Portland, Oregon, is the state’s largest city, and among the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. Yet this Pacific Northwest burgh near the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers has not morphed into a megalopolis. Rather, it has become known for strong land-use planning, light rail, the arts, culinary excellence, microbreweries and fine wine.
Portland consists of 10 neighborhoods, each with a distinct character. Among them are the multicultural Alberta Arts District; the bohemian Hawthorne and Belmont neighborhood; quirky, retro Hollywood; affluent Nob Hill; the industrial-turned-hip and trendy Pearl District; and Old Town/Chinatown, the original heart of the city.
The arts scene is alive and well in Portland, with more than 150 galleries and lots of museums, like the Portland Art Museum and the one-of-a-kind 3-D Center of Art and Photography, as well as monthly art walks in the Pearl and Aberta Districts. Among other cultural attractions in Portland are the Oregon History Museum, with exhibits on topics like the Oregon Trail and Native culture; the interactive World Forestry Center Discovery Museum, where visitors learn about the sustainability of forests and trees; and the Portland Underground (aka Shanghai Tunnels), a series of tunnels and catacombs that were once used to shanghai unsuspecting sailors, loggers and ranchers. Known as the City of Roses, Portland also is home to several public rose gardens, including the International Rose Test Gardens.
Thirty minutes from Portland is one of the country’s prime wine growing regions, the Willamette Valley, with hundreds of wineries. Stretching 150 miles, the Willamette Valley is the largest of Oregon’s 16 American viticultural areas, which produce many varieties, including Oregon’s renowned pinot noir. Many wineries offer tasting rooms, and wine tours are available from several local operators.
Portland’s cuisine spans the ethnic spectrum, but the city is best known for regional, farm-to-table foods, with an emphasis on sustainable produce and fresh fish and meats, paired with locally produced wine and beer for a range of budgets. Portland also is a hub for microbreweries and brew pubs, where visitors can enjoy locally crafted beer with their meals. Besides hip bistros, fine dining and casual spots, Portland offers several culinary festivals, including the Oregon Seafood and Wine Festival in February, the Oregon Brewers Festival in July and Bite of Oregon in August.
Portland International Airport is served by 13 carriers and offers car rentals from major companies. In addition, visitors can take Amtrak to Portland Union Station. Getting around is easy, with the TriMet bus system and the MAX light rail system providing service around the city and the Portland Streetcar providing rides in the downtown and adjacent areas. Interstate 5 runs through Portland and connects with I-205.
While Portland’s annual precipitation averages 36 inches, rain falls mostly during winter. Summers are warm and dry, making for prime visiting conditions. The average daytime temperature in July is 76, while the mercury drops to as low as 40 in January.