Portland, Oregon — Overview
The rose is official symbol of Portland, Oregon, and stands for modernization and growth. The city is nicknamed “City of Roses” and this becomes very clear during the nationwide renowned “Portland Rose Festival”.
Outstanding public art, dozens of urban parks and greenspaces, a lively downtown, and a world-class transportation system are just a few of the many reasons to visit this jewel of the Pacific Northwest.
Portland is home to both the world’s smallest dedicated park, Mill Ends Park (24 inches in size), and the nation’s largest forested city wilderness: the 5,000 acre Forest Park.
From downtown Portland it’s only 65 miles to the Palmer Glacier on Mount Hood.
Downtown Portland boasts an array of attractions, including a collection of cast iron and terra cotta architecture, the largest new-and-used bookstore in the world, a nationally acclaimed art museum, and a vibrant culinary community.
The Port of Portland’s combined terminals handle $10.5 billion worth of cargo each year.
Seasonal rain showers never dampen this city’s sense of whimsy and wonder, and dozens of family-friendly events and festivals take place throughout the year.
Portlanders have a particular afﬁnity for their liquid sunshine — especially since it’s a base ingredient to many of the city’s favorite beverages. Portland has almost as many varieties of rain as it has beer: mist, light rain, showers and the occasional downpour, to name a few. Mother Nature sets Portland’s laid-back tone with her most common variety, the mellow shower.
ashington Flyer magazine proclaims Portland’s rain is “half-hearted — sort of like those automatic ﬁne-mist sprays that nourish veggies in the grocery stores — and it doesn’t impede outdoor activities.”
The rain’s welcome presence is the key to our lush forests, verdant wine country and abundant gardens. As the weather changes, so does the personality of such places as the Japanese Garden, where water droplets shimmer on sculpted shrubs and create rippled patterns on the koi pond.
Of course, during a visit in summer or early fall, you’re likely to miss the rain altogether.
Portland’s Love Affair with all Things Wet(Beverages)
When it comes to beverages, Portlanders don’t mind if they’re served hot or cold — they simply want them to be the best. That’s why you can’t walk more than a few blocks in any direction without bumping into a specialty coffee shop or a local brewpub, where craft brewers are busily creating some of the country’s most distinctive beers.
And that’s not all Portland offers — it’s also the birthplace of Tazo Tea and Oregon Chai. The city itself is nurturing a growing microdistillery movement, while the nearby Willamette Valley produces world-class wines, and Forest Grove, Ore., is home to SakéOne, the world’s only American-owned saké brewery.
The following is an overview of the local beverage scene; for a more in-depth look, a dedicated “Liquid Assets” media kit is available from Travel Portland.
Portland Coffee, Chocolate
See our article: Portland Cafes, Coffee, Tea, Chocolate
Portland Wine, Brandy, Sake
See our article: Portland Wine, Brandy, Sake & Spirits
Oregon and especially Portland are known for their Beer!
See our article: Portland Micro Breweries and Beer Festivals
In Portland, you’ll find everything you expect in world-class shopping – except the sales tax. Oregon has a ZERO state sales tax and Portland’s city sales tax is 0% as well.
What you see is what you get in Portland. Since there’s no sales tax in Oregon, the price you see on an item is the price you pay at the register.
Which only begs the question: Isn’t shopping a whole lot more fun without taxes taking a bite out of your travel budget?
There are shopping centers and outlets and you’ll find what you are looking for. Here are 2 suggestions:
Portland’s premier shopping destination. Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Todai, Romano’s Macaroni Grill and Regal Pioneer Place Stadium 6.
S.W. Morrison Street at Fifth Avenue, Portland.
Portland Saturday Market
The nation’s largest open-air arts and crafts market. Where unique artists await discovery. Enjoy buying artwork directly from the creator. Every Saturday and Sunday, March through Christmas Eve.
108 W. Burnside, Portland.
Portland Farmers Market
See our article: Portland Farmer’s Market
In 2001, Portland unveiled a streetcar system to link Portland’s downtown Cultural District,
the Pearl District, the Northwest/Nob Hill neighborhood, and Portland State University.
The sleek Euro-designed streetcars follow a 4.8-mile loop that travels through the PSU campus, downtown Portland, the art gallery-filled Pearl District, and Nob Hill, known for its outstanding restaurants and upscale shopping.
Like all Portland buses and MAX light rail trains, the streetcar is free to ride in Portland’s ‘Fareless Square’ district, which encompasses all of downtown Portland, portions of the Pearl District and a spur to the Oregon Convention Center.
Oregon Maritime Center & Museum
The Sternwheeler tugboat Portland, used as a location for the movie Maverick, starring Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson, is the main attraction at the Oregon Maritime Center & Museum.
Located on the Willamette River, this steam-powered vessel was used solely to guide ocean-going ships in Portland Harbor and now houses the museum. Discover the ship models, photos, navigational instruments and museum store.
The Sternwheeler Portland is berthed at the Willamette River seawall in Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park (terminus of Southwest Pine Street).
Gov. Tom McCall Waterfront Park
Once the site of a Portland freeway, this riverfront park is a popular place for jogging, in-line skating and cooling off in Salmon Street Springs, a fountain whose water patterns change with the city’s mood.
The park bears the name of former Oregon Governor Tom McCall, a staunch advocate of recycling, environmental preservation and urban planning. This mile-long stretch of green along the Willamette River is home to many annual events, including the Portland Rose Festival, the Oregon Brewers Festival and the Waterfront Blues Festival.
The Japanese American Historical Plaza is located at the north end of the park. Open year-round. Free.
Bordering Naito Parkway between the
Steel Bridge and the RiverPlace Marina
Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden
…of nearly 2,000 rhododendrons and azaleas, this six acre garden with its spring fed lake and three waterfalls is an enchanting place to visit.
Throughout the year, visitors can enjoy feeding resident waterfowl from a water level bridge that connects the garden’s peninsula to its island.
Bird watchers should note that 94 species of birds have been identified at the garden. Best viewing times are March through June (rhododendrons) and autumn (fall foliage). Open year-round. Admission charged.
Southeast 28th Avenue,
one block north of Woodstock Street
The Eastbank Esplanade, a 1.3-mile pedestrian/bicycling trail that extends along the east bank of downtown Portland’s Willamette River between the Steel and Hawthorne bridges, opened in the spring of 2001.
Highlights of the $30 million project include a 1,200-foot walkway that sits atop the river, an adjoining 120-foot public boat dock, public art and the new Steel Bridge pedestrian/ bicycle crossing at riverbank level.
With access from four bridges, cyclists, joggers and walkers can enjoy a complete three-mile loop that offers unparalleled views of downtown Portland as well as a unique perspective on the river. Open year-round. Free.
East bank of the Willamette River
between the Steel and Hawthorne bridges
Just west of Downtown, you will find a real hilly landscape. Washington Park is the centerpiece of the Portland Park system and offers plenty of recreational opportunities, from jogging to tennis. The statues in the park that can be found are reminiscent of Portland’s history: their names are: ‘Coming of the White Man’ and ‘Sacajawea’.
Among other things in Washington Park like Children’s Museum, Oregon Zoo, Monuments & Statues, do not miss the following two:
International Rose Test Garden
…, making it the oldest test garden in the United States. The 4.5-acre site features 9,000 rose plantings representing some 590 varieties, including Savoy Hotel, Livin’ Easy, New Zealand, Climbing Ophelia, and Sweet Juliet. From its vantage point in Washington Park, this terraced garden offers a spectacular view of downtown Portland, majestic Mount Hood and volatile Mount St. Helens. Best viewing months are May through September. Open year-round. Free.
400 S.W. Kingston Ave. (in Washington Park)
It can be found just north of the Rose Gardens, also in Washington Park. Five traditional gardens are on display, as well as a tea house and a gazebo.
400 S.W. Kingston Ave. (in Washington Park), Portland
EXPLORE Washington Park in depth, find information about Attractions, Getting There, etc: http://explorewashingtonpark.org/
Essentials, Data and Facts
145 square miles (375 square km)
Portland Streetcar and
Tri-Met bus system
City: 654k (est. 2019); 583.776 (2010 Census); 536,240 (2000)
2+ million in the Portland metropolitan area
Portland International Airport
Average: 173 feet above sea level (52.5 m)
701 S.W. Sixth Ave., Pioneer Square, downtown Portland