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Portland, Oregon

Portland-Oregon

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

4

Total Stars:

8.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Broad appeal, especially to those with Venturesome leanings

Did you know…?

  • Portland got its name based on a coin toss. The name that lost? Boston.
  • Powell’s City of Books is the world’s largest independent bookstore.
  • Mill Ends Park is the world’s smallest dedicated park, a circle 24 inches across.
  • In Portland, the visitor is never more than 15 minutes from a craft brewery.
  • More than 5,000 Portland residents commute to work by bicycle (2000 census).

Going green

Portland is known for its parks and its roses, its proximity to some of Mother Nature’s finest works (Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens are visible to the east), access to Willamette Valley wineries, the plethora of in-town craft breweries — and tea shops, of all things.

Portland is not about glitz; visitors come because they like the lifestyle represented by mountains and rivers, by the focus on well-done food and drink. More and more, they appreciate something else: Portland is a leader in environmentally driven public policy. As a result, the city is exceptionally friendly to pedestrians, bicycles and public transport.

Oregon’s most important city sits in the rich Willamette Valley in the northwestern part of the state. It is 78 miles from the Pacific Ocean and still closer (about 50 miles) to Mount Hood and a mere 14 miles from the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. It is the state’s largest city, but small by some standards: around 600,000, within a total metropolitan area of approximately 2.3 million people.

The rich valley referred to above supports numerous wineries. It also supports 14 varieties of hops plus two-row barley, the preferred barley for quality craft beers. In addition, proximity to Mount Hood translates into pure glacial water used in beer making — and running through Portland taps, besides. These things explain the city’s claim to be the world’s beer capital.

Portlanders tend numerous flower gardens, earning for the city the label City of Roses. Portland counts 288 public parks; the greater metro area has set aside 37,000 acres of parkland.

Portlanders recycle more of their waste than any other U.S. city. Portland also encourages use of public transportation and bicycles. Within a 330-block downtown area, transportation is free on all light-rail trains, buses, trolleys and streetcars. In addition, cyclists can take bikes on trains; buses have bike racks, and the city maintains racks on the streets. There are hundreds of miles of bikeways, bicycle boulevards and bike lanes.

Temperatures are mild, but Portland can be rainy. The best time to visit, to avoid rain, is summer and early fall.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Schedule your visit to attend the largest of the city’s beer blasts, the Oregon Brewers Festival, at the end of July. If that is not convenient, the city hosts several smaller beer events each year.
  • Participate in the Providence Bridge Pedal, which takes you by bike across all 10 of the city’s bridges (36 miles). Alternatives include eight bridges (24 miles) or six bridges (14 miles). At the same time, walkers can participate in the Providence Bridge Stride, a five-mile route that crosses two bridges.
  • Be cool. Attend the Portland Jazz Festival in February. Or, make that the Waterfront Blues Festival in July.
  • Head to Old Town/Chinatown, a lively arts and entertainment area and site of the city’s best music spots and comedy clubs. Or, consider the bohemian Hawthorne district where nightlife can be grittier.
  • Arrange for a ghost tour in the Old Town/Chinatown area. See the Portland Underground which refers to tunnels used by unsavory men who shanghaied unsuspecting victims.  Then, eat at the Old Town Pizza Co., which has trap doors in the floor of its 1880s building, doors that lead to the Portland Underground. The above-the-tunnels site evokes another aspect of the past, with velvet couches, fringed lampshades and a grand saloon bar.
  • Go climbing, or depending on season, go skiing or snowboarding on Mount Hood, about 50 miles out of Portland. You can ski at night, too.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Sample as many of the unique craft beers as you can work into your schedule. There are three dozen or more craft breweries in the metro Portland area.
  • Hop on Portland’s public transportation system and see the neighborhoods. Stroll the bohemian Hawthorne or the more upscale Pearl district, an area with a past — as an industrial section of town. Then shop in Nob Hill/Northwest, an area with scores of both whimsical and sophisticated boutiques.
  • Fill up at the Bite of Oregon, an August foodfest on the Portland waterfront. More than two dozen restaurants offer tastes of Oregon to thousands. Other foodfests are a little more focused: the garlic and crawfish events in August and the sauerkraut fest in September.  Not enough choices? The Portland Farmers Market stages a host of special events, including a Berry Festival, a Great Pumpkin event, Summer Loaf Festival and TomatoFest.
  • Tour a winery or two, and visit the tasting rooms. Portland is a 30-minute drive from Willamette Valley wine country. If you time it right, your tasting can coincide with the valley’s July International Pinot Noir Celebration.
  • Sit in on the taping of Live Wire, a two-hour variety show that airs on radio station KOBP-FM. Recalling radio arts of earlier days, actors from the Faces for Radio Theater create the sound effects and play multiple roles in spoofs of radio dramas and commercials.
  • Strap yourself into a smoke jumper’s harness for a parachute jump into a forest fire. Well, that would be a mock jump at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, which offers a raft of interactive exhibits meant to accomplish a key goal, illustrating the importance of forests to our lives.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take tea at the Tower of Cosmic Reflections Teahouse at the Portland Classical Chinese Garden. Or, if you are as passionate about tea as many Portlanders, make a day of it, hopping from tea shop to tea shop to sample the variety available in the city.
  • Choose your flower and come to town for a festival. Choices include tulips, roses and the nearby Hood River Blossom Fest in April, featuring fruit trees in full bloom.
  • Take a lunch or dinner cruise aboard the Portland Spirit. Or, come aboard for a Saturday moonlight dance cruise. Alternatively, take a brunch or dinner cruise aboard Sternwheeler Rose, a working paddle wheeler.
  • Plan a trip to coincide with a food or wine event, or both. Choose the February Oregon Seafood & Wine Festival or the Portland Indie Wine Festival in May, the latter featuring only the products of the state’s smaller wineries.
  • Go to the theater. There are plenty of choices, beginning with the regional Portland Center Stage. Or consider the Miracle Theater Group for a Hispanic focus, or Imago, a small troupe that combines mime, movement and visual illusion to create its performances.
  • Visit a museum that is a museum piece itself. The Oregon Maritime Center & Museum is housed aboard the sternwheeler tugboat Portland on the Willamette River. This steam-powered vessel formerly guided ocean-going ships into Portland and was used as a location in the movie, “Maverick.”

Additional Resources

For more information, consult Travel Portland at www.travelportland.com.