Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon, has managed to turn itself into a haven for bohemian lifestyles, indie music, artisan crafts and environmentalism. Like a modern-day reinvention of the hippie ideal, its markets, streets, craft brewers and music venues have a kind of free-spirited buzz and creativity that you won't find anywhere else. If you love food and drink, you'll be in 'Beervana' or 'Foodtopia' (as some inventive locals have put it). Head out on craft beer trails and try everything from French cuisine to authentic tapas, Thai or New American dishes featuring Oregon's local produce. Culture vultures can feast at the Art Museum, which includes a wonderful collection of Native American art. The Oregon Historical Society feeds the appetite of history fans, while you can explore miles and miles of wilderness trails in the 5,170 acres of Forest Park. To top it all off, the city is within striking distance of the stunning waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park and the surf, beaches and seafood restaurants in Tillamook.
Things to Do
Portland, or the Rose City, offers a wide range of activities and attractions for kids and adults alike, but it's the way these attractions couple with the atmosphere and lifestyle of Portland that makes it so exceptional. Here are just some suggestions for visitors:
Feast your eyes on beautiful flowers and sensual aromas
There's a reason why the city is nicknamed the "Rose City", and you'll find out when you pass through the gate at the International Rose Test Garden. In Summer, this tiered 4.5-acre plot hosts 550 rose varieties and even stages concerts at its own amphitheatre.
Explore the city's vibrant music scene
Music is another local speciality. Since the 1970s, the city has given birth to some of America's most interesting indie bands, and the live music scene is as diverse and exciting as ever. So set aside an evening to sample the acts at iconic venues like the Aladdin Theater and the Crystal Ballroom.
Don't miss the fantastic food
Foodies will adore the local dining spots, which have become world famous in recent years. Spurred on by the availability of outstanding fresh produce, the city's chefs create dishes from around the world -- from paellas to bibimbap -- and to an unbelievably high quality.
Calendar of Events
Why not time your visit to Portland to take advantage of the city's crammed schedule of cultural events? There's certainly no shortage of choices. For instance:
Feast Portland. Easily the best time to visit for foodies, Feast cooks up a, well, feast of gastronomic delights in September. Take classes from experts, sample local wines and beers and try everything at the market in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
The Waterfront Blues Festival. The largest music festival on the city's calendar, Waterfront is one of the world's finest blues and jazz festivals, drawing a huge crowd around the 4th July to Tom McCall Waterfront Park.
Art in the Pearl. Labor Day (in early September) is the chance for the city's artistic community to shine. Featuring painters, furniture designers, photographers, ceramicists and jewellery designers, it's a fantastic opportunity to buy some unique souvenirs or gifts.