There is something unique about the city of Portland, Oregon. It may be the lush landscape that not so much surrounds the city but is an integral part of it. It could be the diverse and delicious flavors of the farm-to-table (or cart) movement that is around almost every corner. Or, maybe, it is the warm and welcoming people. Whatever the "special sauce" is for Portland, it's a destination you want to take a few days to experience firsthand.
Made to be explored
One of the most dynamic things about Portland is the various communities and neighborhoods. There is the lively downtown, the artistically-inclined Pearl District, the leisurely Northwest/Nob Hill, the delicious Mississippi/Williams areas, and the quirky Hawthorne, to name a few. It's a city that begs to be explored on foot, by bike - or via the excellent light-rail system. It is no wonder it continues to be on the list of most liveable cities in the United States. And when you travel using HomeExchange to visit, you're not a tourist, you're practically a local.
It's an experience
Whether you're getting lost in fragrances of the International Rose Test Garden, channeling your inner Zen in the Portland Japanese Garden, or checking out the wildlife at the Oregon Zoo, Washington Park offers the perfect playground for humans of all ages. You can also wander the Oregon Museum of Science of Industry (OMSI) during their 21-and-over nights and find the grown-up side of science. If you're in town over the weekend, make sure to swing into the Portland Saturday Market and uncover some of the impressive local wares.
Feeling a little bookish? Powell's City of Books is the world's largest independent bookstore and has the map to prove it. It's the perfect place to browse away the rainy hours or find your next favorite page-turner. Once you're done there, take a spin through Jackpot Records to uncover some quality vinyl. After all, Portland is the perfect place to discover (or rediscover) the vibrant quality of a record.
More than just a taste
In recent years, Portland has grown increasingly known for the quality of its food. We aren't just talking gourmet here. Sure, there are the James Beard Award-winning chefs in the area, but your tastebuds can get a workout from visiting the food carts that grace the streets. Many will tell you that Voodoo Doughnuts is a must visit, but we recommend you bypass it in favor of the more delicate, but no less delicious, Blue Star Donuts. (If you're really looking for a fix of Voodoo's crazy concoctions, search out their food truck. It might not be the eclectic brick-and-mortar store, but you can use that extra hour you saved by not waiting in line and explore something else.)
Once you've come out of that sugar coma, you can catapult into another by figuring out which flavor you love at the Oprah-approved Salt & Straw or marvel at the magic of Fifty Licks (you'll be shocked at the incredible vegan options.)
Portland isn't only about the sweet things. You can also take a deep-dive into a whole world of microbreweries like Base Camp Brewing Company or brewpubs like Breakside. If spirits are more your drink of choice, head to Distillery Row or check out the robust collection at Multnomah Whiskey Library. If you need a little “pick me up,” you can get a jolt of caffeine from Stumptown Coffee Roasters.
Get out of town
With access to a car, your exploration opportunities grow by leaps and bounds. From hitting the sands of Cannon Beach to hiking Mt. Hood or exploring along the Columbia River Gorge and seeing Multnomah Falls, there is something for everyone.
Looking for wine? You've come to the right place. Oregon and its Willamette Valley have become a destination for vino-lovers, mainly because of its pinot noir. You can sip many of the local wines without hitting the road by visiting the Southeast Wine Collective, but a day trip out of the city offers a whole different experience. Swing by Red Hills Market on your way and pick up some lunch before tasting your way through many of the gorgeous tasting rooms. What could be better than sitting with a beautiful glass of wine from a winery like Anne Amie Vineyards while the sun sets over the Valley? Not much.
Whatever you do, you may find yourself wondering if you're “cool” enough to visit Portland. The answer is probably not, but that is precisely why you will fit in.