Portland, Oregon Travel Guide | Where to eat, drink and stay in Portland, Oregon
Many people arrive in Portland with visions of Portlandia in their mind. And while Oregon’s largest city certainly benefits from the vibe created by freethinkers, eco-warriors, and laid-back artisans satirized by the infamous Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein show (super cute cafes!), it should be borne in mind that pop culture only tells part of the story.
Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest just below the Washington state border, Portland enjoys relatively mild winters and temperate summers, so there is rarely a bad time to visit, provided it is don’t mind your seasons being served with a side of rain. The citizens are quite in touch with the environment, because no matter how far you stay in the concrete jungle, there is a quick escape into nature. It’s a perk that has helped the city attract the sportiest outdoor clothing and recreation businesses to the United States. Need a jogging or biking buddy? You can probably find one. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even cycle to Portland International Airport and leave your vehicle at a rack out front. (Just be sure to snap a photo of the ugly / iconic carpet when you leave.)
If your sense of adventure is more highball than hiking, you can find plenty to do without leaving the city limits. Storefront in Alberta’s Arts District. Go from coffee at Smiths to tea and enjoy herbal teas at Tea Chai Te. Harness your artistic side at ADX Portland, a collective workspace that offers tools for those who wish to learn wood or metalworking, jewelry design, or engraving with no high entry fees. (They also offer one-off learning classes, so check out their course catalog.) Finally, if all else fails, toast your trip and sample a local favorite, like the Freehand Spirits or the locally owned Vinn Distillery. women, which owns the only Chinese Manufacturer on Portland’s Distillery Row, or the LGBTQ-friendly Health bar.
Confused about where to start? We have what you need. Here’s an introduction to some of the city’s most interesting, instagrammable, and downright fun places.
Find the sign of the white deer
Are you even in Portland if you don’t hang the city’s iconic welcome sign? Representing everything from sugar to specialty items, it became the town’s local welcome sign after the town bought the property in 2009 and changed the lettering. If you are visiting around Christmas be sure to snap a photo as the white deer magically transforms into Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Bonus: Voodoo Donuts is located just down the street. Do what you want with this information.
Go to Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion is an impressive 46 room estate located in the West Hills neighborhood of Portland. Even if you are not an architecture enthusiast with a strong taste for the ambiance of French chateaux and manicured flower gardens, this is still a must visit for the best views of the city and the main five. cascading mountains. (That would be Mount Hood, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams, Mount Rainer, and Mount Jefferson.) Picnics are encouraged, so toast a vibrant sunset or nibble on a not-so-sneaky snack. while enjoying the view.
Hike to the witch’s castle
There is a lot of greenery around the city. (No, we’re not talking about weeds, although that’s also legal.) Portland specializes in nature and local green spaces like Forest Park has over 70 miles of trails so it’s entirely possible to go missing. in nature at least for a bit. But you don’t need to fish for one Savage experience to refuel. For a less difficult but certainly rewarding walk in the woods, point your feet in the direction of the Witch’s Castle. Located on the Lower Macleay Trail, the hike will take you approximately half a mile through storybook-worthy woods (pictured) to ancient bathrooms reclaimed by nature and steeped in local lore. (Not in the photo, worth seeing for yourself.) Is it the scene of violent murders and witchcraft or just a local hangout that’s a cute place to rest your feet? Who can say?
Explore the Portland Japanese Garden
If dirty hiking boots aren’t your thing, get your fill of nature in Portland’s Japanese Gardens. The immaculately maintained 5.5-acre garden is a plant lover’s dream – lush and green in the summer, and a riot of red, orange, and yellow in the fall. Slow your heart rate and breathe as you gaze into the Zen rock garden, admire ponds filled with koi carp, and stroll the bonsai-lined trails. Then, recharge with tea at Umami Café, a design building inspired by Kyoto’s Kiyomizu-dera temple.
Eat as much as humanly possible
You don’t have to eat premium food to have memorable Portland dining experiences. (Although considering that chefs like Naomi Pomeroy of Ripe Collective and Sam Smith of Tusk live in Portland, you can certainly stock up on high-end food.) For less budget options, head to one of the many food baskets in town. Dine on traditional Japanese sandwiches at Katsu Sando, bite into a traditional Chinese pancake at Bing Mi, or stumble upon local produce at Farmer and The Beast.
Don’t forget the dessert! Portland is a donut town and while you’re likely to upset a local, it’s worth going through Voodoo for one of its iconic pink boxes. Just be sure to save room for Blue Star, which has made a name for itself with its complex ‘adult donut’ flavors, which include blueberry bourbon basil, Cointreau crème brûlée and raspberry buttermilk. and rosemary. Finally, add ice cream to this obscene sugar buzz with salt and straw, a local favorite specializing in complex seasonal flavors, vegan options, and limitless taste testing. (If COVID allows it.)
Instant street art
While you can’t always put a bird in it, Portland artists have managed to create masterpieces all over the place. While some have a permanent home, like the Velvet Underground / art Fills the Gap Tribute (SE 12th & Division street) or the Untitled Old Flying Woman (412 SW 12th Ave), others can be an elusive find. For updated listings and even a working map, be sure to check out Street Art in Portland.
Buy local at Powell’s Books
If reading makes you more attractive, then Powell’s might be the sexiest place in town. (My apologies to the Portland Vegan Strip Club.) The flagship location of Powell’s City of Books (1005 W. Burnside St.) is the world’s largest independent bookstore. Stroll through the block-sized boutique, take a selfie of the iconic sign, and turn your reading list into an armful of books. Keep an eye out for her special events and cheeky motivational messages on the stairs. (Sample cue: “What do Walt Whitman, Gertrude Stein, Beatrix Potter, and DH Lawrence have in common? They’re all self-published. Are you next?”)
Stay in a cute hotel
As one of the original homes of the Ace Hotel, Portland knows a lot about artistic digs. Snuggle up at the Hoxton, the second iconic British hotel in the United States, which features artwork by local curator Upfor. Go back to elementary school with McMenamins Kennedy School, an Art Nouveau-style school building converted into 57 boutique hotel rooms and an on-site brasserie. Or just relax at Hotel Lucia (pictured above), an iconic 1909 hotel with a modern Instagram-worthy lobby.
If you’ve fallen in love with Portland, book a trip here.