by katie morrell
Portland, Oregon, is a city of makers, dreamers, doers and seekers. It is a city busting at the seams with creativity, as is evident in the independent shops, the artisanal goods sold at regular craft fairs, and new restaurants, breweries and distilleries popping up in nearly every district. While the city is undoubtedly going through a population boom — the U.S. Census Bureau reports that more than 41,000 people moved to “PDX” between 2014 and 2015, which is about 112 people per day — residents insist that the city is maintaining its funky, hip vibe and welcoming charm.
Divided into 95 distinct neighborhoods, Portland offers something for everyone. The Pearl District is a swanky area filled with high-end shops and lofts, while the Alberta Arts District offers a laid-back atmosphere with live music, art galleries and mouthwatering eats (try Podnah’s Pit if you like barbecue). The West End has been going through a revitalization as of late and is now home to Union Way, an artsy shopping arcade, and, of course, the world famous Powell’s City of Books. Indie boutiques abound in East Burnside, as do must-visit ethnic restaurants like Langbaan (Thai) and Tapalaya (Vietnamese/ Cajun, a surprisingly phenomenal coupling).
A visit to Portland isn’t complete without seeing the city’s major highlights, such as the International Rose Test Garden that has free daily public tours at 1 p.m.; Portland Art Museum where you won’t want to miss the Corita Kent pop exhibit until Jan. 29; and the Hoyt Arboretum that offers Saturday tours through the end of October. Beer is big business in Portland and visits to legendary spots like Rogue Ales & Spirits, Deschutes Brewery and Hair of the Dog Brewing Co. are excellent additions to any itinerary.
Visitors spending an extended holiday in Portland are smart to check out the area’s natural highlights, too, such as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, nearby towns like Hood River, Oregon, and even Seaside, Oregon, a quaint hamlet 80 miles west on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Visit travelportland.com for help planning your trip.
Where to stay
Portland has a plethora of excellent accommodation options, starting with the Ace Hotel, a hip boutique property within throwing distance to Powell’s Books. Also downtown, within walking distance of the Portland Art Museum, is The Heathman Hotel. Those favoring luxury with a modern twist are smart to book a stay at The Nines, A Luxury Collection Hotel, Portland, a chic downtown spot that includes Departure Restaurant + Lounge, an Asian-fusion eatery on the rooftop.
Where to eat
New places to eat pop up every year in Portland; some of the freshest spots to come on the scene as of late include Pine Street Market, an upscale “food hall” (imagine an upscale version of your childhood food court with artisanal eats) in the Old Town Chinatown District; Coquine, an American place in Mount Tabor where reservations are a must; Tusk, a brand new Middle Eastern spot; and Hat Yai, a Southern Thai place from the people who brought you Longbaan — don’t leave without trying the fried chicken.
Where to drink
Portland’s enthusiastic drinking culture is evident in its impressive array of award-winning breweries, wineries and distilleries, all of which locals are rightfully proud. If spirits are your favorite, there is no place better than Distillery Row, a collection of spirits manufacturers with excellent tasting rooms at places like House Spirits Distillery and Thomas & Sons Distillery. For free tastings at all 11 locations, consider buying the “Distillery Passport,” which costs $30 per person.
For those looking for a nonalcoholic drink, Steven Smith Teamaker is the perfect place to spend an afternoon. The location recently opened a tasting room and offers unique blends and tea on tap.
Where to shop
Tanner Goods, a leather goods store, just opened a location on Mississippi Street that doesn’t only have interesting items to peruse, but also has a bar-café in the back called The Wayback. MadeHere PDX is another spot worth checking out because of its unique goods, all made in Portland.
Katie Morell is a San Francisco-based journalist whose long been plotting a move to Portland, Oregon.