Portland Walking Tours

Questions and Answers

We've got to hand it to you. You're good. As hard as we try to address every conceivable issue on our website's tour pages, you're too smart. You always think of new things to ask!

So here's our best shot at answering your favorite questions.

General Questions

Do I have to make reservations, or can I just show up?

Because our tours regularly sell out, we work with tickets and not a reservation system. We strongly recommend that you buy tickets in advance as that is, essentially, your guaranteed reservation. Our tours are first-come, first-serve, so it is important to get your tickets in advance so that you can secure your spot. Call 503-774-4522 to buy tickets by phone or Click Here to buy tickets at our secure online ticketing system and take advantage of our limited time Web Specials.

If only two people show up, do you cancel the tour?

Nope. If two people show up, they get a very special treat - the undivided attention of their Resident Expert for two or more hours. Yippee!

What's the maximum number of people per tour?

Each tour is slightly different, but we limit each group to 12-16 guests so it's always small and intimate. That's a hallmark of our company - we promise a personal experience.

We keep these numbers low to ensure you the highest quality event. We appreciate your understanding for why we say you should not take the risk of attempting to just show up with buying tickets online or on the phone in advance since - by keeping our groups small and intimate - our walks regularly sell out.

Can people with wheelchairs or strollers go on these walks?

Only our "Best of Portland" walk is ADA accessible where we welcome wheelchairs, strollers, limited mobility devices, and pet dogs too. The leisurely pace of all of our tour is constantly adjusted to accommodate the speed of the entire group. Our tours and easy walks at a leisurely pace and all tours enjoy frequent stops along the way. There are no hills, steps, or steep inclines along the walk. However, pregnant women, elderly persons, and people who have medical concerns or trouble getting around should carefully consider their ability to travel these times and distances with a group. Additionally, some children under 3 may find the length of the walk challenging.

Are dogs allowed on your walking tours?

Our "Best of Portland" walking tour is the only tour that is "dog friendly." Pet Dogs are not allowed on any other tour unless they are certified assistance/service animals.

Even though we are all dog lovers here, we have heard rumors that there are a few people who are not. As such, we ask a few things of our employees when they have pet dogs on a tour. They should 1) attempt to establish their own comfort level with your pet; 2) assess the rest of the groups comfort level with your pet; and 3) Try to see if there are any allergies or phobias that other guests have with your dog.

As the dog handler, we ask that you follow these simple four rules:

  1. If there is any potential for incidents, our staff reserves the right to ask the dog and its handler to leave the tour anytime.
  2. Dogs are not allowed indoors.
  3. The handler must always be in control of the dog.
  4. Dogs must be friendly, well behaved, and on a leash.

Money, money

Do you take credit cards?

We accept VISA, Mastercard, America Express, and Discover credit cards online and in person. We also take cash at the start of the tour. We do not accept personal checks, money orders, or travelers checks.

What’s the difference between the regular price tour and the “Web Special” tour?

There's no difference in the tour - it's just a special price offered for that specific tour that you're welcome to take advantage of. We have noticed, however, that those who choose the "Web Special" price are better tippers.

Do you offer a discount for groups?

No, our group rate is the same as our single-ticket rate. Since we keep our tour sizes small and intimate, there's no economy of scale available for larger groups.

What's your cancellation policy?

Since we work with tickets and not with reservations, we do not have a cancellation policy. Our tours are an event with a specific date and time - just like a music concert or theatrical performance - and therefore tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

We started this policy in 2005 when our tours started selling out and we wanted to maintain smaller groups for a better experience. We are holding a limited amount of places and, when you buy a ticket, our system sells to you and prevents others from buying that same ticket. Unless you made a mistake during your purchase (and since our tours sell out on a regular basis), we hope that you can attend this event for the ticket you bought. If not, sell it to someone who can make it or just give it to a friend!

If it rains on my tour, can I get a refund?

No, sorry.

Our tickets are sold like concert or other event tickets. If the show goes on and you’re not there, well, you’ve missed it. Our tours, like the show, must go on, rain or shine. And they’re designed to minimize the discomfort you might experience in Portland’s drizzle, showers, misting, and all of the other dozen or so words we have for that four-letter one, “rain.”

Should we tip our guides?

Tipping and providing gratuities is customary for tour guides. Our staff is committed to providing you with the highest quality services available - with or without tips. If you feel you have just been on an exceptional tour, please feel free to supply any gratuity you feel adequately represents your satisfaction with tour. Just like a restaurant, 10%-20% is the usual range.

By the same token, if you are in any way displeased with your tour, please let someone know. Please call our office manager at 503.774.4522 or Click Here to submit an Inquiry so we can understand what happened.

When, where and how

How early should I arrive for my tour?

You must check-in before the start time of your tour. We suggest that you be at the starting place about 15 minutes in advance of the start time to meet your guide and show them your Ticket Voucher or tell them your Confirmation Code.

Make sure you give yourself ample time to walk, drive, and park. We start our tours on time and once the group starts walking, there is no way to catch up.

Where do tours start and how do I get there? What about parking?

Consult the following table for parking, MAX and bus information to all tour locations.

Tour Start Location Convenient Parking MAX & Streetcar Bus
Best of Portland 

Under Pioneer Square (701 SW 6th Ave at Yamhill St) at the Theater on the Square

SmartPark at 730 SW 10th & SW Yamhill

MAX Red/Blue/Yellow/Green lines to Pioneer Courthouse Square
Streetcar CL/NS lines 11th & Taylor or Central Library
#4, 31, 32 and 33 to SW Sixth & Taylor. OR #35, 36, 44, 54 & 99 to SW 6th and Salmon. OR #15 and 51 to SW Salmon & Park
Underground Portland 
Outside the historic Merchant Hotel building (131 NW 2nd Ave at NW Davis)
SmartPark at 33 NW Davis & NW 1st Red or Blue line to Old Town Chinatown or Yellow/Green lines to the NW 6th & Davis NW 5th & Couch # 4, 8, 12, 16, 19, 20, 35, 44, 77 all stop within two blocks
Beyond Bizarre Outside the historic Merchant Hotel building (131 NW 2nd Ave at NW Davis) SmartPark at 33 NW Davis & NW 1st Red or Blue line to Old Town Chinatown or Yellow/Green lines to the NW 6th & Davis / NW 5th & Couch # 4, 8, 12, 16, 19, 20, 35, 44, 77 all stop within two blocks
Epicurean Excursion

Under Pioneer Square (701 SW 6th Ave at Yamhill St) at the Theater on the Square

SmartPark at 730 SW 10th & SW Yamhill

MAX Red/Blue/Yellow/Green lines to Pioneer Courthouse Square
Streetcar CL/NS lines 11th & Taylor or Central Library

#4, 31, 32 and 33 to SW Sixth & Taylor, OR #35, 36, 44, 54 and 99 to SW 6th & Salmon, OR #15 and 51 to SW Salmon & Park
Chocolate Decadence

Under Pioneer Square (701 SW 6th Ave at Yamhill St) at the Theater on the Square

SmartPark at 730 SW 10th & SW Yamhill

MAX Red/Blue/Yellow/Green lines to Pioneer Courthouse Square
Streetcar CL/NS lines 11th & Taylor or Central Library

#4, 31, 32 and 33 to SW Sixth & Taylor, OR #35, 36, 44, 54 and 99 to SW 6th & Salmon, OR #15 and 51 to SW Salmon & Park
Flavor Street

Under Pioneer Square (701 SW 6th Ave at Yamhill St) at the Theater on the Square

SmartPark at 730 SW 10th & SW Yamhill

MAX Red/Blue/Yellow/Green lines to Pioneer Courthouse Square
Streetcar CL/NS lines 11th & Taylor or Central Library

#4, 31, 32 and 33 to SW Sixth & Taylor, OR #35, 36, 44, 54 and 99 to SW 6th & Salmon, OR #15 and 51 to SW Salmon & Park

Food Tours

Which eateries will we visit on the Epicurean Excursion, Flavor Street or Chocolate Decadence Tour?

We visit 7-9 locations on these tours - and they're different every time, depending on the availability of the vendor, day of the week, time of day, seasonality, and the food allergies/dietary restrictions of our guests. Plus we just like to mix it up, so you can come back again and enjoy a whole new set of tastes.

Is all the food and drink included in the price?

Yes!

Underground Portland

How much of the "Shanghai Tunnels" will we see?

No matter whose tour you go on in Portland, you cannot go into the tunnels. They’ve been shut down for over 40 years by the City for safety reasons. We will always take you to see what's left of the tunnels, but just not into any of them. Anyone who tells you they’re bringing you INTO the Shanghai Tunnels is, pure and simple, making that up. Sadly, decades and decades later, not even the Portland Water Bureau can get into any of the old tunnels.

On our tour, you’ll see what is purported to be (with some justification) entrances to the walled-off tunnels. You’ll get a pretty good idea of how cramped and skanky these tunnels were. You’ll become a quick study into the true practice of “crimping” (the real term for what is now called “Shanghaiing”) and get the real scoop on how useful those tunnels might have been for crimpers. And you'll see some other underground areas that are, well, not tunnels, no matter what anyone tells you. And we'll show you why we know this and how the Oregon Historial Society understands them as well. (You'll feel pretty smart, once you're in on this little secret.)

If I want to see the "Shanghai Tunnels," what's the best tour to take?

Because the "Shanghai Tunnels" topic is so popular, both the Underground Portland and the Beyond Bizarre tours cover them and can give you a glimpse into what remains of Portland's tunnels. The Underground Portland tour focuses on it more, but from an historical perspective, separating fact from fiction. The Beyond Bizarre Tour focuses on its paranormal past and let's you possibly meet up with a resident spirit down there known as "Nina."

Beyond Bizarre

Will we see ghosts on the Beyond Bizarre Tour?

If you can see ghosts – then most likely, you will see them on the Beyond Bizarre tour.

Those of us who don’t have the gift… not.

Is there a lot of overlap between the Underground Portland tour and Beyond Bizarre?

Very little. While there are a few physical locations that overlap, the content of the tour at those and other locations is very different. The Underground Tour focuses on Portland's seedy, greedy, corrupt past (and present); the Beyond Bizarre tour is a hands-on ghost-hunting experience. All of the stories as well as the themes of the tour are very different. Many people enjoy both tours, even in the same day.

Groups

Do you offer team building activities?

Yes! While any of our walking tours make for a great opportunity for groups to get out, mingle and have fun exploring all the different things Portland has to offer, if your group, company, or organization is looking for something just a little bit more challenging, we're now offering scavenger hunts!

These aren't your normal run-of-the-mill scavenger hunts that you remember as a kid, where you run around and check items off a list. Not at all! Instead of a typical "grab and go" scavenger hunt, Portland Walking Tours' Scavenger Hunts provide teams with tricky and humorous questions, combined with quizzical "missions" to be accomplished. Some questions are logistical, while others engage the abstract thinkers or artistic members of the group. Each team must rely on the unique talents of teammates to solve riddles that lead to new clues and locations.

Visit our website to find out more.

Do you offer private tours?

You betcha! All of our regular tours are available for private groups, plus a few others besides. Just call us at (503) 774-4522 or check out our group tours page.

Do you have walks specifically for children?

We go out of the way to offer family-friendly walks and children regularly go and love it!

With the exception of our School Field Trips, we currently do not have any tours specifically for children, but all of our "Best of Portland" and "Beyond Bizarre" (7 p.m. not the 10 p.m. over-18 version) are family-friendly and great for children of all ages. We consider our "Underground Portland" to be rated PG-13 and is not recommended for kids. Generally speaking, some children under 3 may find the length of walking tours challenging.

Got any more questions?

Still don't have an answer to your question? Submit it here or call us at (503) 774-4522. We'll get right on it!