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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe Pacific Northwest is very unlike the rest of the United States. Portland is a very large city, but doesn't quite have the same hurry-up attitude that most do. Instead, it is very much a natural city with a lot of beauty, thus earning it the nickname of “The City of Roses”. The timber industry is what put Portland on its modern path, and you will be able to see some of that when you visit. Breathe the fresh air of Portland and stay a while. You might not want to head back home once you do.
Portland is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest after Seattle and Vancouver, Canada. It is located approximately 70 miles from the Pacific Coast. About 50 miles more inland lies Mount Hood, which can be seen from the city and provides a great addition to the Portland skyline. Portland, Oregon, is famed for its eco-friendly urban planning, bicycle paths; green parks, micro-breweries; laid-back atmosphere, and fantastic outdoors environment. Portland is also well-known for its beer and food culture and has previously received titles such as ‘The Beer and Food Cart Capital of the World’. There are in fact more than seventy breweries in the city and more than 200 wineries within an hour's drive.
DemographicsAlthough Portland doesn't have the most diverse population that could be expected from such a large city, there is still some to be found. The city is made up predominantly of Whites (76.1%) with a smattering of other cultures. It is also 7.1% Asian, 6.3% African American, and 1% Native American. The city has seen tremendous growth over the past 30 years as the population has nearly doubled from 366,000 in 1980 to its current 610,000. The metropolitan area is home to about 2.4 million people.
HistoryThe area of modern-day Portland had been occupied for many centuries by the Upper Chinook Indians before the Europeans arrived. These Native Americans used the area for fishing, trading, and gathering berries and root vegetables. The Tualatin Plains were their hunting grounds. The first Europeans to come in contact with the natives were no other than Lewis and Clark, who sailed down the Columbia River. After a year of exploration, their reports caused interest in the region and settlers arrived shortly after.
The settlement was first just a stopping and resting point between Oregon City and Fort Vancouver. By 1851, Portland - named after Portland, Maine, which was the hometown of a landowner called Pettygrove - was home to 800 inhabitants, a newspaper, sawmill, and log cabin hotel. The population had grown to 17,500 in 1879. The railroad got there in 1880 and for a time, Portland was the biggest city on the west coast north of San Francisco.
Portland became a center of railroads, logging and steel production, but gained a reputation of progressive urban planning and as a green city as early as the 1970s. Nowadays, Portland is a hub of 'counter-culture', including underground music such as punk and indie rock, environmental activists and social liberty movements. It is famous for being a very forward-thinking city.
Sightseeing in PortlandPortland is known for its international flavor and organic culture, as well as for its parks and green spaces, so the natural beauty is plentiful.
International Rose Test GardenMake sure to visit the International Rose Test Garden, unofficially known as the Portland Rose Garden, where America's roses are grown. There are over 10,000 different roses to be seen here. Hundreds of thousands of visitors visit this colorful garden every year to enjoy the pleasant scents and the views of downtown Portland and Mount Hood. The garden is open every day and admission is free.
Lan Su Chinese GardenLocated in the heart of the city, the Lan Su Chinese Garden is a highlight year round. It is modeled after the authentic Ming Dynasty gardens and built by Suzhou artisans and landscapers. This phenomenal garden lies in the middle of Chinatown and takes up a whole city block. Offering a feeling of complete serenity, the Lan Su Chinese Garden consists of pavilions, open colonnades, a beautiful lake, and dense gardens.
Portland Japanese GardenThe Portland Japanese Garden is situated in the beautiful West Hills. It is considered to be the greatest Japanese garden outside of Japan and is made up of meticulously kept gardens, a tea house, intimate walking paths, and winding streams. The view of Mount Hood is excellent.
Washington ParkThe absolute main park, however, is Washington Park, a 159-acre urban park with dozens of trails. It is so large that you could get lost without a map. It consists of several memorials, the Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo and the World Forestry Center Discovery Museum. The afore-described Portland Japanese Garden and International Rose Test Garden are in fact located within this park's borders.
Other ParksOther parks and gardens in Portland are the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, The Grott Gardens, Pioneer Courthouse Square, Tom McCall Waterfront Park, and the truly vast Forest Park, which with its 5,100 acres is one of the United States' finest urban wildernesses.
Pittock MansionFor a bit of history in Portland, head to the Pittock Mansion. It was the home to pioneers at the turn of the century and offers tours. The mansion's impressive architecture and 23 rooms filled with antiques and art offer an insight of life in Portland 150 years ago. Even walking on the outside where the people worked is a blast from the past.
Fort VancouverOne of the absolutely highlights of Portland, Fort Vancouver is the only national historic site in the region and offers are truly unique view on life and the history of the Northwest. The 366-acre site contains a complete replica of Fort Vancouver, which was originally a fur trading settlement of the Hudson' Bay Company, the Pearson Air Museum and a row of beautifully restored 19th-century homes. The fort used to be home to the first hospital, school, shipyard, and sawmill in the Northwest.
Oregon Museum of Science and IndustryThe Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) is a fun museum for both children and adults. Highlights include an old submarine, a planetarium, a theater with a huge screen, many exhibitions and a children's science playground.
Oregon Historical Society MuseumThis fascinating museums allows visitors to explore and dive into Portland's rich past. It is located adjacent from the Portland Art Museum and houses a phenomenal 85,000 artifacts, ranging from the "Portland Penny" to Native American artifacts and things from the legendary Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Powell's City of BooksFounded in 1971, this bookstore has evolved into a Portland icon and one of the greatest bookstores in the world. It covers a whole city block and holds more than 1.5 million books, divided into no less than 3,500 separate sections. The store has its own café, where you can grab one of Portland's famous coffees. Make sure to pick up a map of the floor plan; you'll get lost if you don't.
Oregon ZooLocated in Washington Park, Oregon Zoo focuses on conservation and education. It is home to more than 2,000 animals from all over the world and is famed for its breeding program for Asian elephants.
Portland Saturday Market and Portland Farmers MarketThe Portland Saturday Market is the largest open-air market in the country. It takes place every single week and consists of hundreds of stalls displaying arts and crafts. Located in Waterfront Park, this is a great place for a relaxed day out. Besides the vendors, there are also live music and international food stands.
The Portland Farmers Market is often regarded as one of the finest farmers markets in the world. The main market is held on Saturdays in the South Park Blocks, but there are also markets on Monday and Wednesday. This is the place to buy the freshest of produce, as well as cured meats, cheeses, bread, flowers and so on.
Portland Art MuseumThe Portland Art Museum is both the largest museum in the city and one of the oldest one in the United States. It was established in 1892 and even its first exhibition was magnificent, featuring casts of ancient Greek and Roman sculptures. The enormous museum takes up two whole buildings and displays photography, prints and drawings, Asian art, Native American art and American and European art.
Other HighlightsOther museums and historic sites that are definitely worth checking out are the free Oregon Rail Heritage Center, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Portland Underground which is a series of tunnels that link the basement of bars and hotels in the Portland Old Town, and the Oregon Maritime Museum. To catch a full glimpse of the city, take the Portland Spirit boat tour on the Willamette River . They even offer catering on the boat and there are different cruise options available. It's a great time for the entire family.
NeighborhoodsInteresting neighborhoods are Downtown Portland, the Old Town, Pearl District, the Northwest District and Hawthorne Boulevard and Alberta Street.
Portland Suggested Dining ChoicesPortland doesn't quite have that signature dish that many large cities have, but it does offer a lot of great things in terms of dining. The most popular place is Bunk. It looks like a small diner but the lines are always out the door. They offer some signature dishes from cities such as New York, New Orleans, and Chicago, that are all top of the line. If you are looking for upscale Asian cuisine, then try out Ping. The establishment is only 8 years old and offers some of the best tasting chicken (and even Octopus) that you can find.
HotelsThere are five hotels in Portland that you must consider if you plan on traveling there. The first is the Hotel deLuxe outside of downtown. The architecture of the deLuxe is mainly marble which gives it a classic and luxurious feel. The suites are also top of the line and worth the extra money. The second hotel is the Monaco in the downtown area. Although it isn't the best looking of the bunch, it is in the best location and offers fine interior.
The Vintage Plaza is another fine hotel with free wine. There are different colors to each room and some of the best furnishings in the city, done in an Italian style. The Inn at Northrup Station is a smaller hotel at only three storys and can be easy to miss since it looks like a house. When you get inside however, you will note that it has been modernized with many different paint schemes. It's also very easy to get to as the streetcar stops right in front of the door. The last is the Victorian style RiverPlace Hotel, which sits right on the Willamette River in downtown Portland. It’s a very artsy and hip hotel that offers the best views in all of Portland.
ShoppingOne of the main reasons that people visit Portland is for the great shopping, and there are different districts in which to visit. If you head downtown, you will see your typical department stores and malls. The usual fare that you find in many downtown areas in large cities.
There is another traditional shopping center located in the Pearl District. In addition, you will also find fashion boutiques, art galleries, and book stores to keep you occupied. The streetcars run right through the heart of the district so getting there is not a problem. The Nob Hill District is very similar and also features some high-end stores and more restaurants than the Pearl District.
Finally, you will want to check out the Lloyd Center when shopping. There are over 200 stores located here, as well as a movie theater. It's next to the Convention Center and also is home to an ice rink that is open year round.
SportsPortland does not have many professional sports teams, but they do have two that they are very proud of. The first and most notable team is the Portland Trailblazers of the National Basketball Association. They play their home games at the Moda Center and usually don’t have trouble filling the stands. The other team in the city is the Portland Timbers of Major League Soccer. Although MLS teams usually don’t have capacity crowds, Portland is among the most popular teams and they play at Providence Park . There is also talk of adding a National Football League team to Portland to rival their neighbors to the North in Seattle.
SafetyJust like any other major city, the crime rate is going to be a little inflated. However, for a city of its size, Portland does very well for itself in terms of safety. There are only a handful of neighborhoods you will want to avoid. Basically anywhere away from the downtown area is going to be very safe. It’s only during the night when the bars let out that there tends to be a problem as intoxicated residents and visitors can tend to cause some issues. If you just avoid them, you will be fine.
TransportationIf you plan on flying into Portland, you will most likely be arriving at the Portland International Airport located about 10 minutes from the downtown area. Just about every major city and major airline can connect you to Portland. You can also arrive via train on the Amtrak, but if you don't live on the West Coast, it can take a considerable amount of time to make the proper connections to get there. Since it is in the Pacific Northwest, the only convenient ways to get there by car would be I-84 through Idaho or I-5 from either Washington or California.
Portland is a very eco-friendly town, and many there prefer public transportation, walking, or biking. This makes for less traffic despite the city’s size and population, so it’s easy to get around by car. However, parking can be very expensive and a lot of the major scenery is within walking distance. The Tri-Met transit system can also take you anywhere you need to go.
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Author: koreydbeckett. Last updated: Mar 19, 2015