Your Visit to Portland

The purpose of this section, Your Visit to Portland, is to help you with your stay in Portland.  It assumes you are visiting Portland because you are considering relocating to Portland and want to know what to see, what to do, and what neighborhoods to visit.Stay in the downtown area.  If you want to understand Portlandia, you have to mingle with the Portlanders and downtown is the best spot to see the good as well as the bad.

Unlike most USA cities, Portland is one of a handful of cities to increase its core density population according to the 2000 US Census.  It is a thriving city, not a decaying city.

Get a map of Portland and if you’re planning to visit areas outside of Portland, get a map of Oregon.  Best source of maps is the American Automobile Association. If you going to travel outside of Portland, request travel publications from the Oregon Tourism Commission.

Apps Just for Portland

At CitySync Apps you can check out apps that developers are doing with public data. You can see all the apps submitted. Apps are ranked or promoted in terms of their display order by their overall vote ranking, their number of comments, their date of submission, and whether their source code and executable is available via an open source repository or not. There is a page of Portland Apps at the Moving to Portland site and many are just for visitors.

Guide Books

Consider purchasing a basic guide book. Here are some recommendations:

  • We recommend Portland’s Best Places or the Insiders Guide To Portland Oregon.  Both are available at Powell’s Books right here in Portland.
  • If you’re going to explore beyond Portland consider the Lonely Planet Washington, Oregon & the Pacific Northwest.
  • The Zinester’s Guide to Portland is not a guide to Portland’s zine culture; it’s a guide to Portland by people involved in Portland’s zine culture. It began as a 16-page give-away to attendees at the first Portland Zine Symposium in 2001 and has grown to a 128-page book that is lively, informative and beautifully illustrated by Nate Beaty and many others. What’s best about the book is its utility. It’s written by and for people who ride their bikes and take TriMet and don’t have a lot of money to spend on fancy restaurants. Cost is $5.95 at Powell’s Books in Portland.

Public Transportation, Driving, Bikers,

and Walking

Public Transportation  It’s possible to get by without a car as public transportation is available in most sections of the city.  If you’re exploring neighborhoods, it’s best to have a automobile.  MAX (light rail) has 43-miles of rail line and covers a east/west route as well as a line to the Portland International Airport.

Portland streetcars started operation on July 20, 2001.  The streetcars link downtown with the Northwest area,downtown to the Portland State University campus, and South Waterfront.

PDX Bus is brilliant and the only transit app you’ll need to get around on public transportation in Portland. It displays MAX stops, bus stops, WES stops, and streetcars.  Every TriMet bus stop and rail station as its own unique Stop ID number. Enter the Stop ID number and get the arrivals for that stop. It’s free for the iPhone.

Driver Warning on Intersections  Intersections are a real problem in Portland because the city allows cars to park very close to the intersection thereby obstructing the driver’s view of traffic.  You have to pull well into the crosswalk in order to determine if any cars are coming from your left or right.  This action causes problem for vehicles turning into the street where you are stopped as well as pedestrians.  So approach intersections with caution.

Watch for Bikers  Portland is arguably the most bike-friendly big city in America, which makes it a crucial laboratory for laws that encourage cycling over driving.  The city has more bike lanes than any other city in America.  This translates to thousands of cyclists on the street of Portland.  In 2007, there were six fatalities from biking accidents. Most were the result from bike lanes laid adjacent to car lanes: the gruesome “right hook,” in which a car turns right, crossing over a bike lane, the driver often unaware of cyclists riding up in a blind spot.  Make certain your vehicle’s mirrors are adjusted so you can see bikers.  And when turning right, look in the mirror and over your right shoulder.  See Bike Safety for a detailed explanation of the “green boxes” designed to prevent the crossing over a bike lane.

Driver Warning on Walkers  Oregon law treats all non-motorized crosswalk users as if they were pedestrians, even bicyclists. The Oregon Pedestrian Crosswalk Law of 2006 requires that vehicles allow pedestrians to exercise the right of way in a marked, or unmarked crosswalk or with a walk signal if the pedestrian is in the lane or next to the lane of travel. An “unmarked crosswalk” is a place where a “marked crosswalk” would be placed between two corners if someone decided to paint crosswalk lines. Further, if the intersection has a traffic control device, the vehicle must yield if the pedestrian is less than six feet from the lane into which the vehicle is turning. If the roadway has a safety island, then the vehicle must only yield when the pedestrian is on the vehicle’s side of the island.

Getting Around  The Lion and Rose Bed and Breakfast Inn in the Northeast neighborhood of Irvington has an excellent video on “Getting Around in Central Portland.”  Click here to view it.


twitterAs 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 exclusive contests and ticket giveaways.

 Portland International Airport

Splash_pdx2PDX is the Portland airport code. It is located within Portland’s city limits just south of the Columbia River. In 2008, the Portland International Airport was chosen for the third consecutive year as the best U.S. airport by Conde Nast Traveler magazine. In 2013, a Travel+Leisure magazine readers’ poll named PDX the best US airport, based on its on-time record, dining, shopping, and mass transportation into the city. In 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010, PDX was identified as the top airport for business travelers in the United States by Condé Nast Traveler magazine. The Condé Nast ranking was based upon criteria including location and access, ease of connections, food, shops, amenities, comfort and design, and perceived safety and security; PDX received the top overall score, and the magazine noted the airport’s environmentally friendly initiatives, including the airport’s use of solar panels for power, its connection to the MAX Light Rail, and its recycling of its restaurants’ used oil and grease.

 PDX offers services including free Wi-Fi wireless Internet access, a children’s play area, and postal services. PDX has a shopping mall behind its ticketing counters, with all shops and restaurants open every day. Because the state is one of the few in the nation with no sales tax, all stores offer tax-free shopping. The Port of Portland also requires all airport shops and restaurants to practice fair retail pricing—businesses are not allowed to charge more than at off-airport locations.

Getting to Your Destination

Most transportation providers serve downtown Portland, which is approximately 20-40 minutes from Portland International Airport.

  • One of the most economical options is using bus and van service. You can find schedules and links to bus/van service at the Ground Transportation page at the Portland Airport Web site.
  • A taxi ride may also appeal to you. The fare is more expensive at roughly $30-$40 (not including tip) but the trip is faster.  Limo service is also available.
  • The airport maintains a list of services available at Portland International Airport.
  • Portland’s MAX light-rail Red Line service runs from Portland International Airport to downtown Portland every 15 minutes from 4:37 a.m. until 11:35 p.m.  MAX operates every day of the year and a one-way trip from the airport to downtown takes about 40 minutes.  Tickets may be purchased at an automated ticket machine, conveniently located near the Airport MAX station or at a MAX station stop in the Portland area.

Driving in the Portland Metro Area

Portland Drivers are Nation’s Most Courteous Drivers

According to the 2014 “In The Driver’s Seat Road Rage Survey” released by roadside assistance service AutoVantage, Portland drivers are the nation’s most courteous drivers.  Just how polite are the city’s drivers? Well, Portland motorists are the least likely in the nation to say they honk their horns at other drivers, the survey found. Seattle came in second in that category, but failed to finish in the top 5 cities with the most courteous drivers. For the survey, commuters in 25 big U.S. cities were asked about a host of driving behaviors related to road rage. This is the second time in five years that Portland has been ranked at the top. AutoVantage last conducted the survey in 2009, when Portland drivers also earned the title of most courteous. The AuotVantage survey measured behaviors such as speeding, running red lights, driving while talking on a cell phone, cutting between lanes without signaling and honking. The U.S. cities with the most courteous drivers: 1. Portland, 2. Pittsburgh, 3. St. Louis, 4. San Francisco, 5. Charlotte.

Red-light Cameras in Portland

Red-light camera are underground sensors at the crosswalk or stop line that are activated when a car crosses over them while the light is red.  Drivers caught by the automatic cameras receive a $242 ticket.  It is not the same as a photo radar where you see a trailer you see parked along the curb that catches speeders. According to the Redlight Camera website there are 16 camera in the City of Portland.  Below are some of the locations in Portland:

  • W. Burnside at N.W. 19th Avenue, eastbound approach
  • E. Burnside at S.E. Grand Avenue, northbound approach
  • S.W. 4th at S.W. Jefferson Street, northbound approach
  • N.E. Broadway at N.E. Grand Avenue, westbound approach
  • N.E. Sandy Blvd. at N.E. 39th Avenue, westbound and northbound approach
  • S.E. Grand Avenue at S.E. Madison Street, northbound approach
  • S.E. Foster at 96th Avenue
  • S.E. Stark at 99th Avenue
  • S.E. Stark at 102nd Avenue
  • S.E. Washington at S.E. 103rd Avenue, eastbound approach

Be aware that other cities besides Portland in the metro area also use red-light cameras. Visit the Redlight Camera website for a list.

Safety for Motor Vehicle Drivers

bike_boxPortland, which has a higher percentage of people who bike to work than any other large American city, is considered one of the country’s most bike-friendly urban centers.  We have almost 300 miles of marked bike lanes. A number of deaths have occurred in recent years – six in 2007.  Most are caused by what is known as the “right hook” turn in which a car turning right fails to see a bicyclist riding along the street’s right side.  The biker hasn’t much of a chance when a car turns into them.  So when you are about to turn right (especially if you are driving next to a marked bike lane), it is important to check your right outside mirror as well as to look over your right shoulder to ascertain if any bike riders are in the path of your turn.  You must yield to the biker!

The colorful green boxes reserve a spot for cyclists in front of cars when all are stopped at red lights. When the light changes, bicyclists are able to move ahead of cars, whether they continue straight or make a right turn.  The city installed 14 of the boxes in 2008.  The photo on the left is a city crew installing a box in March, 2008.  The photo was taken by Doug Beghtel, a photographer with The Oregonian.

Here are the rules:

  • When traffic signals are red, only bicyclists are allowed in the 14-foot-long green boxes painted across traffic lanes. Cars and trucks must line up behind the boxes.
  • Motorists at the intersections can no longer turn right on red, even if bicyclists aren’t in the boxes or in green-painted bike lanes leading to and from the boxes.

Motorists who enter the boxes at a red light or turn right on red could face a fine of $242.

Where to Stay

governorhotelDowntown Portland has all the major chains (e.g., Marriott, Hilton, Embassy Suites, etc.) plus a handful of independents.    Try the Portland Oregon Visitor Association reservation system – book a hotel online via the POVA Big Deal system. Another site that allows visitors to book a hotel is Downtown Hotels.

If you’re in town to attend a meeting at the Convention Center, you can locate a hotel at the Portland Convention Center Hotels website. This map of downtown shows all the hotels − click here to view it.

Rent from people in over 34,000 cities and 192 countries (this includes Portland) via Airbnb.

Boutique Hotel in Downtown Portland

In January 2005, 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. Four local hotels earned a place on Travel & Leisure magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Hotels in the World. Seattle, by contrast, had only three hotels on the list; Denver had two. The 5th Avenue Suites Hotel, 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.

  • Heathman Hotel  Fine art, including original Warhols, adorn the walls of the hotel, which originally opened in 1927. The tea court’s teal rococo-pattern couches are made from rubber tree sap and soy-based foam — installed during a remodeling in 2010.  A 99 percent landfill-free bathroom remodeling in June 2009, using sustainably grown teak, installing recycled tile over existing flooring and donating old fixtures to the ReBuilding Center, a Portland business that reclaims used building materials.
  • Hotel Lucia
  • Hotel Vintage Plaza

Downtown Hotels

  • Ace Hotel  A great place to absorb Portland’s artful vibe and green sensibility. The Ace features artwork painted directly on the walls and a fleet of bicycles so guests can traverse the city like natives.
  • Rivers Edge Hotel + Spa  Located at the edge of the new South Waterfront District on the Willamette River.
  • Downtown Portland Hotels  A single source of information on close to 20 hotels in and around the downtown area — the rates for each hotel are available on the site.
  • Hilton Hotel  Located in the heart of downtown, the Hilton has the most rooms (782) of any hotel in the metro area.
  • Hotel deLuxe  Former the Mallory, this hotel has been remodeled and reopened for business in May 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.
  • Hotel Modera  The new upscale boutique hotel has undergone a massive renovation of the space. The midcentury modern Modera is a block or so from the Keller Auditorium and down the street from the Portland Performing Arts Center.
  • 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.
  • Mark Spencer  A good choice for downtown.  Its 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 – they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Their pastrami sandwiches are famous along with Grandma Zukin’s goulash.
  • Monaco Hotel  This full-service hotel is located in the Goose Hollow neighborhood which is just west of the heart of downtown but still a short walk to the downtown restaurants and activities.
  • 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.
  • Pearl District Hotels  This site connects you to Pearl District hotels plus many other hotels in Portland.

Extended Stay Hotels

  • Portland Extended Stay Hotels   All of the Portland Extended Stay Hotels have been inspected and rated by AAA and Mobil Travel Guides.

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.

Hotels Outside of Downtown

  • Online travel website Travelocity announced in June of 2011 the five most cutting-edge green hotels in the country. Among them, was the Aloft Portland Airport. Aloft is located on the Max line and offers a “Bike and Fly” program, warehousing bikes for up to 14 days at no cost to flying cyclists. Travelocity singled out the Portland location of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc.
  • Hollywood Suites by Hilton in Beaverton includes studios, one- and/or two-bedroom suites feature separate living and sleeping areas. Each has a fully-equipped kitchen with full-size refrigerator, microwave, 2-burner stove and dishwasher.

Dining in the Rose City

Visit our restaurant page for a complete guide to dining out in the Portland metro area.