rules!) before you go. Enjoy.

Escape room experience

There are no fewer than six of these work-together-to-escape-a-locked-room venues in Portland where you pay to be trapped in a room with up to 11 of your closest buds for an hour. Through clues and puzzles, you collectively solve the mystery, uncover the key and find freedom. Themes vary, from the American Revolution to a Zombie Apocalypse. Portland Escape Rooms has two locations and five themed rooms. (Note: May not be an ideal outing for the claustrophobic.)

Painting while drinking

All of the great painters drank a bit (or to excess), right? So it is fitting that this fad - businesses that offer drinking in tandem with painting instruction - has taken hold and not let go. There are at least a half dozen in the Portland area. Most partner with a local pub/bar for their classes; a few have their own studios.

Bottle and Bottega has its own spot, centrally located and, unlike the usual paint and sip offerings, hosts sessions at all times of the day. Even if you don't think you have a creative bone in your body, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Sober artistry?
Woman artist working at her studio desk paintingGetty Images

You could also try being creative WITHOUT alcohol. C'mon, give it a try. One option is Live Laugh Love Art in Tigard. During their open studio hours (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday), you can try your hand at glass fusing, create tiles, design your own coffee mug - and much more.

Go flying - sans airplane

Do you have recurring dreams that you can fly? You aren't the only one; apparently it's very common to possess this super power while sleeping.

Leave it to some enterprising individuals to allow those dreams of flight to come true. I Fly Indoor Sky Diving claims that they provide "the simulation of a true freefall condition in a vertical wind tunnel" where "the dream of flight becomes a reality." For a price, that is, starting at $69.95.

High flying dodgeball
Trampoline Park Safety
Rick Bowmer/AP

You're not exactly flying - but it feels like it, if only momentarily. Sky High Sports offers virtual trampoline rooms - floors and walls are, basically, made of flubber. The dodgeball courts are always open. Get in line.

Bonus zany tip: Take a float

No, not on the Sandy River (it's raining, remember?). We're talking about a float in a salt tank.

After all, traveling can be an exhausting endeavor. Maybe Portland weirdness has weirded you out. Or you just have tourism overload. The Float Shoppe promises 90 minutes of "complete peace and quiet, a total reprieve from the chaos and demands of the outside world."

Sign me up.

Marie Sherlock has resided in Portland, Oregon for three-plus decades during which time she practiced law, married, and then raised kids while writing, editing and authoring a parenting book. She knows, loves and embraces every inch of Portland's weirdness.