Portland, OR

Destination Location

  • 45.523062, -122.676482:primary
  • 45.523425, -122.676531:secondary

Overview

Thinking about visiting Portland? That's odd. We were just thinking you should go, too. Portland's history of liberally upholding civil rights and pushing free speech boundaries; high saturation of characters, musicians and artists; and its smattering of unique venues and events has earned it a reputation as a curious spot with a one-of-a-kind personality. Deservedly, the colourful city's unofficial slogan is, "Keep Portland Weird."

Portland's green space and green planning make it an ideal spot for getting around without a car. Many parks, as well as a highly-touted public transit system, help visitors get around the eco-friendly city with ease and pleasure. It is considered one of the most environmentally friendly cities on the planet and the city's planning department is consistently recognized for their work preserving and integrating the Pacific Northwest's beauty. Portland has long been referred to as The Rose City due to the favourable flower-growing conditions.

Portland has more microbreweries (53) than any other city on the planet. Pair that with the great beer fests, beer-friendly movie theatres, and historic drinking spots, and you'll get a good idea of why one of Portland's nicknames is Beervana.

If you are worried about having a beer on an empty stomach, don't be. Portland's rising culinary scene fills its pantries with local fish, fruits and vegetables and has several nationally-recognized restaurants ranging from greasy spoons to fine dining. Numerous food carts roam the city's roads offering up a wide range of tasty sidewalk treats. Also known for artisanal coffees, you may want to top off your meal at one of Portland's eccentric cafes.

Numerous bicycle rental spots and dedicated bike lanes make it easy to burn off any extra baggage you have picked up before your flight home. You will find a variety of activities to ride to, including music shows, museums, festivals, sporting events and eclectic shopping (there's zero sales tax). Local markets and shopping arcades are filled with hand-crafted goods, art and clothing from Portland-based artists and entrepreneurs. The city also holds claim to the world's largest new and used bookstore, covering an entire city block.

Portland lies at the end of the Oregon Trail and is surrounded by several natural wonders worth visiting including the Columbia River Gorge, Mount Hood and the public beaches of the Pacific Coast.

Come with an open mind and you just might find yourself returning to Portland again and again.

Destination basics

Portland's climate is generally quite pleasant, but bring your umbrella just in case. The weather is tempered by the nearby Pacific Ocean and is typically warm, when it isn’t raining. Snow is rare and locals aren’t shy about busting out summer clothing if the sun comes out in the wintertime, even when it's chilly.

Weather Chart

When the folks in Bridgetown congregate at one of their many waterfront festivals, amazing things can be found in the center of the throng. Booths and tents dispense steaming fragrant coffees, wines are offered from a valley so rich and perfect, it rivals the finest vineyards of France, and there are fun takes on old food favorites. Microbrew, a craft this town almost single-handedly made popular in the U.S. is much more than simple beer, it is beer with a pedigree. No matter what brings you to Puddletown, do not leave without sampling at least one or two of the following suggested establishments. With more restaurants per capita than nearly any other city in the United States, you simply cannot say you have been to Portland without enjoying a taste.

Downtown
To experience Portland's freshest seafood, make a reservation at Jake's Famous Crawfish, which has not changed much since opening in 1892. Savor a few pre-dinner drinks in the lively bar, then settle into a roomy mahogany booth and be pampered for a while. Those with refined tastes will enjoy the upscale setting at the Harborside Pilsner Room. Any of the three bars in the Heathman Hotel are perfect for an intimate evening. There are many more fabulous music and drinking venues, including Berbati's Pan.

Another excellent Downtown reservation is Pazzo Ristorante. As the name tells you, the food is Italian and so is the atmosphere, with overhead bouquets of garlic and candlelit tables. For cocktails, do not miss the lobby bar in the Benson Hotel. Drinking doesn't get more civilized than this. Other sterling Downtown choices include Typhoon! On Broadway, Dan and Louis Oyster Bar and Saucebox. Do not miss the dim sum served daily at restaurants in Chinatown. If you like your coffee with more kick than mere caffeine can provide, head over to Huber's, Portland's oldest restaurant, where a delightful wait staff will serve you all the Spanish coffee you desire.

Northwest & Nob Hill
Northwest Portland, the heart of which is called the Pearl District, begins at Burnside Street and is extremely easy to navigate. The area is loaded with the trendiest, most daring restaurants in town, most located in renovated, turn-of-the-century homes or warehouses. When a former trendy Northwest restaurant closed its doors, the owner of Bluehour was quick to assuage the loss with an upscale restaurant worthy of local buzz. The coffee shop with a funny name, Anna Bannanas, is a relaxing place to grab a good cup of joe. A relative newcomer, Paley's Place is one of the spots to be seen. Chef Vitaly Paley has put his special mark on Northwest cuisine with a creative menu that speaks to the season. Memorable dishes include Pacific Rock Cod with Truffle Potato Puree.

On 21st Avenue, savor the lovely decor and delicate crab cakes at Wildwood. There is no shortage of microbrew choices in Portland, and there are even more places to find the brew of your choice. Any McMenamins Pub, right down to the basic McMenamins Tavern, will do nicely, and there is bound to be one within a mile or two. Kells is another great choice, offering a bounty for Scotch whiskey aficionados.

Eastside

Visit the tiny dining room at Genoa and choose from four- or seven-course meals. Linger over fresh-baked bread, marinated salad, soup, a delectable entree and dessert. It is darkly romantic and delicious. For a genuine pub experience, get involved in the extremely colorful atmosphere of the Horse Brass Pub.

Portland is an eclectic city, where sophisticated and alternative styles coexist peacefully. It is known for its friendliness, rich culture and variety of outdoor pursuits. A temperate climate, thriving economy and close proximity to both the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains are among the many reasons Portland has garnered high rankings on multiple "Most Livable City" lists.

Downtown
To avoid parking problems in the bustling Downtown District, hop on a Tri-Met bus in "Fareless Square." Often called the “living room of the city,” centrally located Pioneer Courthouse Square is the scene of numerous cultural events. Major department and specialty stores are concentrated within surrounding blocks. With a decidedly urban flavor covering 36 acres, Portland State University (PSU) provides definitive education and culture. The tree-lined South Park Blocks offer a pleasant stroll to the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Historical Society. Just steps away, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts hosts more than a million guests annually.

Multnomah
Just south of Downtown, this area is bursting with history. Locals enjoy tasty cuisine and friendly conversation at Marco's Cafe and Espresso Bar. The main street, with its book, gift and curiosity shops, could pass for a movie set. Focusing on classes in the arts, the Multnomah Art Center is considered the neighborhood anchor.

Waterfront
Fed by mountain snows and rain, the Willamette River separates the east and west sides of the city. Tours of Portland's unique and beautiful bridges are offered weekly. Still in Downtown, the River Place Hotel offers accommodations along the picturesque waterfront. Depending on the season, you might see dragon boats, cruise ships and more. Military ships arrive every June for the Rose Festival.

Old Town
Remnants of this area's colorful past can be seen above and below ground. Film companies often use this district's 19th century architecture as a backdrop. An underground system of tunnels is the subject of tours.

Chinatown
A pair of lions stand guard at the entrance of Portland's Chinatown. In the spring, sidewalk entrances to Chinese restaurants are sprinkled with the pink petals of flowering trees. The newer Classical Chinese Garden further cements China's place in the region. Along the Waterfront of Old Town, visit the Japanese-American Historical Plaza.

Northwest
Locals refer to this district as 23rd: the trendy street that emits a cool appeal. Sidewalk diners and espresso sippers watch the parade of shoppers who walk along searching for treasures or who simply want to be seen. Several excellent restaurants and upscale shops call the Northwest home. The area is also home of PGE Park and the new Portland Beavers baseball team.

The Pearl District
Buildings that once served the city's industrial needs are steadily being converted into hip urban living spaces. With homes above and retail businesses at street level, these efficient multi-use spaces fill up quickly. The Pearl District is an artist's haven and home to many reputable companies. Galleries are everywhere, and they open their doors on the First Thursday of each month, offering the public a glimpse into the vibrancy of local creativity.

Sellwood
An antique lover's nirvana, Sellwood is home to many shops selling collectibles. Oaks Park is nearby, on the water's edge. Oaks Skating Rink and renowned pipe organ have entertained generations of Portlanders. Children adore the Oaks Amusement Park carnival rides, and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge provides the perfect spot to watch a variety of birds.

Convention Center Area
This area is located on the East Side of the river, across from Downtown, and is the hub of the city's trade and sports shows. The Rose Garden Arena is home to the Portland Trailblazers NBA basketball team and also serves as a venue for other sporting events and concerts. The Memorial Coliseum provides a smaller, more intimate setting for the city's needs. Something happens every day of the week at the Convention Center, and its central location offers attendees numerous choices in lodging, restaurants and attractions. Nearby Lloyd Center Mall boasts more than 200 stores, ice skating at the Ice Chalet, a movie theater and food court. There are numerous interesting shops and restaurants located just outside the mall on Broadway. Travel a little farther south to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), a popular interactive science museum.

Hawthorne District
In the shadow of a volcano, shop for vintage clothing, sip a local micro brew, or savor the flavors of everything from vegan fare to Coney Island hot dogs. This neighborhood's eclectic aura defies exact definition. Going east on Hawthorne Boulevard, visitors will discover Mount Tabor Park, named for an extinct volcano. Nearby Laurelhurst Park is a great place to enjoy a romantic stroll or feed the ducks.

Strolling around Downtown Portland can be entertaining in itself, with tons of culture pouring out of every corner. You will find a festival, event or performance every week of the year: a ballet theater that impressed New York critics, an NBA team, more than 70 galleries, a thriving local music scene and more. Finding entertainment in Portland is never a problem and with each choice you get to learn a little more about the city.

Festivals
The mother of all Portland festivals, the Rose Festival at Waterfront Village is still going strong. The Grand Floral Parade is by far the most famous attraction, but children also love the Waterfront Village amusement park at Waterfront Park. During Fleet Week,also at Waterfront Park, you can tour numerous U.S. and Canadian Navy ships.

No trip to Portland is complete without visiting the Saturday Market. You are sure to find something to pique your interest with more than 300 booths of unique art, crafts and gadgets. For more than 20 years, this seasonal outdoor market has featured handmade items and tasty treats. The street performers and characters that assemble here provide the ultimate show, so grab some falafel, settle down by Skidmore Fountain and enjoy.

Three stages featuring the greatest names in jazz and more than 30 hours of music are offered at the Mount Hood Jazz Festival at Mt. Hood.

The Bite, Cinco de Mayo and July's Oregon Microbrewery Festival are held annually at Waterfront Park. Autumn's most popular Oktoberfest celebration takes place in the little Bavarian town of Mount Angel. Look in Friday's Arts & Entertainment section of The Oregonian for the week's scheduled hoopla.

Museums & Galleries
Stand in the heart of Downtown Portland and glance around you. You'll find beautiful fountains form graceful arcs set against some of the nation's best architecture. A street musician may serenade you as you step off the MAX, holding tickets to a Broadway musical. Portland is an art haven and its nurturing environment has inspired countless creative minds.

To explore Portland's more inspired side, start with the Portland Art Museum (PAM). This museum has been a big stop for much tourist admiration, and you can enjoy everything from Native American artifacts to modern art.  

Peek at PAM's wilder sister, the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), in a newer building on Northwest 12th Avenue. PICA is the place for the very latest in art, music and theater, especially the avant-garde. To sample the hottest portions of Portland's visual arts scene, visit one of the many local galleries. Look into the First Thursday and Last Thursday gallery walks.

Theater
If you like your art a little livelier, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts should be your next stop. This series of great venues includes the famous Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, or “The Schnitz,” as locals like to call it. This opulent, historic theater is home to the Oregon Symphony. The Keller Auditorium houses the Oregon Ballet Theater, the Portland Opera and various touring Broadway plays.

More intimate theater experiences are available from Portland's own professional company, Portland Center Stage, as well as Stark Raving Theatre and others.

The music scene cooks in Rip City, and you must not overlook the newly restored Crystal Ballroom with its floating dance floor. For really big names, only the Rose Garden, home of the Portland Trailblazers, will do.

Nature
Take a drive up to 100 year old Washington Park and explore the famed International Rose Test Garden and Japanese Garden. The views of Downtown and Mount Hood will leave you speechless. The Oregon Zoo features outdoor concerts, a zoo railroad and hundreds of animals. With all of the area highlights, including the World Forestry Center and Hoyt Arboretum, you will have no trouble finding something to your liking here.

Another Portland attraction that turns locals into tourists is the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), across the river from Washington Park. OMSI features changing interactive science exhibits, Omnimax Theater laser, adventure shows and a submarine in the Willamette River.

Popular day trip attractions include touring the Mount Hood/Columbia Gorge Loop, where the beauty of the great Columbia River is matched by a series of waterfalls. You can check out Multnomah Falls, the Bonneville Dam and Timberline Lodge. Visit the beautiful coastline while you are here. Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach is particularly memorable, and you will see a part of Oregon that is often overlooked.

This barely scratches the surface of Portland's entertainment scene. The wine country is located just minutes southwest of town, local clubs with thousands of hopeful artists are ready to entertain you and limitless outdoor recreational opportunities are available. You will find many local cinemas as well, including the wonderful Mission Theater and Pub. Comedy clubs like Harvey's provide outrageous entertainment.

Highbrow to storefront, street theater to mountaintop, Portland has it all.

Portland

State: Oregon

Country: United States

Portland By The Numbers
Population: 632,309 (city); 2,389,228 (metropolitan area)
Elevation: 50 feet / 15.2 meters
Average Annual Rainfall: 36 inches / 91.4 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 4.3 inches / 10.9 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 41.5°F / 5.3°C
Average July Temperature: 74°F / 23.3°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-8

Country Dialing Code: +1

Area Codes: 503, 971

Did You Know?
Portland is home to the smallest park in the world, Mill Ends Park, measuring in at only 2.5 feet in diameter.

Portland’s favorite independent book store is also the world’s largest, Powell’s City of Books, which takes up an entire city block.

Orientation
Portland is located on the Columbia River in the center of the western portion of Oregon. The city is about 145 miles (233 kilometers) south of Seattle, Washington.

Well before visits by explorers and frontiersmen, the Portland area and its rivers were home to trading among the many native people who lived in the lush valleys bordering Mount Hood and the Cascade Mountains. Legend tells that the Native Americans who thrived here used to hunt at Elk Rock and meet at Council Crest, the city's highest point. Tribal lore reaches in all directions, including the Bridge of the Gods, where Mother Nature provided the perfect place for a man-made bridge that now links Oregon to Washington near Bonneville Lock & Dam. Much of the vibrant culture of local tribes can be experienced at The Museum at Warm Springs.

Ordered by President Thomas Jefferson to explore the Pacific Northwest in 1804, Lewis and Clark made their famed journey through the Columbia River Gorge, which remains among the most scenic areas in the U.S. Take in the expansive view from the historic Vista House. The arrival of the explorers brought a new wave of trade and culture to the city. With military camps at nearby Fort Clatsop and Fort Vancouver, as well as historic Officers Row, U.S. military personnel mixed with settlers, fur trappers and seamen who came to Portland primarily from Astoria. The coastal town itself has a bountiful past that lives on in the Astoria Column and Columbia River Maritime Museum.

Drawn west by the California Gold Rush, a number of pioneers decided to head north to Oregon and Portland. Their arduous journey can be revisited at the End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center as well as other museums. Among pioneers who came to the city in the 1840s were two early settlers from Boston, Massachusetts and Portland, Maine. The two gentlemen bet the name of the city on the toss of a coin, which can still be seen today at the Oregon History Center. The City of Portland was actually chartered in 1851, and historic City Hall and Pioneer Courthouse, both still in use, are testaments to Portland's dedication to its past.

Other key figures of Portland's past include the original publisher of The Oregonian Henry Pittock, whose Northwest Portland mansion provides an incredible view of Downtown and can be toured. Another father of the city is lumber baron Simon Benson, whose water fountains, known as the Benson Bubblers, still offer cool drinks today. The Benson Hotel is also named after this head of industry and is considered among the top accommodations in town.

Benson and Portland prospered through the harvest of timber, which is more closely examined at the World Forestry Center and Magness Memorial Tree Farm. Shipping along the banks of the Willamette and Columbia rivers, as well as fishing, helped drive drive the city's growth. When times became more difficult with the Great Depression, the area saw one of its biggest government projects with the New Deal construction of historic Timberline Lodge.

The history of Downtown Portland is rich with culture and color. The centuries-old buildings of the Pearl District and Chinatown mix with newer aesthetic attractions such as the Classical Chinese Garden. Stories of the city's boisterous past, when sailors and shipyard workers mixed in places like the White Eagle and Buffalo Gap saloons, include tales of men getting "shanghai'd"—taken away drunk and forced to work aboard the ship of a cruel captain. The city's darker side can also be seen at the Portland Police Historical Museum, where both criminals and heroes of the city's past live on.

Also known as the City of Bridges, part of Portland's history spans the Willamette River, which passengers can tour on the Willamette Shore Trolley. The Hawthorne Bridge—one of the oldest elevation bridges still operating—is often being filmed for a movie, and where races and walks take place. It connects the Downtown area to East Portland, which in the early days of the city was connected only by ferry. Today, Portlanders have a choice of many bridges, including the Steel Bridge, which is a one of-a-kind, double-decker elevation bridge, and the Broadway Bridge, which connects Downtown to the Rose Quarter and Northeast Portland. The city is also linked by the Interstate Bridge to Vancouver, Washington, which carries its own history in a small, rejuvenated downtown area.

Rivaling Portland's numerous, historic bridges are the city's parks, which are never far and offer the perfect place to play, walk, relax or picnic. It would not be hard to spend a day at Forest Park, which is the largest city park in the United States. A visit to Portland would not be complete without seeing Washington Park, the International Rose Test Garden and other attractions of the urban forest. Here you will see and smell the reason Portland is called the Rose City.

One of Portland's largest examples of history is the renovated PGE Park. Formerly known as Civic Stadium and rebuilt in 2001, this is one of the oldest Downtown ballparks in the U.S. The outdoor park still hosts Portland Beavers baseball as well as other sporting and musical events. Other landmarks connecting Portland's past and future include Powell's Books, which chronicles the local history and the Portland Brewing Tap Room, where the new twist of micro brew adds flavor to the old art of brewing.

Points of interest in Portland, OR

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