Portland

Portland by CC user 31246066@N04 on Flickr

Introduction

Sitting on the banks of the Williamette River some 70 miles from the Pacific and within range of majetsic Cascade peaks like Mount Hood, Portland, Oregon is an excellent place to visit on its visual merits alone.

Throw in a delightfully mild (if a tad damp at times) climate and a young and vibrant population that is culturally inclined, and you have the makings of a place that has the potential to become one of the great American cities of the 21st century.

Portland food carts by CC user johnjoh on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

Those interested in checking out one of the more interesting religious points of interest in the Pacific Northwest should check out The Grotto. Known properly as the National Sanctuary of our Sorrowful Mother, this Catholic holy place is located at the base and on top of a cliff in the midst of Northeast Portland.

A massive cross looms above the city at its apex, and with a trail featuring the Stations of the Cross on the way to the summit with a mediation hall along the way, a visit to this shrine is the perfect way to begin your trip to this vibrant West Coast city.

Home to the region’s leading media baron in days gone by, the Pittock Mansion is a great place to explore if you enjoy the finer things in life. After being heavily damaged in a storm in 1962, the city bought out the heirs to the property, and restored it to its former glory, opening it for tours not long afterward.

With the house’s elevated location (1,000 feet above sea level) in the Portland area, it is an excellent place to to snap photos of the city below, and it is a haven for avian life, making it an excellent spot for birders to spot many of the species that frequent the area throughout the year.

While the unemployment rate in the Portland area should serve as a deterrent for people looking to set up a career, it hasn’t stopped a steady stream of young people from moving to this naturally stunning, culture rich and progressive metropolis.

With such a vibrant and creative populace, the food & drink scene here stands as one of the best in the entire country. In many circles, Portland is considered to be the microbrewery capital of the world, and with over 31 microbreweries (not pubs that serve microbrew, but actual operating microbreweries), it’s not hard to see why.

After a long evening of quaffing these quality pints, the culinary innovation of this city will come into focus, as a food cart scene more commonly found in cities elsewhere in the world can be enjoyed here. With 600 carts serving cuisine ranging from Thai to a wide variety of spins on international fusion, it differs dramatically from the hot dog carts more commonly found in other locales around the world.

Multnomah Falls in the Columbia River Gorge by CC user pavdw on Flickr

Other Attractions

Being situated within one of America’s most enviable climates, the conditions are perfect to grow almost any kind of temperate plant. Plant nursery operators noticed this back in the early 20th century, beginning what would eventually become the International Rose Test Garden, granting Portland its nickname, The City of Roses.

From April to October, over 550 varietals of rose over 7,000 total plants blossom amidst picture perfect views of Mount Hood in the distance, making it a place where many will linger for far longer than they ever thought they would.

The next attraction is within walking distance of the Rose Garden, allowing the time-constrained traveler to also take in the Portland Japanese Garden in one flora packed afternoon. Stretching over five acres in Washington Park, there are five distinct sections that give equal attention to varying styles of Japanese horticultural design, with a level of quality that is so high that is has been considered to be of the top 3 Japanese gardens in the world outside of Japan itself.

While not located within Portland city limits, the Columbia River Gorge is a highlight of the area’s natural geography that no visitor can afford to miss. Located roughly 20 miles east of downtown, this canyon runs for over eighty miles east from its starting point, with its depth being over 4,000 feet from top to bottom at its deepest point.

Waterfalls, soaring viewpoints and many opportunities for outdoor sports abound here, making it a great afternoon out for active travelers that have a hard time sitting still.

1 Comment

  • Damn, that waterfall! Portland is high on my list of US cities I’ve gotta see ASAP, as I guess it is for most people who haven’t been there. It sounds culturally a bit like a West Coast version of Austin to me, another super cool city for travelers in the States.

    I’m in San Antonio, TX right now and a big deal here is the Japanese Tea Garden (which is, I guess, pretty different from a Japanese garden, but, word association…). San Antonio should be on your list too if you haven’t made it yet!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *