Portland is the largest city in Oregon with about 620,000 residents. It’s also one of the most environmentally conscious cities in the US (or perhaps the world) because of its walkability, community of bicyclists, farm-to-table restaurants, public transportation and 10,000 plus acres of public parks, including the International Rose Test Garden that gave the city its nickname, “City of Roses”. Portland is known for microbreweries, weirdness, cheap food, funky neighborhoods, and accessibility to many trails and nature. Portland local, Una, recommends spending an afternoon in Washington Park to check out the rose garden and other attractions. Read more of Una’s recommendations below!
THE PORTLAND LOCAL: Una
1. Favorite Street to Stroll or Wander?
My favorite street to stroll or wander down is definitely Northwest 23rd Avenue. There are tons of great coffee shops, bars, boutiques, and unique clothing stores to peruse. When you are done shopping, you can wander up Northwest Thurman Street to the entrance of one the country’s largest urban forest reserves, Forest Park.
2. Not-to-Miss Brewery?
While you really can’t go wrong at any of the microbreweries in town, my personal favorite is Breakside Brewery in Northeast Portland. It makes my all-time favorite IPA and some of the best pub food in town, including their blue cheese waffle fries.
3. Best Area to Shop Local?
For grocery shopping, the best place to shop local is at one of the numerous farmers markets around town. Many of the farmers markets occur on the weekends, but there are also a handful on the weekdays. For clothing and goods, East Burnside Street and Mississippi Avenue both have numerous unique Portland shops.
4. Your Recommended Sunny Day Agenda?
Assuming that the sunny day occurs on a Saturday, I recommend waking up on the early side and heading (on foot or bike) to the Portland State University Farmers Market (often called PSU Farmers Market). There you’ll find numerous breakfast/brunch options, as well as fresh local produce, flowers, meats, cheeses, honey, and live music. I recommend trying Verde Cocina for breakfast and purchasing snacks for a picnic lunch. From there, I would take the MAX (metropolitan area express) light rail up to the International Rose Test Garden and/or Japanese Gardens in Washington Park. There are literally hundreds of different types of roses, and they generally bloom from April through October. In the summer time, live music is performed on many weekends. Picnic here before heading over to the microbrewery of your choice. A couple of my favorite breweries with outdoor seating are Gigantic Brewing Company, Cascade Brewing Barrel House, and Burnside Brewing Company.
5. Essential Portland Tip?
The city is broken up into four quadrants; the Willamette River separates the east side from the west side; Burnside Street separates the north from the south. The Northwest quadrant streets that run east to west are in alphabetical order (A is furthest South, Z is furthest North) and the numerically assigned avenues that run north to south get higher as you head west.
Also, don’t be afraid to ditch your car and take advantage of all the bike lanes, trains, street cars, and buses. There are lots of bike rentals around town. It is extremely easy to get around this relatively small city without a car.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE ATTRACTIONS
Absolutely thumbs up! This scenic area spans 292,500 acres and holds the famous Multnomah Falls – the second highest waterfall in the U.S. The falls can get very busy during the weekends, so it might be best to check out during the week. While here, I would also hike the Waukeena Falls which are just a short drive away. You can also drive to Latourell Falls, Vista Point, and Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum while in the Gorge.
2. International Rose Test Garden – Two thumbs up! Please see my answer to question #4.
3. Portland Japanese Garden – Again, Up! Please see my answer to question #4.
4. Washington Park– Thumbs Up!
The rose garden and Japanese garden are essentially in Washington park (as is the Zoo, the Children’s Museum, and the Hoyt Arboretum). These are all must sees.
5. Lan Su Chinese Garden – Thumbs up in the summer time; very beautiful and in the middle of Chinatown. In the winter, however, there isn’t as much blooming and it isn’t worth the admission.
TRIPADVISOR’S TOP FIVE PORTLAND RESTAURANTS
1. Verdigris – Never heard of this place (a French-inspired restaurant in Northeast Portland).
Instead, if you’re looking for a chic, trendy dining, definitely check out Departure, located on the 15th floor of The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland. Departure defines its cuisines as “modern Pan-Asian” and mixes in the day’s farmers market twist. We recommend the crispy pork belly with pickled cherries, ginger, and pumpkin seeds.
P.S. If you’re planning a trip to Denver, check out Departure’s second location in Cherry Creek, which opened in summer 2016!
2. Le Pigeon – Thumbs up!
I went here for a birthday dinner. It’s very difficult to get in too, so reservations are a must. However it really is worth the wait. Also, it is a meat-heavy meal so vegetarians be aware!
3. Veritable Quandary – Thumbs up!
Veritable Quandary is excellent (albeit pricey). The unique menu changes daily, the wait staff is very knowledgeable, and they have an extensive wine list (over 200 bottles and more than 40 wines by the glass). If you’re going to see a show at the Keller Auditorium, I recommend eating here first!
4. Pip’s Original – Thumbs up. The mini donuts are amazing and cheap!!
5. Andina Restaurant – I have not been but have heard great things about their cocktails!
Are you a Portland local? Did we leave out any can’t-miss spots? If so, tell us about them in the comments below!