Alrighty, I'm going to get right to it! Tourism has been on the rise here in our little P-town. Which is a great thing for business of course. It's also fun to see people enjoying the city for the same reasons I enjoy it. I was thinking I could give you the full low-down on where to go and what to do, but I might actually pass on that. Ok, maybe I'll at least share some of my favs and highlights. It just seems like there's plenty of Portland info out there these days & I don't want to be redundant.
However, what I would like to share (with the exception of a few Portland spots) is what lies beyond Portland. If you're planning to visit please consider a day trip or two outside of the city. Oregon is so diverse when it comes to terrain and scenery that you must go & explore. I think there's something like 8 eco-regions, ranging from coastal, mountainous and even desert. I've lived here my whole life and still get excited about all the places I have yet to see. Not only does each area provide different landscapes but they often provide different lifestyles for the people that live there. So within those eco-regions you also get eco-cultures, making for a great travel experience.
As you can imagine there's much to be shared on this topic. That being said, I'll spare you the details and leave that for the travel books. I'll keep it to a minimum and share the highlights and personal favs!! Hope this helps anyone coming for a visit or entices you to take that day trip...or two!! Either way, you won't be disappointed.
- Without a doubt visit Forest Park or Washington Park: Both allow for a little leisure time in the outdoors without having to go far...especially if you're not taking that day trip. There's the Rose Gardens, Japanese Gardens, Zoo or hiking in the woods. It's also a great place for a picnic.
- Event venues for music, theater, gatherings: Unique, historical venues for all types of events: Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, Gerding Theater at the Armory, NewMark Theater, Keller Auditorium, McMenamins Crystal Ballroom and The Old Church.
- Waterfront: Not only is this another place for events but it's a great way to see the city. There's many bridges to cross which gives you the opportunity to walk or bike from one side of town to the other. You can also do a full loop which gives you different viewing perspectives.
- Creative: Lots of opportunity for creativity in the city. However, an easy way to see it in one snapshot is through an event like, First Thursday, Last Thursday or one of the many Street Fairs held in the Summer. There's also a number of artisan fairs and markets, Saturday Market is one of them (been a presence in PDX for years). The market runs every weekend on the waterfront. Here's some other popular Fairs: Crafty Wonderland, Renegade Craft Fair and Handmade NW. (Crafty Wonderland also has a retail shop)
- Retail: There's shopping pretty much in every nook and cranny of the city. I guess I would divide it by the Willamette River...Higher-End Stores on the West-Side and a more diverse type of shopping on the East-Side. Plenty of local goods throughout the city & lots of stores specifically selling just that.
- Food: Great food can be found everywhere! Maybe advise on things other than "the hot-spots"...breakfast wait-time can be insane (come w/ patience or eat before!), wait-time has increased in general, don't just go to the "popular places"...lots of options, and do go to at least one food truck. Some of the best food is coming from these trucks/carts. Lastly, hit up a Farmer's Market for some small bites or to peruse the amazing food that grows in this state! Festivals: Feast Portland, Eat Mobile (food trucks) & Bite of Oregon.
- Music: Take in some music for sure! So many talented musicians to be found. Here's a few venues and festivals to consider- Venues: Mississippi Studios, Doug Fir, Crystal Ballroom, Jimmy Maks, Edgefield, Festivals: PDX Pop Now!, Waterfront Blues Festival, Summer Concerts in Pioneer Square & Portland Parks.
- Beer: Lots of beer to be drank if you're interested. Won't be listing all of them, but my current favorite is Ecliptic Brewing. Not only is it solid beer but really great food! Oh, and there's a beer festival about every other week!
So there you have it, some of my quick highlights on Portland!
This photo was taken in The Columbia Gorge, at a place called Oneonta Canyon/Falls. You can hike deep into the canyon which eventually leads you to the falls. In some areas you actually have to swim pending the rainfall that year and when you go.
- Willamette Valley: This area encompasses a wide span of space, including Portland but also Salem, the capitol of Oregon. Corvallis, home to OSU and of course Eugene, home to U of O. It's also a region known for it's farming and in more recent years it's wines. Definitely check out some of the wineries!
- Oregon Coast: There's no one place over the other when it comes to the coast, but there are some specifics...Cannon Beach for instance is known for it's shopping. Astoria sits between the Columbia River and the Ocean (also known for that little movie named, Goonies), Tillamook for the bay and it's cheese, Pacific City for the surf and beer, Newport for the aquarium, Florence for the dunes, Bandon for the golfing and Brookings for it's warmer temps and stretches of beach.
- Mt Hood: Mt Hood is an all-year play ground. It's great for skiing but it also provides a little bit of everything for any type of visitor. Don't leave without a visit to the lodge. Timberline lodge is a gorgeous place with a backdrop of Mt. Hood. If you wander around outside, be on the lookout for the famous Pacific Crest Trail. You can access it only a few feet from the lodge. If you have even more time, I highly recommend hiking the Timberline trail. This trail travels in a full loop (40miles) around the base of the mountain....It's amazing!
- Columbia Gorge: This is where you'll find the mighty Columbia river as they call it, but you'll also find a lot more. Within this gorge you'll come across many waterfalls, one of them being Multnomah Falls. Which I believe is one of the top ten most beautiful waterfalls in the country. There's also plenty of hiking, biking and fishing to be had. Stop in at Hood River for lunch while you're at it. This little town is known for wind-surfing, cherries, Fullsail beer (also pFriem brewing) and the headquarters to Tofurky...bet you didn't know that one?!! It's a stunning location and a cute town to boot.
- Eastern OR: Leaving the Gorge and heading east you'll immediately start noticing the change in landscape. This transition is a gradual fade from big Doug Firs to wide open prairie. Some of the town highlights are Pendleton, known for it's rodeo (round-up) and beautiful wool goods, and Wallowa for it's pretty lake and mountainous surroundings. These mountains have some of the most beautiful alpine lakes, literally crystal clear water. If you're looking to step back in time or wanting a slower pace this is the area for you! Not to mention it's just some gorgeous countryside.
- Central OR: If you've heard of Central, OR then you're probably familiar with the town of Bend. Bend has become quite popular and is known for it's outdoor activities like, skiing on Mt. Bachelor! It also happens to have the beautiful Deschutes River running right through it. Pretty much any activity you can think of you'll find here. Some other attractions are Smith Rock, famous for the rock climbing and it's dramatic scenery. There's also a number of unique rural towns, lakes, varying mountains and of course the desert which this area is defined by.
- Southern OR: The rugged Rogue River runs through this part of Oregon along with the Umpqua River. As far as towns go, Roseburg is more or less the starting point of this area. This region then stretches all the way down to the California border. The larger towns that sit in-between are Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland, home to the popular Shakespeare Festival. You can also find the stunning Crater Lake, Steens Mountains and Klamath Falls in the southeast region on this area. Additionally, there's many vineyards and wineries set in the hillsides. All in all it's full of outdoor adventures and unique communities.
Wow, that was more than I anticipated but good for those that are interested! I feel like I just designated myself the state ambassador or something. Anyway, I obviously have a lot of love for this state and hope you find yourself here for a visit.
Thoughts for next week: Think I might leave this one open...
Have a great weekend - J