Portland is a progressive, multicultural city with much to see and do. About 35 years ago a renaissance began to take place, much like parts of downtown San Diego, which changed the face and culture of the town. The cities light rail system and streetcars connect many of the destinations you would wish to visit.
Portland is one of America’s most eco-friendly cities and considered by many the best city in the United States, and for many reasons. It is home to thousands of rose bushes and fantastic views. You can visit more than 5 acres of authentic Japanese gardens and stroll the meandering paths and locations they take you to. For bird lovers there is a 143-acre sanctuary near downtown.
The city is well-known for its many gourmet restaurants, many utilizing fresh local ingredients. Portland Walking Tours offers a four-hour Epicurean Excursion guided tour downtown. After meeting at a designated location the first stop is the Flying Elephants Delicatessen, which is a popular eating location.
Next is the Bridgeport Brewing Co. to sample some of Portland’s finest microbrewed beers. Then it’s on to the Pearl District, where most of the tour takes place. This area was once a rather dumpy, industrial warehouse area but has been transformed into a rather upscale shopping and dining location.
At the Pearl Bakery you go behind the scenes to watch the creation of delicious baked goods – and more importantly, you’ll be treated to a few samples.
Next on the Epicurean Excursion, it’s over to In Good Taste, a fine gourmet store stocked with many gourmet items for your purchase. It also offers cooking courses. On the tour they give you a brief course on the care and use of ceramic knives. You can also purchase Oregon wines.
From In Good Taste, it is on to Tea Zone, a tea lounge that also serves various tea-infused cocktails.
A short distance away is Jean Vollum Natural Capital Center. This had been an industrial warehouse and is now a retail center.
The exterior still looks as though it is an early 20th century warehouse, but inside is modern and very efficient. Patagonia, the outdoor clothing maker, is the anchor store but there is also Hotlips Pizza offering a variety of vegetarian pizzas you can wash down with home made soda pop.
The last stop on this walking tour is at Via Delizia, a local dessert house and café where you can sample seasonal yogurts. It is so good you wish you could take it home with you – not just the yogurt, the whole store!
If art is your interest, begin at the Portland Art Museum, which houses an impressive collection of Native American Art. There is Chinese American history and culture to be seen in the Chinese district and while you are there check out the new Classical Chinese Garden. Japanese-American heritage culture contributed to the beautiful flowers that can be viewed all over the city along with gardens that are sprinkled about the area.
Art on Alberta blends with funky, whimsical renditions in one of the newest arts districts. The Central Eastside Arts District in the past two years has become known for its art galleries and art institutions as well as some of the region’s best restaurants, bars and clubs. There is also Studio Art Direct with Oregon and Washington artists displaying their creations along with 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland’s central east side arts district. You should also visit Maryhill Museum of Art housed in a glorious Beaux Arts mansion on 5,300 acres in Goldendale, Wash.
In downtown Portland you can see the Wells Fargo History Museum in the Wells Fargo Center Tower featuring important information on the Cal-Oregon Stageline, to riverboats of gold on the Columbia River. The 3-D Center of Art & Photography is the only one in our Nation where you can see grandma’s stereocards that were viewed through a Viewmaster. The Oregon Maritime Center and Museum is situated on the historic Sternwheeler “Portland” on the Willamette River at the sea wall on Pine Street.
Performances of the Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Opera are during the fall and winter seasons. Tickets may be purchased through Ticketmaster.
Shopping is always good in Portland. Be sure to take in the Portland Saturday Market for arts and crafts and held very Saturday morning. Want books? Be sure to visit Powell’s City of Books, which features new and used books and claims to be the largest in the U.S. It takes up an entire city block.
We have already discussed food, so don’t just visit the fast food places; try some of the better restaurants which are spread all over town. The Pearl District and Chinatown are recommended.
Day trips can be interesting from Portland. You can drive over to the famed rocky Oregon Coast for a drive south along the old highway. You’ll be stopping for many photo opportunities along the way. Mount Hood and the Columbia Gorge is another very colorful and scenic adventure or take a drive into the Oregon wine country visiting the vintners and tasting their products.
Around the region you can drive just 10 minutes north on Highway 30 for Portland’s nearest escape. Here you can Kayak to Scappoose Bay or hike at Vernonia skills park. In Olde Towne are antique stores and other interesting shops.
A short drive away from Portland is the State of Washington, which offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the Northwest. Mountains, woods, lakes, and ocean - it’s all in Washington State.
There is so much to see and do in the greater Portland area I suggest you contact the Visitor Information and Services Center located in the heart of the city at 701 S.W. 6th Ave, at Morrison St. Call 1-877-678-5263. They are open Monday through Saturday.
I know you will enjoy your visit here. Take the kids if you can since there is so much for them so see and do in the City of Roses.