"Nearest Big City" Top 5 Page for this destination Portland by glabah

Portland Travel Guide: 1,441 reviews and 2,974 photos

Rain: Downtown Portland from Mt. Tabor, March 2003

OK, So the City Propaganda Says it Doesn't Rain... at least not as mush as our city's reputation says it does. But it is true that we get rain!!! Universities, the Portland visitors association, and others who promote the city of Portland go on and on about how certain other areas of the world have more rain than Portland in order to counteract the reputation that Portland has.

I was born here, and I pretty much grew up here. The rain doesn't bother me that much, which I think is the case for most native Oregonians. However, there are a number of people who have moved here from California, Arizona, and other warm, dry places that complain constantly about the rain. Just a warning: expect rain. It does in fact rain here, and whatever reputation Portland has as a place of constant rain may or may not be worth paying attention to, depending on how much rain bothers you.

The travel pages say I live in Lents, Oregon, and I do. However, that is basically the Portland area. Therefore, no matter what the date says as of my last visit, the fact is I basically live in the area, so I know it reasonably well.

PLEASE NOTE: It may be best for you to select "Member's Choice" when viewing my tips of Portland. I have attempted to order the tips in a way that logically flows. The default order of appearance here on VirtualTourist is to show the most recent tips first. In my case that means all the minute details that I have decided to write in recent days is shown first, even though I view that stuff as least important.

My first tip for you if you are visiting Portland?:
Tourist Information Available Weekdays is what the recorded annoucement on the MAX train says when you go by it, but you may want to take a look at my Pioneer Courthouse Square tip to see the actual office hours. If you are here visiting, it would probably be a good idea to stop by here if you visit downtown. They not only feature a considerable amount of literature on the Portland area, but a number of nearby areas as well, thus making it a reasonably good starting point if you want lots of paper brochures on things to do.

Before you read too far into the Portland tips, it is best for you to understand that Portland has many cities and communities surrounding it, and the city of Portland was created by the merger of smaller cities, creating small-town downtowns in various areas that are now Portland. I have moved a number of minor local attractions and points of interest to the community they are closest to. To see a list of these areas, please see my Portland Neighborhoods and Suburbs tip. I have done it this way because, if you are staying with friends in an area that is quite far from the downtown Portland core, you probably have some interesting places to visit right next door. Also, some of these places retain a bit of their own personality and so deserve their own entry. (Unfortunately a number of developers have built the same style of building all over the city, so a lot of personality has been lost in local Portland neighborhoods since about 1998 or so - but some traces of what once was remain.)

City of Roses: A Rose For You In Portland Awaits

"A Rose for you in Portland Awaits" was an early advertising slogan. I don't remember exactly where I saw it, but I think it was in a railroad advertisement from the early 1900s.

In the 1800s, it was discovered that Portland was an ideal climate for Roses. Many rose gardens were planted, and by late in the 1800's Portland had developed the nickname "City of Roses". Slowly, the Portland reputation spread.

In the late 1800s, the "rose festival" was simply small home garden tours. Starting in 1907, there was an annual Rose Festival and Parade with floats operating on the streetcar line with electric lights - one of the first electrically powered parades in the country.

The first several of my Portland Activities list Rose Festival Activities because it is Portland's largest festival, and involves many different activities. The best source of information about the Rose Festival is the Portland Rose Festival web site, which is operated by the non-profit organization that runs the various events.

I will admit that even though I am from Portland, I have never been to the Grand Floral Parade. I have been to several Starlight Parades (the Rose Festival has several parades). Attempting to get a place to view the Grand Floral Parade is quite competitive, and can be unpleasant. I do like taking a look at the Rose Festival Fleet while the Dragon Boat Races and Milk Carton Boats are fun to watch.

Interesting Nearby Attractions

While Portland itself has many interesting things to see and do, it wouldn't be Portland without some of the nearby attractions and communities nearby. If you ask a number of the people who live here why they like it, you will most likely be told "Because it is only a short distance to....." with the blank being filled by any number of possible things. Portland was created by the merger of a number of cities, and a few of those communities retain their own identity to the point where they have their own category here on VirtualTourist. Further away are the Columbia River Gorge and its attractions, the Cascade mountains, Silver Falls State Park, Silverton, Brooks, Salem, and Ridgefield.

Portland suburban communities and neighborhoods include:
Oregon City: has a reputation as the first city in the west and has a few museums to prove it, but the fine people of Astoria might dispute that!
Lents: Foster Road and I-205 today: take a look at the Trillium Artistans store for an unexpected treat if you are on I-205.
Forest Grove: annual sidewalk art festival and near Hagg Lake
Beaverton: some feel this is a suburban wasteland, but the Tualatin Hills Nature Park and a few other features are absolute gems
Troutdale: the big commercial shopping district has the paid publicity, but the more interesting stores are downtown, and almost never publicized. The former Edgefield Manor, now a popular events and dinner location, is here too.
Vancouver, Washington: the Fort Vancouver monument is historically significant, and the new waterfront trail is a pleasant walk beside the river.

Further Away
Silver Falls State Park is a wonderful place to explore, as is the Columbia River Gorge, and the Mt. St. Helens Volcano is good as well.
Brooks has an interesting annual historic machinery show, while further south Salem is the state Capitol.

A City with a touch of Wildlife

While Portland is a fairly good sized city, conditions are such that there is still some wildlife in city limits. While it has been some years since deer have wandered into the central part of downtown, it has happened in the past. Bird life is perhaps the most obvious. It isn't unheard of to see Bald Eagles in Portland city limits. Various types of ducks (see photo), Great Blue Heron, hawks, and many smaller types of birds also call Portland home, even in very populated areas.

Yes, we have pigeons also, just like any large city anymore. However, our local pigeon population is kept under some control by the local hawks and other birds of prey that eat them.

Deer, elk, and cougar have wandered into areas very close to downtown, but such incidents have become much more rare in the last several years as much close-in forest land is converted to housing.

There are a few interesting bird watching areas to visit, including some up-close visits with birds at the Wildlife Care Center in northwest Portland.

For hikers, there are several areas I suggest that are within the city of Portland: Mt. Tabor Park, Powell Butte Park and Forest Park. There are many wonderful hikes in the Columbia River Gorge, the Oregon Coast, and Cascade Mountains, but none of those are in Portland City limits. They are good day trips though.

Art Activities
Portland has an active arts community, dating back to Native American rock carvings. If you like to walk and don't care what the weather is doing, Neighborhood Art Walks are an interesting way to see part of Portland and interesting art. The most well known of these is First Thursday, but it is very crowded. My favorite is the Mt. Tabor Art Walk, which crosses only one moderately busy street and is centered around beautiful Mt. Tabor Park.

We also have ballet, symphony, opera, an art museum, and quite a number of theatre companies plus various college and university arts events. For a listing of these events that isn't even comprehensive I suggest getting a Willamette Week. The arts section of the Oregonian is only available on certain days, with the best stuff on Sundays.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:It's still a nice area to live
  • Cons:It used to be much more scenic and slow paced
  • In a nutshell:Great scenery and great places to visit
  • Last visit to Portland: Sep 2011
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (166)

Comments (19)

  • Jim_Eliason's Profile Photo
    Jan 18, 2013 at 2:37 PM

    Nice page

  • LaurenAnita's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Thanks for sharing! I didn't know that, about the roses. Was thinking of moving to Oregon, I love the rain, so I think we'll make a good fit haha. Again, ty for the info, very helpful.

  • Roadquill's Profile Photo
    Sep 7, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Saw you comment on ratings and Portland. I don't think people go to Portland all that often. I have been several times now that my youngest lives up there and will plan on a few more. Best, Karl

  • Homanded's Profile Photo
    Jun 3, 2011 at 6:18 AM

    Fantastic dining tips Glenn! I can tell you like Mexican food! Thank You!

  • clueless83's Profile Photo
    Mar 6, 2011 at 2:41 PM

    You're right - this is awesome!

  • Greggor58's Profile Photo
    Jan 3, 2011 at 7:16 PM

    Loads of GREAT info here Glenn...Ill have to come back for another read soon!

  • MikeBird's Profile Photo
    Dec 5, 2010 at 10:43 AM

    great page and well reasoned case. I always think we neglect our wildlife heritage at our peril. Thanks for sharing, Best wishes, Mike

  • BruceDunning's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2010 at 11:18 AM

    The intricate detail of explaining the area and the sites is fantastic, as well as the pictures to enhance the tour.

  • goodfish's Profile Photo
    Jul 16, 2010 at 3:27 AM

    Nice tips from you as well for our Washington/Oregon traveler. We hope to get down Portland way on our next trek to the Northwest. :)

  • ChristinaNest's Profile Photo
    Jan 16, 2010 at 2:39 AM

    Great tips, thanks for sharing! I hope to visit Portland one day. I didn't see a tip about that Zoo railway station post office, or did I overlook it? It's a great tip for philately fans:)


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