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For the first time ever, I’ve gone somewhere without actually seeing the city. I’m guessing some business travelers may be used to this feeling, but as a leisure traveler, it’s a first for me. I spent five nights at the Courtyard Marriott Portland City Center, which has a really convenient location for seeing Portland (Oregon), and yet I saw very little of the city itself. While most of my time was spent on day trips, I did get a few chances to explore the different neighborhoods for breakfasts and dinners, so for starters I’ll share my observations on what I liked in the city itself.
You knew I’d start with this one, didn’t you? One of the reasons we specifically chose to day trip from a base in the city rather than stay out of town was for the chance to try out some good eats. The food scene in Portland is pretty amazing considering the size of the city. Not only are there restaurants everywhere, but the scope of ethnic cuisines, cooking styles, ambiance, and price range is impressive. Anything you want is easily found, whether that’s an incredible breakfast sandwich from a food cart or melt-in-your-mouth black cod at a Japanese restaurant. Vegetarians and vegans will have plenty of selection as well. Two thumbs up for diverse experiences.
In Portland, anything goes. I looked just as much in place wearing muddy North Face pants as I did in a halter top and heels. The whole attitude of “whatever” is really refreshing, especially since it means you don’t have to feel self-conscious when a raincoat completely deters from your style.
Ease of Getting Around
We used a combination of public transportation, walking, taxis, and rental car to get around and all of it was easy. The city is easy to navigate, with public transportation maps and bus schedules at dozens of stops and a grid system perfect for walking. A rental car was essential for our trips out of town, and we found driving to be pretty low-stress and parking reasonable on nights and weekends.
Portland has quality offerings on three drinks that I appreciate: coffee, beer, and wine. I loved that no matter where I went, the house coffee would be a step up from Starbucks, which usually meant I was over-caffeinated… My favorite local beer was the Deshutes Doppel Bock and my wine of choice was a 2007 Arygyle Spirithouse Pinot Noir. Good thing most brewpubs, wineries, and even some restaurants offered flight tastings so I could sample several. Not your thing? Try out Distillery Row instead for more local drinks.
Everywhere you go, Portlanders have strong beliefs. They get excited about their interests and feelings, and I love it. I don’t agree with half of it, but I love it anyway. You’ll find people standing up for everything from unflourinated water to music. It makes for some great people-watching, well-attended debates, and all-around interesting neighborhoods.
All in all, Portland is worth a visit and there were obviously parts of my vacation that really stood out for me. I know I missed out on other parts of the city, but I’ll still chalk this up to a good visit.
9 thoughts on “5 Things I Liked About Portland”
I haven’t been, but Portlandia makes me want to go.
How many days would you recommend for a portland visit?
Would love specific restaurant visit details. My favs include Higgins, Tora Bravo, Wildwood, and anything new. Next time food trucks are my focus.
You may have seen “very little of the city itself” but you did experience Portland in some good ways, and in ways that typify some of the best of the Rose City. Glad you to got to enjoy some of the area’s fine pinot as well as the great eats. You’ll just have to come back!
We stayed at the Courtyard Beaverton and found it very nice if you are doing things on the west side of Portland. NOTE: request to stay away from the trains, which we did,
The Deshutes beer you mentioned is served in the United Club lounge at Portland Airport.
first visit to your blog and i see an island map and a blog post of Portland??? Portland ME or OR??? after much jumping around your blog, i realize that it is OR.
@Grace, Amazingly, I had never even heard of Portlandia prior to my visit. It seems I may have to watch it now.
@Dan, to give you the most vague answer ever: it depends on what you want to do. I’d guess 2 days would be a good amount of time for the city itself (choose your favorite museums, parks, gardens, shopping, restaurants, guided tours) and another 1-4 days for any day trips you might be interested in (Willamette Valley, Colombia River Gorge, Mt. Hood, Mt. St. Helens, coastline). But we made do with 0 days devoted to the city itself and 4 outside of town.
@Dave, My recommendations would be breakfast at the Roadrunner Cafe and dinner at Masu Sushi. I had fun with the food trucks but the weather took away from some of the fun of dining outside. I know there are several tours that will point you in the direction of best and/or most unique.
@Elaine, I enjoyed my visit for what it was and had a lovely time visiting some of the outlying areas. It’s still a “win” in my book.
@Bryan, Thanks for the recommendation. I enjoyed staying in the city itself, even if it did mean a bit more driving. Wish I could have had one last Dechutes beer at the club lounge but at 7am, I just wasn’t feeling it. 😉 Next time!
@Harold, I’m sorry for the confusion and will update my post to make sure everyone knows it’s Oregon from the beginning. Thanks.
We took our kids to Portland for five days in early April and we also stayed at the Courtyard City Center. Because it was rainy and cold during the trip, we didn’t venture much out of town. We did pay a visit to the beautiful Chinese garden, the fun Saturday/Sunday market, explored the food trucks, and did a ton of shopping. We had a fantastic dinner at the French bistro Little Bird, awesome beer sampling at Bailey’s Taproom, tasty Korean tacos and Brunchbox breakfast sandwich from the food truck stand, and the cutest animal chocolate from Moonstruck, etc, all within within a block or two from the Courtyard. We would have gone to the Japanese garden and the rose garden, and maybe even the wine region if weather was better. Can’t say we love portland, but it is certainly a very hip and young city with great public transportation and very walkable!
Local guilty pleasure: Voodoo Donuts. Right up with Seattle’s Top Pot Donuts, and I’m from Seattle originally.