|Named at the toss of a coin, enjoying your
visit here is a solid bet. Home to a rich cultural scene and varied
outdoor pursuits, this is a medium-size city known for its friendliness. A
temperate climate, thriving economy and close proximity to both the
Pacific Ocean and the Cascade Mountains are among the many reasons
Portland has garnered high rankings on numerous livable city lists. An
eclectic place, where both sophisticated and alternative styles peacefully
co-exist, visitors will find this city full of interesting things to see
Just south of downtown, this area--with its angled parking and friendly neighborhood cafe--is bursting with history. Locals enjoy tasty cuisine and friendly conversation at Marco's Cafe. A low din of voices, often punctuated with children's laughter, gives this restaurant an appealing ambiance. Perfect for a leisurely stroll, you'll find book, gift, curio and collectible shops welcoming browsers along the movie set-like main street. For the novice and expert alike, complimentary wine tastings are held each week in a low-key atmosphere at John's Market Place. Multnomah Art Center, while not commercial, can be considered the neighborhood anchor. Once the local elementary school, it has been converted for use as a community center, focusing on classes in the arts, including pottery and weaving.
Hotels, restaurants and shops are an easy walk, taxi ride or short hop on a Tri-Met "fareless (free) square" bus in this bustling downtown district. Often called the living room of the city, centrally located Pioneer Courthouse Square is the scene of cultural events including the annual lighting of the city Christmas tree. Major department and specialty stores are concentrated within the surrounding blocks and Pioneer Place mall offers upscale shopping out of the elements. Within walking distance and with a decidedly urban flavor is Portland's major public institution of higher learning. Covering 36 acres at the southern end of downtown, Portland State University provides both educational and cultural offerings to the public. Beginning at PSU, the tree-lined South Park Blocks provide a pleasant stroll to the Portland Art Museum or Oregon History Center. Just steps away, the Portland Center for the Performing Arts is the cultural heartbeat of the region and host to more than a million guests each year. Major freeways and transportation systems feed into downtown, making this district a convenient base for both the business and leisure traveler.
Fed by mountain snows and rain, the Willamette River separates the east and west side of the city. A collection of bridges allows walkers, bicyclists and motorized vehicles to cross back and forth above the water flowing to the Pacific. Of such commercial and historical interest, bridge tours are offered weekly.
Still in downtown, the Riverplace Hotel offers accommodations along the waterfront as well as shops, restaurants and a picturesque marina. Depending on the season, you might see dragon boats, cruise ships, barges, tugboats, fishing vessels, kayaks, sailboats and water-skiers, along with the military ships that tie-up every June during the Rose Festival. Some people also make their homes on the river in houseboats available for sale or rent.
Remnants of this area's colorful past can be seen above and below ground. Film companies often use this district's 19th century architecture as a backdrop. Underground, a system of tunnels is the subject of tours.
A pair of lions stands guard at the entrance of Portland's Chinatown. In the spring, the sidewalk entrances to the Chinese restaurants are sprinkled with the pink petals of flowering plum and cherry trees. Dim sum carts wheel through narrow aisles as diners try to decide which delicacy to choose next. Currently under construction, the new classical Chinese garden will further cement China's place in the region's history and provide serenity amid urban hustle. Along the waterfront of Old Town, the Japanese-American Historical Plaza pays tribute to Americans who were interned during World War ll.
A don't-miss treat is the ever popular Saturday Market located under the Burnside Bridge. On weekends from March through Christmas, this decades-old outdoor arts and crafts market is alive with music, performers, food and original wares often sold by the artists themselves. Quality goods and reasonable prices round out the reasons to consider adding this activity to your list.
Locals refer to this district as 23rd, the street that screams trendy. Sidewalk diners and espresso sippers watch the parade of shoppers who walk up one side and down the other, searching for treasures or just to be seen.
At night, thousands of tiny lights strewn about the trees and shops add a warm and festive touch. Several excellent restaurants and upscale shops call Northwest home. An old-timer in the neighborhood, Music Millennium, is still going strong and musicians are often a featured attraction. Rich's Cigar Store, after a century of service, still keeps the city in tobacco, newspapers and those sometimes hard-to-find magazines. While 23rd gets most of the attention, the area is also home to the Civic Stadium--soon to be alive with fans of a new baseball team.
The Pearl District
Buildings that once served the city's industrial needs are one by one being converted into urban living space. With homes above and retail businesses at street level, these efficient multi-use spaces are being filled as soon as they become available. Lofts are the among the trendiest living spaces here; the number currently under construction is a testament to the demand.
For those who chose to live or visit here, the Pearl District is an artist's haven. Home to a nationally renowned advertising agency, Weiden and Kennedy, and film and recording companies such as Will Vinton's Claymation Studio, this area is the heart of commercial art. Galleries abound and open their doors each First Thursday for the public to glimpse the vibrancy of local creativity.
Another quintessentially Portland and internationally known landmark encompasses an entire city block and oozes with expressions of the human condition. Found in a paint-by-number fashion, a map of color-coded rooms leads to shelves dripping with murder and romance. This is Powell's Books, an ordinary building with an extraordinary inner life. The largest new and used bookstore in the world, plan to run in on your lunch hour and grab a copy of the latest must-have book or spend the day wandering the aisles, mesmerized by the sheer volume of words in print. Inspiration is easy to come by, perhaps the reason Portlanders consider it a great place to take a date. Coffee is available at the onsite Anne Hughes Coffee Room and people watching is as good as it gets.
One of the best things about living in Portland is the close proximity to the ocean and mountains. Places to get away from it all or participate in outdoor pursuits are bountiful. How can the person who is stuck in the city find a little slice of nature? With over 4,600 acres, Forest Park is the largest city park in the United States. Only minutes from the downtown core, this wilderness is home to abundant flora and fauna; even Thoreau would find solitude here. Hiking, biking or just lazing among the trees, this park offers open spaces and a respite from city living.
With 546 acres, Washington Park encompasses several major attractions. The Oregon Zoo, formerly the Washington Park Zoo, is a favorite with families and holds outdoor concerts in the summer. Many people combine a zoo visit with a tour of the World Forestry Center and the Vietnam Veteran's Living Memorial. In the same vicinity, Hoyt Arboretum offers visitors a self-guided walk through hundreds of different species of trees. Leaving the forest setting, the International Rose Test Garden provides sweeping views of Mt. Hood in addition to fragrant scents and subtle color differences among the 10,000 plants. Just a short walk up the hill from there, the visitor will be quietly swept into another culture. The Japanese Garden's serene beauty invites contemplation. For a step back into another era, take a tour of the Pittock Mansion. Located atop a hill with magnificent views, agencies shoot ads from the sweeping grounds of this stately setting.
An antique lover's nirvana, Sellwood is home to a wide assortment of locally owned shops, specializing in collectibles such as furniture and jewelry. Spending an afternoon here can take you back in time and, for some, invoke childhood memories. Oaks Park is close by on the water's edge. Oaks Skating Rink and renowned pipe organ have entertained generations of Portlanders. In the summer, children's delighted screams can be heard as they enjoy the Oaks Amusement Park carnival rides. Oaks Bottom Wildlife Refuge sits next to the park, providing the perfect spot to glimpse a variety of birds.
Convention Center Area
Located on the east side of the river, across from downtown Portland, you'll find the hub of the city's trade and sports shows. The Rose Garden Arena is home to the Portland Trailblazers NBA Basketball team and serves as the venue for other sports events and concerts. The original home of the Trailblazers, the Memorial Coliseum is still going strong and provides a smaller, more intimate setting for the city's needs. Something happens every day of the week at the Convention Center and its central location offers show attendees numerous choices and flexibility in lodging, restaurants and attractions. Nearby Lloyd Center Mall gives visitors a chance to shop indoors at one of over 200 stores, ice skate at the Lloyd Center Ice Chalet, watch a movie or have a quick meal in the food court. Don't miss the collection of interesting shops and restaurants located just outside the mall on Broadway.
Travel a little farther south to visit the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). This interactive science museum attracts young and old alike. A popular OMSI attraction at the water's edge is the permanently berthed, partially submerged U.S.S. Blueback submarine, open for public tours.
In the shadow of a volcano, shop for vintage clothing, sip a local microbrew, or savor the flavors of food from vegan to Coney Island hot dogs. This neighborhood's eclectic aura defies exact definition. A little hippie, a little trendy, it is still non-corporate enough to leave space for interesting discoveries. Going east on Hawthorne Boulevard, visitors will discover Mt. Tabor Park--an extinct cinder cone, a simple volcano. This park is popular with runners, picnicking families, and groups of drummers adding their beats in geologic time. Another Portland landmark, nearby Laurelhurst Park is a great place to enjoy a romantic stroll or feed the resident ducks.
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