Oh, Portlandia: Tips and Must-See Attractions for Rediscovering Neo-Portland
With a mild year-round climate, so long as you don’t mind a little rain, Portland is a great destination in any season. Though, if you fall in love with the city and decide on moving there, you won’t be alone. Portland has undergone drastic changes in the last 10 years, much of it due to population growth. Willamette Week conducted a survey, asking readers to weigh in on when exactly Old Portland died — when the city had its wonderful weirdness suddenly replaced by chain stores and condominiums
But the unique spirit of Portland hasn’t completely left the area. For those visiting the city, there are still a lot of can’t-miss attractions and tips for making the most of your Portland vacation. Here’s our quick guide for visiting Portland, Oregon.
Tips for Portland Visitors
Portland is a great fall destination, but regardless of the season, you should always plan for rain and pack accordingly. Portland has something for every visitor, but people who will likely get the most fun out of the city are:
- Craft beer drinkers
- Outdoor adventure seekers
If you’re planning to visit the Portland area for a week or two, plan at least a few visits to surrounding areas such as Mt. Hood and Columbia River Gorge — even spots like Crater Lake can be a great additional stop along the way. Follow Me Away has a few more tips and other things to keep in mind for those vacationing in Portland:
- Visit the Columbia River Gorge. It’s under 30 minutes away by vehicle and offers a lot of spectacular scenery, waterfalls, and great hiking.
- The people are really nice. If you’re coming from the East Coast, be prepared for small talk, people stopping their cars in the middle of the road to let you cross, and people holding open doors for strangers.
- Prices have gone up. Of course, this will be relative to where you’re coming from, but when compared to Florida, the cost of popular products is $2 to $3 higher in Portland.
- Plastic bags have been banned in many cities in Oregon, including Portland. It’s wise to pack a few small, reusable bags. Even Walmart only has one option when it comes to bags, and that’s the old-school paper sacks without handles.
- Healthy food is everywhere. If you’re on a restrictive diet, like gluten-free or vegan, you’ll have no trouble finding healthy eating options.
- Wildlife is wild. Do not try to pet or feed animals, particularly elk. They will not run away like deer and will even stand their ground if approached. Respect them, be smart, and you’ll be fine.
Best Spots and Must-See Attractions
Portland has some of the top attractions for families in the U.S. While you wouldn’t expect a bookstore to be one of them, Powell’s Books is a must-see. The store carries used and new books, and it’s as big as a city block and three stories tall. Powell’s is considered the grandfather of independent bookstores.
The kids will love the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. “Look but don’t touch” does not exist here, as the museum is very hands-on. They have a collection of cool exhibits that are constantly rotating.
If you’re the adventurous type, there are two scenic bike trails you may want to consider. The Banks-Vernonia Trail is 21 miles long and is just 26 miles from Portland. It’s one of the more popular rail-to-trail options in the Pacific Northwest and will take riders over 13 bridges and through the most scenic of forests.
Rainier National Park offers riders clear mountain streams and wonderful mountain scenery on the Sunrise to White River trail. Your chances of spotting wildlife on this trail are very good.
Smokehouse 21 and Voodoo Doughnuts are two great local hangouts worth considering. For those who love good beer, there are unlimited options as the craft beer scene in Portland is vast. Just follow the crowds and you’ll find a great place to wet your whistle.
Of course, you can’t ignore the fact that Oregon was the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. While the legalization of medical marijuana was a necessary step towards better healthcare, it also served as a transition to broader overall acceptance. Now, you’re be able to peruse the offerings of well over 100 dispensaries in the city for recreational use.
With a scene that has so many options and so many great universities, it’s easy to see how Portland is growing so fast. The kids come for a great education and then decide to call the city home once they graduate. With the old spirit of Portland still lingering, you can’t really blame them.