- Haven for hipsters and nature lovers
- Excellent food and nightlife
- Beautiful parks and gardens
Metro Population: 2.4 million (#23 in the U.S.)
When To Visit: March-October
Climate: Warm and sunny in the summer and fall. Cool with lots of rain in the winter, milder weather in spring.
Known as the hipster capital of America, this city built amidst a forest of pine trees is perched on the junction of the mighty Columbia & Willamette Rivers with a panoramic view of Mt. Hood to the East. Stroll through one of its many famous gardens or venture out to see nearby forests & waterfalls.
Photo: Pioneer Square
Where To Go in Portland
Downtown: Portland’s compact downtown is very walkable and has several cool points of interest as well as gorgeous views of the surrounding hills and the Willamette River.
- Portlandia Statue: The 2nd largest copper repoussé statue in the country after the Statue of Liberty, this woman is perched above the Portland Building’s entrance. Free. 1120 Southwest 5th Avenue. (503) 823-4000
- Pioneer Square: The epicenter of the city, this bustling square is surrounded by historic buildings. Free. 701 Southwest 6th Avenue. (503) 223-1613
- Keller Fountain Park: Beautifully constructed fountains that resemble a large waterfall. Free. Southwest 3rd Avenue & K Street. (503) 823-2223
- Portland Aerial Tram: Looking for a good view of the city? $4.50 round trip fare on this gondola affords you a sweeping view of the area on a quick 5-minute ride. 3303 Southwest Bond Avenue. (503) 494-8283
Boise & Alberta: If you’re looking for areas locals hang out, these hip neighborhoods just over the river from Downtown have some of the best eats and nightlife in the city.
Pittock Mansion: This historic mansion perched on a hill above the city has epic views of the downtown skyline and Mt. Hood. Daily tours included with the $10 admission fee walk you through the home’s fascinating past and the well-maintained grounds are perfect for a stroll. $10 admission. 3229 Northwest Pittock Drive, Hillside. (503) 823-8623
International Rose Test Garden: Portland is called “The City of Roses” at least in part thanks to this huge garden of over 7,000 roses which are in bloom between April and October. Free. 400 Southwest Kingston Drive. (503) 823-3636
The Portland Japanese Garden: $15 admission affords you access to one of the premier Japanese gardens in the country. 611 Southwest Kingston Avenue. (503) 223-1321
Forest Park: The largest forested park in the country contained within a city’s limits, this peaceful park has over 70 miles of trails in which you can find your zen. Free. 4099 Northwest Thurmon Street. (503) 823-4492
Portland Cheap Eats
Portland restaurants and fast casual eateries popular with locals where you can get a full meal for under $15. I always highlight some vegan or vegetarian options – cutting down on the amount of meat you eat is by far the #1 way you can reduce your environmental impact and contribute less to animal cruelty.
Blossoming Lotus: This all-vegan restaurant’s food is unique and nothing short of amazing! Enjoy vegan interpretations of popular dishes from around the world. 1713 NE 15th Avenue, Irvington. (503) 228-0048.
Sushiland: This affordable top-notch sushi spot has locations throughout the greater Portland area, but the best one is in the upscale Pearl District just north of Downtown. 138 NW 10th Avenue, Pearl District. (503) 546-9933
People’s Pig: Arguably the city’s best BBQ spot, this casual restaurant has a small menu but everything is really good. 3217 N. Williams Avenue, Boise. (503) 282-2800
Little Big Burger: This wildly popular local fast food spot known for their truffle fries has expanded to 10 locations in metro Portland. The original location is in the Pearl District. 122 NW 10th Avenue, Pearl District. (503) 274-9008
Bars, lounges, and clubs that are popular with locals and meet one or more of these criteria: A) Unique, unlike anyplace you’ll find in another city B) Fun and lively, sure to be a good time C) Beautiful decor or view
Downtown Portland’s inner streets shut down from vehicle traffic on Friday and Saturday nights, allowing pedestrians easy access to bar hopping and munching opportunities at one of hundreds of food trucks that set up in the area. Here are a few of my top picks within and outside of Downtown.
Portland City Grill: This upscale restaurant has a bar with more reasonable prices and a great happy hour. Come for the incredible 30th floor view of the Willamette River and Downtown. 111 5th Avenue, 30th Floor, Downtown. (503) 450-0030
Aalto Lounge: Come for their awesome $2 happy hour deals or just to enjoy the vibe of this colorful and trendy lounge. 3356 SE Belmont Street, Sunnyside. (503) 235-6041
Standard: This local dive bar is filled with games, including shuffleboard and 4-person Pacman. 14 NE 22nd Avenue, Kerns. (503) 233-4181
Scandals: This hilariously named bar/club is the most popular gay bar in Portland and has two dancefloors and a patio.
Nearby Side Trips from Portland
Columbia Gorge: Just east of Portland, the mighty Columbia River runs through a beautiful gorge filled with waterfalls (including the famous Multnomah Falls) and panoramic views.
Silver Falls State Park: A hike through this park 1.5 hours south of the city will take you alongside (and sometimes even underneath) ten waterfalls.
Oregon Coast: There are no large cities on Oregon’s coastline (1.5 hours west), only cute beach towns and incredible ocean views.
Bend: 3 hours from Portland, Oregon’s most popular resort town is overflowing with year-round outdoors activities and is proximate to many of Oregon’s natural wonders.
Mt. St. Helens: A 1980 explosion of this volcano 1.5 hours north of the city transformed the surrounding landscape and covered Portland in ash.