A Visitors Guide to Portland

Introduction  ♦  Visitors Information   ♦  Public Transportation  ♦  Places to See  ♦  Entertainment
Food  ♦  Neighborhoods  ♦  Media  ♦  Beyond Portland

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INTRODUCTION

Portland, “The City of Roses,” is the largest city in Oregon and the second largest city in the Pacific Northwest. It is noted for its scenic beauty, its eco-friendly urban planning policies, a lively music scene, a large number of microbreweries, and its food.

Portland lies about 70 miles (124 km) from the Pacific Coast on the northern border of the state of Oregon, straddling the Willamette River just south of its confluence with the Columbia River at Vancouver, Washington. About 50 miles (80 km) to the east is majestic Mount Hood, which forms the perfect backdrop for Portland’s skyline.

Portland is an urban city, with an exciting blend of historic and modern architecture, but it isn’t as overwhelming as some larger cities. Despite being an urban city, there are many lush parks to poke your toes into. Forest Park and Washington Park in the hills west of downtown offer a variety of plants, trails, and wildlife near the city. Vistas of Mt. Hood along with other mountains on the Cascade Range, the Willamette River, stately Douglas fir trees, and roses and trees at every turn give the city stunning seasonal color.

As the largest city between San Francisco and Seattle, Portland vies with those cities as the spiritual capital of the laid-back northern Pacific coast. However, it does so in a way that mixes big-city dynamics with small-town friendliness. Until recently, Portland avoided the problems that come with fast growth, and although Portland is now experiencing rapid growth it has been able to keep its unique character. You can find inspiring art, waterfront festivals, and a friendly atmosphere here. Portland is also the micro brewery capital of the world, and, much like Seattle’s reputation for its coffee houses, Portland’s numerous micro breweries have won it national and international acclaim.

Environmentally friendly practices such as recycling and an extensive public transportation system are part of the culture. Portland is also known for taking creative and unconventional ideas to solve its problems — for example, it opted for a park and a light rail system instead of freeways. Progressive city planning practices, such as an urban growth boundary, have made Portland a very compact and user-friendly city.

Lying on a gentle, mile-wide slope between a river and a range of hills, downtown Portland is a lively place.  Whereas most cities roll up the streets after the work force completes its work day, Portland just keeps rolling.  Restaurants thrive.  People are hurrying off to the concert hall, theatres, art galleries, and museums.  Shopping continues into the night.

Unlike other metropolitan areas, you can drive 15 miles (24 km) from downtown and be out in the country. However, like other metro areas, driving 15 miles (24 km) during rush hour will take you well over an hour or so, as Portland has some of the worst traffic congestion in the West.

Five Quadrants

Click on image to enlarge

Portland is divided into five sectors, sometimes referred to as the “five quadrants.” Burnside Street is the north/south divider. The Willamette River (pronounced will-LAM-et or as a former governor said, “It’s Willamette, damn it.”) splits southeast and Southwest, and the area bounded by Burnside to the south and the Willamette to the east is called northwest (as one would expect). But the river takes a turn north of Burnside, since Mother Nature doesn’t care much about straight lines. Thus the city decided to split what would be a large Northeast sector into North and Northeast at Williams Avenue (which continues roughly from where the River had previously run directly north/south). If you hear Portlanders talking about Southwest or Northeast, they’re probably talking about a sector of the town rather than Arizona or Massachusetts.

  • SW − South of Burnside (west of the Willamette River), this sector includes the downtown core west of the Willamette River. The Downtown core and PSU Campus, South Waterfront, OHSU, and surrounding areas are in this area.  SW Portland also covers Southwest Portland to the boundary with Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tigard, and Tualatin.
  • SE − South of Burnside (east of the Willamette River).
  • NE − North of Burnside (east of Williams Avenue).
  • N − North of Burnside (east of the Willamette River and west of Williams Avenue).
  • NW − North of Burnside (west of the Willamette River), this sector is immediately north of the downtown (SW). It includes the Pearl District, the Old Town, and the Northwest district. North of that is light industrial.

Climate

As in other places in the Pacific Northwest, there is abundant rainfall in the fall, winter, and spring. The rain is usually a drizzle or mist, meaning you’ll get wet but not soaked; total precipitation is technically less than many east coast and southeastern cities because there are fewer downpours. Portland ranks third on the list of cities with the most rainy days in the country with 164 rainy days a year. So it’s not that Portland gets a lot of rain, it just rains often.

The average rainfall is about 44 inches annually in the downtown area. The news media quotes is from the Portland airport (PDX) and it’s one of the driest places in the area. 

A sunny day in the rainy season can seem to be very rare, and Portlanders have the unusual habit of wearing shorts and flip-flops the minute the sun comes out, even if the temperature is barely above freezing.

Portland has very little snow; instead the winters are very rainy. Bring or buy an umbrella if you’re in Portland between October and June. It should be noted that a large portion of “Portlanders” don’t use, or even believe in, umbrellas, instead preferring rainproof garments like Gore-Tex® or hometown Columbia Sportswear Omni-Tech®. Some more “hardcore” residents are even known to travel with no more cover than a baseball cap.

It’s worth mentioning that there are really only two seasons in Oregon west of the Cascade mountain range — rain and summer. The rain and clouds typically last nine months, from late September often until late June, then suddenly the clouds clear and it is hot and sunny. The Portland area receives almost 50% of its annual rainfall in four months:  November, December, January and February.

There is not really a gradual increase in temperatures, it’s basically either 48°F (9°C) degrees and raining, or 85°F (29°C) and sunny along with low humidity.

Prospective visitors who don’t care for rain should be aware that Portland summers, although short, are quite pleasant — July through September have only a 10% chance of rain on any given day, temperatures rarely exceed 85°F (29°C) degrees or so, and local produce (including fresh sweet cherries and some of the world’s best berries) is available at farmers’ markets and fruit stands in and around the city. July and August are typically the hottest month temperatures occasionally hitting 100°F (38°C) or more.

Online Maps

There are a number of Web sites offer mapping and we will just name three.  Here they are:

  • Mapquest  Mapquest pioneered online mapping and their maps continue to be popular.  Just key in “Portland Oregon” at their Web site and a metro map appears that you can zoom and move. You can do a search by name such as “hotels” and the map will be populated with the hotels icons along with text about the hotel.   Or select from a list of over 30 categories (e.g., hotels, museums, restaurants) to get the same results.   
  • Google  The popular search engine mapping brings rewards.
  • Google Earth  The ultimate in mapping!  Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others.  You can download the Earth program on any device and it’s free.

VISITOR INFORMATION

As in the rest of Oregon, there is no sales tax in Portland; the price you see on the tag is the price you pay. Portland is, by far, the largest metro area in the U.S. without a sales tax.

Portland Visitor Information and Services Center  Located at 701 SW Sixth Avenue (at Morrison), 503-275-8355 (toll free:  1-877-678-5263). Open times are Monday-Friday 8:30AM-5:30PM, Saturday 10AM-4PM and Sunday 10AM-2PM (October-May). You can request the latest issue of Travel Portland magazine, the insider’s guide to Portland or download the PDF version at their website at Travel Portland.

As you may already know, Twitter asks its users to answer the question, “What are you doing?” If what you’re doing is planning a trip to Portland — or just looking for cool places and happenings around town — you should follow Travel Portland. Travel Portland shares tips on making the most of Portland, and they will answer any questions you may have, whether you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned pro.  Follow @travelportland for an unfiltered look at Portland. Followers have access to contests and ticket giveaways.

There are numerous online travel guides that you can use to help you explore the Portland metro area as well as areas close to the city.  Below are some worth checking out.

Is a car necessary in Portland?  No.  You can catch the MAX light rail train at the airport terminal to get to downtown.  As long as you are staying close to a MAX stop or one of the 80 bus stops in the area it‘s easy getting around Portland. 

The Portland Streetcar serves areas surrounding downtown Portland. The 3.9-mile (6.3 km) NS Line runs from Northwest Portland to the South Waterfront via Downtown and the Pearl District. The Loop Service, which opened in September 2012 as the Central Loop (CL Line), runs from downtown to the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry via the Pearl District, the Broadway Bridge across the Willamette River, the Lloyd District, and the Central Eastside Industrial District and added 3.3 miles (5.3 km) of route.  In September 2015 the line was rebranded as the Loop Service, with the A Loop traveling clockwise, and the B Loop traveling counterclockwise.

You may need to take a cab if you want to venture certain places.  There are car rental stations in the downtown area as well as Zipcar.  Another option is Uber. BIKETOWNPDX is Portland’s bike share program, launched in July 2016 with 1,000 bikes at 100 stations across downtown and several neighborhoods. The system was designed for quick trips with convenience in mind, and it’s a fun and affordable way to get around.

By Plane

Portland International Airport (PDX) is located 9 miles (15 km) northeast of downtown on the Columbia River. (This is also a dual-use air force base, which can cause confusion on some maps.) Most major airlines serve Portland from nearly all major airports in the United States. Non-stop air service is available from Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary, Canada; Tokyo, Japan; Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara, Mexico; Frankfurt; and Amsterdam. The airport has free Wi-Fi.

 A taxi from the airport to downtown is around $30-$40. The MAX Red Line light rail, which has a stop right at the airport terminal, will only set you back $2.50 ($1.25 for youth and honored citizens) for a 40 minute ride to downtown. That same $2.50 will let you on any of the buses to get you to your final destination. All light rail lines connect with the city wide bus system. You’re the one to decide: MAX or taxi.

Blue Star Shuttle frequents the airport every 30 minutes between 8:00AM until a half-hour after midnight. The cost is $14 for one way or $24 round trip and reservations are not required from the airport.

If you’re renting a car, the best way to get to downtown Portland from the airport is to take 1-205 South to 1-84 West, then follow the signs to the City Center at I-84’s terminus and interchange with 1-5. This will take you over the Morrison Bridge into downtown. Renting a car for a downtown destination is not recommended: inconvenient, spendy and hard-to-find parking combined with active parking meter enforcement (8AM-7PM) and non-intuitive street closures, transit malls and restrictions make it frustrating − even for locals.

Most people can walk from one end of downtown to the other in 15-20 minutes — faster than driving at times.  

By Train

Portland Union Station is served by Amtrak intercity passenger trains.

With three daily departures between Seattle and Portland, as well as daily service to Vancouver, B.C., the Amtrak Cascades is a convenient link to the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia. From Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Oregon, past Mount St. Helens and across the Columbia River Gorge, you’ll witness some of our continent’s most distinctive cities and most spectacular natural attractions.

Onboard these sleek, European-style trains, you’ll enjoy wide, reclining seats, laptop outlets and bike racks. Relax in the Bistro Car, which features fresh, regional cuisine, wine, microbrews, and the coffees Seattle made famous.

Amtrak’s Coast Starlight operates daily, connecting the West Coast’s most popular destination cities, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.

Amtrak’s Empire Builder takes you on an exciting adventure through majestic wilderness, following the footsteps of Lewis and Clark. The Empire Builder begins in Portland and heads east to Chicago with stops at the following destinations and more: Spokane, Whitefish, Glacier National Park, Minot, Minneapolis, and Milwaukee.

Portland’s Union Station, 800 NW Sixth Avenue, is located north of downtown, about a 15-minute walk from Pioneer Square. It is adjacent to the Greyhound bus station. There is a connection between the MAX light rail system and Amtrak trains.  Amtrak riders can catch either the green line (Clackamas Town Center/Portland City Center/PSU) or the yellow line ((Expo Center/Portland City Center/PSU). The bus mall ends at Union Station, so local buses run by Union Station very frequently.

View a City Center transit map.

Where to Stay

Downtown Portland has all the major chains (e.g., Marriott, Hilton, Embassy Suites, etc.) plus a handful of independents.    Try the Portland Oregon Visitor Association (POVA) reservation system — book a hotel online via the POVA Big Deal system. Airbnb is another choice.

Using your favorite search engine, just key in “map of hotels downtown portland oregon” and you’re get an immediate response. ­­

Historic Hotels in Downtown Portland

  • Benson  Since 1912 the Benson has been offering European elegance and charm.  It has carved wood and beautiful vaulted ceilings and marble staircases.  Even if you’re not staying at the Benson, slip into the bar and sip a glass of wine in the evening while listening to the jazz ensemble.
  • Sentinel  The Sentinel opened in 1909 under the name “Governor” as one of America’s last “handmade” buildings, with an Arts and Crafts–inspired exterior detailing and interior furnishings. The hotel was restored to its original grandeur in the early 1990s.
  • Heathman  The Heathman Hotel is located in the Financial and Cultural Districts. This sophisticated hotel is a refreshing blend of Portland history and modern hospitality.  The hotel is a Portland landmark and has retained AAA’s coveted Four Diamond Award for more than 30 years.  The hotel has a restaurant.

Boutique Hotel in Downtown Portland

The Travel & Leisure magazine reinforced something many travelers already know about Portland: It’s a great boutique hotel town. In the hospitality business, “boutique hotel” is a term used to describe a smaller hotel, often not part of a chain, where the emphasis is on personal service and unique, often luxurious décor — all aimed at creating a memorable stay.

In 2005, four local hotels earned a place on Travel & Leisure magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Hotels in the World.  The Hotel Monaco, ranked No. 1 in Portland, got a higher score than any of the Seattle hotels. The Heathman Hotel, the Hotel Lucia, and the Hotel Vintage Plaza also made the list, the Lucia for the first time.

Other Hotel Choices in Downtown Portland

  • Ace Hotel  A great place to absorb Portland’s artful vibe and green sensibility. The Ace features artwork painted directly on the walls. There is a restaurant called Clyde Commons in the hotel serving full course meals.
  • Avalon Hotel + Spa  Located at the edge of the new South Waterfront District on the Willamette River.
  • Jupiter Hotel  Conde Nast Traveler magazine called it, “One of the 116 best new hotels in the world.”  The hotel is eight blocks east of the Burnside Bridge at 800 E. Burnside.  The hotel’s Doug Fir restaurant has also received good reviews.
  • Hotel Lucia  From the beautiful artwork to the contemporary designs in each guest room, the Lucia is noted for offering excellence service to its guests.
  • Hotel Monaco  The Monaco is part of the Kimpton Hotel chain.  The hotel has won numerous awards, including Travel & Leisure “World’s Best Values” and “Top 500 Hotels in the World,” as well as Conde Nast Traveler’s “World’s Best.” Hotel Monaco is also a recipient of the City of Portland’s BlueWorks Award for recycling and sustainability.
  • The Nines  The 331-room hotel (Starwood Hotels & Resorts) opened in downtown Portland in 2008 after a $137 million project to convert the top nine floors of the historic Meier & Frank Building into a hotel.  An atrium restaurant is located on the lobby level.
  • Mark Spencer  It’s reasonable and all rooms feature fully equipped kitchens for convenient in-room dining.  Walk out the front door of the Mark Spencer and you can catch a streetcar. A 3-minute walk to Powell Books. Just across the street is Kenny & Zuke’s Deli.
  • Hotel Vintage Plaza  This hotel, which was built in 1894 and is on the National Register of Historic Places, is the place to stay in Portland if you are a wine lover. A wine theme predominates in the hotel’s decor, and there are complimentary evening tastings of Northwest wines.

Hotels Close to Downtown

  • Hotel deLuxe  Former the Mallory, this hotel was remodeled in 2006.  The hotel’s restaurant — called Gracie’s after comedian Gracie Allen — serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a handsome room that brings to mind a classic Brown Derby restaurant.  The deLuxe accepts pets.  It is located in the Goose Hollow neighborhood at 729 SW 15th Avenue.
  • Park Lane Suites  Located in the historic King’s Hill District — just blocks from Northwest 21st and 23rd Avenues (Nob Hill).  The Park Lane offers one and two bedroom suites, kitchenettes, and complimentary parking.

 

Hotels Accepting Pets

  • Visit Pets Welcome, the internet’s largest pet/travel resource.  They list over 25,000 hotels, B&Bs, ski resorts, campgrounds, and beaches that are pet-friendly.

Getting Around the Portland Metro Area

Portland is an easy city to bike, walk or use public transport. However, there are topographical features that affect how streets and roads flow, so planning and maps are important for any journey of more than a few blocks. The verdant West Hills slope up from downtown and separates it from the suburbs of Beaverton, Hillsboro and others.

While most of the streets in Southwest Portland wind round and round, much of Portland has a grid pattern and is fairly easy to navigate.

All Portland addresses contain their designating sector inserted between house number and street name (i.e., 3719 SE Hawthorne Boulevard). House address numbers increase 100 per block starting from Burnside Street or the Willamette River. This should make it easier to figure out where things are.

In general, East/West streets are names while North/South avenues are numbers. An exception is North Portland where North/South avenues are also named. On the West side, some streets and arterial roads follow a North/South pattern and others follow the topography and curve a great deal. There are major arterials that cross town in NE/SW or NW/SE orientation including Sandy Boulevard, and Foster Road on the eastside, and Barbur Boulevard in the southwest.

The streets in the Alphabet District in Northwest Portland are arranged alphabetically starting with Burnside, followed by Couch, then Davis, etc. through NW Vaughn Street making directions easy to follow here.  The names reflect a roster of prominent names in Portland’s early history.

Walking

Portland’s short blocks and street-level attractions make the city a pedestrian’s delight. Many intersections are designed with pedestrians in mind, and Portland has a lot of street life for an American city.  Good mass transit also makes walking more feasible in Portland.

Voted one of “America’s Best Walking Towns” by Walking Magazine, the Portland downtown area is full of architectural landmarks both old and new. The non-profit Transportation for America named the Portland-Vancouver area as the ninth-safest metro area for pedestrians.

Walk Score is available for any address in the United States, Canada, and Australia. They also ranked the largest 3,000 cities and over 10,000 neighborhoods so you can find a walkable home or apartment.  Walk Score ranked the Pearl District/Old Town-Chinatown/Downtown number ten in the nation and seven Portland neighborhoods are Walkers’ Paradise.  Forty-five percent of Portland residents have a Walk Score of 70 or above, and 83% have a Walk Score of at least 50—and 17% live in Car-Dependent neighborhoods. 

The City of Portland Office of Transportation offers free, highly detailed walking maps that may be ordered online.

Walk There! is Metro’s guide to great places to walk in the Portland-Vancouver area. The book leads you on 50 explorations of newly acquired urban natural areas, scenic parks, historic neighborhoods and fascinating main streets. Detailed maps and route descriptions help you discover the region’s rich history and varied landscapes while you enjoy the benefits of walking.

Metro developed the guide in partnership with local governments and community groups and with support from Kaiser Permanente. The 50 walking route maps and descriptions are available to purchase for $9.95 in a pocket-sized book or can be downloaded for free by clickinghere. The book can also be checked out at Multnomah County Library branches.

The Eastbank Esplanade along the Willamette River across from downtown offers a scenic walk, with parts actually floating on the river.  If you want the ultimate walking experience, purchase one or both of Laura Foster books about walking in Portland:  Portland Hill Walks andPortland City Walks and her latest book called The Portland Stairs Book. Each book leads readers and walkers on urban excursions of two to six miles, telling the stories of neighborhoods’ geology, human history, and architecture, along with offbeat tidbits ranging from how Native Americans used local plants, to the story behind those glass squares (vault lights) embedded in old city sidewalks.  You can buy these books when you’re visiting Portland at one of the many Portland book stores or online now at Powell’s Books.

Biking

Cyclists have long is a long revered Portland for its bicycle-friendly culture and infrastructure, including the network of bike lanes that the city began planning in the early 1970s. Bicycling Magazine named Portland as the best city in the country for cycling. It has a network of streets to be used mainly by bicyclists. These streets, such as SE Ankeny, SE Salmon, SE Lincoln, and SE Clinton, are usually spaced about halfway between the main car thoroughfares in the grid of East Portland. The bike streets are generally signed with green “Bike Route” signs. Additionally, many major streets have striped bike lanes.  Bikes can be taken on all buses and MAX lines as space is provided for storage.

Whether you’re a visitor to Portland heading out on a bicycle tour or a Portland resident who wants to get out and about for some exploration by bicycle, the Office of Transportation bike pages offer some valuable guidance on how to get there. The maps of bike trails can be obtained from Metro, on the Bike There! Web site.

Portland Bicycle Tours offer bike tours of the city and its surrounding areas, including Portland’s famous parks, buildings, and bridges. Want to explore on your own?  They also rent bikes and have many to choose from at their shop − just three blocks off the esplanade near the Chinese Garden (Between 3rd and 4th on NW Everett Street).  The City of Portland Office of Transportation has a bicycle rental Web page that lists about ten rentals outlets.

Bike Share

Biketown is Portland’s bike share program, launched in July 2016 with 1,000 bikes at 100 stations across downtown and several neighborhoods. The system was designed for quick trips with convenience in mind, and it’s a fun and affordable way to get around.

You can download the BIKETOWNPDX mobile app for an iPhone from the iTunes Store or Android from the Google Play store.

To help acclimatize unfamiliar riders, maps of bicycle-friendly routes are available at many Biketown kiosks. The Biketownpdx app also includes maps of bike routes and trip-planning tools that direct tourists to those routes.

With Metro’s Bike There! you can explore 235 miles of off-street trails and over 600 miles of on-street bike routes.  This map can be purchased at numerous bike shops in Portland as well as Powell’s Books.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION

Three public transportation modes are available:  Light rail, buses, and streetcars. WES (Westside Express Service) is a commuter rail line serving Beaverton, Tigard, Tualatin and Wilsonville. WES runs every 30 minutes during the weekday morning and afternoon rush hour. C-Tran runs buses to and in Clark County (Washington State).

The City of Portland Office of Transportation is a community partner in shaping a livable city.  Their Web site is packed with information about getting around Portland.

Fares for MAX, C-Tran, and the Portland Streetcar are all inter­changeable. A MAX system map is available for a small cost from the TriMet store in Pioneer Square.

MAX Light Rail

At the heart of Portland’s world-class public transportation system is MAX light rail, with 84 stations and 52 miles of track connecting the city, airport and region.

MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Light Rail connects Portland City Center with Beaverton, Clackamas, Gresham, Hillsboro, Milwaukie, North/Northeast Portland and the Portland International Airport. There are five MAX light rail lines:

  • The Blue Line, which runs from Hillsboro (west suburb) east through Beaverton and downtown to Gresham (east suburb).
  • The Red Line, which runs from the Portland International Airport to downtown and west on to Beaverton (west suburb).
  • The Yellow Line, which runs from the Expo Center, to downtown, and south to Portland State University.
  • The Green Line, which runs from Clackamas Town Center, to downtown, and south to Portland State University.
  • The Orange Line connects Oak Grove, Milwaukie, SE Portland, Portland State University and Portland City Center. Most northbound trains continue through Portland City Center as MAX Yellow Line trains to Expo Center.

All of the lines go through the city’s downtown and all but the Yellow Line go through the Lloyd District.

Fares will depend on how much you travel. A 2½ hour ticket that covers all fare zones costs $2.50, and all-day tickets are $5.00. Honored citizen and youth fares are $1.25 and $2.50. You can purchase a ticket at any MAX station. There are no fare boxes onboard MAX. Before boarding, buy your ticket from a ticket machine or validate your previously purchased ticket in the validator located near the ticket machine. Bus tickets are purchasable on board and cost the same as MAX, exact change cash only. Keep the ticket to show to fare inspectors and as a transfer to other lines.

With your valid ticket or pass you can ride any combination of busesMAX Light RailWES Commuter Rail and Portland Streetcar to complete your trip.

Keep your ticket until you have completed your trip.  Most machines accept debit/credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover), coins (including $1 coins) and bills ($1, $5, $10 and $20). Some machines labeled “Card Only” accept debit/credit cards only.

You can get TriMet tickets, passes and schedules at many of the places you already go: grocery stores, college campuses and gift shops, just to name a few. Look for signs with the TriMet logo that say “Tickets and passes available here.”

TriMet Tickets app lets you purchase and use tickets and passes instantly on your smartphone—anywhere, anytime. Just download the free app, register your debit/credit card in their secure system, and you’re ready to go. You can buy 2½-Hour Tickets, 1-Day Pass, 7-Day Passes, 14-Day Passes or 30-Day Passes. You must use tickets and passes immediately or store them on your phone for future use. $5 minimum purchase required.

Streetcar

Streetcars are back in Portland!  They left in the 50s and started again in 2001.

The Portland Streetcar is owned by the City of Portland.  A private non-profit runs the streetcar system.  Unlike, the bus system and light rail, which are operated by TriMet, the streetcar is run by Portland Streetcar Inc.  For the convenience of mass transit customers, the streetcar schedules, routes, etc. are available on the TriMet Web site.

Streetcars run three routes, the North/South (NS) Line, the A Loop, and the B Loop.

  • The North/South (NS) Line, is a 4-mile one-way route from Legacy Good Samaritan Hospital at NW 23rd Avenue, on Lovejoy and Northrup, through the Pearl District and on 10th and 11th Avenues to SW Mill and SW Market Streets, Portland State University Urban Center, SW Harrison Street, RiverPlace, OHSU, the Aerial Tram and to a terminus at SW Lowell & Bond at the South Waterfront District.
  • The A Loop operates clockwise connecting the Central City’s east and west sides via the Pearl District, Broadway Bridge, Lloyd District, OMSI, Tilikum Crossing and Portland State University (PSU).
  • The B Loop operates counter-clockwise connecting the Central City’s east and west sides via the Pearl District, Portland State University (PSU), Tilikum Crossing, OMSI, the Lloyd District and Broadway Bridge.

Beginning June 1, 2016, Portland Street car began offering a new $1.00 Streetcar Only Honored Citizen & Youth Fare valid for 2½ hours aboard Portland Streetcar. This new fare is available for purchase in the PDX Streetcar Mobile App, at the Portland Streetcar Customer Service Office at 1031 NW 11th Ave, as well as online. The $1.25 Regional Fare (2½ hour) valid on board TriMet and Portland Streetcar is still available at the fare machines.  Along with the new fare, the Portland Streetcar Honored Citizen/Youth Monthly and Annual Pass prices have dropped to $20.00 and $220.00 respectively in accordance with the adopted fare policy.

PLACES TO SEE

There are street people and panhandlers in Portland’s parks and squares, and occasionally they are threatening. Are these panhandlers lonely victims of an uncaring world or organized hucksters milking sympathy from gullible citizens? I don’t know but here’s a solution. Many Portlanders prefer not to give panhandlers money. Rather, they carry Sisters of the Road meal coupons with them and hand them out instead of money. Meals at Sisters of the Road offer a choice of at least two hot and nutritious entrees and always a vegetarian option.  Sisters of the Road is located in the Old Town part of downtown area so it is very accessible to street people. Each meal coupon costs $2.00 and can be purchased either singly, or in unlimited numbers, and then given to hungry people for them to use to buy a meal and a drink in Sisters.  You can purchase the coupons online or at a number of different food co-ops. 

You will notice individuals selling a newspaper called Street Roots at locations throughout Portland — usually at the entrance/exits of food stores where there is a considerable amount of foot traffic.   Street Roots is a nonprofit, grassroots newspaper that assists people experiencing homelessness and poverty by creating flexible income opportunities. The tabloid is published every two weeks and costs $1.  The person selling the paper keeps about 60 cents from the sale.

DOWNTOWN AREA ATTRACTIONS

  • Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox in collaboration with Portland architecture firm BOORA, the courthouse is visible as visitors approach downtown Portland via Washington Street. A canopy conceals a small grove of trees that grow on the roof, making the building one of Portland’s most iconic buildings. It was designed with sustainability in mind; it exceeded Oregon’s building energy codes by approximately 30% at the time of construction.  The building is located at SW 3rd Avenue.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) OMSI is great for kids. It has hundreds of hands- on activities, and you can spend a full day there and not get bored. But if all you want to do is see an awesome movie check out the IMAX Theater that gives you a 360 view of space travel, scuba diving, race car driving, or an Africa safari. Note that Museum admission does not include admission to the IMAX Theatre, which requires an additional ticket. However, with general museum admission, this is one of the very few places in the world where you can actually view the IMAX projector in operation (located at the end of hallway). 1945 SE Water Avenue, 503-797-6674, Monday-Sunday 9:30AM-7:00PM. Museum admission prices:  Adult $14.00, Senior $10.75, and Youth $9.75.  The OMSI/SE Water Avenue Station connects with MAX, bus, and Portland Streetcar lines.
  • Pioneer Courthouse Square On April 6, 1984, the citizens of Portland inaugurated what has become one of the most successful public spaces in America.  Located in the heart of downtown, Pioneer Courthouse Square, a thriving urban park, is affectionately known as the City’s “living room.”  More than 20,000 people pass by the Square each day, while thousands more utilize its on-site resources.  Upwards of 300 events take place in the Square each year.   The park covers one block and is located at SW Broadway and Yamhill.
  • Pittock Mansion The Pittock Mansion was home to Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919. During the late 1800s and the early 1900s, their lives and work paralleled the growth of Portland from a small Northwest town site to a thriving city with a quarter million of population. With its eclectic architectural design and richly decorated interior, including family artifacts, the Pittock Mansion stands today as a living memorial of this family’s contributions to the blossoming of Portland and its people.  Location: 3229 NW Pittock Drive.
  • Powell’s City of BooksPowell’s was cited by USA Today as one of America’s 10 best bookstores. It claims to be the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world.  Powell’s City of Books is located in the Pearl District on the edge of downtown and occupies a full city block between NW 10th and 11th Avenues and between West Burnside and NW Couch Streets. It contains over 68,000 feet (or about 1.6 acres) of retail floor space. 
  • Public Services BuildingThe Portland Building is considered an architectural icon. Designed by Michael Graves and built in 1982, its coloring and embellishment marked the arrival of post modern architecture and the end of stark glass and steel edifices. The statue in front, “Portlandia,” is the second largest copper statue in the United States — only the Statue of Liberty is larger.  Located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue.
  • Salmon Street Springs A central computer controls 185 jets of water that produce regularly changing water patterns. A popular attraction for kids, especially during the warm summer months.   Located at SW Naito Pkwy and Salmon Street in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
  • Saturday Market This market and craft fair, where everything sold is handmade, is the largest open-air crafts market in continuous operation in the U.S. market and offers 252 spaces for local artisans to show their skills and sell their handmade wares. SW Ankeny Street and Naito Parkway. Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday 11AM-4:30PM, 1st weekend in March-24 December.

MUSEUMS IN DOWNTOWN

  • Portland Art Museum Enjoy more than 112,000 square feet of galleries, reflecting the history of art from ancient times to the present. 1219 SW Park Avenue, 503-226-2811. Monday closed, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday lOAM-5PM, Thursday and Friday 10AM-8PM.  Free admission on the first Thursday of every month from 5-8PM.  Adults $20, Seniors and College Students $17.
  • Oregon Historical Society (OHS) The Oregon Historical Society shares its vast collection through interactive museum exhibitions that make history visible and accessible. Three floors of permanent and traveling exhibitions feature rare documents and artifacts, and explore the people, places, and events that have shaped the history of Oregon and America. The OHS Research Library contains one of the country’s most extensive collections of state history materials, including approximately 25,000 maps, 30,000 books, 8.5 million feet of film and videotape, 16,000 rolls of microfilm, and 12,000 linear feet of documents. The Research Library’s photographic archives include over 2.5 million images from pre-statehood to the present day.  1200 SW Park Ave (Across from Portland Art Museum), Admission is Adult $11, Seniors $9, Youth $5, and free for children under 6 years of age. Free for Multnomah County residents and military veterans. Open Monday – Saturday 10AM-5PM and Sunday Noon-5PM.

PUBLIC ART

Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) works to integrate arts and culture in all aspects of community life. RACC has served the Portland tri-county area since its inception in 1995. RACC is the steward of several public and private investments in arts and culture and works to create an environment in which the arts and culture of the region can flourish and prosper. RACC is funded in part by local, regional, state and federal governments to provide grants to artists and operating support to art organizations in the tri-county region.

  • Benson Bubblers  Walking in downtown Portland, one of the first items you’ll notice is the four-bowl fountains throughout the city.  Simon Benson, a Norwegian immigrant, a lumber baron and philanthropist, is the person responsible for these drinking fountains.  The story goes that while walking through his mill one day, Benson noticed the smell of alcohol on his workers’ breath.  When Benson asked these men why they drank in the middle of the day, they replied there was no fresh drinking water to be found downtown.  Upon hearing this, Benson proceeded to commission 20 elegant freshwater drinking fountains, now known as the Benson Bubblers.  Beer consumption in the city reportedly decreased after the fountains were installed. 
  • First ThursdayThe art galleries in downtown Portland, Oregon, invite you to join them on the “First Thursday” of every month for an evening of art, wine and music. Walk from gallery to gallery to view all of the new art exhibits. Most of the galleries are in the Pearl neighborhood, which is a redeveloped area on the north side of downtown. It was filled with warehouses just a few years ago and now it has posh high rise condos. The Pearl has numerous restaurants, trendy shops and galleries at street level.  Generally the hours of First Thursday are from 6PM-9PM. 
  • Last Thursday Last Thursday is the alternative to First Thursday. It includes everything from wine tasting and gallery openings to street vending and performance artist walking the streets and sidewalks.  Alberta Street between Martin Luther King Boulevard and NE 30th Avenue.
  • MAX Light Rail The Westside MAX public art program added the vision of over 20 artists to the planning and design of the light-rail system, resulting in the installation of over 100 art elements along the Westside line. Residents of the Goose Hollow neighborhood, students and businesses contributed to the art found at the Civic Stadium, Kings Hill and Goose Hollow stations. View the art at the MAX Train Web site.
  • PodDesigned to representing the infrastructure, energy, and vibrancy of Portland, this sculpture is made complete when a passerby gives the pendulum a push. The artist is Pete Beeman. This stainless steel, titanium, and bronze piece were erected in 2002 across from Powell’s Books at West Burnside and SW 10th Avenue.
  • PortlandiaThe idea for Portlandia, a classical allegorical figure representing the spirit of Portland, came from the official Portland City Seal. The seal depicts a wilderness scene including mountains, forest and the sea. In the foreground, Lady Commerce, stands on the shore with a trident in her right hand as a ship enters the port behind her. A sheaf of grain, a cogwheel and a sledgehammer to her left in the foreground. Together, these figures symbolize the origins of the city, its culture, agrarian base, and industry.   Located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue on the west side of the Portland Building.

WASHINGTON PARK

Located just minutes west of downtown, Washington Park is one of the most used parks in Portland because it has so many different attractions. A bronze statue of Sacajawea holding her son Jean-Baptiste is located near the east entrance to the park, in commemoration of the heroic Shoshone Indian woman who helped lead the Lewis and Clark explorers through the mountains of the west.

Public Transportation to/from Washington Park   The Washington Park Station at the zoo is the only stop in the 3-mile-long MAX light rail tunnel through Portland’s West Hills. At 260 feet underground, it is the deepest transit station in North America and the second-deepest in the world.  The TriMet bus route 63 will also deliver you to the park.

Shuttle Bus   The Explore Washington Park Free Shuttle runs every day from 9AM to 7PM from May through October. The shuttle bus circles through the park. The shuttle arrives approximately every 15 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes to ride the entire loop.  You can catch the Shuttle at the MAX Washington Park Station located by the Oregon Zoo, which is also served by MAX Blue Line, MAX Red Line and Bus Line 63-Washington Park.

Along with the fountain, Sacajawea statue, and the Lewis and Clark memorial are these two attractions near the east entrance to the park:

  • Reservoirs In order to comply with federal and state mandates and ensure a healthy, resilient, and secure water system, the Portland Water Bureau and Oregon general contractor Hoffman Construction Company are moving forward with an eight-year capital improvement project to update the Washington Park reservoir site at 2403 SW Jefferson Street. The new reservoir will preserve the historic drinking water function provided by the original reservoirs at the site and be engineered to withstand ongoing landslide encroachment and potentially catastrophic effects of a major earthquake.

 A reflecting pool/water feature will be constructed on top in the same general footprint as the historical Reservoir 3. Reservoir 4 will be disconnected from the public drinking water system and a lowland wildlife habitat area, bioswale, and reflecting pool will be constructed in the basin. Construction started in July 2016 and Reservoir 3 will be completed at of 2019.

  • Holocaust Memorial The memorial is the park newest attraction − it was dedicated on August 29, 2004. The memorial features a stone bench adorned with wrought-iron gating, screened from the street by rhododendron bushes. The bench sits behind a circular, cobblestoned area − simulating a town square. The square contains scattered bronzes of  items to represent everyday objects that were left behind.  The memorial wall of history panels − giant, stone placards − offer a brief history of the Holocaust and quotes from Holocaust survivors.

These are the attractions all within the area of the International Rose Garden:

  • International Rose Garden With over 10,000 raised plantings; the garden attracts a million visitors annually.  Many come to the Rose Garden to marry and to have their wedding pictures taken. The Rose Garden offers a magnificent viewpoint overlooking the city and Cascade Range. Free but parking is metered.
  • Rose Garden Store Portland’s very own rose-themed specialty shop. In order to qualify to be in the shop, each piece of merchandise must “look like a rose, smell like a rose, taste like a rose, have a rose on it, hold a rose in it, or be for or about growing roses.”
  • Children’s Playground The popular, accessible play area (sand boxes, swings, jungle gyms, etc.) was built in 1995 by the Portland Rotary Club. It is located just around the corner from the International Rose Garden and on the original site of the Oregon Zoo.
  • Train to the Zoo The Washington Park Run goes through the forests of Washington Park to a station above the International Rose Test Garden and back to the zoo. In the early 50s, hundreds of volunteers built five miles of track and kids bought zoo-railway shares for a dollar each and copies of the book, Clickety Clack and the Bandits.
  • Japanese Garden At the heart of a Japanese garden is harmony with nature. These peaceful spots in the Garden lend themselves to meditation and contemplation. At the heart of a Japanese garden is harmony with nature. Through the careful use of plants, stones, and water, areas of serene and quiet beauty emerge. These peaceful spots in the garden lend themselves to meditation and contemplation. The Japanese garden is composed of five separate garden styles: a Strolling Pond Garden, a Tea Garden, a Natural Garden, a Flat Garden, and a Sand and Stone Garden.   611 SW Kingston Drive, 503-223-1321, March-October 10 a.m.-7 p.m. and on Monday Noon-7 p.m.. April-September 10AM-4PM and on Monday Noon-4PM).  Admission for adults $9.50, seniors and college students $7.75, youth (age 6-17) $6.75.

These attractions are found all within a few blocks of each other and located at the far west side of Washington Park:

  • Oregon Zoo Packy put Portland on the map in 1962 when he made international news for being the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in over 44 years. The 64 acre zoo is managed by the regional Metro government. A member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, it has species survival plans for twenty-one endangered/threatened species, among which are successful breeding programs for endangered California condors, Asian elephants, and African lions. The zoo also boasts an extensive plant collection throughout its animal exhibits and specialized gardens. During the summer it is host to a concert series, and in the winter produces ZooLights, a holiday light show. The Oregon Zoo is Oregon’s largest paid and arguably most popular attraction, with more than a million visitors a year

Hours change seasonally late May to early September 9:30AM to 6PM. Early September to late May 9:30AM-4PM. Grounds remain open for one hour after closing.  Visit the Zoo Web site for admission prices.

  • Portland Children Museum The mission of Portland Children’s Museum is to inspire imagination, creativity and the wonder of learning in children and adults by inviting moments of shared discovery. The Museum is now the sixth oldest children’s museum in the country, and each year the Museum welcomes more than 245,000 children from birth to age ten and their caregivers. 
  • Forestry Discovery Center Founded in 1964, the World Forestry Center’s mission is to educate and inform people about the world’s forests and trees and their importance to all life, in order to promote a balanced and sustainable future. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day daily 10AM-5PM. Labor Day through Memorial Day
    Thursday – Monday 10AM–5PM. Admission Adults $7,  Seniors $6, Youth $5 (age 3-18).
  • Vietnam Memorial The curved black granite wall lists the names of all Oregon residents who died in Vietnam or who are missing in action. The wall also chronicles three years of the conflict and concurrent local events, providing a poignant contrast.

Hoyt Arboretum is technically not part of Washington Park but it borders the park.  The 232-acre wooded site possesses the largest group of distinct species of any arboretum in the U.S. Its plant collection contains 10,000 individual trees and shrubs, representing nearly 1,000 different species from around the world. The arboretum is a favorite place for hikers and runners with its 10 miles of trails. Walkers also find many exciting opportunities to get off the concrete and blacktop and pursue walking on more natural and yielding surfaces, such as sand, grass, gravel, snow, and mud. The Wildwood Trail in Hoyt Arboretum (also in Forest Park) boasts some of the finest mud around for a few months of the year before turning to hard-packed dirt, making for some amazing and ever-changing walking terrain. Click here for a trail map.

The park also includes an archery range, soccer field, amphitheatre, tennis courts, picnic sites, and restrooms.  Click here to view a map of the park.

OTHER PARKS AND GARDENS

Beverly Cleary Sculpture Garden  This sculpture garden contains three life-sized bronze statues; all characters from author Cleary’s beloved Ramona Quimby series of children’s books. There’s mischievous Ramona, the tall and serious Henry Huggins, and Henry’s playful dog Ribsy.  Any kid who has read Beverly Cleary’s books, many of which take place in the neighborhoods around Grant Park, will like them. In the summer the city of Portland turns on the water and − splash! − they become sprayers, but this is a nice place to visit any time of year.  Located in Grant Park at NE 33rd Avenue and US Grant Place.

  • Eastbank EsplanadeThe Vera Katz Eastbank Esplanade is 1.5 miles long, extending north from the Hawthorne Bridge, past the Morrison and Burnside Bridges, to the Steel Bridge with connections to eastside neighborhoods as well as across the river to Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Thousands of downtown office workers enjoy their lunch hours walking along the Esplanade and Waterfront Park.
  • Chinese Classical Garden Beautiful urban retreat in the heart of Chinatown with pond, teahouse, pavilions and gardens. If you are on a budget (time or financial), you can peek in through the ornate open windows and see much of the gardens content without paying admission. NW 3rd Avenue and Everett Street (Old Town/Chinatown) — within blocks of the Old Town/Chinatown stop on the MAX Light Rail. Summer hours April 1 – October 31 10AM-6PM. Winter hours November 1 – March 31 10AM -5PM.  Admission.
  • Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden The more than 2,500 rhododendrons, azaleas, and companion plants in the Garden have all been donated by volunteers and interested individuals, or purchased with specially donated funds. Beginning in early spring and continuing into summer, they provide a magnificent display of color. During the fall, many companion trees add dramatic coloring. Spring-fed Crystal Springs Lake surrounds much of the garden, attracting many species of birds and waterfowl.  Location: SE 28th Avenue and & Woodstock Boulevard.
  • Forest ParkSituated in close proximity to downtown Portland, the Park provides the hushed and peaceful environment of a varied and evolving forest ecosystem. Over 70 miles of trails and fire lanes on the 5,157 acre park provide opportunities for recreation, education and enjoyment of the park’s natural beauty. Forest Park appeals to hikers, runners, bicyclists, and others who enjoy recreating in a relatively undisturbed natural setting, just minutes from the urban realm. Forest Park also provides an excellent opportunity to view the native flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest in their natural habitat.  
  • Governor Tom McCall Waterfront ParkThis 29-acre expanse of green lawns along the downtown Portland waterfront was once destined to be a four-lane freeway. Growing environmental awareness led to the city replacing the freeway with this park. In Waterfront Park are several features: the Salmon Street Springs, the Japanese American Memorial Garden, and the USS Oregon Memorial. It is home to many festivals including the Waterfront Blues Fest every summer and some activities of the Rose Festival in early June.  The park is located along the Naito Parkway between SW Harrison Street and NW Glisan Street − between the Steel and Marquam bridges).  Some of the festivals have entry fees.
  • The Grotto Located on the city’s northeast side, the tranquil and spiritual 62-acre Catholic shire and botanical garden hosts reflection ponds and shrines on the top of a basalt cliff. Visit during the holiday season when the grotto is illuminated with thousands of lights. This is a very romantic destination for a special night out.  Located at 8840 NE Skidmore Street.  Telephone 503-254-7371.
  • Laurelhurst ParkThis 27-acre park is located near inner southeast. This park was designed by a horticultural expert from the same team that designed Central Park in New York City. This park has a great atmosphere in good weather, with lots of locals and visitors enjoying the duck pond, the bike paths, and the off leash dog area.  Location:  SE 39th Avenue and Stark Street.
  • Mill Ends ParkThe smallest park in the world. It was originally created satirically for the purpose of being a leprechaun colony and racetrack for snails.  SW Naito Parkway and Taylor Street.
  • Oaks Bottom Wildlife RefugeThis area is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Hawks, quail, pintails, mallards, coots, woodpeckers, kestrels, and widgeons are just the start of the list of birds that one might encounter in Oaks Bottom. The star of the show is the Great blue heron, the official bird of the City of Portland. Oaks Bottom is one of the favorite places of a score of these impressive birds because of its proximity to one of the rookeries on Ross Island. The path begins at Sellwood Riverside Park in Southeast Portland and travels north through the wildlife refuge to the Milwaukee Street Trailhead.

ENTERTAINMENT

More Oregon adults attend opera, jazz and classical music concerts, per capita, than in any other state. A geographical analysis of a survey by the National Endowment for the Arts also showed Oregon was second in overall per-capita attendance at performing arts events.
The survey also revealed that Oregon ranked number one in the percentage of adults attending art museums and craft festivals.

The variety of Portland’s residents and visitors brings to life an atmosphere that is as diverse as the people.  Whether you want to sit back, relax and grab a cold beer from one of many of Portland’s famous breweries or let your hair down and party the night away, there is certain to be a club or hole in the wall to suit your tastes.  From live music to live entertainment, there is always something going on in Portland. 

The Portland Events Calendar covers Portland culture, from local theater to touring productions, and from beer and wine festivals to the nationally recognized Portland Rose Festival.

ANNUAL EVENTS

  • The Bite of OregonHeld in mid-August, Portland’s fine assortment of restaurants get together at the Waterfront for an awesome gastronomical fest backed by the best in local bands.
  • Cinco de Mayo FiestaA lively showcase of Latin rhythms and culture, with music, dance, handicrafts and food.  It is held downtown along the river in early May.
  • Mount Hood Jazz FestivalThis national jazz festival draws artists from across the country to play at the Mount Hood Community College, 12.5 miles east of downtown Portland.  Held in August.
  • Oregon Brewers Festival The Oregon Brewers Festival is a celebration of Portland’s fine tradition of brewing, drawing 50,000 ale fans to this four-day event to enjoy craft brews that are deliciously different to the average American beer.  Held in late July.
  • Parade of Christmas ShipsDating from 1954, this parade now attracts more than 50 highly decorated boats each year along the Columbia and Willamette rivers during the holidays.
  • Portland Gay Pride Parade and Celebration   Late June, Portland’s streets are transformed into a vivid carnival in this annual two-day event that commemorates the anniversary of the 1969 New York Stonewall riots and attracts over 10,000 participants.
  • Portland Rose FestivalThis award-winning festival, held in early June, is Portland’s largest event. The Portland waterfront is turned into a carnival for a week as military ships moor alongside Waterfront Park.  The Grand Floral Parade is the centerpiece of the festival and the second largest all-floral parade in the United States. More than 500,000 spectators line the route, making it the largest spectator event in Oregon.
  • PDX Soapbox Derby   Held at Mt. Tabor Park, the PDX Soapbox Derby takes place annually in mid-August and is a great event for spectators. Some soapbox cars strive for speed and slick design while others are incredibly imaginative and hilarious creations. Bring a picnic lunch and enjoy watching the races at Mt. Tabor Park.  
  • Waterfront Blues FestivalHeld the Fourth of July weekend, the Waterfront Blues Festival draws thousands of blues fans annually to enjoy performances by renowned local and international blues acts.  The location of the festival, along with riverfront, makes it an inviting event.

PROFESSIONAL SPORTS

  • Portland Trail BlazersThe NBA basketball team plays at the Rose Garden Arena. The Blazers are owned by Paul Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates .  The Blazers are the Timbers are the two professional teams in Portland.   They have thousands of loyal fans and they have record sellouts.
  • Portland TimbersThe Timbers Army is the unofficial supporters’ group. They’re known worldwide as being one of the most respected support groups in the country. The Timbers play in the Major League Soccer (MLS) league that they joined in 2011.  Soccer is played at Jeld-Wen Park, which was renovated to make it only a soccer and football stadium.
  • Portland WinterhawksThe Portland Winterhawks are a major junior ice hockey team, playing in the Western Hockey League, a member league in the Canadian Hockey League, the highest level of non-professional hockey in the world. They play their home games at the Memorial Coliseum, which is located in the same area as the Rose Garden Arena.
  • Baseball The Portland Beavers, an AAA affiliate of the San Diego Padres, departed Portland after the 2010 season and relocated to Escondido, California because they did not have a stadium to play in. Efforts are underway to lure another minor league team to the Portland area.

There is horse racing at Portland Meadows and car racing at the Portland International Raceway.  Portland is one of just 16 cities that can host CART Indy car racing. 

 The Oregon Bicycle Racing Association sponsors numerous races.  Their races at the Alpenrose Velodrome are exciting.  At 268.43 meters around with a 16.6 meters radius and a 43 degree bank, Alpenrose is also one of the steepest velodromes in the country. 

MUSIC

Portland has a vibrant music scene. Music venues hold national acts to small underground music groups. Many local pubs and bars offer local bands, usually on weekends. The city is developing a national notoriety as the United States “indie rock capital,” with many high (and low) profiles independent rock music acts calling the city home. Portland maintains a fairly diverse range of live music options.

There are over 50 bars and pubs large and small throughout Portland that feature live music. Check out one of the two weekly alternative newspapers for comprehensive listings; Portland Mercury and Willamette Week.

Aladdin Theatre   A great venue revamped from an old theater hall that offers shows almost nightly, featuring local favorites as well as Northwest and National acts. Food and alcohol available.  3017 SE Milwaukie Avenue.

  • Clark County Amphitheater An amphitheater that is open when the weather is right. Sleep Country USA obtained the naming rights so it is now called Sleep Country Amphitheater.  Located in Washington State − 20 miles north of Portland.  17200 NE Delfel Road,
    Ridgefield, WA.
  • Crystal Ballroom The Ballroom has great art and period light fixtures. This is a clean, well maintained venue. The Crystal has a bar inside with upstairs balcony seating for age 21+. The main floor is standing room only, which makes the show much more intense. The floor gives under the weight of the crowd and can “bounce” if the crowd decides to jump in unison (to bring on an encore, for example).  At the time of its construction, the Crystal’s mechanical dance floor (now fully restored to proper working order) was said to be unique on the Pacific Coast. Today, it may be the only one left in the United States. 1332 West Burnside.
  • Dante’s Home of the weird, bizarre, and devilish live music and shows.  1 SW 3rd Avenue (corner of SW 3rd and West Burnside Street).
  • Doug Fir Lounge Doug Fir Lounge is Portland’s slickest, upscale music venue featuring live shows almost every night of the week in the basement, a restaurant on street level and a bar in both. A decidedly hip variety of traveling and local music.  830 East Burnside.
  • Jimmy Mak’s Jazz Portland’s unofficial home for live Jazz music.  221 NW 10th Avenue (between Davis and Everett),
  • Portland Center for the Performing Arts (PCPA) The center is a premier arts and entertainment venue for the Pacific Northwest. Nationally recognized as one of the top 10 performing arts centers in the nation, PCPA hosts every type of event imaginable. In fact, every year they have over 900 performances in their four theaters in three separate buildings. Musical events are held in the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, which is home to the Oregon Symphony and the Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Contains very immaculate Italian architecture in the hall. The concert hall seats 2,776 people and hosts lectures, symphonies, comedians and big name musical acts.  1037 SW Broadway.
  • Portland Center Stage PCS is housed in the Gerding Theater, formerly Portland’s historic 1891 Armory Building. In 2006, following a $36.1 million renovation, the old armory was transformed into the Gerding Theater. The performance space includes a 599-seat main stage and a 200-seat black-box theater.
  • Rose Quarter The Rose Quarter is suitable for large indoor events of all sorts, including basketball, ice hockey, rodeos, circuses, conventions, ice shows, concerts, and dramatic productions. The arena has a capacity of 20,630 spectators when configured for basketball; it holds smaller crowds when configured for other events. The arena is equipped with state-of-the-art acoustics and other amenities. It is owned by Vulcan Inc., a holding company owned by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.  One North Center Court Street.
  • Roseland Theater Roseland Theater is a great place to go see a rock show or catch a hip hop concert. It is a good sized venue but still gives you that crowded rock show feel. This venue is very fun to watch a show in because the crowd always gets really into the music. It gets very crowded in some parts of the theater. This theater is standing room only. However, there are seats in the upstairs to view the show.
  • Wonder Ballroom  The Wonder Ballroom is a beautifully restored historic building constructed in 1914. With vaulted ceilings and plenty of free parking, the Wonder Ballroom is a versatile facility for a wide variety of performances and events. Located at 128 NE Russell Street.

KIDS

  • Oaks ParkOne of only a handful of continuously-operating amusement parks in the United States.  It was built as an attraction to the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition. Managers of The Oaks sought to portray the resort as “The People’s Park” − a place that reflected the best that the city had to offer while still embracing its citizens’ fun-loving nature.  It’s located along the east bank of the Willamette River in the Sellwood neighborhood.
  • Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) OMSI is great for kids. It has hundreds of hands-on activities and you can spend a full rainy day there and not get bored. Located at 1945 SE Water Avenue.
  • Oregon Zoo The Zoo celebrated its 100th birthday in 1987. Packy put Portland on the map in 1962 when he made international news for being the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in over 44 years.
  • Portland Children’s Museum The mission of Portland Children’s Museum is to inspire imagination, creativity and the wonder of learning in children and adults by inviting moments of shared discovery. The Museum is now the sixth oldest children’s museum in the country, and each year the Museum welcomes more than 245,000 children from birth to age ten and their caregivers. 

OTHER ENTERTAINMENT VENUES

Major theaters include the Artists Repertory Theater, Northwest Children’s Theater, and Portland Center Stage.  Portland also has an opera company and a ballet:  Portland Opera and the Oregon Ballet Theater. 

Housed in the Portland Art Museum, the Northwest Film Center is a regional media arts resource and service organization based in Portland founded to encourage the study, appreciation, and utilization of the moving image arts.

It’s not a statistic that the Chamber of Commerce likes to announce−allegedly Portland has the highest number of strip joints per capita in North America.  But it is a factoid that even the most prudish can take pride in: the prevalence of strip clubs is due to an extremely liberal free-speech clause in the Oregon Constitution and a series of legal cases upholding a stripper’s right to bare all.

Oregon is where speech is freer than anywhere else in the nation − or for that matter, perhaps the world.  Written in 1857, Oregon’s free-speech guarantee in an article of the state constitution. It reads: “No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right.”

So don’t be alarmed if you see offensive displays of materials, nude dancing advertisements, or protesters in Portland.  It’s all about the Oregon constitution and not lax enforcement.

FOOD

It’s a perfect place for growing (and catching) food!  It has an ocean within a couple hours of the metro area for seafood and land in the eastern part of the state suitable for growing cattle and sheep.  In between is the fertile Willamette Valley for growing vegetables, berries, and wine.  You want fruit?  Head for the Hood River Valley, just an hour outside of Portland, famous for apples, pears, and now wine.

In 1994, two restaurants − Higgins and Wildwood − turns the Oregon bounty savored 30 years before by Oregon native James Beard into a culinary movement and spurring a local restaurant renaissance.  The menus at Higgins and Wildwood featured almost exclusively Oregon grown (and caught) food.

Local restaurants are engaged in something of a local-produce arms race to see who can trumpet the most eccentric, specific Oregon-grown specimens. You have pizza places making a point of buying all their produce locally. And a local fast food chain called Burgerville switched over to Oregon Country Natural for their burgers after the beef problems. Burgerville doesn’t stop with beef as they are committed to buying local food for their outlets.

The Oregon food movement has a monthly television series called Living Culture that showcases cuisine and culture in Oregon’s Mid-Willamette Valley. Their mission is to spark interest in local foods through inspiring and positive media.

FARMERS IN OREGON INCREASING THEIR NUMBERS

If there’s one thing a bright young American of the 21st century is not supposed to want to be, it’s a farmer. Proof of this is that a farmer’s national average age is around 60. Buried in U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics lays a dramatic tale: At a time when small farmers are dying out across America, the number of farmers in Oregon is on the rise. The latest USDA “agriculture census” showed the number of full-time farmers in Oregon increasing more than 55 percent from 13,884 in 1974 to 21,580 in 2002, the last year the USDA surveyed. Part-time farming, where many growers who specialize in farmers markets and other buy-local niches begin, is up, too.

Growers and industry analysts ascribe the increase in Oregon farmers to a growing number of small- and medium-sized operations designed to meet increasing demand for local grub. The emerging ethic that insists you should know where your food comes from seems to be gathering speed.

FARMERS MARKETS

In l987, a small group of market managers from around the state organized the Oregon Farmers’ Markets Association to support their work recreating traditional markets in their communities. By 2004, 64 communities within the state enjoyed the benefits of a farmers’ market. Recent estimates indicate that more than 1,000 Oregon farmers participate in farmers’ markets each year and that farmers’ markets attract more than 90,000 people each week during the  months.

Farmers markets strive to bring you healthy local food. There are activities and fun for the whole family. So come experience the market. Enjoy the events. Learn from top chefs. Make your own statement in support of local food!

Portland’s love affair with farmers markets continues to get stronger. The Portland Farmers Market had record attendance in 2009, with more than 620,000 people shopping at the five area markets. That’s a 16 percent increase from the year before. Those shoppers spent nearly $6 million, a nine percent increase from 2008.

EATING OUT

For the first time in the 20-year history of the James Beard Foundation Awards, Portland chefs dominated the competition for Best Chef Northwest honors, taking three of the five finalist slots that were announced in March 2010 in New York City. Naomi Pomeroy of Beast, Cathy Whims of Nostrana, and Andy Ricker of Pok Pok are contenders in the category, along with two Seattle chefs.

Pomeroy, whose restaurant has a meat-centric menu, was named one of Food & Wine magazine’s 2009 Best New Chefs. Ricker, whose Thai restaurant celebrates Southeast Asian street food, got a spread in last June’s Food & Wine.  The Best Chef Northwest category traditionally has been dominated by Seattle chefs.

Three Portland publications have online guides.  Below you will find them.

  • The Oregonian The state largest newspaper has extensive coverage of Portland restaurants.
  • Willamette Week Food Finder You select the location, meal, and cuisine and they’ll bring up a list of matches online.  Here is the link to their Restaurant Guide.  Their annual Cheap Eats Guide will save you money and give you some enjoyable dining.
  • Portland Monthly The monthly magazine online ‘Food and Drink’ has a selection guide for restaurants and for bars.  Their annual print edition of The Food Lovers’ Guide will keep you full for the entire year.

Other sources of reviews include Urbanspoon and Yelp.

DOWNTOWN

The downtown core is home to a small army of food carts. With less overhead than the traditional indoor restaurant, you can pick up a delicious meal on the cheap. Choose from a wide variety of ethnic foods including Indian, Mexican, sweet bakery treats and hot dogs.

  • The Heathman Fundamentally French, with influences from the Northwest to Asia to Italy. Heathman in Portland’s big-deal, big-celebrity hotel, Chef Philippe Boulot, the French-trained former head chef at New York’s Mark Hotel, revels in the fresh fish, game, wild mushrooms, and other ingredients of the Northwest.  Address: 1001 SW Broadway.
  • Huber’s CafePortland’s oldest restaurant since 1879. Known for its turkey dinners and Spanish coffees, poured right at your table.  Location: 411 SW 3rd Avenue, inside the Historic Oregon Pioneer Building.
  • Kenny & Zuke’s Deli They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their pastrami sandwiches are famous along with Grandma Zukin’s goulash.  Kenny Gordon grew up in Queens, graduated from La Varenne cooking school in France and cooked French food for 30 years before he and Zuke opened their restaurant in 2008.  Kenny smokes 2,500 pounds of pastrami a week.   Two locations: 1038 SW Stark Street and 2376 NW Thurman Street.
  • Pazzo Ristorante Located near several movie theaters and the shopping district with solid Italian-Pacific Northwest fusion cuisine. It gets quite crowded on Friday and Saturday nights. Address: 627 SW Washington Street.

Portland City Grill   This expensive, lavish restaurant has been made into one of the most romantic spots in Portland. If you are lucky enough to get a table or smart to reserve a table next to a window, you can enjoy your meal overlooking the city of Portland. The menu offers steak and seafood and you get as good as you pay. Lunch is not expensive and offers the same view and good food. Happy Hour is even cheaper (budget range; 4:30pm to 6:30pm) for the same good food, but much more crowded than lunchtime.   Address:  111 SW Fifth Avenue on the 30th floor of the Unico/US Bancorp Tower.  The building is known locally as “Big Pink.”

PEARL/OLD TOWN/CHINATOWN
  • AndinaA Peruvian restaurant with a good selection of platas (like Spanish tapas) as well as contemporary and traditional Peruvian entrees. Live music is performed most evenings in the lounge, a popular date destination.  Address: 1314 NW Glisan Street.
  • Byways CafeA very ’50s-style diner in the middle of the trendy Pearl District, with spectacular breakfast eating and enormous portions. Get a serious blast from the past, and enjoy the food, too.   Address:  1212 NW Glisan Street.
  • Park KitchenWonderfully inventive, delicious cuisine served in a lovely setting, with a view of the park blocks.  The menu changes daily based on ingredients procured from as few miles away as possible. Address: 422 NW 8th Avenue.
  • The Oregonian’s “Rising Star of the Year” in 2009. The grilled skewers, buns and noodles are simple but fascinating foods.  102 NW Fourth Avenue.
NORTHWEST (AKA NOB HILL) AND GOOSE HOLLOW
  • Goose Hollow Inn  Owned by Bud Clark, the tavern owner served eight years (1985 – 1992) as mayor of Portland.  It has a pleasant deck where you can drink away your frustrations with the rest of the City Hall roustabouts.  The Hollow Reuben sandwich is always a winner. The Goose Hollow Inn is located at 1927 SW Jefferson Street.
  • Laughing Planet  A budget option. They have a number of Vegetarian and vegan dishes available.  Also they have a small outside dining area for those nice days.  Numerous locations in the metro area.  Address for Nob Hill location:  NW 21st and Lovejoy.
  • Papa Haydn If you like dessert, this is the place to go. Although the entrees aren’t all that impressive, sometimes there are four different lemon desserts, not to mention a wide selection of chocolates of every kind.   Address:  701 NW 23rd Avenue.
  • Paley’s Place This eating establishment helped define early on what Portland’s restaurants would eventually be known for—local, fresh, seasonal food, attentive to each individual ingredient, served in a Continental style adventurously adapted to its surroundings. The Oregonian “Restaurant of the Year” in 1999. Address: 1204 NW 21st Avenue.
  • Red Onion Thai  The stylish lime-and-brick-colored dining room serves a long list of off-kilter favorites—all served in sharable portions.  Willamette Week’s runner up for “Restaurant of the Year” in 2009.  Address:  1123 NW 23rd Avenue.
  • Ringside Portland’s original steakhouse. Autographs from famous musicians, athletes and movie stars line the walls. Great steak, dim lighting and excellent service.  Address: 2165 W Burnside.
  • Wildwood  If you want Pacific Northwest Cuisine, Wildwood is the place to eat.  The menu offers the freshest veggies off the trucks of Wildwood’s many farm partners.  Address: 1221 NW 21st Avenue.
SOUTHEAST
  • Beakers and FlashWhile the food shines, the drinks do not disappoint. The Willamette Week’s “Restaurant of the Year” in 2009.   Address:  720 SE Sandy Boulevard.
  • Bamboo SushiSoutheast Portland’s Bamboo Sushi, the first Marine Stewardship Council-certified independent sushi restaurant in the United States, is tackling the question of whether sushi can still wow and delight using seasonal and sustainable ingredients. The answer is a resounding yes.   Address: 310 SE 28th Avenue.
  • Delta Cafe and BarSouthern food (chicken fried steak, jambalaya, grits, etc.) on the cheap. The food is excellent and in large portions.   Address:  46th & SE Woodstock Street.
  • Lauro KitchenSitting at a bar stool, beneath the chalkboard scrawled with daily specials, splitting a dish of olives and a half-carafe of something red, Spanish and spicy until a table opens up—that’s how one ought to start a meal at Lauro.  Address:  3377 SE Division.
  • Le Pigeon The NY Times called Le Pigeon “an informal slightly manic spot with seasonally changing, nonconformist dishes like braised pork belly with creamed corn.”  The dining area is small, seating about 40 patrons. Located at 738 East Burnside Street, just across the river from downtown. 
  • NostranaChef Whims was nominated for Best Chef Northwest in 2009, and her Italian kitchen Nostrana, known for its wood-fired ovens and pasta dishes, is the most mainstream of the Portland nominees.   Address: 1401 SE Morrison.
  • Pok Pok Get the kai yang (grilled chicken) and khao man som tam (green papaya salad) for an absolute classic straight off the streets of Bangkok. Every reviewer gives Pok Pok high marks.  Address: 3226 SE Division.
NORTHEAST/NORTH
  • The BeastThe food at Beast, one of The Oregonian’s two Restaurants of the Year 2008, is inspired by France.  Located at 5425 NE 30th − just off the corner of NE 30th and Killingsworth to the South.
  • Laurelhurst Market Willamette Week’s runner up for “Restaurant of the Year” in 2009. During the day − a butcher shop offering the finest fresh, all natural meats, sausages made in house and artisanal charcuterie. At night − the restaurant. Think steakhouse. Address: 3155 E. Burnside.
  • Mississippi PizzaThe reason we include this restaurant is because they serve gluten-free pizza and gluten-free beer.   Plus they have musical entertainment every night. Address: 3552 N Mississippi.
  • NavarreThe Oregonian “Restaurant of the Year” in 2009.  It still doesn’t look or taste likes anything else in Portland. It has the spirit of a family-run restaurant off the main street in Spain or France, one of those hidden treasures where only the locals eat.  Location: 10 NE 28th Street.
BREAKFAST

Portland is a breakfast city. There are great breakfast brunch restaurants in every neighborhood. Here is a small sample of the many offerings which can/should be further explored.

  • Detour Cafe  Fresh and mostly organic fare in a cozy setting.  Address: 3035 SE Division Street.
  • Equinox Excellent variety of egg scrambles, vegetarian fare.  Address: 830 N Shaver Street at Mississippi Street.
  • Fat City Cafe Local favorite, serves excellent breakfasts. Try the French toast.  Located in Multnomah Village.
  • Gravy Great egg scrambles and other hearty breakfast fare. Can be a long wait on weekends.   Address: 3957 N Mississippi Avenue.
  • Pine State Biscuits Famous biscuits, gravy and bacon.  Address: 3640 SE Belmont Street.
  • Original Hotcake House Famous for excellent food, great prices, quirky after-hours clientele (after 1 a.m. the place gets a bit rough). A real Portland landmark and open 24/7.  Address: 1002 SE Powell Boulevard.

NEIGHBORHOODS

According to the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, (ONI) a city agency, there are more than 90 neighborhood associations in Portland. Their Web site has links to all the individual neighborhoods data, calendars, map, and city information. This site has so much information and links, it is difficult to navigate. But perseverance will be rewarded.  View a Portland Neighborhood Map in PDF format.

The Portland Monthly magazine features neighborhoods in their April issue every year. The magazine combines all the data from 95 Portland neighborhoods and 25 suburbs in an online reference guide.  Included in the document are housing prices, school ratings, demographics, crime statistics, parks, commuting information, and services. Click here to access the online tool.

The city is divided into five sections, each with many distinct neighborhoods in their own right, with unique characters and different attractions.  

SOUTHWEST

 The Southwest section is home to downtown Portland, the heart of the city and home to modern commercial towers, under construction condominiums, converted lofts, green space, luxurious hotels, and interesting architecture. In the center of it all is Pioneer Square, where festivals, shopping, restaurants, and people meet to hang out.

South of downtown is the University Park area, home to Portland State University, the largest college in Oregon in terms of enrollment. Further south is South Waterfront, an urban revitalization area at the southern end of the streetcar line, near the Ross Island Bridge and with newly built glass residential towers, an aerial tram and the campus of Oregon Health and Science University.

Burnside Triangle, a micro-neighborhood within downtown, is the center of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/transsexual community in Portland, although much of the infamous nightlife which existed throughout the 80’s and early 90’s has disappeared or moved to other areas of town.

Goose Hollow lies west across 1-405 from downtown and is sort of a quieter, more residential extension of Downtown, and is primarily of interest to travelers as the home of PGE Park, home of Portland’s Beaver baseball and Timbers soccer teams.

Lair Hill is another quiet neighborhood south across 1-405 from downtown. Look for the Great Northwest Bookstore in an old church in this neighborhood, the Lair Hill Cafe, and the National College of Natural Medicine. Multnomah Village and Hillsdale are also pleasant neighborhoods further south of this hilly part of town.

NORTHWEST

The Northwest section of town, just north of downtown, is home to the Old Town/Chinatown area and is where Portland was first settled and is home to some historic buildings, interesting shops, arcades, clubs, and bars, and is arguably the nightlife center of Portland. The neighborhood also holds remnants of Portland’s once vibrant Chinatown including a detailed Asian inspired designed archway entry from Burnside Street and contains a fair amount of social services for homeless and mentally ill.

JAMISON PARK IN THE PEARL

Just to the west is the Pearl District, a very hip and trendy neighborhood on the streetcar line that not long ago contained  warehouses and industrial spaces, some occupied, some empty. The economic success of the Pearl has made it a frequently cited urban planning model, and it is an excellent place to hang out and people watch, eat in fine restaurants, and visit Portland’s famous Powell’s Bookstore.

To the north of the Pearl, at the northern end of the streetcar line is the Northwest District (Nob Hill), also on the trendy side and with a variety of retail shops, bars, restaurants, and even a couple of grocery stores. West of this is the West Hills, where the well-to-do of Portland have traditionally lived. You can see newer homes suspended on stilts above the hillside. Because of the geography, the streets in the West Hills are a bit of a maze. If you think you won’t get lost, though, the West Hills might be an interesting trek; you’ll find lavish mansions, ornate public staircases from several different time periods, and some good views of downtown.

NORTHEAST

 The Northeast section, west of the I-5 freeway, is home to Hollywood, a neighborhood centered around the ornate Hollywood Theater on Sandy Boulevard. Ironically, the Hollywood Theater kind of goes against the Hollywood grain, and frequently shows great movies that you might not get a chance to see at more Hollywood-oriented theaters. During warm months, a Saturday farmers market offers fresh produce.

Just north is Beaumont Village, a neighborhood along Fremont Street (in the 40s blocks). Alberta Street in the Concordia neighborhood between Martin Luther King and NE 30th Street has a thriving arts district, with the Last Thursday event; a free street fair full of amazing art and performers held on the last Thursday of every month. The area is very offbeat and due to the Last Thursday, it is home to a great selection of art galleries.

Irvington is a beautiful residential neighborhood north of NE Broadway, known for its historic homes and a number of restaurants, coffeehouses, and interesting shops along Broadway between approximately NE 13th Avenue and 24th Avenue.

Kerns straddles E Burnside Street and is most notable for a thriving restaurant row along 28th Avenue between Glisan and Stark Streets.

Laurelhurst, an older residential neighborhood straddles Burnside and is in both NE and SE Portland.  It is known for its mansions, the expansive Laurelhurst Park, elegant old houses, and a yearly Greek Festival which takes place at the Greek Orthodox Church on NE Glisan Street, between NE 32nd Street and 31st Street.

SOUTHEAST

Southeast Portland is home to the Sellwood-Moreland neighborhood, once an independent working class suburb of Portland that was later annexed and is now known for its collection of antique shops, restaurants, a laid back neighborhood feel, and parks.

Hawthorne Boulevard, which runs east-west across the river from downtown, has a broad selection of shops including a branch of Powell’s Bookstore and the ornate Bagdad Theater Pub, and is a center of the counter-culture/bohemian community which is dissipating to make way for a variety of upscale businesses. Belmont Street, while not as major as Hawthorne, also has a decent collection of shops, restaurants and entertainment, with the greatest concentration of businesses around SE 34th Avenue.

Also running parallel to Hawthorne is Division Street, home to several of Portland’s most original and popular yet off the beaten path restaurants. Nearby is the Clinton District, a nice little neighborhood along Clinton Street home to a small assortment of shops, wonderful restaurants, and the infamous Clinton Street Theater Pub which shows a great assortment of esoteric films and the world’s longest running Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Just north of Clinton is Ladd’s Addition, an early planned subdivision and a deviation in the grid pattern, with mostly elm-lined residential streets and a nice place to walk around and enjoy old homes.

Further south is the neighborhood along Woodstock Boulevard, centered on SE 45th Avenue, which is more oriented towards residents but is home to Reed College, a private university with a quiet, green, medieval styled campus.

To the east is 82nd Avenue, which used to be one of the seedier parts of Portland but is changing as new homeowners move in and new businesses open. The avenue is home to the area’s largest collection of Asian restaurants, grocers and related businesses. This is also the place to find some big box stores like Wal-Mart and the Home Depot.

NORTH

 In North Portland, Albina and Mississippi avenues host a lively neighborhood that has thus far managed to stay one step ahead of gentrification. The lead singer of Modest Mouse lives just off of the renewed Mississippi Avenue commercial district as does James Mercer of The Shins.

The neighborhood has a couple of great brunch spots (Gravy, Equinox), counter-culture shops, restaurants, comic book stores, and smaller boutique shopping options. Every summer Mississippi Street hosts a well-attended street fair.

 North Portland is home to the University of Portland, which sits on a scenic bluff overlooking the Willamette River. The women’s soccer team at the University is always ranked among the top in the country. This residential neighborhood benefits from a very distinct “college-town” feel.

St. Johns, near the confluence of the Willamette and the Columbia, is more like a small town than a neighborhood, and is home to the beautiful St. Johns’ Bridge, with its copper green colored Gothic arches, and Cathedral Park, which runs along the Willamette River.

The bridge has two 408 feet tall Gothic towers, a 1,207 feet center span and a total length of 2,067 feet. The adjacent park and neighborhood of Cathedral Park are named after the Gothic Cathedral-like appearance of the bridge towers. It is the tallest bridge in Portland, with 400 feet tall towers and a 205 feet navigational clearance.

MEDIA

Portland is the home of two Pulitzer-Prize-winning publications and a number of smaller tabloid-format newspapers of note. Due to some heated local politics the town has become a rather thorny place for journalism.

  • Just OutJust Out focuses on issues of the Gay and Lesbian community. In Portland, “queer” issues−the neutral term of choice−are hot topics, with rural Portlanders swinging right on issues like gay marriage and a huge majority of the rest of the city swinging to the rabid left of absolute inclusion. Visitors to Portland would be ill-advised to expound anti-gay sentiment.  Recall that President George H.W. Bush referred to Portland as “Little Beirut” because of the protesters he encountered in the city during visits. Issued every other Friday, free.
  • The OregonianNationally recognized, Pulitzer-winning daily broadsheet newspaper known for covering local and regional news.  The paper is distributed throughout the state and into Vancouver, WA. The paper suffers as a city guide for the out-of-towner as its arts coverage is limited, but for those interested in longer stays it is a good primer on state politics. Movie times are up-to-date, and the city’s only printed television schedule is included daily, with an expanded form on Sundays.  Circulation:  Daily including Sundays.
  • The Portland MercuryAnother “alt-weekly” newspaper the Portland version of Seattle’s The Stranger, this tabloid-sized hipster-focused magazine has taken a bite out of the Willamette Week’s advertising in recent years, meaning that those looking for movie times or rock show listings can often find them in the pages. Readers offended by foul language or grammatical inaccuracy may be frustrated by the editorial content of the paper. Free, published Wednesday evenings.
  • Portland Tribune This broadsheet-sized upstart has struggled since its start to find a spot between the Willamette Week and The Oregonian, the city’s mainstays and the paper’s main competitors.  Not a good read for out of towners. Free, published Thursdays accompanied by daily updates to its Web site.
  • Willamette Week An “alternative weekly” newspaper, recently won a Pulitzer Prize for its investigative reporting. This boomer-hipster hybrid sometimes struggles from identity freak out but is likely the quickest and most immediate help to out of towners. The papers new annual city guide “Finder” can be found around town and is specifically tailored for those new to Portland. Sometimes referred to as Willy Week or “Willy” by old-guard Portland hipsters. Free Wednesday mornings.

Most other publications would be of only passing interest to travelers but to read what locals think and feel, some of the better neighborhood papers: Northwest Examiner, Portland Observer, Skanner, and St. John’s Sentinel.

PUBLIC RADIO

Portland is a Mecca for public radio.  What other city the size of Portland supports four public radio stations?  We have all kinds of genres for all kinds of people and you can listen to them as they all support a live stream.

  • KOPB at 91.5 offers news and talk.It is by far the most popular public station in Oregon.  Most Oregonians can listen to OPB as it broadcasts to numerous stations throughout the state.
  • KBPS at 89.9 is the all classical station.All Classical broadcasts FM and HD radio to Oregon and Washington from their flagship station in Portland, Oregon.  Repeater stations are also located in the Columbia Gorge and Oregon Coast.
  • KMHD at 89.1 is a staple of the Portland jazz scene for the last 25 years showcasing the best of jazz and blues. Licensed to Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham and operated by Oregon Public Broadcasting, KMHD champions jazz performances and education to ensure that this uniquely American art form continues to thrive in our region.
  • KBOO at 90.7 offers another side of the story. Lots of talk but their music programs are outstanding. The station’s programming places an emphasis on providing a forum for unpopular, controversial, or neglected perspectives on issues.

BEYOND PORTLAND

If you intend on staying longer in the Pacific Northwest, Portland is fairly centrally located in the region, making for nice extended trips to Seattle, Vancouver BC, Eugene, and many state and national parks.

 Located just 50 miles (80 km) from the Cascade Range and 90 miles (145 km) from the Pacific Ocean, Portland is the perfect home base for day trips to Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, the Columbia River Gorge, the northern part of the Oregon Coast, or the wineries in the Willamette Valley.

Travel Oregon is the official travel guide to planning an Oregon vacation. Whether your Oregon vacation destination is Greater Portland, Mt. Hood or the Oregon Coast, start your trip here!

THE OREGON COAST

The Oregon coast (all 362 miles) is public land so you can walk anywhere on the beach.

Located 80 miles west of Portland, Cannon Beach is a great place to start your coastal journey.  Cannon Beach has nine miles of accessible beachfront, perfect for kiters, castle-builders, beachcombers, and day walkers. 

Haystack Rock, which juts out from the coastline some 235 feet, is something you don’t want to miss.  A picnic at the beach is just the thing.  Downtown Cannon Beach is full of shops and places to eat. 

Take the 4-mile loop hike in Ecola State Park (north end of Cannon Beach) for a view of some magnificent old-growth timber as well as the Pacific Ocean. At the 2-mile turnaround, you can take a look at some WWII bunkers.  At 1,100 feet above the ocean, this was one of the lookouts along the Pacific coast used during the war to observe Japanese subs. Ecola is also an excellent spot for a picnic lunch.

The Fort Clatsop National Park was the home of the winter quarters of the Corps of Volunteers (Lewis and Clark) for North Western Discovery in 1805-06.  It was created in 2005 by congress. The Visitor Center includes two theatres, an exhibit hall, laser disc programs in the lobby, and many displays that are rotated through the year. The park has several trails, a picnic area, restroom facilities, and a replica of the fort the Corps of Discovery constructed as winter quarters after crossing what is now the United States in search of a water trade route to the Pacific Ocean. Fort Clatsop is located in the northwest corner of Oregon. It is six miles south of Astoria off Highway 101.

 Of the nine original lighthouses on the Oregon coast, seven are open to the public and most are still active working lighthouses.

The Oregon Coast Highway, U.S. 101, is listed as the most beautiful drive in the Western Hemisphere by the Guardian newspaper of the United Kingdom.

Two Web sites For Oregon Coast Visitors:

  • Oregon Coastal Atlas The OCA is a multi-group project that has the ambitious goal of being a useful resource for the various audiences that make up the management constituency of the Oregon Coastal Zone.
  • Oregon Coastal Management Program The site has a “visitors” page as well as a page for “teachers and students.”

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE

The National Scenic Area Columbia River Gorge is a spectacular river canyon 85 miles long and up to 4,000 feet deep. Carved by volcanic eruptions and Ice Age floods over millions of years, the Gorge is the only sea-level route through the Cascade Mountains. The cataclysmic floods also transformed flowing river tributaries into hanging waterfalls creating the largest concentration of waterfalls in North America. 

The Gorge is also host to a unique diversity of plant and animal life, including over 800 species of wildflowers, 15 of which exist nowhere else on earth.  This wild and beautiful place has also served as a human corridor for tens of thousands of years and was explored by Lewis and Clark and traversed by thousands of Oregon Trail pioneers.

The Columbia Gorge is the Northwest’s world-class outdoor playgrounds.  It’s considered the windsurfing and kiteboarding capital of the world as it functions like a wind tunnel, generating 30-knot winds as pressure differentials in weather east and west of the Cascades find an outlet in the deep cut of the Gorge. 

Hiking to the Gorge’s waterfalls is a Portland-area classic day trip, and in late fall and early spring, when the heights of the Cascades are buried beneath deep snow, the Gorge is the number-one option for area hikers and mountain bikers.

Your first stop on the way to Hood River is Multnomah Falls which is about 20 miles east of Troutdale on Interstate 84. The falls is 542 feet high and features a paved trail to the top for those willing to make the trek. The view is worth it. For a scenic drive travel East 15 miles on Interstate 84 to exit 18, take the Historic Columbia River Highway 9 miles to the turn off for Larch Mountain, go 14 miles up East Larch Mountain Road to parking lot, short walk to Sherrard Point for viewpoint, drive back to the highway, then continue about a mile to Crown Point, then 9 miles to Multnomah Falls. There are a number of smaller falls along the way, which freeze in the winter. To get back to Interstate 84 continue east to the next freeway entrance.

Considered one of Oregon most scenic hikes, Eagle Creek passes half a dozen major waterfalls. The trail is also an engineering marvel. To maintain an easy grade through this rugged canyon, the builders blasted ledges out of sheer cliffs, bridged a colossal gorge and even chipped a tunnel through solid rock behind 120-foot Tunnel Falls.  You have two options: A moderate 4.2-mile hike to Punchbowl Falls (with 400 feet of elevation gain), or a difficult, 12-mile hike to Tunnel Falls (with 1,200 feet of elevation gain).  Directions:  I-84 to Eagle Creek exit 41, turn right and keep right along the creek for a mile to the road’s end.

If time permits, a stop at Bonneville Dam includes the underwater viewing fish ladder, museum exhibits and hatchery.

Hood River is famous for its wind, but there is so much more to enjoy in this quaint town.  Take a stroll down Main Street and window shop. Hood River also boasts several microbreweries and vineyards. You can view the sail boarders and kite boarders at a park along the river in the downtown area. Consider lunch or dinner at the famous Columbia Gorge Hotel in Hood.  A visit to the Gorge Interpretive Center in Stevenson, Washington is worth your time.

At the east side of Hood River, you can head south on Highway 35 and make a run to Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood for dinner or to stay overnight at the lodge.  It’s about an hour drive.

MT. HOOD

The Mt. Hood region and its more than sixty miles of forested mountains, waterfalls and myriad lakes and streams are a haven for outdoor adventure. The mountain is home to four ski areas. The canopied landscape of Mt. Hood National Forest features an abundance of campsites with drop-dead views and some of Oregon’s most challenging hiking and mountain biking trails. The countless rivers and lakes crisscrossing the region are a haven for fishermen seeking salmon or trout and for thrill-seekers looking for a rush from kayaking or rafting the Sandy and Clackamas Rivers.

Perched 6,000 feet up on the massive south shoulder of Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge is a classic WPA-era mountain lodge that was built completely by hand from local stone. The lodge is a masterpiece of Cascadian architecture, and its long hallways of fir and cedar were made infamous by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

Built in 1936 as a home for skiers and climbers, Timberline is today home to North America’s longest ski season. In the height of winter, the ground floor of the lodge is typically fully buried in snow, with entry through a snow tunnel, or directly into the second floor. The lodge, together with its cozy rooms, two resident St. Bernards (Bruno and Heidi), pub and restaurant, is a welcome relief after a full day on the slopes.

Ski Mt. Hood where skiing is almost a year-around activity.  The high-speed Palmer lift begins operations each spring, and it whisks skiers close to the summit.  The Palmer Snowfield, located at the 8,500 foot level of the mountain, offers over 3,690 vertical feet of skiing and riding!

Here is a list of day hikes in  Mt. Hood National Forest Zigzag Ranger District.

THE MOUNTAIN

Mt. Hood is Oregon’s highest point and a prominent landmark visible up to a hundred miles away. Mt. Hood is host to twelve named glaciers or snow fields, the most visited of which is Palmer Glacier.  Glaciers and snowfields cover about 80 percent of the mountain above the 6,900-foot. 

It has convenient access and minimum of technical climbing challenges. About 10,000 people attempt to climb Mount Hood each year.  As of 2010, more than 140 people had died in climbing-related accidents since records have been kept on Mt. Hood, the first in 1896. Though avalanches are a common hazard on other glaciated mountains, most Mt. Hood climbing deaths are the result of falls and hypothermia.

The most popular route, dubbed the south route, begins at Timberline Lodge and proceeds up Palmer Glacier to Crater Rock, the large prominence at the head of the glacier. Climbers then proceed around Crater Rock and cross Coalman Glacier on the Hogback, a ridge spanning from Crater Rock to the approach to the summit. The Hogback terminates at a bergschrund where Coalman Glacier separates from the summit rock headwall, and then to the Pearly Gates, a gap in the summit rock formation. Once through the Pearly Gates, climbers proceed to the right onto the summit plateau and then to the summit proper.

OREGON WINE COUNTRY

Although wine is grown in many areas throughout the state, the prime wine growing area is located 25 miles or so southeast of Portland in Yamhill County (western edge of the Willamette Valley). Here you will find some of the most scenic vineyards on the west coast. There are over 100 wineries in this area, from small mom and pop operations with tiny one room tasting areas all the way up to tasting rooms that rival some of Napa’s finest.

Oregon is famous for its Pinot noir and Pinot gris varietals; the climate is considered perfect for these grapes, and the area has gained world-wide note as one of the premier wine regions on the planet.

Modern winemaking in the Willamette Valley dates back 40 years with the genius of three UC Davis refugees who believed that Oregon was an ideal place to grow cool-climate varieties. Between 1965 and 1968, David Lett, Charles Coury, and Dick Erath separately forged their way to the north Willamette Valley despite negative rumblings from their Davis cohorts who told them it was impossible to grow wine grapes in Oregon. They were the first in Oregon to plant Pinot noir. These wine pioneers whole heartedly believed that Oregon would one day become an important wine-growing region.

When David Lett entered his Oregon Pinot noir in the 1979 Gault-Millau French Wine Olympiades and won top Pinot noir honors against France’s best labels, the world started to take notice of Oregon as a serious winemaking region. In just 40 years Oregon has evolved into a world-class wine growing state with 15 approved winegrowing regions and more than 300 wineries producing wine from over 70 grape varieties.  Oregon will always be a place where small, handcrafted wines reign.

TOURS

The Oregon Wine Country Web site has a three-day weekend tour of the wine country that you can modify to fit your time schedule.  Travel Portland has by far the best resource for planning a tour of the Willamette Valley wine country that shows 20 vineyards to visit along with a map that displays where the vineyards are located.

There are a number of wine tour companies operating in the area. Sunshine Limo Service has knowledgeable drivers and a staff that can assist you in having a great experience in Oregon’s beautiful wine country.  A Nose for Wine Tours, the first in the state to feature “Educational Wine Tours” has over 500 tours under its belt and are highly recommended by wineries for the entertaining and relaxed style.  Another site, Willamette Valley Wines, has a page full of wine touring companies along with links to most of the valley wineries. 

Should you desire to spend a night or two in the wine country, there are numerous inns, hotels, and B&Bs that will make your stay memorable.   For a list, visit the Willamette Valley Wines site.