With 90 distinct neighborhoods, a wealth of cultural attractions and abundant nature, Portland, Oregon delivers a multitude of experiences. Stroll the streets of Nob Hill taking in the sights of repurposed Victorian homes. Venture to the chic Pearl District where stylish shops and cultural institutions flank the cobbled streets. If indie shops and food carts capture your attention, Belmont in Portland’s southeast quadrant is the place for you. Whatever direction you choose, spending a few days exploring this vibrant city will leave you wanting more. Here are a few Portland highlights to explore.
Start the Day at Voodoo Doughnuts
Founded in 2003, Voodoo Doughnuts brought us the gourmet doughnut category. These enterprising folks introduced us to flavors like the Bacon Maple Bar, Memphis Mafia and The Cannolo. Over the years Voodoo Doughnuts has expanded with locations across the country, but Portland’s is the original. This sweet shop now features 50 artisan flavors including 25 vegan options.
Powell’s City of Books – A Bookworm’s Dream
A Portland institution since 1971, Powell’s City of Books spans an entire city block and is the largest new and used bookstore in the world. Book lovers browse the hallowed shelves for hours. Powell’s also features its own art gallery and a coffee shop.
Portland Art Museum
The oldest museum on the West Coast, the Portland Art Museum’s collection of more than 42,000 objects, displayed in 112,000 square feet of galleries, reflects the history of art from ancient times to today. Highlights include works by Native Americans, the graphic arts and English silver.
Take an Urban Hike in Forest Park
As one of the largest urban parks in the US, Forest Park features more than 70 miles of hiking trails winding through a forest through the towering Douglas firs. Follow the wildwood trail for a bit of quirky human history as it leads to the ruins of an old stone house known as the Witch’s Castle. Keep an eye out for wildlife including owls which are often spotted in the area. The free park also features overlooks with panoramic views of Portland.
Conclude your hike in Washington Park with a visit to the Portland International Rose Test Garden. The oldest continuously operated public rose test garden in the country, the garden features more than 10,000 roses. This garden gave Portland its nickname as the City of Roses.
Step into History at the Pittock Mansion
Accessible from a Forest Park hike or by vehicle, the Pittock Mansion overlooks the city from its mountaintop location. Built over 100 years ago by Henry Pittock – the founder of the Oregonian Newspaper – the opulent home now serves as the City of Portland Museum and Park. Experience the grandeur of the Portland of old while taking in the sweeping views of the thriving city below.
Visit Portland Japanese Gardens in Washington Park
The Portland Japanese Gardens provide a haven of beauty within the city. Proclaimed as one of the most authentic Japanese Gardens outside of Japan, they encompass 5 ½ acres, boast five garden styles and include a Japanese Tea House. In the Garden’s Cultural Village, an authentic medieval castle awaits. Built under the supervision of a 15th-generation Japanese stone mason using traditional tools and techniques, the castle wall contains 800 tons of Oregon granite.
Don’t Miss the Food Cart Pods for Portland Highlights
While Portland’s culinary scene features plenty of tasty eateries, there’s nothing quite like the city’s food cart scene. With more than 500 to choose from (and growing!), your tastebuds have the option of taking an international culinary tour without the necessity of a reservation or a passport.
One area of town is particularly prominent in the food cart scene. In Portland’s Southeast quadrant, Belmont’s selection of carts provides anything you could possibly want. If comfort food ranks high on your preferences, Herb’s Mac & Cheese features this classic with delicious add-ons including meats, veggies and artisan cheeses. Combining cultural heritages, Viking Soul Food mixes Norwegian fare with a touch of Jamaican soul. And it’s all served from a vintage Airstream trailer.
Escape into Nature at the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area
Located just 30 miles east of downtown Portland, the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area features a deep canyon forged by the Columbia River. For outdoor adventure in the region, the Columbia River Gorge is hard to beat. Home to beautiful waterfalls and awe-inspiring vistas, it is ideal for day hikes, mountain biking, fishing and camping.
Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Multnomah Falls. At 620 feet, it’s the tallest waterfall in Oregon. The dramatic two-tiered cascade attracts two million visitors annually. An attraction for everyone, Multnomah Falls features wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms along with steep hiking trails that lead to the top of the falls.
Sample the Fruit of the Vine in Tualatin Valley
The fertile land of the Tualatin Valley just 40 minutes outside Portland yields some of Oregon’s best wines. Home to farmland and vineyards, this picturesque region warrants a visit even if you don’t imbibe. But if you do enjoy a glass of fine wine, be sure to include some time in your itinerary to explore the fruit of the vines.
Among the many choices, Ponzi Vineyards provides a progressive wine tour where guests learn about the vineyard’s state-of-the-art gravity-flow winery while sampling a diverse selection of wines. Set in an idyllic setting atop a northwest-facing Chehalem Mountains slope overlooking the vineyard, there’s really no better place to sip vino as you soak up the awe-inspiring views on the terrace. Cheers!
Where to Go for Portland Highlights
Voodoo Doughnut– 22 SW 3rd Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97204; (503) 241-4704; www.voodoodoughnut.com
Powell’s City of Books – 1005 W Burnside St, Portland, OR 97209; (800) 878-7323; www.powells.com
Portland Art Museum – 7 Congress Square, Portland, ME 04101; (207) 775-6148; www.portlandmuseum.org
Forest Park – For park hours and information visit www.portland.gov/parks/forest-park
Pittock Mansion – 3229 NW Pittock Dr, Portland, OR 97210; (503) 823-3623; www.pittockmansion.org
Washington Park – For park hours, maps and directions visit www.explorewashingtonpark.org
Japanese Garden – Located in Washington Park; 611 SW Kingston Ave, Portland, OR 97205; (503) 223-1321;www.japanesegarden.org
Where to Eat
Portland Food Cart Pods – Hundreds of food carts are scattered about Portland. For a complete guide, check out this information: www.travelportland.com/culture/food-cart-pods
Outside of Portland
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area – Waterfalls, watersports and a bounty of natural wonders! www.fs.usda.gov/crgnsa
Tualatin Valley – Spend some time exploring the farms and markets, wineries and breweries and outdoor recreation. www.tualatinvalley.org