"City of Roses, Rivers and the Mountain Corgi" Top 5 Page for this destination Portland by mtncorg

Portland Travel Guide: 1,407 reviews and 2,751 photos

Many times we feel home is simply home, not a destination to be mixed up with the likes of Paris or London or Venice. Growing up here in Portland, I do not remember many tourists wandering the streets of the Rose City. That phenomenom began only about 20 years ago. Today, on a summer eve, wandering about around RiverPlace, NW 23rd or Pioneer Square, tourists abound.

I have picked out some of the sights that the casual visitor might have some interest in - whether they are in the City for business, visiting family or simply to see and feel Portland. A few generalities before we proceed. Portland is known as the Rose City. There are a couple beautiful rose gardens to be found: the better known one is in the West Hills, in Washington Park, near both the Japanese Gardens and the Oregon Zoo; the other garden is in North Portland, the Peninsula Park and Rose Garden. The Rose City has its Rose Festival, as well, in early June, a period packed with events of all sorts, including several huge parades, the largest of which is the Grand Floral Parade drawing hundreds of thousands to the streets to watch. The moniker 'PDX' refers to Portland's international airport code - not necessarily intuitive.

For more on the nuts and bolts of the City, I would refer you to the fine pages from Shaft28 - who has great pages and super tips for the Portland-bound traveller. Enjoy.

Geographically and historically, rivers have determined Portland - as if the name might not have given the name away somewhat. --Quick aside: Portland was named from a coin toss from very early settlers in the mid 19th century. It was named for Portland, Maine. The losing choice was Boston.-- The City is far from ancient going back only (as I just noted) into the middle 19th Century where it gained predominance over several other small river ports along both the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. Today, the City has transformed into a metroplex of 2.5 million, lapping across two States. The Columbia River is by far the larger of the two rivers and serves as a transportation lifeline both to the interior of the Northwest and the East beyond and to the Pacific Ocean. But it is the Willamette that is the heart of the City. This is where the city began and has grown from. The River divides the City into east and west; though bridged 11 times. The division is present in the psyche of the town, as well - the working class Eastside, the affluent Westside. People will go for years not venturing far afield on the opposite bank: Eastsiders claiming they have all they need in the East plus they get lost in the West since geography has forced Westside road networks into a bit of outward confusion, going up mountains here and down valleys there, roads that twist and turn instead of the orderly neat grid pattern found for the most part on the Eastside. Westsiders claim they have all they need in the West, plus they get lost in the orderly neat grid pattern in the East.

The general tourist will arrive in Portland by plane, train, bus or car. If you come by car, then you need to bring a map. Train and bus passengers arrive at terminals next to each other on the north side of the Downtown area with direct access to the City center via free buses that run down transport malls. People arriving by air can access the City center from the airport - which is about 15 miles NE from Downtown - directly via light rail, taxis, van shuttles or possible friends or family.

Downtown Portland is, of course, the heart of the City. It is hemmed in geographically by the Willamette River on the north and east and the Tualatin Mountains/West Hills to the south and west. Downtown has several parks and many people live in the City's Center bringing a vibrancy you do not find in many other American cities of this size. Many of America's downtown areas area simply concrete-steel-glass canyons that are empty outside of the workweek. Portland shares with its other large Pacific Northwest neighbor cities - Vancouver, BC and to a slightly lesser degree, Seattle - in the fact that more people have taken up Downtown as a place to do more than work. First thing for a tourist to do is get a free walking map from the Tourist Bureau in Pioneer Square - the heart and meetingplace of the Central City. Portland is a very comfortable town within which to live. I think it can be a very interesting place to visit, as well.

A couple of youtube clips to get you in the mood: Portland Nights and Weathering Spring.

So, time for some tips?

Please note that this is very much a work-in-progress :-)

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Comfortable yet Edgy
  • Cons:More People coming live everyday = freeways trying to become like Seattle's
  • In a nutshell:A Gateway to Nature of All Sorts
  • Intro Updated Jun 25, 2012
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Reviews (63)

Comments (35)

  • May 2, 2011 at 7:50 PM

    nice tip! thank

  • iandsmith's Profile Photo
    Jan 30, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Guess who's coming in June...

  • richiecdisc's Profile Photo
    Oct 26, 2009 at 11:05 AM

    Thanks for the great beer tips, Mark. Little Girl sure knows how to get off the beaten path!

  • Nemorino's Profile Photo
    Sep 2, 2008 at 2:15 PM

    Interesting tips on the urban renewal efforts along the river banks -- and on all the bridges. Glad there is still some train service. I'm sure I would like that controversial tram!

  • mirliya's Profile Photo
    Jul 13, 2008 at 1:20 PM

    happy birthday Mark.Nowadays I "m in Portland.I loved Multnomah Falls , Mt Hood and Cannon beach.

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Aug 5, 2007 at 4:24 PM

    HI Mark, It's been a long time since I said hello so I thought I'd say hello! :-)

  • Martman's Profile Photo
    Jul 15, 2007 at 9:35 PM

    Woof Woof Woof

  • madamx's Profile Photo
    Jul 11, 2007 at 1:52 PM

    Actually, I had a Scottish VT member from Mull write me about that :o) I was going to ask you, do you know of the pizza guy in Portland called the "pizza nazi"?

  • Karolina01's Profile Photo
    Dec 15, 2006 at 6:41 AM

    Hi Mark, I heart about the storm there. Hope you are OK.

  • Rusket's Profile Photo
    Oct 29, 2006 at 5:05 AM

    What's up, doc? I am going to be in your area right before christmas. Twice, actually. See you?

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