Recently dubbed America’s “best big city,” Portland is known for its lively city scene, unique farm-fresh cuisine, and focus on the great outdoors. Oregon’s biggest city is a great place for a family visit, with plenty of kid-friendly attractions. And with all of its microbreweries, fine restaurants, and local wines, it’s also a great adult destination..
Set in northwestern Oregon about three hours south of Seattle, Portland enjoys the moderate temperatures of the coastal zone. It spans the surging Willamette River (pronounced will-AM-et). Some might say Portland is a city of bridges on account of the variety of bridge-types that stretch across the waterway. With its eclectic style and historic town center, Portland is a city built for artistic and cultural expression.
Open spaces abound in Portland, a city that’s famous for its parks. In fact, Portland has more than 37,000 acres of park space in the city limits. Be sure to take in Forest Park, a 5,000-acre haven that’s the largest urban wilderness zone in the United States. You can find space for almost any kind of outdoor recreation in the surrounding area, whether you’re looking for horseback riding, mountain biking, hiking, or steelhead fishing.
Kids will enjoy a trip to Washington Park and the Portland Children’s Museum where they can play in the clay studio, don costumes in the theater, or take a dinosaur’s journey through history. You’ll see plenty of furry faces at the Portland Zoo, and kids can dive right into the world of the forest canopy at the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. You won’t want to miss the raft ride or “Take me to the top!,” an interactive ride that soars you to the treetops.
One of Portland’s nicknames is “The Rose City.” The city earned its name in 1917 when it established twenty miles of rose-lined streets in honor of the Lewis and Clark Centennial. The name has special resonance for visitors to the International Rose Test Garden, the nation’s oldest garden for testing rose varieties. Today, the garden includes six walks, each dedicated to a rose type, from miniatures to Gold Medal winners. Each year in June, visitors can take in the 10-day Rose Festival, a tribute to this sweet-smelling blossom.
Portland boasts a number of other ornamental gardens, from the Classical Chinese Garden to the Japanese Garden. If shopping and dining are more to your taste, visit the unique shops and galleries of the Pearl District. For a livelier shopping experience, head to the Portland Saturday Market, a collection of more than 300 northwestern craftspeople and artists. The market includes kids activities, artisan demonstrations, live dancing, and a spicy collection of treats at the food court.
Whatever your age, you can’t help but pick up the youthful vibe of Portland’s downtown scene. This is a city that thrives on live music. Each summer, the town hosts three Indie Music Festivals that tout independent artists from around the country. Kick things off with late July’s PDXPOPNOW!, then visit in August for the Pickathon Roost Music Festival. In early September, you can take in the three-day MusicFestNW Festival. Portland is also home to a colorful Jazz Festival, held each February, and the July Waterfront Blues Festival.
Freshness is the top focus of Portland cuisine, whether it’s seafood or micro-brews. With a number of neighborhood specialties, cooking schools, and local wineries, Portland has something to suit any palate. Local ingredients like hazelnuts, berries, pears, seafood, and cherries play a key role in most Portland eateries. Let your taste buds be your guide on your next visit to Portland, and see where the chefs of this lovely city will lead you.
Once you’ve explored Portland to your heart’s content, take a day trip into beautiful Oregon and explore its native treasures. You’ll have plenty to choose from—from the Pacific coast to the west to the pine forests of Sun River, Sisters, and Mount Hood (with its terrific winter skiing) to the east. North of the city lies the Columbia River, home to the windsurfing races at Hood River. You can visit Astoria, the charming riverside town where Lewis and Clark spent the winter after their arrival at the coast, or head south to Ashland, home of Oregon’s amazing summer-long Shakespeare Festival. Oregon is blessed with warm summers, a dramatic coastline, and plenty of idyllic, graceful farm country. It’s a gorgeous place to explore!