Known for its wine, its incredible cuisine and its free-spirited people, Portland beckons foodies, artists, nature-lovers, and those who like to live a little bit out of the mainstream.
This city has a both a laid-back vibe and a bit of a wild side, which makes it an intriguing and memorable place to visit. There is something curious to see everywhere you go in Portland, and something new to experience. While remnants of the city’s Wild West past remain, including horse rings in many places, this is a forward-thinking place that values progress and ideas. It’s a city known for celebrating individualism, self-expression and creativity.
Portland tends to draw in those who march to the beat of their own drum, and part of its charm is experiencing the city’s offbeat culture. The people are quirky, idealistic, friendly and passionate, and everyone you meet has a story to tell.
Like other cities in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is highly invested in preserving nature, utilizing local natural resources, promoting local farms and small businesses and supporting the farm-to-table movement. Healthful, organic food options abound, and fresh meats, seafood and produce are easy to come by. In the skilled hands of Portland’s many exceptional chefs and artisans, these ingredients become something truly incredible.
Portland is a food-lover’s paradise. The city was named 2010’s second best foodie town in America, and for good reason. There are more intriguing, off-the-wall and delightfully unique restaurants than you can imagine in this city, and almost all of them have a keen eye on quality, innovation and sustainability. There are also food trucks everywhere, traveling wherever the crowds are and offering delicious and distinctive food on the go. There is something for every palate and philosophy here. The city even holds the distinction of having the most options for vegans and vegetarians.
Things to Do
Parks and Gardens
Those who live in and visit Portland typically have a deep appreciation for nature, and many of the city’s best attractions are outdoors. Portland has pleasant springs, beautiful, mild summers and brilliantly colored autumns, and the scenery is truly breathtaking in every season.
One of Portland’s most popular natural attractions is the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. With its thundering waterfall, 80 miles of canyons and stunning vistas, this is a perfect place to immerse yourself in Portland’s natural beauty.
Forest Park, another gorgeous Portland spot, sits is situated just outside of downtown, yet makes you feel as though you’re deep in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. This is the largest urban park in the country, and features extensive hiking and biking trails, a formal Japanese garden and a zoo.
Often called the City of Roses, Portland comes alive with colorful flowers in the spring and summer. The International Rose Test Garden is a perfect place to see some of the city’s finest specimens. Wander around the garden, stretch out for a nap in the lush green grass, and enjoy the serene view of Mount Hood in the distance. There is no admission fee: come as often as you like and stay as long as you like.
Another of Portland’s most beautiful planned gardens is the Lan Su Chinese Garden. This exquisite garden is the result of collaboration between Portland and its sister city Suzhou, which is famed for its Ming Gardens. Located in Chinatown, Lan Su offers the opportunity to experience a classic Chinese garden. It features graceful and opulent Chinese architecture, indigenous Chinese plants and a tea house that makes the perfect spot for refreshment and relaxation.
Portland features a number of excellent museums that are well worth visiting. The Oregon Museum of Science and History features a planetarium, an empirical theater and four separate halls filled with fun and educational hands-on exhibits. This is a perfect place to bring the whole family.
The Portland Art Museum is a true treasure for art lovers. It features one section showcasing contemporary art, and another with Native American, European and Chinese art. The works featured are truly exceptional, and it’s easy to spend a whole day getting lost among the exhibits.
Indicative of Portland’s charm and unique quirks, the Faux Museum is the museum that isn’t. Tongue firmly in cheek, it calls itself a “conceptual art museum,” and features weirdly wonderful collections of items that include everything from the world’s last wooly ant to jars of fingernails. The whole museum put together with a touch of humor, which is perfectly balanced with a true sense of wonder.
One of Portland’s most popular landmarks is the quaint and beautiful St. John’s Bridge. Drive over the bridge, or walk across it to take things in more slowly. Once you’ve crossed, take some time to hike either side of the bridge, or visit the charming garden that sits underneath.
If you’re looking to experience a bit of Portland’s energy and see some of its true colors, head to Pioneer Place. Located in the heart of downtown Portland, this four-block square features shopping, dining and entertainment, and is always bustling with activity. This is the perfect place to enjoy some of Portland’s famous coffee, or indulge in people watching.
The Pittock Mansion is one of Portland’s oldest and most beautiful landmarks. This historic house and museum offers a rich look at Portland’s storied past, and features a 46-acre park with spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
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