Portland - Keep It Weird

The correct version of the unoffical slogan cited in the title is actually "Keep Portland Weird" and promotes an out-of-the-box thinking for inidviduals, whether regarding to lifestyle, culture, work, leisure or art. To which degree Portland is weird, everyone has to decide by themself.

View of downtown Portland.

Portland, the largest city in the state of Oregon, lies at the confluence of the Columbia and Willamette rivers. Approximately 600.000 people live in the in city, whereas the metropolitan region comprises almost 3.000.000 people. It is known to be a very green city, in regard to the availability of a lot of public parks and green spaces in the city and also in regard to its enviromental consciousness. In contrast to other cities in the US it is easy to walk from one place to another, especially in downtown. The public transport system, consisting of buses, streetcars and a light rail system can easily be described as one of the best on the US west coast. In order to encourage commutes by bike various bike lanes connect the suburbs and neighborhoods with downtown. According to statistics up to 8% of the daily communters use the bike¹. Because of the ideal climate to grow roses Portland is also often refered to as "City of Roses"². And if that wouldn't be enough the city is known for its sheer endless offer of outdoor activities (hiking, biking, etc.), its love for coffee, craft beer (according to several sources Portland has the highest number of breweries on city premises in the world, even surpassing Cologne³), wine (especially Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Merlot and Riesling) and its wide variety of food carts and high-quality dining options which makes the city a feast for foodies.


To undermine the previously said here are some recommendations by locals in order for you to get the most out of your trip to Portland.

Do

  • The Eastbank Esplanade is a 1,5 mile long path on the eastbank of the Willamette river. It offers vista points and is an example of an urban renewal project. Take a walk and enjoy the views.
  • The Portland Aerial Tram is a commuter aerial tramway between the westbank of the Willamette river, the South Waterfront district, and the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) campus. The ride takes only three minutes and from up the campus you can overlook the river.
  • The St. Johns Bridge is a steel suspension bridge in the neighborhood of St. Johns. It openend in 1931 and is up to this day the tallest bridge in Portland.
  • Portlandia is the name of a copper statue which is located in front of the Portland Building at 1120 SW 5th Ave in downtown Portland. The building is said to be one of the most controversial works of architecture in Portland. Portlandia, located on the main entrance on 5th Ave, however remains a symbol for the city and is the second-largest statue of that kind, after the Statue of Liberty in New York City.
  • "Powell's City of Books" is the flagship store of Powell's, a local chain of bookstores, and is located at 1005 W Burnside St. The building occupies one whole block and is home to over one million books, new and used. Wander around and plan to spent at least one hour there.
  • Take a hike at the Multnomah Falls if you want to get out of the city. The tallest waterfall in Oregon is approximately 30 miles to the east of Portland and offers some nice hikes into the backwoods.

Eat

  • Food carts are a feast for foodies. They offer fresh made food and you can find almost any kitchen you like, let it be Vietnames, Nepalese, American, Italian, French, etc., two pods I really liked are St. John's Marketplace & Food Pod at 7316 N Lombard St and the à la carts Food Pavilion at SE 50th Ave and Division St.
  • If you need your daily fix of donuts you can stop searching, Blue Star Donuts serves some of the best donuts in the whole region. Find them at one of their four locations in Portland.
  • The donuts at Voodoo Doughnuts are, to describe it with one word, extravagant. For example taste the "Bacon Maple Bar doughnut" or the "Orangatang doughnut". Definitely worth a visit because of the atmosphere and a classic according to lots of travel guides.
  • Burgerville is a fast food chain operating in and around Portland. They have their own sustainability program and care about healthy food. Eggs for example are from cage-free hens that have never been treated with antibiotics and a lot of ingredients are from local vendors, read up on that here and find one of there forty restaurants.
  • If you like ice cream you will love Salt & Straw. Their flavors include "Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake" or "Garam Masala and Cinnamon Cauliflower". Find them at three locations in Portland.
  • The Departure Restaurant + Lounge is located in central Portland at 525 SW Morrison St on the 15th floor, on top of The Nines hotel. It's a trendy place with Asian kitchen, worthwhile because of the superb view and the excellent food.

Drink


Enjoy your trip to Portland and always remember to "Keep It Weird".


¹: See the article 'Youth Magnet' Cities Hit Midlife Crisis by Conor Dougherty published in The Wall Street Journal on 05/16/2009.
²: "By 1905 Portland had 200 miles of rose-bordered streets which helped attract visitors [...] Portland came to be known as the 'City of Roses'", see section Historical Information of the official web site of the City of Portland, Oregon.
³: The most current brewery count for Portland, Oregon, USA is 61 and 27 for Cologne, Germany.