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Portland, Oregon Travel Guide Hot Popular
Last Updated: Mar-28-2015, Hits: 23,827, Rating: 5, Reviews: 2, Votes: 2 Bookmark and Share
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Portland, Oregon Travel Guide Restaurants (784)
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Location: North America
Geography: City, Forest
Vacation Type: Family, Adventure
Popularity: Moderate Tourism
Costs: Moderate
Attractions: Skiing, Wineries, Breweries, Shopping, Hiking, Fishing, Festivals, Cultural Attractions, Camping, Scenery, Food Destination, Nightlife, Golfing, Gardens

Facts and Stats:
City Population: 583,776
Metropolitan Population: 2,226,009
Government: Constitution-based federal republic
Time Zone: PST (GMT -8 hours)
Telephone Area Code: 503
Country Dialing Code: +1
Electricity: 110v

Brief History:
Lewis and Clark are prominent figures in Oregon history. Their expedition to the West Coast in 1804-1806, which began in Missouri and ended at the Pacific Ocean, set a path for those seeking new opportunities. The first to arrive were primarily British trappers seeking beaver fur which was a booming industry at the time. However, it wasn't long before The Oregon Trail was founded ushering in "The Great Migration" of farmers seeking good land in the mid 1800's. Upon arriving in Oregon they found a vast, beautiful land of lush.trees, rivers, fertile valleys and mountains, already occupied by many different Native American tribes. Unfortunately, like most of the United States, Native Americans were crowded out of their land. There are still tribes in Oregon, and today many city and county names in Oregon reflect it's Native American origins - Willamette, Tualatin, Clackamas and many more.

Portland grew rapidly, earning the nickname of "Stumptown" in the late 1800's due to all of the trees that were being cut down to make way for new residences. The city has many nicknames, but the most enduring is The City of Roses. It earned this name during the 1905 Lewis and Clark Centennial when rose bushes were planted all along on the avenues. Well, that, and roses bloom like mad here, as do most flowers.

Oregon became a state in 1859. The original hub of Oregon was Oregon City, but Portland became much more prominent over time because of its port causing the city to become one of the West's major port towns. Port towns are notorious for drawing a varied crowd, so underneath the pristine natural beauty of Portland grew a seedy underbelly of gangsters, brothels, and gambling. It was a bustling waterfront town with a lot of sailors, complete with bootleggers and liquor runners. Portland has a series of underground tunnels, called "The Shanghai Tunnels" that were used to smuggle goods and to kidnap people, forcing them to become involuntary crew members on outbound ships. Today, you can take walking tours of the labyrinth tunnels, but that's about all there is left to the shady past.

Portland is located in northern Oregon in the Willamette Valley. The Columbia River runs west along the North End of Portland and separates the city from Vancouver, Washington. Portland is laid out in five quadrants, with the Willamette River bisecting the West/East and Burnside Street bisecting the North/South. The quadrants are, respectively: North Portland (or The Peninsula), Northwest, Northeast, Southeast and Southwest. Downtown Portland straddles the Northwest and Southwest quadrants.

Southwest Portland has most of the downtown part of the city, with Pioneer Square at the heart. It also encompasses Portland State University, OHSU (Oregon Health and Science University), and Lewis and Clark College.

Downtown is the financial and cultural center. Unlike many downtown areas that go to sleep at 5pm when all of the business people leave, Portland's downtown is loaded with restaurants, bars, and cultural venues and the city rarely sleeps.

Northwest Portland includes the Pearl District, which is a renovated warehouse area that now spills over with boutiques, art galleries, lofts, and is the home of "First Thursday". It also includes Nob Hill, which also has an abundance of shops, bars, restaurants, Victorian style apartments and galleries.

The East Side is largely residential, and is broken up into small eclectic districts, such as Alberta, Hollywood, Laurelhurst, Belmont, Hawthorne, Sellwood, Fremont, Mt. Tabor, etc. Reed College is also located on the east end of Portland.

Northeast Portland has undergone massive gentrification over the last 15 years. It was once a slum plagued with high contentrations of gangs and violent crime. Today, the Alberta district has been completely revitalized and is home to many restaurants, bars, and arts.

North Portland is industrial and residential, but is also home to the University of Portland.

Portland is a great city for the young and the young at heart. The average age in Portland is 35, and the city continues to attract young educated adults. Portland consistently receives accolades from various sources, the most impressive of which was being chosen the 2nd best city to live in by CNN and Money Magazine. Portland was 2nd to New York City. Oregonians are typically very environmentally conscious and Portland has also been ranked as one of the "greenest" cities in the country.

As mentioned before, Portland has an eclectic crowd, drawing a wonderfully laid back, eclectic bunch from tatoo artists to earth muffins to silicone forest nerds to avid great outdoors fans. People in Portland are warm and friendly and there is little to no pretentious behavior. People seem to gravitate to Portland to avoid the shallow minded and the attitude is very laid back and progressive. There is definitely a "live and let live" philosophy here and you can be as weird as you want to be, as long as you don't infringe on other people.

Food & Nightlife:
Portland has a plethora of restaurants and was The Food Network's "Delicious Destination of the Year" in 2007. You could spend an entire lifetime and still not eat at every good Portland restaurant and you can find any kind of cuisine you want. The use of local ingredients like berries, salmon, crab, sole, halibut, gourds, fiddleheads, mushrooms, and many others, combined with talented chefs and European influences gave rise to Pacific Northwest Cuisine that is incredibly good. Many Portland restaurants are small bistro style places that are unique and fun making the ambience a great experience as well. There is no state sales tax, so those used to it will find Portland very reasonably priced.

If you don't want to go out, Portland has a food delivery service that will bring you food from a large list of restaurants. Check out Delivered Dish for more information.

The city has a vibrant music scene and very active nightlife. You can find a lot of jazz and blues clubs, but there is also a strong local alternative rock scene and plenty of experimental types of music. Portland also has a well developed art scene and "First Thursday" in the Pearl District is a popular event.

But Portland is best known for its beer, and is the beer capital of the world having more breweries than any other city! At the time of this writing, there are over 70 breweries in the metro area. In 2006, Mayor Tom Potter, officially gave Portland the new nickname, "Beertown".

In addition to the previously mentioned breweries and burgeoning wine country, Portland has more recently become home to a number of craft distilleries as well.

So where does one enjoy all of these fine libations? Pretty much anywhere. Visitors to the city often remark at the sheer number of bars we have - they are everywhere and most of them serve our local creations.

Portland is Oregon's largest city. It is vibrantly green and abundant in parks and bridges. It has the world's largest Rose Test Gardens, over 5 acres of roses that bloom in prolific numbers (over 8,000) in June, which is also when the city celebrates it's annual Rose Festival during the 1st week in June. The city also offers famous Japanese and Chinese gardens.

Portland has the most parks per capita in the U.S., including the world's smallest park, (Mill's End - all 2 feet of it) and the gigantic Forest Park (over 5,000 acres), which is the largest park in a U.S. metropolitan center.

And what is better than reading a book in a park. Fortunately, Powell's is the biggest independent new and used bookstore in the entire world and they are sure to have whatever you are looking for.

While there is plenty to do in the city, Portland is surrounded by tons of other attractions. You can check out the wine country, where world famous Pinots are flourishing, head to the coast and see the beautifully rugged pacific ocean, or take in the scenery of the awe inspiring Columbia Gorge.

And of course, there is no shortage of outdoor activities including skiing, hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, white water rafting, surfing (wet suit), camping, and fishing. The Columbia River Gorge is considered to be one of the best wind surfing destinations in the world and kite boarding was invented here.

Getting Around:
Portland is serviced by Portland International Airport (PDX) which has been voted the best airport in the country 3 years running by Conde Nast. You will find that for a city of this size, our airport is one of the easiest to use and navigate, however, there are very few direct flights out of PDX and you will most likely have to make connections when flying to or from the city.

Portland boasts one of the nation's best public transportation systems and a light trail train called The MAX. It is free to ride downtown and it services the airport. It also goes to Washington Park, The Zoo, and the Japanese Gardens. Downtown, there are also new San Francisco style street cars that can take you over to the Pearl District and Nob Hill. Because the city is so compact (very little urban sprawl), taking a taxi is a relatively affordable alternative. If you need a cab, try one of these:
Radio Cab - (503) 227-1212
Yellow Cab - (503) 227-1234

Considered one of the best walking cities in the country, downtown is very pedestrian (and bike) friendly. If you wish to leave the downtown area, it is probably best to rent a car since there are so many beautiful things outside of the city. It would be criminal to not see one or two of them at least!

If you have heard anything about Portland weather, you have likely been told that it rains here all the time and that is partially true. The winters are long and it rains constantly. Many people that relocate here have a very hard time adjusting to this. The summer and fall on the other hand are beautiful with very little rain, not to mention that it stays light longer than places south of us.

Below are the current weather conditions in Portland and historical averages below that.

Month Avg High Avg Low Average Rainfall
January 46 37 6.24"
February 50 39 5.07"
March 56 41 4.51"
April 61 44 3.10"
May 67 49 2.49"
June 73 53 1.6"
July 79 57 0.76"
August 79 58 0.99"
September 74 55 1.87"
October 63 48 3.39"
November 51 42 6.39"
December 46 37 6.75"

Tips and Additional Information:
  • When making local phone calls you must dial the area code first (no 1).
  • Because so much of what Portland and Oregon have to offer is outdoors, you really have to take the weather into account. The winters in Portland are gray, dreary, and rainy and are not a good time to visit. During the spring it is very beautiful because the flowers bloom, but the weather can be hit and miss. Summer and fall are your best bets. If you come in the summer, it can get very hot here, but there are also a lot of festivals going on down at the waterfront during these months.
  • If you are driving in Portland, be kind and "let people in" like we do.
  • Because of our 5 cent bottle return and lack of persecution, Portland has an above average number of homeless people.
  • Portland is relatively safe city. The most dangerous areas are North Portland and inner Northeast Portland. Parts of Downtown can be dicey at night if you are alone, but fine in groups.

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User Reviews (2)

Reviewed by: semelio
Review date: Feb-10-2011

I live in Eugene (about 120 miles from Portland) but visit Portland often. There are SO many excellent places to eat in that town it's amazing!!! If anyone gets a chance to visit Portland there are a million things to do there... the zoo is great (especially at Christmas time), there's biking, skiing, camping, plenty of shopping, terrific people watching while sipping a cup of local coffee and pastries or local brew and dinner at one of the many bars and restaurants in Portland. Portland is a MUST SEE!!! And a MUST DO!!! 

Reviewed by: sloshed
Review date: May-03-2009

I live in Portland, so my review is definitely biased and you might want to take it with a grain of salt. What makes this city great is that it is compact, clean, easy to get around, loaded with excellent restaurants and bars, excellent beer, and surrounded by gorgeous natural areas. The city and people are laid back and friendly and people definitely feel comfortable being as weird as they'd like to be. If you visit here, definitely check out downtown, Multnomah Falls and the Columbia Gorge, and eat in as many restaurants as you can. If you have the time, a trip out to the coast is well worth it.... 

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