A little bit creative, a little bit counter-culture, Portland is packed with so much character you’ll almost forget to explore its great outdoors (a mistake, as the movies “Wild” and “Twilight” demonstrate). Nearby, you’ll find Mount Hood, the Columbia River Gorge and the Oregon Coast, as well as wine country. Within, you’ll find a mindful community dedicated to keeping its city sustainable, innovative and accessible, with an enviable public transit system, tax-free shopping and enormous in-city parks offering dozens of cultural attractions. Portland gives us music (The Decemberists, The Shins), eccentric characters to watch (“Portlandia”) and a craft brew scene like none other (they even have a Distillery Row now).
Get acquainted with Portland’s culinary landscape with a visit to Saturday Market, held in Chinatown every weekend and featuring arts, crafts, food and a lot of street culture. Go on a brew tour of 89 breweries or its pubs (you’ll find great dining deals during happy hour, which often happens twice every day in Portland bars). In the morning, hit Stumptown for coffee or any of the newer roasters popping up around the city. Don’t miss lunch at one of Alder Street’s Food Cart Pods, a huge collection of carts banded together in one spot. Top it off – morning or night – with a stop at famous Voodoo Doughnut (for the bacon maple) or Blue Star Donuts (for the blueberry bourbon basil).
Sprawling Washington Park, set right in the city, is a destination in its own right. You’ll find Hoyt Arboretum, a glorious, forested place full of flora from around the world; the International Rose Test Garden, the oldest one in the U.S.; and the Portland Japanese Garden, which includes five varieties of gardens. For kids, there’s the Oregon Zoo and the Children’s Museum. Bike or skate over the park’s hills, or hike Wildwood Trail all the way to Pittock Mansion, a turn-of-the-century French chateau. To get even further into nature, head to Forest Park’s 113 kilometers of trails, just minutes from downtown.
Portland’s arts and culture institutions are highly-regarded. Hear a performance at the Oregon Symphony or the Portland Opera. Watch dancers leap across the stage at Oregon ballet Theatre. Portland Center Stage is one of the best professional regional theaters in the U.S., putting on major productions throughout the year. Head to Portland Art Museum to see 42,000 works of art.
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