Portland is an eclectic city, where sophisticated and alternative styles coexist peacefully. It is known for its friendliness, rich culture and variety of outdoor pursuits. A temperate climate, thriving economy and close proximity to both the Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains are among the many reasons Portland has garnered high rankings on multiple "Most Livable City" lists.
To avoid parking problems in the bustling Downtown District, hop on a Tri-Met bus in "Fareless Square." Often called the “living room of the city,” centrally located Pioneer Courthouse Square is the scene of numerous cultural events. Major department and specialty stores are concentrated within surrounding blocks. With a decidedly urban flavor covering 36 acres, Portland State University (PSU) provides definitive education and culture. The tree-lined South Park Blocks offer a pleasant stroll to the Portland Art Museum and Oregon Historical Society . Just steps away, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts hosts more than a million guests annually.
Just south of Downtown , this area is bursting with history. Locals enjoy tasty cuisine and friendly conversation at Marco's Cafe and Espresso Bar . The main street, with its book, gift and curiosity shops, could pass for a movie set. Focusing on classes in the arts, the Multnomah Art Center is considered the neighborhood anchor.
Fed by mountain snows and rain, the Willamette River separates the east and west sides of the city. Tours of Portland's unique and beautiful bridges are offered weekly. Still in Downtown , the River Place Hotel offers accommodations along the picturesque waterfront . Depending on the season, you might see dragon boats , cruise ships and more. Military ships arrive every June for the Rose Festival .
Remnants of this area's colorful past can be seen above and below ground. Film companies often use this district's 19th century architecture as a backdrop. An underground system of tunnels is the subject of tours.
A pair of lions stand guard at the entrance of Portland's Chinatown . In the spring, sidewalk entrances to Chinese restaurants are sprinkled with the pink petals of flowering trees. The newer Classical Chinese Garden further cements China's place in the region. Along the Waterfront of Old Town , visit the Japanese-American Historical Plaza .
Locals refer to this district as 23rd : the trendy street that emits a cool appeal. Sidewalk diners and espresso sippers watch the parade of shoppers who walk along searching for treasures or who simply want to be seen. Several excellent restaurants and upscale shops call the Northwest home. The area is also home of PGE Park and the new Portland Beavers baseball team.
The Pearl District
Buildings that once served the city's industrial needs are steadily being converted into hip urban living spaces. With homes above and retail businesses at street level, these efficient multi-use spaces fill up quickly. The Pearl District is an artist's haven and home to many reputable companies. Galleries are everywhere, and they open their doors on the First Thursday of each month, offering the public a glimpse into the vibrancy of local creativity.
An antique lover's nirvana, Sellwood is home to many shops selling collectibles. Oaks Park is nearby, on the water's edge. Oaks Skating Rink and renowned pipe organ have entertained generations of Portlanders. Children adore the Oaks Amusement Park carnival rides, and the Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge provides the perfect spot to watch a variety of birds.
Convention Center Area
This area is located on the East Side of the river, across from Downtown , and is the hub of the city's trade and sports shows. The Rose Garden Arena is home to the Portland Trailblazers NBA basketball team and also serves as a venue for other sporting events and concerts. The Memorial Coliseum provides a smaller, more intimate setting for the city's needs. Something happens every day of the week at the Convention Center , and its central location offers attendees numerous choices in lodging, restaurants and attractions. Nearby Lloyd Center Mall boasts more than 200 stores, ice skating at the Ice Chalet , a movie theater and food court. There are numerous interesting shops and restaurants located just outside the mall on Broadway. Travel a little farther south to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) , a popular interactive science museum.
In the shadow of a volcano, shop for vintage clothing, sip a local micro brew, or savor the flavors of everything from vegan fare to Coney Island hot dogs. This neighborhood's eclectic aura defies exact definition. Going east on Hawthorne Boulevard , visitors will discover Mount Tabor Park , named for an extinct volcano. Nearby Laurelhurst Park is a great place to enjoy a romantic stroll or feed the ducks.
When the folks in Bridgetown congregate at one of their many waterfront festivals, amazing things can be found in the center of the throng. Booths and tents dispense steaming fragrant coffees, wines are offered from a valley so rich and perfect, it rivals the finest vineyards of France, and there are fun takes on old food favorites. Microbrew, a craft this town almost single-handedly made popular in the U.S. is much more than simple beer, it is beer with a pedigree. No matter what brings you to Puddletown, do not leave without sampling at least one or two of the following suggested establishments. With more restaurants per capita than nearly any other city in the United States, you simply cannot say you have been to Portland without enjoying a taste.
One of the best restaurants in Portland, or possibly anywhere, is the Heathman Hotel Restaurant and Bar . The Northwest cuisine varies from season to season, but always includes amazing seafood, game and local fruit preparations. The atmosphere is clean and elegant. To experience Portland's freshest seafood, make a reservation at Jake's Famous Crawfish , which has not changed much since opening in 1892. Savor a few pre-dinner drinks in the lively bar, then settle into a roomy mahogany booth and be pampered for a while. Those with refined tastes will enjoy the upscale setting at the Harborside Pilsner Room . Any of the three bars in the Heathman Hotel are perfect for an intimate evening. There are many more fabulous music and drinking venues, including Berbati's Pan .
Another excellent Downtown reservation is Pazzo Ristorante . As the name tells you, the food is Italian and so is the atmosphere, with overhead bouquets of garlic and candlelit tables. For cocktails, do not miss the lobby bar in the Benson Hotel . Drinking doesn't get more civilized than this. Other sterling Downtown choices include Typhoon! On Broadway , Dan and Louis Oyster Bar and Saucebox . Do not miss the dim sum served daily at restaurants in Chinatown . If you like your coffee with more kick than mere caffeine can provide, head over to Huber's , Portland's oldest restaurant, where a delightful wait staff will serve you all the Spanish coffee you desire. Finally, for a wild night of drinking, try the upstairs space at the Downtown Deli and Greek Cuisina . Before your eyes, the polite 8p crowd transforms into a plate-smashing (literally, they sell you the plates to smash), wild-dancing, free-for-all.
Northwest & Nob Hill
Northwest Portland , the heart of which is called the Pearl District , begins at Burnside Street and is extremely easy to navigate. The area is loaded with the trendiest, most daring restaurants in town, most located in renovated, turn-of-the-century homes or warehouses. When a former trendy Northwest restaurant closed its doors, the owner of Bluehour was quick to assuage the loss with an upscale restaurant worthy of local buzz. The coffee shop with a funny name, Anna Bannanas , is a relaxing place to grab a good cup of joe. A relative newcomer, Paley's Place is one of the spots to be seen. Chef Vitaly Paley has put his special mark on Northwest cuisine with a creative menu that speaks to the season. Memorable dishes include Pacific Rock Cod with Truffle Potato Puree.
On 21st Avenue, savor the lovely decor and delicate crab cakes at Wildwood . There is no shortage of microbrew choices in Portland, and there are even more places to find the brew of your choice. Any McMenamins Pub, right down to the basic McMenamins Tavern , will do nicely, and there is bound to be one within a mile or two. Kells is another great choice, offering a bounty for Scotch whiskey aficionados.
Pick up the phone and make a reservation for dinner at Caprial's Bistro and Wine . Chef Caprial Pence cooks her heart out on her television show, and does much the same at her Milwaukie Avenue restaurant. This is a terrific place to sample the finest Oregon wines. Visit the tiny dining room at Genoa and choose from four- or seven-course meals. Linger over fresh-baked bread, marinated salad, soup, a delectable entree and dessert. It is darkly romantic and delicious. For a genuine pub experience, get involved in the extremely colorful atmosphere of the Horse Brass Pub . For more Italian delights, try the Zuppa di Pesce, a hearty Italian fish stew with snapper, mussels and vegetables, at Il Piatto .