See Portland from the Water

July 30, 2010 (Updated June 26, 2018)

See the city of Portland from a different point of view when you enjoy this adventure. This week, I’ll show you some cool ways to get around town on the river that runs through the heart of Oregon.

When the temperature soars, the line grows longer at Willamette Jet Boat Excursions along the Portland waterfront – but the wait must be worth it! Since 1997, Willamette Jet Boat Excursions has provided locals and newcomers alike the chance to see downtown Portland from a different point of view and experience a thrilling ride along the way.

It’s the sort of trip with appeal too! Nearly a quarter million folks have gone aboard over the past decade to touch a bit of history and get close to the power of a major waterway that’s born two hundred miles away in the Cascade Mountains.

But it’s not the only way to see the city from the river according to kayaking instructor and guide, Stephanie Levine. Levine works for the Portland Kayak Company; an outfitting company and tour operator that specializes in local trips for beginners who want to work a bit to see and enjoy Portland on the water. The two-hour paddle tour begins at River Place Marina and takes folks upriver to Ross Island on about a five-mile circumnavigation of the urban island. The boats are comfortable and easy to paddle – it doesn’t take long before you feel right at home in the boat and on the water.

Looking for a more spacious cruise? Join the The Portland Spirit for narrated sightseeing tours, buffet meals and live shows — ranging from kid-friendly holiday performances to late-night dancing. The Spirit’s sister vessel, the Columbia Gorge Sternwheeler, also runs cruises in Portland from November to April.

The rewards of the Willamette River – so close to a major metropolitan center – whether on your own or on a tour – is a remarkable and unmatched perspective to the place many of us call home.

About The
Author

Grant McOmie
Grant McOmie is a Pacific Northwest broadcast journalist, teacher and author who writes and produces stories and special programs about the people, places, outdoor activities and environmental issues of the Pacific Northwest. A fifth generation Oregon native, Grant’s roots run deepest in the central Oregon region near Prineville and Redmond where his family continues to live.

Trip Ideas

Ask Oregon

I’m staying in Portland for several days. What are some “don’t miss” places in and around the city?

Portland is surrounded by the beautiful ocean and the mountains, plus there are so many get restaurants and shops in the city that you would surely appreciate staying a few more days to explore the NW. Here are some suggestions: Get lost in Powell’s books, the largest new and used bookstore in the world. Go see…

More